Cooler, Cleaner Water

Waterlogic

You might think there is nothing simpler than clean water, but it’s a lot more complicated these days. Issues of purity and environmental concerns have – as it were – muddied the waters, and confused millions of households and thousands of businesses, who not only want to do the right thing environmentally, but also want clean, good tasting water.

As its name implies, The Cool Clear Water Company offers solutions. This innovative company has been studying global trends in drinking water and for more than a decade has supplied water filtration systems to residential and business users throughout Australia. Now it is poised to offer further tasty alternatives.

Garry Habel is the Commercial Director of the Australian operations of Waterlogic, the global organisation that now owns Cool Clear Water. The company was the leader in and around Perth in the supply of plumbed-in water coolers. It was purchased by Water First, a Sydney based company founded by two entrepreneurs who expanded the company largely through acquisition throughout the eastern side of the country. In January 2013 the group bought Culligan Water (at that time a top-four market player) and then last June, the entire group was snapped up by Waterlogic.

This London Stock Exchange listed company describes itself as “a leader in point-of-use water purification,” and sees huge potential for the Australian market which has traditionally depended mainly on bottled water to quench its thirst. A rebranding exercise has been carried out, and in June the market will see the debut of Waterlogic Australia.

“Waterlogic PLC is the only international company in this space,” says Garry. “It operates in more than 50 countries and looks after more than 750,000 plumbed-in water coolers.” It’s the biggest, but more importantly, “it’s a technology leader. This is probably the only company in the world that goes right through from R&D and manufacturing, to sales and marketing globally.” There is a wholly-owned factory in China with more than 200 employees making coolers, with a development centre attached.

Waterlogic also has two patented technologies. The first, Biocote, is a silver based additive incorporated into parts of the dispensing area of the cooler to provide continuous protection against surface germs. Introduced during the manufacturing process, the technology interacts with microbes that come into contact with the surface, irreparably damaging them, preventing reproduction, and causing the germs to die. Biocote protects surfaces from a range of microbes including MRSA, E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria and Pseudomonas, as well as mould and fungal growth, and it is used by manufacturers in a wide variety of applications.

The idea is ancient. Garry points out that the Romans used silver to make cutlery because the metal has a natural anti-microbial action, and bacteria cannot grow on it. Impregnating the plastic of the water-cooler surfaces with the silver ions almost completely removes the possibility of cross-contamination from hands or the nozzles of sports bottles, for example. “We are the only company that has that level of protection.”

The second patent concerns Firewall, which is based on the known effects of ultraviolet radiation. UV kills germs, but with Firewall, Waterlogic placed the UV lamp at the point of dispensing, so the water is zapped just milliseconds before it hits the cup. Independent lab tests suggest a degree of purification of the resultant drinking water within 0.00001 per cent of perfection.

Applying these improved techniques has transformed the water cooler, says Garry, into something altogether safer as well as more palatable, and Waterlogic is the global leader. Perhaps surprisingly, the US – where TV shows seem to suggest business life revolves around the water cooler – is behind the curve here. They are dependent to a very large extent on bottled water. Not the one-litre mineral water variety, but the 20-litre (or more) big refillable bottle (sometimes called carboy) usually supplied on a regular replacement cycle. Garry says these bring with them something of an environmental problem, not the least of which is the transportation to and from the user. In Australia, “during the last ten years consumers and businesses have been migrating to plumbed-in water coolers because of the environmental benefits but also because they are a lot cheaper – perhaps half the cost of bottled water.”

So Waterlogic supplies a remarkably clean dispenser for what was essentially ‘tap’ water. But is this really necessary in today’s Australia where the big water companies pride themselves on providing clean water through the pipe? Garry concedes tap water is rarely deadly, but he adds, can you remember the environmental scare that preceded the Sydney Olympics? “The water in Sydney became polluted with pathogens and people had to boil their drinking water – that was only ten years ago.” To an extent, pure water is a luxury for some people and businesses; in developed countries we rarely fall sick from drinking mains supply. However, there is considerable demand for the peace of mind that purified water brings – not to mention the taste. “If you compare chilled filtered and unfiltered water, there is a huge difference in the taste with the chlorine and so on removed.” He cites areas of Western Australia where water is often recycled and even mixed with bore water. “If you want it to taste good, you want it filtered.”

Waterlogic’s customer base is growing exponentially among general businesses, restaurants and clubs as well as home-owners and places where clean water is critical – hospitals, aged-care homes and the like where there is a serious medical consideration. Garry says this sector really appreciates the new technology his company offers. In general, though, he feels that even people who do not worry about the quality of the water they drink can enjoy the benefits of the much-reduced cost to facilities and the reduction in carbon footprint offered by the delivery method of the plumbed-in cooler. But for those who are not just thirsty but wish to appreciate the taste, this technology really offers something extra.

For more information about Waterlogic, please visit http://www.waterlogic.com.

SMEs and the Economy

At one time or another, just about every Australian dreams of giving the boss the boot and turning their great idea for a small business into a reality. Often launched by eager entrepreneurs, small to medium enterprises, known as SMEs, maintain a powerful presence in Australia’s business landscape and economy.

December 3, 2016, 3:32 PM AEDT

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