Portion Control Ice Dispenser

Quick-serve restaurant (QSR) operations seek consistency in all aspects of the operation. This often drives automation in the equipment so that operator training is not a significant need. High turnover in the industry necessitates simple and repeatable operation.

Something as simple as adding ice to a cup prior to adding the beverage can complicate operations if the beverage dispensing function is automated with portion control. The amount of ice in the cup must also be controlled to a reasonable accuracy so that the cup is not over or under filled with beverage.

A manufacturer of beverage equipment was faced with low reliability performance of their portion-control ice dispenser. Parts were failing from over stress, ice dispense quantity was not as repeatable as the customer wanted, and the sensors used in the design would fail or lose sensitivity requiring frequent field calibration.

A Six-Sigma reliability project was undertaken to determine root cause using the classic DMAIC process. The problem was defined with inputs from customers and field service technicians. Overall scope of the problem was determined then potential root causes were brainstormed. A structured process of analysis and laboratory investigation was then undertaken to prove which candidates actually contributed to root cause, and which did not.

The team was able to turn the problem on and off by implementing the root cause corrective actions. The eventual design improvement was implemented into production at the end of the project.