The ice cream machines at McDonald’s are infamous for their frequent breakdowns. People wanting to have a McFlurry could not get one because the machine’s broken. iFixit, a repair company, is working on making it easier to repair these machines.
In a video released on Tuesday, iFixit, known for their consumer electronic teardowns and repair guides, disassembled a McDonald’s ice cream machine to investigate the root cause of its frequent malfunctions.
According to iFixit’s video, the ice cream machines at McDonald’s display overly complicated error codes. This, with an exclusive repair contract between McDonald’s and the machine manufacturer, Taylor, creates a dependency on Taylor’s service technicians that is both expensive and time-consuming.
Kytch, a company, developed a device that translated error codes into simple instructions to fix McDonald’s ice cream machines. However, McDonald’s quickly crushed this initiative, citing unproven ‘safety hazards,’ according to Elizabeth Chamberlain, a repair expert at iFixit.
To prove their point, Chamberlain and his team tore down a McDonald’s ice cream machine and found easily replaceable parts like a heat exchanger with copper piping, a motor and belt, and three printed circuit boards. They did not attempt to mess with the big compressor without the right tools, but they found nothing that someone who knows the work could not fix. However, the DMCA currently prevents third parties from figuring out how the machines’ controllers work.
The iFixit team is taking matters into their own hands because of the limitations set by copyright law. In a video, Elizabeth Chamberlain, the director of sustainability at iFixit, expressed the team’s desire to create a device like Kytch that could read error codes on their ice cream machine. However, they are unable to do so due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), so it is all the software that is blocking access to these machines.
iFixit’s team wants to create a device like Kytch to read error codes on their ice cream machine, but the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) – prevents them from doing so.
iFixit and Public Knowledge have requested an exemption for the law on ice cream machines, similar to what they’ve won for other products. If granted, iFixit still won’t be allowed to distribute a repair tool. Therefore, they are urging Congress to reintroduce the Freedom to Repair Act. If Congress agrees upon the changes, getting a McFlurry could become easier.

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