The AG-3000, our most advanced machine yet, is finally done and ready to ship. It took a bit longer than expected, but between multiple revisions, part delays, and being shutdown for several months due to the pandemic, we were able to take the time to perfect it. Here are just some of the benefits of the new machine:
- Square Pan Top - The AG-3000 is our first machine to offer a square pan. Customers generally prefer a square pan but manufacturing one that meets the NSF sanitation guidelines is not a trivial task. Most of the Chinese made machines which feature square pans are made by bending and welding sheet metal. The problem with this approach is it creates sharp and rough inner corners that trap bacteria, which is why it is not approved by NSF. A square pan can be made with smooth sanitary inner corners by pressing the pan top but the tooling and minimum order costs run well into the 10's of thousands of dollars, so this is not feasible for most small manufacturers. We've developed our square pan top around an entirely unique approach. We are using a rolling press to imprint a square shaped but smooth ridge around the pan area. The pan depth is not very deep but is more than sufficient to keep the ice cream in the pan and gives the user the best access to the rolling area. Best yet, it meets the NSF guidelines and doesn't cost a fortune to implement.
- More Cooling Power - The amount of cooling power capable of being produced by the machine and the temperatures that it can operate in are directly impacted by the amount of airflow through the machine. We've made significant revisions to the machine's frame to maximize the airflow through it. In addition, we've added larger fans in our default configuration. The result of all of this is a machine that can put out more cooling power and can operate in much hotter environments. This is most beneficial for those operating outdoors or in mobile units where the temperatures are much hotter than your average storefront.
- More Precise Temperature Control - The AG-3000 is the only machine on the market to now offer +/- 0.5 degC temperature regulation. Most machines on the market use one of two methods for temperature control. Either they turn the compressor on and off or they open and close a solenoid to reduce the cooling capacity. The first method results in very large temperature swings and greatly reduces the lifespan of the compressor. The second method can provide more accurate temperature control of +/-3 degC but the solenoids wear out over time and they make significant noise when they turn on and off. We've implemented an entirely new method of regulation using electronic expansion valves (EEVs). These valves are able to be dialed in to the exact amount of required cooling. Combined with our precision PID loop controller, we are able to keep temperature fluctuations to as little as +/-0.5 degC. Two additional benefits of the EEVs include solenoids that don't wear out as quickly and the elimination of the noise created when the solenoids turn on and off.
- Improved Controls and Diagnostics - In order to implement the precise temperature controls with the EEVs, we added multiple new pressure and temperature sensors inside the machine. These sensors can also provide valuable information about the health status of your machines such as when the airflow is restricted or when it is time to clean your condenser. We've now made this information available to the user through Bluetooth. Presently, you can download a standard Bluetooth scanner and receive all of the internal working parameters of the machine. Here in the near future we will be releasing our own Bluetooth app to fully communicate with the machine. This will allow you to track performance over time and even make adjustments to the internal working parameters under certain conditions.
Arctic Griddle is planning on releasing a new square pan-top version of our machines this year. It will also feature multiple new internal sensors and continuously variable valves, which will give the machines a host of new benefits over the existing machines currently on the market. I will have a post on all of these improvements in the near future.
We had hoped to be in production with these new machines by now but we have hit an issue in getting the needed parts. Several of the parts we need we can only get from China and the coronavirus has shutdown the factories. We hope that the shutdown will be short and we will be able to get the required parts, but we have no guarantees. As a result, we are working on a contingency plan but do not know when we will be able to resume production.
Because of these delays, we will likely be backlogged again during this pre-summer busy season. We recommend that if you are planning on purchasing machines in the next few months, please give us a heads up and let us know when you will need them. You don't have to put down money but we will put you on our production list so we can best meet everyone's desired schedule.
As far as our machines from last year, our AG-1000 and AG-1010 machines, we are down to just a couple units left in stock. We are holding on to the remaining units for our existing customers and for emergencies. If you are an existing customer or have an immediate need let us know and we will try to work with you.