“Water- a bequest of nature” bases all innovations in curbing water crisis to make our blue planet green and sustainable.
India is home to around 15% of the people living all over the globe but has only 4% of the total global water reserves. Above all, the country has been hit by cholera (water-borne disease) pandemics multiple times in the history. Even at the beginning of 21st century, cholera remains an endemic in most parts of the world with many developing countries still affected by frequent outbreaks due to lack of clean water and sanitation services.
In the modern era, ‘Death by Contamination' would be the most unfortunate death inflicted by poor State services on the common man. Even the private sector comprising companies and organizations is ethically obligated to provide pure drinking water to the employees. Water purifiers are not luxury but a necessity.
Burgeoning commercial activities since the New Economic Policy of 1991 has generated ample demand for commercial water purifiers. One of the reasons being paranoia around increasing TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) in ground and surface water due to several natural and man-made activities. Increasing awareness about health and well-being has also unveiled the importance of pure drinking water. Thanks to the widespread advertising campaigns, pure drinking water is synonymous to water dispensed from a water purifier. Though the marketing campaigns are powerful enough to influence the purchasing decision of the customer yet with multiple brands shoving their USP's in the user's face, choosing an ideal water purifier is an overwhelming task.
Let's discuss some characteristics of water purifiers that different brands showcase to attract the customers.
Reverse Osmosis technology: RO technology has become synonymous with water purifiers. The customers mostly buy RO fitted purifiers without really considering the required water parameters. They think if it's a water purifier- It's RO.
Since most customers fall for RO technology, companies try to capitalize on their existing bias. Therefore, some call themselves ‘advanced' water purifiers with ‘patented' RO technology. Some other water purification companies claim to have the "highest recovery 100% RO water purifier in India". The purification stages have also increased over time from 5 to 8.
Purification and Chilling Capacity: Many purification companies compete based on purification rate and chilling capacity. The average purification rate of a commercial water purifier is 25 LPH. The purification rate above that displays the effectiveness of a water technology company. The companies also boast about the chilling capacity of their water purifiers if it’s above the average capacity of 10 L. The more the better when it comes to storage capacity of a commercial water purifier. Some water purifiers come with voluminous storage to ensure a steady supply of purified water.
Mineral fortification: There are purifiers in the market that have TDS controller that helps retain essential natural minerals in the purified water. Some even come with an auto mineral modulator enabling the user to set the taste of water while maintaining a healthy balance of natural minerals. Some purifiers have mineral fortification technology that adds essential minerals back to the water to make it fresh, natural and of balanced pH.
Filters: The municipal water is treated before supply. This treatment ensures that the public water supplied meets national drinking water guidelines. The common method used for treatment is chlorination. It is an effective way of killing harmful bacteria in the water. However, many people dislike the taste. Therefore, the Point of Use filter media manufactured by the water purification companies is used to improve the taste.
The traditional filtration system is a disposable plastic housing containing a filter media. They must be replaced after regular intervals. Therefore, millions of plastic filters are thrown away every year. Some water purification systems have re-usable (patented) filters and whatever part that needs to be discarded is also biodegradable. They attract the customers through ‘green' and ‘sustainability' facets.
‘Eco-friendly' water-purifiers: Water purifiers with energy saving feature, fancy certifications, minimum greenhouse gas emissions etc. attract the eco-conscious consumers. But, many companies greenwash their products only to stay in the eco-minded dollar game.
Therefore, before buying, an important concept that the consumers need to become aware of is ‘greenwashing'. The general idea behind greenwashing is to create a benefit by appearing to be an environmentally responsible, "green" company, whether that benefit comes in the form of a higher stock price, more customers or favoured partnerships with green organizations (Investopedia). Thus, the consumers ought to check the authenticity of these marketing claims before buying a water purifier.
Different technologies and thousands of water purifier in the market have increased the complexity of buying an ideal water purifier. Global commercial water purifiers market is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 22% during 2016-2021 according to TechSci Research report "Global Commercial Water Purifiers Market By Technology, By Region, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011-2021".
Some researchers have dived into the factors that influence consumers' purchase decision of water purifier. Research indicated that consumer preferences are based on their personal background, experience, quality, reliability and service available for a specific brand. This study revealed that quality ranked first place among the criteria in the selection of water purifier (Rajeswari V. and Ayisha Millath M, Brand Preference towards Water Purifier).
Another study concluded that behavior of consumers is affected by various factors like the price of a product, technology, health and safety, brand name, marketing activities as well as their own characteristics (Nilima Das, A Study on Factors Affecting Consumer Purchase Decision of Water Purifier).
Buying a water purifier is indeed a health investment. Providing water free of chemicals and harmful pathogens to the workforce is one of the important facility management responsibilities. Some of the factors that could be considered while selecting water purifier are:
Water Supply: The quality of water source and level of water pollution vary at different places. Also, the quality of water supplied by municipal agencies differs. The level of TDS and other impurities in the water source would determine the need for RO, UF, UV or their combination. If the TDS level of water purifier is less than 300 ppm, there is no need to buy an RO purifier provided the water is checked for turbidity, appearance or presence of biological impurities like bacteria and viruses. UV water purifier can be used if the water source is susceptible to microbial contamination.
RO rejection rate: Water wastage is a well-known ill-fated fact about RO technology. An average RO purifier purifies only 40% of water whereas 60% of it comes out as waste. Workplaces require an efficient water purifier with least water wastage. If that’s not possible then there should be an efficient system of waste water re-use for non-potable purposes. Certain turnkey water technology products have an integrated system of channelizing rejected RO water to office pantries.
Number of employees: The storage capacity of water purifier needs to be huge to satisfy the hydration needs of the employees especially in summers. Therefore, a water purifier needs to be checked for its storage capacity before selection. Factors like average shift hours and consumption levels in an organization also determine the storage capacity of water purifiers. More storage capacity would ensure incessant flow of purified water to the workplace with sizable employee strength.
Electricity Supply: No sooner does the water level declines in the storage tank than the purification process begins in an automated water purifier. Workplaces established in a place with constant electrical outage require large storage tanks to provide unhindered water supply. They can also buy several gravity-based water purifiers with no dependence on electricity. Even though they are not as efficient as Electric water purifier, yet their maintenance cost is very less.
Maintenance and After sales support: There need to be an alarm system in some water purifiers that indicates filter life and other technical glitches. The workplaces can look for Fail Safety Mechanism for an ideal water purifier. The real time reporting of maintenance requirements is a game changer when it comes to selecting a water purifier. IoT (Internet of Things) enabled water purifier would be a smart choice in the era of Artificial Intelligence.
Installation and Warranty: Another common feature of a reputed water brand is free installation and at least one-year manufacture warranty. Before buying a water purifier online, the workplace needs to check installation and warranty details.
Certifications: One factor that might reduce the hard work in choosing the water purifier is certifications. If the water purifier complies with the quality certifications like ISI, CE, NSF, WQA etc. more than half of work is done. These organizations have certain benchmarks that align with the national level guidelines regarding the purity of water dispensed, quality of water purifier, TDS level etc. Some water purifiers are honored with green certifications which make them eco-friendly and sustainable. The ecologically conscious workplaces can go for them and indirectly contribute to the elimination of carbon and plastic footprint.
The workplaces need to step on a learning curve and understand the importance of plastic-free hydration solutions. The change ought to ignite from the top and percolate down the entire hierarchy. Bottled water should not be an option even if a workplace is least bit concerned for the planet. Installing water purification systems has become a standard for a responsible facility management. So, let’s choose Purifier over Plastic.
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