AQUALEX, the Belgian company specialized in tap water coolers and designer taps for chilled, sparkling and hot water is the first to introduce completely touch-free water coolers and taps on the market. In the midst of the corona crisis, the R&D team developed AQUALEX Touchless®, an innovative sensor technology that allows their tap water coolers and design faucets to be operated with a simple hand movement. Our Fosbury & Sons' locations in Brussels have also been provided with a stylish Touchless® faucet, saving around 400 liters of bottled water per day and allowing 600 members to quench their thirst without touching a button or lever.
How did COVID-19 impact the way of working at your company?
"In the first instance, we immediately switched to full homeworking. Approximately 70 percent of our employees were already experienced with mobile working, for the other 30 percent we rapidly shifted to digital solutions such as video conferencing. We introduced a virtual showroom to be able to guide customers around from home.
The switch to home working was obviously the only right choice, but it soon became clear that home working is not part of our company’s DNA. To all our employees, social contact is like fresh air, we need to feel connected in order to function properly. Therefore, we have worked on solutions that allow our employees to work at the office in a safe way, with proper attention to hygiene rules and social distancing."
How does your company try to impact the world?
"When founding AQUALEX, my objective was to develop a system in which filtered and sparkling water rushes out of everyone's faucet. It is simply absurd that the bottles we use now travel around the world to finally end up somewhere in a huge waste heap. Such a system is the epitome of ecological irresponsibility. I firmly believe that in 10 or 15 years' time we will be talking madly about once having drunk bottled water. The younger generation is already convinced, and this positive evolution will only intensify in the years to come.
In addition, Belgium is struggling with a huge mobility problem. Our motorways are completely saturated, resulting in massive CO2 emissions and congestion. By delivering filtered cooled, sparkling, and boiling water directly from the tap, we reduce the number of trucks on our roads. The coworking spaces of Fosbury & Sons also respond to this problem: by bringing people together at one centralized location, many unnecessary kilometres can be avoided."
Can you tell us more about the new AQUALEX sensor technology?
"At the start of the corona crisis, the demand for disinfection and hygiene exploded. Our team had long played with the idea that a drinking water system that works through sensors instead of buttons is much more hygienic and convenient. Our R&D department got to work to implement sensor technology in our systems, and after just two weeks we were able to introduce AQUALEX Touchless®, the very first drinking water system on the market that uses sensors to operate water coolers and faucets.
The fact that we managed to achieve this in a very short period of time is due to the determination of the team. Our hands-on mentality and drive for innovation work as a huge motivator for our employees. This vigour does not only apply to the R&D department, our salespeople also consider it inspiring to introduce a new product to the market. Within the whole company there was a strong desire to make this project successful."
How did you experience the past few months on a personal level? Any positive takeaways you would like to share?
"It is no secret that I found the past few months to be particularly challenging – just like everyone else. I am naturally very social and get in touch with people all the time through meetings and networking events. All of that has abruptly come to a stop. On the other hand, the lockdown has made us all appreciate social contact more than ever. In addition, the current situation has also made clear that people are extremely flexible and able to come up with innovative solutions as a team."