By Donna Kreutz

Brothers Marco and Antonio Zerilli have big plans, global plans, for their family business founded in 1931 in Palermo (the capital of Sicily), the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. Their company, Zerica, designs and manufactures water and beverage refrigeration systems for the home, office, restaurants and bars. They specialize in high-end products and have said: “We are the Rolls Royce of water chillers.” The business (which has grown exponentially) today exports products all over the world.

Marco is Zerica’s CEO and Antonio is Managing Director. Together with about 50 employees they are uber-committed to quality. “Our mission is to guarantee high-quality, high-performance products using leading-edge technologies,” Antonio said. “Thanks to the recent technological innovations we’ve introduced, we represent one of the leading production companies in the sector. And thanks to the recent introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, we are able to offer a cutting-edge, remote-control and management service.” This enables two-way communication for remote parameter modification and remote problem resolution.

“Zerica ceaselessly strives to make every single product unique in some way, either to fill a gap in the market or to respond to a customer need. Using a state-of-the-art, flexible, computerized production line, our production is done entirely in-house. Full use of cutting-edge technologies, innovative design and quality materials ensure our products are reliable and durable.”

Research and innovation are keys to Zerica’s continuing success. “It’s in our family DNA,” Antonio said, recalling that he was given a soldering iron as a gift when he was just six years old. He oversees the sales, marketing and communications teams, while Marco manages the factory headquarters. In 1960, they introduced the first water fountain, a pioneering move in Italy. In 1984, Zerica began using antibacterial copper as standard production material. In 1995, it introduced the newest and smallest under-sink water cooler, then in 2013, the world’s smallest free-standing unit.

Some of the most important company attributes include: the ability to view all installed machines on a dashboard, monitor status, analyze consumption data and receive email alerts; telemetry used to display technical metrics (voltage, pressure, temperature and more) in real time, something most IoT solutions cannot provide; machine-operating parameters that can be modified remotely (for example, drink temperature or portion size); programmable energy-saving periods to optimize consumption; mobile-app-enabled and NFC-enabled payments and custom video upload functionality. “Over the years we continue to develop innovative solutions for this ever-evolving market,” Marco said. “Today the range has been enhanced and enriched by new, high-quality, high-performance, professional-standard products that use ground-breaking technologies. The innovative technologies employed have already been awarded multiple prizes, both national and international.”

With key patents in every aspect of water chilling (and now water heating and juice mixing), Zerica has frequently led the way. The Zerilli brothers have heavily prioritized technical innovation and, by combining this with their vision and foresight, are creating revolutionary, market-leading products in water, the general beverages sector and beyond. “Zerica is a historic company always focusing on innovation to maintain competitiveness in the market all over the world,” Marco said.

of the primary reasons for their trajectory of growth and expansion include having a dedicated research and development team; in-house product design and industrial process planning team; SAP-assisted production planning and quality-control tracking; one of the longest production lines in this sector of Italy; highly qualified craftsmen increasingly complemented by intelligent workstations and robotics; the recent addition of in-house PCB assembly capability and the ability to prototype and successfully transfer key ideas and concepts to new machines.

In 2018, Zerica launched the award-winning Hot’n’Cold, which provides both hot and cold drinks from a single compact unit. In 2019, the company expanded IOT Web 4.0 technology, NFC and mobile payments across the full catalog. Marco said: “Over the next 10 years, Zerica plans to offer the market technologically advanced systems, guaranteeing technical assistance carried out totally remotely, while improving the quality of performance. For example, usage and volumes can be assessed and displayed graphically by the machine to help with more individualized customer management. You can view at a glance when filters or CO2 canisters need changing.”


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