The Internet of Power Tools


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It seems the internet is a beast that just cannot be tamed. Every day the headlines are full of a revelations in the online world, whether it’s the latest social media craze, or a tax avoidance scandal from an internet giant, the world wide web just doesn’t sit still.

It probably came as no surprise to anyone when in recent years manufacturers started to think of ways to connect hardware products to the internet, but as ever, no sooner had the very first whisperings of the idea surfaced, so too had the idea been put into action, such is the way in the digital age.

The ‘Internet of Things’ as it has become known, aims to revolutionise our lives in countless different ways, whether remotely controlling your central heating system with your smart phone, or having your fridge do your on-line shopping for you, the possibilities seem limited only to the imaginations of those coming up with the ideas. It’s predicted that over the next few years the number of devices controlled by the internet will number in the billions.

With this new paradigm shift towards internet connectivity being everywhere you look, along with the relatively cheap nature of sensors and and other electronic components thanks to their widespread use, it was only ever a matter of time before internet connectivity found its way into the world of power tools, but find its way there it has.

Milwaukee are known for their drive for innovation in a manner not matched by any other manufacturer, so it’s certainly fitting that they would be the first company to take up the challenge of finding innovative and useful ways of connecting their products to the internet.

Inventory Management

Utilising their ‘One Key’ cloud based management utility software, one of the most important features that Milwaukee are offering with their internet connectivity system is the ability to manage and keep records of all tools used within a company, which is really handy if you’re in charge of a large work force. Using this system the user is able to connect the pre programmed tool to their One Key database, just by typing in the model number of the tool. From here you’re able to keep track of where the tool is, details of any repairs undertaken on it, when it was purchased and more. Clearly the connectivity between the tool and the software is a real time saver, but you can of course log other more ‘benign’ items such as brooms by manually entering information should you wish to.

Tool Reporting

Everyone wants to be consistent in what they do, if there’s one thing that warrents repeat custom, it’s doing a consistently good job. ‘How could this possibly relate to tools being connected to the internet?’ I hear you cry!

Simple, being able to preset things like the torque and pressure output from a tool ensures that anyone using that tool exerts the same output as anyone else who uses it, or any similar tools managed by the same company. This has proven particularly useful when it comes to electrical ‘crimping’ tools used by electrical tradesman. Project specifications often demand that the same level of crimping pressure be applied to every fitting across an entire project, which whilst once almost impossible to validate, can now be achieved at the touch of a button or click of a mouse. Better still, a full log of the data stored within the tool database as the tradesman has gone about his work on an entire project can easily be downloaded and passed onto building inspectors and surveyers as evidence of the quality of the work carried out.

Smart Power Tool Batteries

With the emphasis on the battery rather than the tool, Black and Decker have though outside the box with their latest innovation, a battery that can be controlled via a mobile phone app. Batteries being the valuable commodity that they are, the app allows you to ‘lock’ a battery so that others can’t take them and children can’t turn them on, it also allows you to remotely view the current charge level of a battery, and to locate the battery in a messy garage by the emission of a loud audible beep. The great thing is you’re able to monitor several batteries at once, and name them according to which tool they are assigned to.

If that doesn’t float your boat, B&D have also included a feature on their smart batteries that almost everyone will find useful – a USB port to allow you to connect to and charge your phone or tablet!

Really we’re only at the tip of the ice berg in terms of what internet connectivity can do to revolutionise the power tool world. It’s anyone’s guess what will be coming next, but you can bet it’ll change the way we work forever.

 

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