Finding the right ice machine to suit the establishment is crucial –from food prep to food service it plays a vital role. Vicki Williams spoke to the experts to learn about the latest ice machine offerings.

When it comes to important equipment for hotels and restaurants the ice machine sits pretty close to the top. From food prep to food service to icy cold drinks and cocktails, ice plays an integral role in ensuring end-to-end freshness.

Vice president, North Asia, Patrick Xi, of Welbilt says the company introduced two products within the last year or so that are proving popular with clients. “The Manitowoc M series and the Koolaire line. Manitowoc M series are built at the highest standard and reliability without bells and whistles, while Koolaire offers the best value for money.”

Clients include major global hotel chains such as Starwood and Shangri-La, and fast food giants, such as McDonald’s and Pizza Hut.

Xi believes these machines stand out from the competition as the two lines address different customers’ needs with just the right set of features and functions. For example, Manitowoc M series is both NSF and CE approved and has unique features that offers easier cleaning, better sanitation, and easier serviceability, he says. “It also offers the best industry warranty.”

When it comes to new trends he says that nugget machines are becoming popular. “Nugget ice is chewable and can be a good choice for certain drinks and smoothies. Manitowoc offers a full line of nugget ice machines.”

Cristina Cordón, CEO, ITV Ice Makers concurs, “Nugget ice is perfect for beverages, smoothies, cocktails. We are designing and developing the new machine IQN for nugget ice. This ice has a high level of humidity and its compact texture maintains the drinks cooler for longer.”

ITV Ice Makers, has been supplying ice machines since the 1980s and are currently one of the top five world’s largest manufacturer of ice systems, with more than 100 models. Clients include hotel chains such as Marriott and Sheraton, and fast food restaurants including McDonalds.

Bigger and Quicker

For Nick Hammond, South Asia Pacific regional manager, Ice-O-Matic, one trend that he has noticed is a demand for larger cubes for cocktail offerings in high-end bars. “Such as the Ice-O-Matic Grande Cube.” Other trends are energy efficiency and sanitation demands. “Ice needs to be treated as food, so your ice machine needs to be cleaned and sanitised regularly. The easier this is to do the better.”

Cordón adds that in Asia the most popular new ice machines are the SPIKA and the Ice Dispenser. “The SPIKA machine is designed to stand up to a fast-paced environment. Quick to produce cubes, it has a dual Energy Star and ARHI certification, which guarantees maximum energy efficiency. While a special switch enables easy and rapid cleaning.” The oversized condenser is optimal for warm climates in both versions (cooling by air and by water) she adds. While the stainless steel SIRION Ice Dispenser is reliable, hygienic, easy to use, silent, efficient, produces large and small ice cubes, and the 30″ model stores up to 104kg of ice.” It meets EC and NSF regulations and certifications.

Hammond says that its new Ice-O-Matic elevation series, introduced to the market in February, is a competition standout, “This is because of the machine’s new dual air discharge, which allows for more flexibility in installation. Additionally machines are made in the USA, are up to 20 per cent more energy efficient, and the forward facing food zone eliminates nooks and crannies allowing for easier cleaning and sanitisation.”

Commenting on the general importance of ice machines Hammond says, “It supports offerings, for example, beverages are often the highest margin product in a restaurant. Owning your own ice machine allows you to better control the quality and quantity of the ice produced as opposed to the inconsistent ice offered in bags. Which then allows you to offer quality and consistent beverage products.”

Alfred Paulsen, GM, Dorsett Putrajaya, in Kuala Lumpur says the 218-room property with two restaurants requires four ice machines. The hotel uses on average 100 kilos of ice per month. “We expect the machines to last for ten years or more and our three purchasing priorities are hygiene (including Halal compliant), production capacity and cost savings.”

While David Wong, GM (Silka Hotels, Malaysia) says that capacity, brand (performance / value for money) and quality and quantity of ice cubes produced, are the key priorities when purchasing.

Xi says that from a purchasing perspective it is important to purchase ice machines that will be able to meet needs. “Ice machines are an essential piece of equipment for any hotel and restaurant as ice is widely used wherever food is prepared and served. Ice is used for drinks, both soft and hard. Ice is used for preparing food. Ice is also used for displaying and presenting food, and much more.”

Suppliers agree that a quality ice machine should last at least 7-10 years with proper care and maintenance.