It’s 100 degrees outside and your retail customers are running low on ice. You are pushing your equipment as hard as it can run, your employees are tired, and you are exhausted. The phone rings again. The guy on the other end wants to purchase 2 truckloads of ice, every day, for the next 10 days. Regretfully, you have to pass on this opportunity. As you hang up the phone, you begin to do the math on how much money you could have made if you were able to say yes to this opportunity. At this moment, you promise yourself to make changes to your company so that if such an opportunity presents itself next year, you will be able to say yes!
Sound familiar? If so, you are not alone. When it gets hot, and stays hot, there is not enough packaged ice available. Big companies with massive freezers can sometimes say yes to wholesale opportunities, but after the stored ice is depleted, even they are left with an empty freezer. So the option of building a bigger freezer is probably not the answer. Not only does the big freezer run out of ice when market demand is high, the costs associated with a massive freezer is prohibitive. Land cost, building cost, electrical cost, and maintenance cost makes excessive storage of packaged ice very expensive, especially if your motivation for this investment is occasional opportunities. So how do you say yes? The simple answer is to invest in the right tools.
The first essential tool is more ice manufacturing equipment. The best insurance policy to avoid running out of ice is to have more ice production than your demands require. Extra ice manufacturing equipment is always a good investment for the packaged ice producer. This potential added production lends itself to better operational efficiencies, manufacturing redundancies, and the ability to ramp up your production when opportunities present themselves. An extra 50 ton/day ice maker has the potential to provide your company with two extra truckloads of packaged ice a day, every day. These are pallets of ice that are available when you need them with only a 24 hour notice. This is extra product available without the cost associated with freezer storage. I’m not discrediting the value of freezer storage. Freezer storage is essential to balancing your weekly demand cycles, but extra ice manufacturing allows a more cost effective means to saying yes to new opportunities.
Although extra ice manufacturing equipment can prove to be an essential tool to saying yes to new opportunities, this raw product still requires packaging and palletizing if it is to be ready for sale. How does a packaged ice producer allocate the necessary labor required to accomplish this task? We will review the second set of tools that complete this equation in the next Ice Talk.