As summer winds down and we enter a slower period of business for packaged ice, it is important to look ahead. Not to next summer, but to the nearer future. The winter may not be ideal for selling ice, but it can be a time to improve your equipment and team in a way that keeps your business in top shape.  Our technical services department – Freeze Force – has discussed some of the key points to keep in mind when dealing with equipment in the off season.

One of the most important things you can do to your equipment in the off season is clean it.  All types of equipment from baggers to condensers need to be cleaned thoroughly to continue operating at peak performance levels. As Wayne Johnson, our Freeze Force refrigeration and ice maker specialist, points out, “Cooling towers and evaporative condensers that are not clean will yield higher than design discharge pressures which increase liquid refrigerant temperatures and prolong the heat removal process.” Taking the time to clean these pieces of equipment will decrease your operating costs and prolong the life of your machine.

Baggers often accumulate sticky buildup over a season of running that needs to be cleaned off for aesthetic and functionality purposes. Leaving buildup on your machines will restrict moving parts and negatively impact efficiency.

Icemen should also take the time to check all moving parts, particularly bearings and belts. An important question to consider: What are you bagging? We may be inclined to answer ice, but ice is simply frozen water. “Water that doesn’t end up in the bag often ends up in the bearings, mixing with the oil on the machine, and causing them to break or be shifted out of place,” explains Steve Croshaw, our Freeze Force packaging specialist.  Bearings and belts that are worn or broken must be replaced. During the summer months, ice equipment will often shift from its original adjustments and it is important to recalibrate them to get everything back to their default settings.

Safety should be on everyone’s mind no matter the time of year. Many ice producing plants rely on summer help to accommodate all of their production needs and many of these young helping hands are not familiar with the equipment being used. All safety decals and guards, such as Hamer 125 covers, need to be checked and all broken parts replaced.  Safety is becoming increasingly important with the expanding role of IPIA and their PICQS standards as well as governmental agencies like OSHA, who take safety seriously and have raised standards. Failing to comply with safety regulations can result in major losses and harm your business.

Another off season option, which Modern Ice is pleased to offer, is an education and networking opportunity. This can be a period that works for you where one of our Freeze Force technicians comes to your plant to teach proper service techniques or one of our Modern Ice training classes. These can include taking everything apart, inspecting all aspects, repairing or replacing broken pieces, and rebuilding everything with the correct adjustments in place. This is both a practical service appointment and an invaluable learning experience.

Although the winter is slow for ice producers, we think that there is still work to be done. Make your equipment work for you with the changes outlined above and don’t hesitate to reach out to Modern Ice and Freeze Force. If you would like to schedule a service appointment, or simply have a question regarding equipment maintenance, fill out this service form. If you would like to read more about the Freeze Force technicians mentioned in this article, click on their names: Steve Croshaw and Wayne Johnson. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you to have a remarkable off season.

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