The much-hyped concept of the Internet of Things, in which physical objects are connected to and tracked over the Internet, is slowly gaining a foothold in the power tools market. Such digital connectivity can provide a variety of advantages, from theft deterrence to inventory management to improved tool performance. Several manufacturers are leading the way with smart power tool technology, including DeWALT, Milwaukee Electric Tool, and Robert Bosch.
DeWALT’s Tool Connect Smartphone App
Lithium-ion batteries are quickly becoming the battery of choice for cordless power tools because of their lightweight and high energy density. However, they are pricey, and as many owners of Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones can attest, they can burst into flame if damaged, improperly manufactured or poorly maintained. DeWALT’s Tool Connect smartphone app can provide a means for tool owners to monitor their performance and prevent these costly batteries from being stolen at job sites. When used in conjunction with a DeWALT Bluetooth-enabled lithium-ion battery, the app can alert the user if a particular tool has gone out of Bluetooth range and even remotely disable the battery, discouraging unauthorized use. The app can also give the user remote updates on the battery’s state of charge and temperature, thus alerting the user if the battery begins to overheat.
Milwaukee Electric Tool’s ONE-KEY Digital Platform
While DeWALT has put smart technology in the tool battery, Milwaukee Electric Tool has embedded it in the tool itself. The ONE-KEY digital platform, which Milwaukee Electric Tool unveiled in stages in 2015 and 2016, has a number of features that can be accessed via web and mobile apps. For example, the system can allow companies to keep records of their tools and the users of those tools, aiding in inventory management and the determination of annual tool expenses.
ONE-KEY can also sync with certain of Milwaukee Electric Tool’s M18 FUEL drilling and driving tools that feature embedded computer chips, enabling users to operate the tools according to pre-determined, customizable speed and torque settings that are best for each application. This can improve job site efficiency by virtually eliminating improper usage.
Robert Bosch’s Connected Power Tools
In January 2017, Robert Bosch’s debuted an LED floodlight that can be remotely controlled through an app, allowing the light to be turned on and off according to a preordained schedule. The company plans to introduce further app-controlled products in the coming months, including drivers and hammer drills that can offer such advantages as precise torque control.
Where to Find Out More
Need more information? For historical demand data and forecasts by product, market and geographic region, see Global Power Tools, an industry study published by The Freedonia Group. The study also discusses market environment factors, industry structure, company market share, and leading manufacturers.
About the Author:
Joseph Iorillo is a researcher and writer at The Freedonia Group where he contributes to studies on a wide array of topics, including consumer and industrial goods, chemicals, and packaging.