Developing ice manufacturing systems that efficiently produce the highest volume of useable product is critical to a productive packaged ice system.
In manufacturing, profit is measured by how productive your manufacturing process is. For packaged ice manufacturing companies, an examination of the usable percentage of manufactured ice and the associated costs to put finished pallets in the freezer can prove the productivity of your plant. The packaged ice facilities which AIS is developing today are much more productive than anything this industry has ever seen. We understand that all companies are pushed harder to do more with less, and AIS is giving our clients the tools to succeed in today’s competitive, price driven market.
Productivity begins with getting the most from the associated raw materials. For packaged ice, those raw materials are simply water and energy. Let’s start with water. If your location offers an economical municipal water supply with a low TDS (Total Dissolved Solids), excessive water treatment can actually lower your operational productivity by introducing unnecessary added production cost. Securing a location with a favorable water source is a good first step. If a favorable water source is not an option, make sure to only add necessary, cost effective water treatment. If costly RO (reverse osmosis) water treatment is not needed, don’t introduce the associated costs and complexities of RO water treatment into your manufacturing process. Don’t fall into the trap of believing that the marketing of RO products will increase unit sales; this misconception is rarely, if ever, proven to be true. Some people will argue that the potential for increased ice production can justify the complexities, and associated costs, of this investment, but unless increased energy is added to the manufacturing process the production gains are usually insignificant.
The other raw material to produce ice is energy. If you are a packaged ice producer, you are well aware of the impact your electric bill can have on your bottom line. Ensuring that your ice manufacturing process is as efficient as possible is important. It’s not about maximizing the quantity of ice produced by your ice making machines; it’s more about achieving the lowest energy cost per volume of ice. This is especially true when utilizing split system manufacturing equipment. Getting on the wrong side of the operating efficiency curve can prove very costly. Often equipment sales people will push ice making equipment sales based upon increased ice making output over a competitive brand or equipment configuration. Be careful of this sales tactic. Pushing ice production to the wrong side of the efficiently curve will cost your company more every day per volume of ice. The focus should not be how much ice a particular ice maker can produce, the focus should be on how much ice an ice maker can produce at maximum operating efficiency.
Making the most ice with the least amount of relative energy and water cost is important, but it is equally important to product hard ice with as little waste as possible. Fragmented ice machines produce a high volume of unusable ice so these machines are rarely a good fit for productive packaged ice operations. Likewise, ice production that is too soft is difficult to process and also leads to high waste ice levels. Therefore developing ice manufacturing systems that efficiently produce the highest volume of useable product is critical to a productive packaged ice system. It is also critical that this ice production be processes in a way that gets this ice into the bag without producing additional waste ice. In the next Ice Talk, I will explore the very important aspects of manufacturing productivity relative to ice processing, packaging, and palletizing operations.