Ozone plays a critical role in the growing POU market.

In the early 1970’s, when the bottled water industry came of age, a number of serious and persistent problems threatened the very survival of the fledgling industry. Due in part to ineffective or inconsistent bottling techniques, bottled water was plagued with bad taste, contamination scares and a short shelf life. Then ozone came on the scene and provided a critical ingredient that allowed a fledgling industry to flourish.

As in the bottled water industry, ozone is playing a critical role in the growing point-of-use (POU) market. Even as federal, state and local water regulations are in a constant state of flux, the list of vendors that make ozone-based POU systems a turn-key proposition continues to grow. It’s not hard to imagine a day when water stores and water vending machines will populate every corner. Vendors will only need an ozone-based POU system and more real estate.

After growing substantially during the last few years, the POU equipment industry is now maturing. With so many new POU systems being installed annually in convenience stores, supermarkets and coin-operated kiosks, the demand for ozone systems tailored for on-site use is growing exponentially.
As with other industries served by ozone, an effective POU system generally includes more than just an ozone generator. Keep that in mind when shopping for a POU system. Now that ozone has become popular, every vendor in the water business is selling ozone. The question is, where do all these ozone systems come from?

The Real Manufacturer

Someone has to bring all the pieces together: pumps, valves, tanks, hoses, filters and ozone. But you might be surprised to learn that very few companies actually make the ozone generator in their ozone-based systems. Most POU systems on the market are a collection of core components, repackaged and sold to the end user. When considering the merits of an ozone-based system, consider the merits of the manufacturer that provides the actual ozone producing components.

Once you know the ozone manufacturer, doing some preliminary research could save you time and trouble in the long run. Is the manufacturer U.S.-based or offshore? While buying domestically does not assure quality, knowing the country of origin can help determine if geographic or political factors will impact parts availability and warranty issues.

Manufacturer History

When researching the manufacturer, find out how long the company has been in business. Ozone has been around since the beginning of time, but the practical production of ozone on demand is a fairly recent development. How long an ozone manufacturer has been in business can help determine their level of experience and their ability to adapt to changes in technology and market forces. Other questions to ask include: Is the manufacturer under the same ownership? Are they for sale? All of these factors could have an impact on the future of the POU system you choose.

Association Involvement

Next, find out if the ozone manufacturer is in good standing with trade associations, such as the IOA and IBWA. Ozone is a very powerful oxidizer and the manufacturers of these devices need to be experts in safe delivery and monitoring of ozone. The science of ozone is continually growing and becoming more com- plex. The degree to which a manufacturer is involved in expanding and validating that science, is a good indicator of their field expertise.
Industry Experience

The industry experience of the manufacturer should also be a factor in determining the best system. If they have been in business for a while, it shouldn’t be too hard to find an end user willing to talk about his or her experience with the manufacturer’s POU system. Ozone systems for water processing require a high degree of reliability and consistent output, and that is even more important in a POU system. Because these systems are designed to be self-sufficient and are often located in an unmanned kiosk-type environment, reliability and serviceability are of much greater significance.

Like the early days of bottled water, ozone is allowing the POU/POE market to grow at an increasingly rapid rate. The same ozone technology that is present in all major water bottling facilities is now available to the masses in the form of advanced POU systems. The more you know about the supplier of the critical ozone components, the better you can judge the overall value and reliability of a prospective POU system. bw

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About the author

Ken Castro, is business development manager for ClearWater Tech, LLC, San Luis Obispo, Calif. He can be reached at 800.262.0203, ext. 28, or by e-mail at [email protected].