Dessert isn’t suppose to be healthy. It’s something we’ve all come to accept, but Healthy Foods LLC has been defying dessert by offering Yonanas — a soft-serve ice cream treat that only uses frozen fruit — through their in-home dessert makers. Yonanas has found success in being both a healthy and delicious treat, and Healthy Foods LLC wanted to take that success to the next level and into the global, commercial domain.
They came to Priority Designs because of their vast experience in engineering commercial food and beverage dispensing machines. The Priority Designs team knew they could meet the goals of building a commercial Yonanas-dispensing machine that would quickly serve the fruit, be easily serviceable, and meet the global commercial food equipment certifications of NSF, UL, CE, CLA, and TUV.
The road to production spanned from ideation to a fully engineered production prototype. Priority Designs’ team designed, engineered, built, and tested each of the machine’s parts, to ensure the machine would dispense Yonanas without failure. The team sweat every detail over the machine’s 226 parts to ensure optimum performance, from the cutterhead to the electrical system.
It’s important to prove a concept before diving into engineering. The team built a breadboard prototype of the machine, which helped determine the overall mechanics and parameters of the system. After reaching a successful early breadboard model, engineering and prototyping of the machine began to make a looks-like, works-like Alpha model, which was used for testing and research to further refine the machine. The finished production machine delivers excellent results, combining both the highest quality fruit texture possible, and an incredible speed of delivery. After a year of developing and sourcing parts for the Alpha prototype, the Priority Designs team laid the foundation for a profoundly seamless transition into production.
The process wouldn’t have been complete without Priority Designs’ in-house electrical engineering team to help test and develop sensors for the machine. They built cycle-testing systems to optimize the fruit consistency and speed of the dispense. In addition, they created low cost, custom sensors that confirm to the machine when all the parts are in place and ready to dispense. These sensors essentially enhance the user experience, making the machine safe and straightforward to operate.
The cutterhead is vital to the machine processing and dispensing Yonanas properly, and Priority Designs integrated their product design, engineering, manufacturing, and prototyping expertise to develop and fine-tune this essential component. While it was certainly a challenge to make it cleanable, removable without tools, and fast-working, it was the kind of complex problem their team loves to solve. After several prototype iterations and lots of problem solving on issues such as cleanability, motor-tuning, dispense reliability, and more, the team was able to engineer the cutterhead to be the robust and reliable component it needed to be.
When a restaurant or café serves Yonanas, they offer their customers several fruit flavors. To keep the experience sanitary, a system is needed to maintain a clean, fresh cutterhead for each customer. The Priority Designs team brainstormed and investigated several concepts to make this happen, and a system of two machines – one to blend the fruit, and one to rinse the cutterhead – proved the most effective way to maximize cycle time. The team of engineers created the rinse station with a synchronous water flow pattern that thoroughly rinses the cutterhead for the next customer. The rinsing station is NSF certified, and keeps the Yonanas experience clean for all of those involved.
Priority Designs’ team completed the machine eco-system by designing and engineering the Yonanas fruit packaging. This involved designing several package variations, engineering the package ceiling, and making it manufacturable at a low-cost. The in-house model shop was integral in delivering stunningly realistic prototypes. The prototyping team vacuum-formed, 3D printed, and CNC machined parts that they painted and assembled to make the prototype operate and appear indistinguishable from a production product.
It’s hard to make things easy. After nearly two years of meticulous development and collaboration with the Healthy Foods LLC team, the first commercial Yonanas-dispensing machine was shipped to cafés and restaurants across the country, and the world. There’s been an overwhelmingly positive response to the convenience and ease of use of the machine, with one staff member exclaiming “Thanks for making it so easy!” It was a nice reward to provide a healthy, delicious dessert choice for consumers, and an easy serving experience for the staff.
Some images provided by Yonanas
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