Milwaukee Tool introduces ONE-KEY

(and about 79 other products for good measure)

Milwaukee Tool introduced an entirely new high-tech way to tap into the capabilities of power tools, perhaps the most high-touch of products, at its annual New Product Symposium, June 16-17.

ONE-KEY is the company’s brand name for a customized Cloud-based program that allows easy access to control and document tool performance and shares this information easily over the web.

“I can tell you that five years ago, I didn’t think my mobile phone would ever be more than a phone, a calendar and email,” said Christian Coulis, vice president of product management at Milwaukee Tool, during an evening presentation that opened the event and focused solely on ONE-KEY. “And today it’s that, but so much more.”

Eventually, contractors will be able to use ONE-KEY to customize just how much power a tool delivers and save that setting for later; his boss can use it to provide information to building managers regarding critical installations; meanwhile, the boss’s boss can use it to track inventory and, finally, everyone can seamlessly sync information in a matter of seconds to share on smart phones, laptops, tablets or desk-bound computers up and down the chain of command.

“ONE-KEY serves needs from all spectra of users – from one guy who wants to control his tool to the output that he needs to the company that’s trying to manage hundreds or thousands of assets and hundreds or thousands of touch points of information,” Coulis added.

We did say “eventually,” however, since the manufacturer will be rolling out its three general features over the coming months and, at this point, on select tool models.

Inventory Management: This will be the first component of ONE-KEY to roll out in September with mobile app (IOS and Android) and web link to share across all computer platforms.

From Coulis’ perspective, this will take care of the manila folder stuffed with crumpled receipts. Or the computerized spreadsheet that is difficult to update while in the field.

“Managing inventory is a critical matter for any successful business,” Coulis explained. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s a one-man shop or a company with thousands of contractors and tools spread throughout a city.”

ONE-KEY will create a central place for users to keep detailed records of all their tools and equipment, even non-Milwaukee brands, through serial numbers to create product profiles. With this capability, managers can assign locations or specific owners to each tool, provide accountability and create an easy way to share information from multiple jobsites back to office administration.

Tool Reporting: Due out in October, this component will enable users to easily share data and history in order to create customer reports.

“With ONE-KEY we can tap into the brain of a tool, download all the information from its applications, synchronize it, share it and create official documentation in the matter of a couple of seconds,” Coulis noted.

Tool Control: No doubt the coolest component of ONE-KEY will be added in January. The ONE-KEY app allows users control over tools from suggested presets to completely customized profiles for individual torque and speed settings.

“ONE-KEY is going to provide the ability to customize and connect tools for the first time and let your readers set up the tool the way they want,” Coulis said, “the way that’s most productive for their needs.”

Caveats

A couple of caveats. The Tool Reporting function will only be available on the company’s new M18 ForceLogic 6T Utility Crimper. Users will be able to upload data and history to create custom report that track, for example, the success and timing of electrical terminations. Also, the program will help track use and service intervals of the tools to maximize up-time and keep inventory lean.

Also, the Tool Control function will only be active on the company’s line of M18 FUEL drilling and driving products coming out in January.

“If you think about the number of fasteners that require different speeds and torques,” Coulis said in prepared remarks, “or the amount of repetitive applications that our users experience on a daily basis, there are hundreds of different tool profiles and setups that can be implemented. Tool Control will give users infinite customization capabilities for various applications, allowing them to make small teaks that make a huge difference.”

In his remarks at the show, however, Coulis also mentioned that ONE-KEY is just the beginning and that contractors should expect to see rapid expansion of the program not just in terms of the types of products, but also additional services that can be further tied into its Cloud capabilities.

‘Santa’s Candy Store’

This was our first time at the annual media gathering, which was best described to us by a blogger as “like being a kid in Santa’s candy store.” An apt description for an event during which the company launches an incredible amount of products available now or at various points between now and next April at the latest.

By and large, many of the products we saw on display and in action spread out over about 40,000 square feet of exhibit space created at the Waukesha Convention Center will be on sale by fall. Besides the products, what was also clearly front and center were the capabilities of all the Milwaukee Tool personnel we met. No matter the title, each person possessed the ability to seemingly speak off the cuff about their products, belying the obvious months of pain-staking prep work and rehearsals.

Milwaukee staffers tripped over less words during their talks than attendees tripped over cords. But that analogy falls flat since advancements in the company’s cordless products was one of the central points of the two-day event.

