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Is your Ice Machine a Breeding Ground for Germs: The Importance of Ice Machine Cleaning and Maintenance

ice machines

What is growing inside your Ice Machine?

Contaminated ice is a health issue and is a frequent finding on health department food sanitation reports, yet commercial ice machines remain the least cared for food machines in a range of industries.

Can you remember the last time you cleaned your ice machine? Take off the cover and see for yourself what is growing inside, you are likely to find some fairly nasty bacteria infecting the ice you serve. Microbial growth spoils the tubing. Slime clogs the pump, screen and float switch. Scale hardens on the evaporator and water valves, deforming the ice cubes and causes your machine to work harder. Mould if no removed can destroy the housing, motor and electronics.

Ice Machines are Food Equipment

Many people forget that Ice machines are food equipment, they produce food and therefore require the same concerns for sanitation as any other food service equipment. Ice has many functions, it is a food or food ingredient it is commonly used in drinks both whole and crushed, it is used for cold food display, for chilling packaged food and drinks and is also used to rapidly chill cooked foods.

Therefore it is important that ice machines are cleaned regularly and to manufacturer standards in order to reduce contamination, contaminated ice has been associated with numerous foodborne disease outbreaks.

It is easy to overlook the risks associated with a lack of ice machine maintenance, but according to FDA regulations, ice needs to be stored and handled like food, and that means that ice machines need regular cleaning, at least 2 to 4 times a year or as recommended by the manufacturer.

Depending on your usage, the location of the machine and the water conditions, you may need to clean it more often.

For example, a very heavily used unit located near a cooking line inside a kitchen restaurant may need cleaning as often as every month.

Commercial ice machines that are lacking a proper water filtration system are particularly vulnerable to increased microbial growth, scale and slim-forming bacteria. Ice Machines

Additional things to remember when handling your ice

Once your ice machines is clean and sanitised on a regular basis, there are guidelines that you should follow to ensure the prevention of contamination in between cleanings;

  • Do not remove ice from the storage bin with your bare hands
  • Do not return unused ice to the storage bin
  • Keep the door or lid of the storage bin closed when ice is not being collected
  • Ensure that you keep the ice scoop clean at all times
  • Do not store your ice scoop in the ice bin
  • Make sure that you use ice dedicated buckets for transport
  • Do not store food, containers or other objects within the ice bin
  • Change your water filters on a regular basis
  • Consider periodically testing your ice and ice machine surfaces for the presence of contaminants

Don’t Let Just Anyone Clean your Ice Machine

It is important that you leave the cleaning of your ice machine to the experts. First of all you need to know what products to use for the type of ice machine you have. You also need to know how to disassemble the machine, meticulously clean all of the parts including the water line, and then put it all back together again.

Professional refrigeration service experts not only know all the ins and outs of your machine and the correct techniques to ensure that you ice is clean, but they also know how to inspect your machines for any problems and how to care for your machine in order to maximise its life span.

Including your ice machine in part of a refrigeration preventative maintenance plan will reduce costs while ensuring you are following laws and regulations.

For more information about our refrigeration maintenance plans give a member of our sales team a call today on 01254 277999.

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Planned Preventative Maintenance: 8 Questions all Businesses need to ask…

Acme Maintenance

Taking up a planned preventative maintenance contract can protect your investment and ensure that you are always getting the best performance from your equipment. Here at Acme we would always recommend taking out a plan, reliability is essential and knowing that your systems are protected is fundamental.

In a busy environment it is easy to neglect your equipment until something goes wrong, which can result in a large bill and loss of output.

But when so many companies claim to be offering top of the range maintenance packages, it is difficult for operators to determine whether they are getting the best package for their money.

Simon Mallett, Commercial Director and Catering specialist outlines the top questions that you need to ask yourself and any prospective preventative maintenance provider.

1. Can the provider deliver what I want?

One size does not fit all and a lot of maintenance providers seem to forget this, it is important that you find a ppm provider that tailors their packages around your needs.

Having said this, it is also important to understand what you want and need from a ppm contract. All too often operators go in without knowing what they want and come out with a gold standard ppm contract when in fact all they needed was a basic package.

Take a few minutes to think about what your company really needs, is it compliance and no more, genuine care for your equipment or partnership and dialogue with your service partner?

2. What is the scope of the work included?

Before signing a ppm contract, make sure that you and your provider sit down and go through what needs to be done to what equipment and how often. Establish the difference between a first service, an interim service and a safety check.

Normal working hours usually between 8.30am and 5.00pm are charged at a standard rate, but if access to your company is restricted at these times then costs may be higher, especially at weekends. Therefore it is important to iron out the details with the provider so that this can be included in your plan.

An annual safety check on electrical equipment is common practice, Gas equipment on the other hand should be checked regularly as should combi ovens and refrigeration cabinets. This is essential in order to maintain performance and extend the life of the equipment.

