Earlier this year Milwaukee Tools introduced its product range to the Internet of Things with its ONE-KEY platform. PE takes a closer look at what this new generation of ‘smart’ tools has to offer.
In the electrical industry we have witnessed various products go ‘smart’ over the past decade. The rapid development of lighting and heating controls especially (for both domestic and commercial applications) over the last couple of years has been centred on the demand for increasing levels of connectivity to the technology around us. The Internet of Things is here, connecting our homes with our gadgets, our gadgets with our offices, offering energy savings, efficiency and convenience. It was only a matter of time before power tools entered the fray.
Milwaukee unveiled its ONE-KEY concept at its annual conference held in Prague back in February. ONE-KEY has been developed to integrate tool electronics with a custom-built, cloud-based program. Communicating with their ONE-KEY tools via an app, users will have access to a new level of control and information that Milwaukee hopes will revolutionise the way work gets done. The system has been released with three initial key functions in mind:
The new M18 FUEL Drilling and Driving products can sync wirelessly to the ONE-KEY mobile app. The app will allow users to use pre-determined set-ups for speciﬁc fasteners and materials, or completely customise their own proﬁle with torque and speed settings for the application at hand. With a touch of the button on the tool, users will be able to easily go back and forth between these saved proﬁles so that each application is done with the most accurate and productive settings.
The app will also create a central place for users to manage all of their tools and equipment across their network of jobs and operators. This will allow users to keep detailed records of each tool, even non-Milwaukee brands, so they can easily build a budget and manage their annual spend on equipment. Managers are also able to assign locations or speciﬁc owners to each asset, providing accountability, and enabling easy information-sharing between the ﬁeld and back-office.
Alongside the launch of M18 FORCE LOGIC 6T Electrical Crimpers, the app platform was given the ability to wirelessly synchronise with the web based program. The user will be able to upload data and history to create custom reports that track the success and timing of electrical terminations.
Furthermore, the ONE-KEY program will assist in tracking the utilisation and service intervals of the tool to maximise uptime and keep inventory lean.
With tool theft a massive concern for all tradesmen, the latest update to the ONE-KEY app will be very welcome. Milwaukee has introduced an Integrated Tool Tracking function. Available in every ONE-KEY enabled tool, Integrated Tool Tracking provides full visibility to how and where ONE-KEY compatible tools are being used across your network of jobs and users. The ONE-KEY app will automatically keep records of the last time it was within 30m of your tool, allowing you to pinpoint missing tools quicker and increase accountability of your team.
What do we think?
Just how useful ONE-KEY could be to the smaller electrical contracting ﬁrm remains to be seen, but I can certainly imagine larger businesses relishing the opportunity to optimise and keep track of their tools. It is easy to see the efficiency, maintenance and security beneﬁts of a system such as ONE-KEY. However it will be hard to build a demand for such products when most trade users are probably satisﬁed with their drills just drilling holes. I have no doubt that connected tools will play an important role in boosting efficiency in the future, but it is going to take a bit of a culture shift for it to really take off.
ONE-KEY is accessible by computer at: www.milwaukeetool.eu/ONE-KEY, or by a mobile app interface on compatible Android and iOS smartphones.
Who better to give the ONE-KEY range a test drive then the latest addition to our testing team, George Maynard.
“When I first heard that Milwaukee was releasing its new range of smart tools in the ONE-KEY range, I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing and being a bit of a tech geek/power tool lover, I wanted to get my hands on one of these futuristic toys right away.
The new ONE-KEY range has a whole host of functionalities that are designed to give the end user/installer total control and customisation of their power tools rather than a few limited factory settings or none at all The tool control feature is what gets me going the most. As electricians, we constantly face different challenges and ever changing working environments mean one minute we can be drilling out joists in a domestic property and then the next, be drilling and ﬁxing to solid steel in an industrial factory. The Tool Control feature allows users to set four different settings for four different installation applications on the drill at any one time. It allows you to control Torque, RPM and kickback, saving electricians time and also from damaging drill bits or screw heads. This can be done at the push of a button and directly from the Milwaukee ONE-KEY application on any smart phone or device whilst on site. The tools settings can be constantly changed and tweaked for optimum performance and to allow the user to quickly change drilling or screwing applications when it is needed.
The tool itself is a robust and quality product which can handle any on site action. The ONE-KEY next generation Fuel percussion drill, M18FPD, is more compact than its predecessor but it packs a surprising punch, roughly doubling up the amount of torque and power.
I have encountered differing views on the ONE-KEY tools from various different trades on site with the some of the older generation being unsure about the leap in technology and the younger lads being keen to get involved and to learn. The beauty of products like this is that it can still be used either with the customised setting or simply just the original factory settings, meaning it caters for both the tech enthusiasts and the technophobes. I think this is the way forward in construction with increased data and smart tool feedback and believe it is the next step to smart worksites and technology with increasing energy efficiency, control and security.”