The watercooler industry may not be known for its innovation, but with the need to address the growing demand for units that operate ‘hands-free’ – a number of innovations and developments have been made to ensure users can stay hydrated, safely and securely.
Handsfree water fountains
The developments in the water fountain industry have covered most of the important usage situations. Best catered for are indoor locations, and at the premium end are wall mounted water fountain units.
The CWS HT Hydroboost and the CWS Hydroboost Combination have been on sale for a while, but are really coming into their own as they dispense water via a ‘touchless’ motion sensor bottle filler. The units are designed to be surface mounted and operate when a bottle is presented and placed under the spout. This feature requires power and is not suitable for outdoor use. The combination version of the unit also features a chilling feature.
Both units are easy to install and maintain. The filter on both units can be swapped in and out whilst the units remain in operation, and the status of the filter is indicated by an LED light.
Outdoor handsfree water fountains
Similar styles of units are available for use outdoors, alongside a large number of robust standalone and wall mounted fountains. Whilst they are operated via a pushbutton, there is a reasonable distance between the control and the dispense point, therefore making it a good compromise where the use of power is not possible.
Floorstanding water fountains can now be supplied with foot pedals and being mechanical, these units do not necessarily require power - unless you wish to take advantage of the chiller function, they would then need to have access to a power supply. The CWS WFP9T is a particularly good value unit that is available with a cowling to secure it to the wall and protect the services from any risk of vandalism.
For the more traditional water coolers, with the most popular ones being those with large dispense areas for bottles and cups, there have been a number of handsfree developments, such as the additions of foot pedals.
This is available both on the CWS KaliX and also the CWS B3.2 and B4.2. The pedal operation has proven very popular and can be installed to totally override the touch panel controls or work alone alongside them, and therefore in due course, the footswitch can be removed altogether.
In a more recent development, the B3.2 and B4.2 are also controllable via an app, using Bluetooth technology. The app allows the user to dispense water hands-free and makes it ideal for use in high footfall locations such as offices and factories. For the B3.2 and B4.2 the foot pedal or the app can be retrofitted which is great for users who have these units currently in operation.
One of the latest additions to the hands-free water cooler line up is the Arctic Chill 88CL, which is a derivative of the very popular Arctic Chill cold only unit. This model now has a motion sensor that enables contactless dispensing. The main dispenser button is also retained so there is a manual option and the unit comes with a 10 L overflow kit as standard.
Bottled water coolers
There has been less development on the bottled water cooler side of the market, but we are seeing sales of units with paddles rather than taps, such as the CWS Jazz 1100. On this unit, customers can put their bottles against the paddle, which dispenses directly into the bottle. Whilst not totally contactless, it does remove the need for touching any of the unit.
Weekly and daily cleaning routines
It is of course good practice to use a universal cleaning product in between the planned cleaning routines throughout the day. Cleaning kits are now widely available containing sanitising solution spray, disposable sanitising gloves and hygiene paper roll. They are relatively low cost and provide peace of mind. In most cases, the kits are kept alongside the unit with the cleaning carried out by the end-user
It is also possible to arrange weekly deep cleaning sanitisation of units in line with the Water Dispenser Hydration Association (WHA) guidelines, this would cover:
- visual inspection of the machine
- safety check
- exchange of the carbon water filter
- sanitisation of the water trail
- external clean of the equipment
- sanitisation of the dispensing outlets
- thorough flush through the water trail
- a taste test of the water quality
- completion of the service record
Upgrading existing water Cooler & fountain units
Where customers have an existing estate with watercoolers or fountains, it is sometimes possible to retrofit units by adding features such as foot pedals. For floor standing and wall mounted fountains, swan neck bottle fillers have replaced bubblers. Whilst this does not make the unit entirely hands-free, it removes the risk area of a bubbler where the germs can collect and provides access to fresh cold water.
As a result of requests from our customers, we’ve also introduced a range of handwash stations. The CWS W310 is a very flexible large trough that can accommodate between one to five users. For all of the sizes, we can supply blanking plates for the tap holes that are not in use, to meet current or future social distancing requirements. There are a range of tap options including infra-red taps, which can also be used outdoors, which provide a totally hands-free operation.
Non-concussive taps are also proving a popular option. One of the newest units on the market is the CWS WE248 which is a foot operated stainless steel floorstanding wash-basin which allows for on-off water supply without the need to touch the tap, making it ideal for no touch hand washing. The basin will work with either cold or premixed supply. The unit is also available with a refillable water tank so that it can be an entirely freestanding unit.
And finally, a word about existing water coolers and fountains, with the correct cleaning routine these can be used safely. For more information about restarting, cleaning, and caring for water coolers and boilers please see our blog post guide.