There are many features that make up a commercial soft serve ice cream machine. When you watch soft serve machines dispense product, it appears easy, but behind scenes there are many mechanisms and features that ensure your machine operates properly. In this article, we’re going to go over a few of the features that every soft serve ice cream machine should have. We will also discuss the importance of parts, service, support, and training. The first step to success is ensuring you choose the right soft serve machine for your store.
Pre-Cooling System/Hopper Refrigeration
Putting dairy products in your soft serve ice cream machine is like storing milk in a refrigerator. It is necessary to refrigerate milk or any dairy products to ensure they do not go sour or form bacteria. The same goes for the soft serve mix you add to your machine. The area where product is stored in liquid state is called the hopper. A refrigerated hopper will keep your liquid ice cream mix at a consistent and cold temperature to ensure it does not go bad. All Spaceman soft serve machines are certified by ETL to NSF 6 standards for food safety and dairy storage and have been independently tested to ensure food safety.
Freezing Cylinder Size and Design
The freezing cylinder is another vital feature of every commercial soft serve ice cream machine. The freezing cylinder is the area of your ice cream machine where liquid soft serve mix flows after leaving the hopper. It is sometimes referred to as its technical term, the evaporator. This is where the freezing (heat removal) happens, and the product becomes soft serve. Freezing cylinders are among the most important parts of a soft serve machine’s functionality. An efficient freezing cylinder will not only quickly freeze down product to the appropriate temperature and viscosity, but it will quickly recover after servings are dispensed. Be sure to find out the initial freeze time, and recovery time of your soft serve freezer. Also be sure to size your purchase based on your serving size. If you are doing smaller servings, or servings under 10 oz, it may be wise to look at smaller cylinder soft serve machines; the advantage is faster freeze and recovery, less product waste, smaller footprint, and lower costs. If you are doing 10+ oz servings sizes, you probably will want to choose a machine with a cylinder between 3-4quarts to ensure you can do a couple back-to-back servings if needed.
Nationwide Service and Support
As with any foodservice equipment, it’s inevitable that problems will occur. Whether it’s a user error or an issue with the machine itself, it’s important to get assistance when you need it so that machine malfunctions do not interfere with your sales and cost unnecessary down time. At Spaceman USA, we offer nationwide service and support, and are a proud partner of CFESA and the National Service Cooperative.
Spaceman company has a unique sales and onboarding process which helps ensure proper expectations, in depth training, and troubleshooting support during the early stages of operation. Our customer success team is solely dedicated to helping our customers operate their machines better and answer any questions that come up along the way.
Another feature that should come along with your commercial soft serve machine is parts availability. There are two categories of parts, warranty, and wearable parts. A wearable part is anything that is not covered under warranty and is meant to be replaced routinely. There are several wearable parts included with a commercial soft serve ice cream machine which are small, and easy to misplace. At Spaceman, we strive to have all parts readily available when you need them, so that you don’t lose out on profits if a part breaks or gets lost. Parts can be purchased from your local service agent, or through Partstown.
Technical Resources and Training Resources
It is essential for your commercial soft serve ice cream machine to come with technical and training resources. At first glance, these machines can be intimidating to use due to all the tiny parts and unfamiliar buttons, but with the proper training, you’ll be an expert in no time. At Spaceman USA, training options include in-person and over-the-phone, and we also have YouTube tutorials readily available on our channel here. Finally, we publish the industries most comprehensive training and learning resources for soft serve and frozen beverage, publicly in our Knowledge Base. Here you can find articles such as best practices, how to guides, functionality tests, and detailed parts and service information.
Low Level Indicator & Self Closing Handles
All commercial soft serve ice cream machines should include a low-level indicator light. This prevents your machine from “starving the cylinder” or freeze ups. If your low-level indicator light flickers on, this is a sign that you need to add more liquid mix into your hopper.
Having self-closing handles on your commercial soft serve ice cream machine is a standard feature that any machine should have. This means that when you pull down on your handle to dispense your soft serve, it will automatically close when you’re done, even if you do not push the handle back to its starting position. This is a great feature to have because it ensures that no soft serve is wasted.
Soft serve is not magic, and there are no one size fits all machines. Most issues and complaints that operators have with any brand of soft serve machine root from purchasing the wrong model, having poor expectations, and operational error. Operating and cleaning soft serve machines may be more difficult than any other piece of commercial food service equipment in your kitchen. Having a partner who can help to choose the right machine, train your staff, and provide ongoing support, parts, and maintenance is paramount.
We hope that if you decide to purchase a commercial soft serve ice cream machine, you choose a Spaceman model suits your needs. We have a multitude of options which you can view here. All our machines come with the resources and trainings you will need to successfully operate a soft serve machine.