Cordless advancements

For example, by next January the company will bring out a REDLITHIUM High Demand 9.0 Battery Pack, up considerably from its current 5.0 high-capacity battery. In the meantime, the new M18 and M12 Rapid Charger will charge an M18 or M12 battery up to 40 percent faster than standard chargers. Available this month, the new Rapid Charger will be included with select M18 FUEL products, and also sold as an optional accessory.

As for cordless tools, two products were of particular note to PHC News readers:

M18 FUEL SUPER HAWG cordless right angle drill can power through 6-inch holes, but also drill more than 75 2-9/16-inch holes per charge for a completely cordless rough in.

“When we launched the M18 FUEL Hole Hawg last year that is optimized for electrical applications, we promised to deliver an innovative solution that is optimized for larger diameter hole drilling in the near future,” said Cole Conrad, senior product manager. “One year later, we are excited to not only keep that promise, but offer a solution that will completely eliminate the need to use generators and extension cords on the jobsite for plumbers and HVAC professionals alike.”

In addition, the 2711 model features a proprietary chuck called the QUIK-LOK that provides a keyless, one-handed bit change for most augers, self-feed bits and hole saws with flat or groove 7/16-inch shanks, as well as 3-flats bits. The tool is also equipped with a mechanical clutch in low gear to protect the tool in case of bind-up.

The product will available by the end of the year.

The M18 FORCELOGIC 2-inch-3-inch ProPEX Expansion Tool is latest product to result from the five-year partnership between Milwaukee Tool and Uponor. This fall, Uponor will introduce the industry’s first expandable 3-inch PEX and the ProPEX Expansion Tool is the only tool on the market that can expand it.

“Until now, its use in commercial has been limited due to tubing size and installation tooling,” said Corey Dickert, director of product marketing for Milwaukee Tool. We are proud to partner with Uponor to deliver a solution that will make larger diameter ProPEX a compelling solution for commercial system installations.”

The new M18 FORCELOGIC ProPEX Expansion Tool, like its M12 and M18 predecessors, will feature a continuous expansion design and auto-rotating head for even pipe expansion and maximum installation speed. With an electronically controlled, powerful 10T hydraulic mechanism, the tool expands, rotates and resets automatically.

Its intelligent design provides the user optimum balance in overhead connections and can also be flipped over to sit squarely on a tabletop for extended use on site or in the shop. Compatible with the entire M18 System, the Expansion Tool, is the latest member of Milwaukee Tool’s growing cordless system in the industry that currently offers more than 70 cordless Lithium-Ion products. The product will be available in November.

In other cordless news, the company introduced a new M18 FUEL 1½-inch Magnetic Drill & M18 FUEL 1½-inch Lineman Magnetic Drill. Part of the premium M18 FUEL line, both tools are faster than their corded counterparts, deliver the strongest magnetic hold on ¼-inch steel, and can drill up to 40 13/16-inch holes per charge.

The new products feature a patented magnetic base that delivers safer drilling in ¼-inch steel by providing the strongest magnetic hold on this material. The new tools use permanent magnets so the magnetic base operates without electricity so the magnet does not lose its grip if the battery is drained.

Milwaukee Tool also introduced the world’s first cordless braking grinder solution. The M18 FUEL Braking Grinder can stop accessories in under two seconds and deliver up to 10 times longer tool life.

The new cordless braking grinder also features the same metal housing and gearing system found in Milwaukee’s high performance corded grinders. To further maximize durability, a removable Job Site Armor screen is in place to prevent debris contamination. In addition, the M18 FUEL Grinder is a 100 percent tool-free product. Whether the user is adjusting the guard or replacing accessories, all changes can easily be made without a wrench, utilizing a FIXTEC nut.

Hand tools

Regardless of cord or corded power tools, we liked what we saw in a host of humble hand tools. Take for example, the plumber’s wrench. Think you can’t make this any better? Well, next February, the company will come out with what it calls The Cheater, a pipe wrench that can accept a variety of different sized handles.

The Cheater will give users a few different options for leverage. By itself, the Cheater is a 10-inch wrench. The wrench will be available for sale next February.

Later this year, the company will also be launching adjustable pliers designed with a more comfortable grip and a thumb screw that holds it position better than others. For basin wrenches, the company takes to mind the tool’s often awkward positioning by providing more leverage options. A locking system also for either a screwdriver or a 3/8-inch ratchet at the bottom. 

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