Today’s restaurant and food service operators are faced with a number of issues. From increased minimum wage to embracing the protection of the environment, it’s a 24/7 challenge.
For Wisconsin based Manitowoc Ice, a key to their success has been an ability to listen to the needs of their customer base. Once again as the industry gets ready for a new year, Manitowoc and its Northeast distributor United Refrigeration-URI has taken the lead with a major upgrade in its signature ice-making technology.
Manitowoc has recently announced that its flagship modular cuber machine, Indigo, has been improved to serve as its next generation ice machine. “The Indigo NXT is the most reliable ice machine we have ever made,” noted Manitowoc brand manager Murray Meyer. “By using an alternate refrigerant, we have made the line more productive as well as more energy efficient.”
Since 1964, Manitowoc ice machines have been engineered to make the owner/operator’s life easier. “The icon base easy touch display takes the guess work out of owning and operating an ice machine,” Meyer added. “Installation process is facilitated with a startup wizard, so that the machine can be customized to the owners’ preferences. The color-coded status rings in the display, which can be seen clear across the kitchen. With one glance, the operator can see when the machine is off, making ice, bin full, program mode or water curtain off. Knowing what the machine is doing at all times brings peace of mind to the staff and operator.”
The recent upgrades of the Indigo series comes on the heels of Manitowoc’s on-going outreach to its customer base. Each year, Manitowoc conducts a customer satisfaction survey of its user base to find out what features they use, how to improve the machine and what they like best about the machine they have. This feedback is then used to help improve the product and make it easier to own and operate.
At the top of that agenda, has been the on-going creation of a line of ice machines that meets or exceeds the Energy Star standards and with that improves the efficiency of ice production. “Through our product development and design work, we found that changing the refrigerant from R404A to R410A, enabled Indigo/NXT to achieve Energy Star 3.0 certification. In our Indigo NXT line, the models we converted from R404A to R410A, we have been able to increase ice production an average of 13% and lower energy usage an average of 12% compared to our previous models.”
Manitowoc embraced the switch to R410A after doing its due diligence on the refrigerant. R410A and rotary compressors have been used in air conditioning systems for a long time never in a commercial icemaker application. “We found that its superior thermal properties, with proven reliability and wide spread use in air conditioning makes this refrigerant commercially viable and readily available for the service community. R410A is better for the environment because it is having 48% less GWP than R404A.”
The change to R410A has also brought an exciting upgrade with the unit’s rotary compressors. “Manitowoc is the only manufacture to produce an ice maker to run on R410A and rotary compressors,” Myers said. “We did so without changing the overall dimensions of the machine and improving the ice production and lowering energy usage. Using R410A allowed Manitowoc to improve the heat transfer between the refrigerant and the evaporator. With the temperature difference reduced, the rate of heat transfer during harvest is increased. Another desirable feature of rotary compressors are they are typically quieter than reciprocating compressors which is important in many environments where an ice maker is installed.”
Manitowoc’s local distribution partner URI is not only looking forward to providing customers with energy savings but also bottom line cost savings with the rollout. “On average, when comparing the R410A to their previous R404 models, it will save the average user about $200/year in electricity,” URI regional manager Rob Bryant explained. “Over the life of the machine, that is $2,000 in energy savings.”