3. In the event of a breakdown, how quickly will my equipment

    be fixed?

This is probably the most important question you can ask, after all, this is probably the sole reason you are considering taking out a ppm plan. So determining right from the start how quickly your equipment will be fixed in fundamental.

You need to make sure that what you are being quoted is actually going to be delivered by the provider, including what guarantees there are that they will visit your business/s as often as the agreement states.

Therefore it is imperative that you employ a reliable, credible and well established company. Do not cut costs by using a cheap provider, this will only cost you more in the long run.

How do I know if a company is reputable? Look at their client list, their accreditations – are they a member of reputable bodies such as CEDA, Refcom, etc? How long has the company been running? And finally, how competent are their customer service team? These are the people you will be dealing with, so it is important to make sure that your supplier has a professional and competent customer service team.

4. Where is the provider located?

It is important to check where your potential provider is located, do they have one head office or other offices scattered across the country? How many engineers do they have and how many of these are close to your business?

Having engineers in your city/area means that lead times on fixing your equipment will be reduced, having a regional base close by will mean that engineers have access to complex equipment that they may not have in their van stock.

5. How much will it cost me?

Before you sign anything make sure you know the true costs of your PPM plan. It is important to work out how much it is going to cost you over the time agreed, be sure to define what is included in the cost so that you don’t get any nasty surprises six months down the line.

It is important that you invest well in your maintenance package, going for the cheapest option may save you money in the long run, but is something goes wrong with your equipment and you need a fast reactive service, the chances are you will not be covered and you will also have to fork out for labour and parts.

6. What extra charges can I expect?

If you take out a comprehensive package, there should not be any extra charges. However if your business does not require this kind of package, it is important that you fully understand what is included in your package and what you may have to pay for. Do not be afraid to ask questions, if there is anything you are unsure about make sure you have all the answers before you sign a contract, read the small print – maintenance packages can often be complex.

Finally, make sure that your provider gives you a schedule of works that they will deliver for each appliance, so both of you are fully aware of the scope of work included.

7. What Accreditations does the provider have?

Accreditations are not there for show, they are there to tell you that a company can do what they say they can. Some accreditations are more important than others, if you are searching for a provider to maintain your gas equipment, make sure that they are Gas Safe accredited and for refrigeration that their engineers are F-Gas Registered.

Accreditations and the standing of a company in the industry is important and should influence your decision in choosing a supplier, you need to feel confident that your chosen provider has the skills and knowledge to effect a safe and efficient service. Safety accreditations such as Altius and Safe Contractor also show the company take Health and Safety seriously and the works will be carried out safely.

8. How will I know that the work has been carried out?

This is particularly relevant to companies with different estates, knowing that your provider has done the work you are paying for is crucial. Good service organisations will provide job sheets which show that comprehensive checks have been made to your appliances and that they are in safe and working condition.

My final comments? Make sure you read the terms and conditions, know what you are signing up for and make sure that your supplier is reputable, you need to know that you can reply on them to get the job done. Spend some time doing a bit of research on the company, talk to their service department about the different options available before you set up a meeting so that you can bring up certain points you are unsure about and negotiate these.

For more information about PPM plans you can take a look at our website: www.acmefg.com or take a look at our maintenance brochure, we offer our customers three set plans and then tailor these plans to suit your specific needs and requirements.

Acme Maintenance Packages

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Acme Acquires Severn Catering Services

Acme acquires catering firm SCS

The Acme Facilities Group, the leading national provider of catering, refrigeration, HVAC and fabrication services announced today that it has further strengthened its National Catering division with the acquisition of Severn Catering Services Limited.

Severn Catering Services also known as SCS are based in Gloucester and have been trading since 1985. They are leaders in their field, providing reactive breakdown service and preventative maintenance cover to a wide range of public and private sector organisations throughout mainland UK.

SCS have a strong network of engineers spread across the country and centred in most major UK cities, in particular, London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

“We are delighted with this latest acquisition and welcome Chris and all the SCS employees into the Group. SCS joining the group supports our vision of becoming the customer’s single source solutions provider” said Chris Allen, Group Managing Director – Acme.

“This deal strengthens our engineering coverage and enhances Acme’s expanding catering division while SCS will be able to offer their customers additional services such as the supply and installation of commercial catering equipment, refrigeration and HVAC.”

“It is with great pleasure and excitement that I join The Acme Facilities Group and assist their expansion” said Chris Hopkins Director at Severn Catering Services, “I am looking forward to working with Acme and this deal ensures we can continue to deliver the fast, efficient and reliable service the catering industry has come to expect.”

Since 1964, Acme have established a proven reputation as a company delivering solutions to our clients’ specific requirements and this acquisition further strengthens our capabilities. Our success has stemmed from a proven ability to deliver quality and affordable services on a national scale and the acquisition of SCS is part of our ongoing expansion strategy.

Chris Allen,

Group Managing Director