The problems with machines

You may find it strange that news from an ice machine company is premised on the fact that there are “issues” with ice machines, but hear me out on this one. Sanitation and food safety consistently rank as top concerns in operator surveys. This is really good news! But if that’s the case, why is the internet flooded with pictures of ice machines that make some people swear off ice? It doesn’t have to be this way! The reality is that while many foodservice operators know their hot-end equipment inside and out, the cold-end equipment is a bit of a mystery. We in the commercial ice industry need to make operators as comfortable using ice machines as they are using griddles.


The beauty of the skillet is that it’s right in front of you, there’s nothing to hide. If the closing staff didn’t clean up the night before, it will be the first thing the staff notices the next morning. This is not the case with ice makers. Quality ice machines are designed to prevent foreign objects from entering the ice machine. The ice maker is usually a metal box that you need a screwdriver to open, and when you open it there is a plastic shield (water curtain) in front of the most important part of the food area. In fact, most interactions with the “ice machine” are actually interactions with the trash can!


How do we demystify the ice machine? For proactive operators, the answer is often a YouTube search, which is a great place to start. Cleaning videos saw a significant increase in views during the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic and remain one of the most popular videos in our library. These videos are great, but they’re often too blurry, or too thorough, and may contain more detail than the average operator would want to know. But they do provide an excellent visual guide showing how to remove the water curtain as well as tips for removing the water pan and other key components.


Customer surveys also show that spending time with technicians during the installation process can have a lasting impact. You’ve made a significant investment in purchasing an ice machine, so take the time to ask questions and become familiar with the machine’s key components. Ask what to look for (grey-pink film) and, just as importantly, where to look (anything that comes into contact with water!). Requiring the removal of water curtains and other components. At trade shows we often have operators removing parts from machines. They are often scared at first, but after a try or two, they usually succeed!


Another great tool for operators is a cleaning checklist. I smile every time I see an inspection sheet taped to the side of an ice machine that shows what was inspected, when it was inspected, and by whom. Since ice machines are designed to be closed boxes, it’s easy to forget when they were last cleaned, or what needs to be checked each time. A simple list acts as a visual reminder – maybe not as intuitive as a greasy frying pan, but certainly more appealing and reassuring to the customer!


Just like any kitchen appliance, an ice maker requires proper maintenance. While it may seem a little daunting when you first open the door or lift the panel, you’ll quickly learn that quality ice machines are designed to be user-friendly and easy to clean. Learn more about the sanitation solutions offered by Snowman Ice Machines.