‘The Challenge Is to Find the Best Solution’
In 1965 in Barcelona, Spain, Josep Morera saw the potential of providing ready access to drinking water in workplaces and public spaces. That’s when he developed one of the first water coolers in Europe. Today, the pioneering company he founded—Canaletas S.A.—manufactures an extensive line of water coolers, drinking fountains and water dispensers used in more than 50 countries around the world. Jordi Morera is the second-generation Managing Director and Owner of Canaletas, which is named for a famous fountain in Barcelona that dates from the 19th century.
“We offer different filtration systems for water coolers, depending on the quality of the water that we have to treat,” said Paz Ausin, company spokesperson and Export Manager. “For example, some countries in Europe do not need any kind of filtration, yet in some parts of Africa, it is really a must to include a UV or RO system. The challenge is to find the best solution between cooling, filtration, cost and the country conditions. I like to recommend the best solution for coolers together with water treatment to any customer who asks me, in any country. This has been an important challenge all these years.”
Until Canaletas came along, many airports in Europe did not have drinking fountains to quench a traveler’s thirst—only bottled water for sale. For example, two years ago, the Warsaw-Chopin Airport was the first in Poland to provide passengers with access to free drinking water and in 2016, Norway installed Canaletas products in 36 airports, Ausin said.
“Canaletas offers a wide range of models, capable of satisfying the needs and habits of very different clients and countries. For example, one series of drinking fountains is specifically for education centers, as the height can be adapted to suit students’ ages. These also are readily accessible for those with disabilities. Our products are made entirely from stainless steel, including the internal chassis.”
Canaletas works with more than 800 distributors around the world, serviced by its specialized technical service staff. The company’s website readily translates to five languages. Ausin is multi-lingual, speaking Spanish, Catalan, English and German. She spends more than half of her time traveling. “I feel that it is very important to personally meet my clients so they know who is behind them and also to better explain all the advantages of our drinking fountains and the services that we offer. With more than 50 years of experience, we have extensive knowledge of all the situations that end users may encounter. I like to educate my clients with all this knowledge so they know we can fully support them.”
Approximately 40 percent of the company’s product is exported, mainly to Europe, Scandinavia, North Africa and the Persian Gulf countries, as well as Mexico, Panama and beyond. The balance is manufactured and used for the company’s customers throughout Spain. Canaletas is the first European company to certify the sanitation system of its water sources and dispensers and to comply with the UNE 149191 standard for water quality. The company has been awarded quality certifications by independent national and international bodies and is a member of the European Water Cooler Association, European Point Drinking Water Association, Spanish Bottled Water Cooler Association and Spanish Water Treatment Association. “Our employees follow special training courses according European water cooler standards and European norms for food manipulations. Our water coolers also are certified by external bodies for electrical and food safety.”
This family business has devoted a significant part of its investment to research and development, “which allows us to test the needs of the market and offer new models that satisfy them,” she said. “As manufacturers, we are used to doing custom projects focused on the needs of our clients.” Canaletas also designed a fast and efficient system to sanitize water coolers that uses only a few minutes to remove all bacteria, unlike other systems that require a minimum of two hours. This process does not involve any additives or chemicals, yet ensures that the water is completely free of microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi or microbes, she said.
Challenges ahead include “increasing demand for high-cooling capacity and long-lasting drinking fountains, together with more effective filters,” Ausin said. “I also see an increased use of POU water coolers and drinking fountains in public spaces. We are more focused on the commercial market as our coolers are long-lasting and very reliable. We are planning to expand by offering more filtration treatment options adapted to our drinking fountains and coolers. We plan to continue growing by strengthening our international position and entering new markets. Our main objective is to develop new models and give customers better choice and value.”