ITALY – Zerica, a water dispenser manufacturer, has introduced contactless ‘hover’ buttons for its newly launched Kolumna water dispenser, which allow users to select a drink without making physical contact with the buttons.

The Kolumna unit is able to dispense filtered chilled, ambient or sparkling water. To use the buttons and select a drink, consumers need to hover a finger over the button which corresponds to their drink of choice.

Zerica also announced that the touch-free buttons will be available on several of its water dispenser models, adding to the touch-free solutions that the company has already introduced to the market, such as foot pedals and a connected app.

A statement from Gemma Tuxford, UK business and account manager at Zerica, said: “This innovation comes in direct response to the pressing market need for touch-free water dispensing.

“Characteristically, Zerica has been quick to react in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and now produces multiple hands-free workplace hydration solutions like the Kolumna.”

Gemma Tuxford – UK business and account manager, Zerica

“Characteristically, Zerica has been quick to react in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and now produces multiple hands-free workplace hydration solutions like the Kolumna.”

The Palermo-based beverage dispensing specialist is a third-generation family company which is making increasingly bigger waves in the foodservice sector.

While the firm has a rich history of invention to draw upon, having been established in 1931, it was only just before the turn of this century that it began exporting its water coolers and fountains to the UK market, at that time aimed mostly at the b2c sector in large offices and factories.

The firm is now run by brothers Marco and Antonio Zerilli, with the former as CEO and the latter as MD. Antonio recalled: “The most difficult part used to be making people try our units, but the moment they did, they understood our difference. It’s really different technology – quality is important to us.”

The Italian manufacturer is managing to balance these often-conflicting elements by producing as many components as possible itself for its machines.

Marco explained: “We are always looking for total customer satisfaction, so we wanted total control of the sub-assembly and the raw materials, not only of the product itself.”

Plus in 2018 the firm purchased equipment to produce its own PCB (printed circuit boards) for electronic operation of its units.

Therefore less than 10% of components are now externally purchased, essentially only standard items such as compressors and solenoid valves. Marco summed up: “Each unit is a business card for us. We believe in the quality and we want our products to work for years and years.”

Over the last decade, the manufacturer has expanded into producing juice dispensers and hot beverage machines.

Putting its innovative thinking cap on, the firm launched its first juice units in 2016 after collaborating with an Italian juice concentrate manufacturer with the aim of eliminating issues it reported with bacteria development in competitors’ machines.

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