By Larry Eils
Each year, thousands of water vending and office coffee service (OCS) executives travel from around the globe to the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) expos to see the latest and greatest products, services and equipment available for vending and OCS professionals. This year’s Western Expo— March 29-31 at the Las Vegas Convention Center—included a variety of new products designed to condition and purify water, including several systems using new technology to deliver the very best water possible through more convenient delivery systems.
The almost 5,000 attendees set an expo record. Nearly 249 exhibitors filled the showroom offering products and services to help vending owners and operators better manage each and every part of their overall operations. This show had it all.
Lots of new water purification innovations and water delivery mechanisms were displayed as well. For example, Crystal Mountain Water Cooler Corp., of Alberta, Canada, exhibited a new point-of-use (POU) model that is connected directly to the water supply. The water reservoir is offered in plastic or stainless steel and is removable without tools to allow cleaning.
For Crystal Mountain’s bottled water product, the five-gallon, bottled water jug is placed on top of the unit. Water is available in hot and cold, or cook and cold, configurations. Hot water is dispensed at 185°F for tea at a rate of 30, six-ounce cups per hour and cold water is dispensed at 45°F. To ensure the customer receives the best product possible, the units aren’t equipped with standard filters. Instead, customers install specific filters matching the quality of incoming water with the final water quality desired. The refrigerated units will carry the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star logo soon, indicating the unit meets specific energy efficiency requirements for water coolers.
Full bottles of water
Pure 1 Systems, of New Rochelle, N.Y., showed off its Everfull and Easyfull systems to convert any standard bottled water cooler or crock dispenser into a complete POU water treatment system. The company’s products pre-treat water in-line, and then store the water in its patented Everfull or Easyfull bottles with a small, residual disinfectant that’s removed during the dispensing process. There are two different types of filtration systems—filtered water or reverse osmosis.
This new method dramatically extends the water’s time of exposure to the disinfectant—a factor shown to be critical to any system’s ability to destroy pathogens—while also minimizing the risk of post-treatment recontamination.
For filtration, Pure 1’s most popular system is SemperFRESH, which is usually the best choice for customers who use reliable municipal water sources where the water is adequately chlorinated and biologically safe. It’s NSF International certified to improve the taste and odor of biologically safe water while removing chlorine, chlorine by-products, sediment, most pesticides and other volatile organic compounds.
Taking a coffee break
Oasis Corp., of Columbus, Ohio, showcased its Breakstation Office Coffee Service system and innovatively designed water coolers. Founded in 1910, Oasis is the world’s leading manufacturer of water cooler systems. The Breakstation is unique mostly because of its top-mounted shelf design, which allows all electrical and refrigeration components to be placed at the top of the cooler. The top-mounted shelf provides faster, easier access for routine maintenance or service, and more room below for water filtration equipment. In addition, the system’s direct flow-cook valve flow rate is nearly twice as fast as other competitors’ pressurized models, approximately two ounces per second. Also, the company’s newly designed faucet levers from Cleveland-based Tomlinson activate with dependable and efficient valves for trouble-free operation.
For Oasis’ water cooler, the company offers a removable, sanitized water reservoir making cleaning easy and convenient. Optional bottle covers are also available with color molding throughout. They’re durable to conceal scratches and scrapes.
Ozone and filters
The Fleece Company, of Auburn, Calif., also showed products to help customers with machines that wash, fill and cap five-gallon water bottles. The bottles are all washed and sanitized using ozone. Once the bottles are sanitized, they are filled with filtered water and capped automatically.
A number of other companies manufacturing water filters for vending machines and OCS equipment also exhibited their wares—Cuno Inc., Everpure Inc., Hydro Life Inc., Omnipure Filter Co. and VendFriend.
These were just a few of the exciting industry innovations that visitors to the NAMA Western Expo had an opportunity to see. NAMA’s national expo will be held October 25-27 in Chicago, and promises to be even bigger and better than ever.
About the author
Larry Eils is senior director of technical services at Chicago-based National Automated Merchandising Association. Founded in 1936, NAMA is the national trade association of the merchandise vending, office coffee service and contract food service industries. Its membership is comprised of service companies, equipment manufacturers and suppliers of products and services to operating service companies. NAMA can be contacted at (312) 346-0370. Eils can be reached at email: [email protected].