“Our objective is to dominate the jobsite with cordless tools” • Milwaukee NPS2016
By Anthony Capkun
August 16, 2016 – As the calendar flipped from April to May then June, my thoughts turned increasingly to summertime activities, and one event that helps me welcome the summer is Milwaukee Tool’s New Product Symposium (NPS).
In case you missed our Tweets, EBMag was back in “Beertown” Wisconsin this past June to check out Milwaukee’s latest market solutions.
“Our objective is to dominate the jobsite with cordless tools,” said Shane Moll, reinforcing what Milwaukee has been telling us for several years: that its mission is to “cut the cord” on the jobsite by offering battery-powered tools with the same (or better) performance as their corded predecessors.
So what did we see?
Hand tools and accessories
The Hand Tools & Accessories division started a few years ago with just eight (8) tools, and has since grown to encompass several hundred items. At NPS2016, we were told several million dollars were invested in upgrading the Empire plant alone with robots and automation, as well as people. (Empire is a manufacturer of levels, squares and layout tools, and safety and utility tape that Milwaukee acquired June 2014.) Among Empire’s offerings at NPS2016 were levels with LED-lit vials (2 AA batteries, up to 32-hr runtime) and the E105 box level with digital readout, auto-calibrate and audible indicators.
The company is also introducing a range of Milwaukee-branded “RedStick” box levels, some of which boast “amplified” rare earth magnets for powerful adhesion on the jobsite, and sturdy construction that extends to the vials. The RedSticks will be available Q4 2016.
CLICK HERE to see a weighted drop test on a RedStick SharpSight vial.
In the Layout department, we also shown both Empire and Milwaukee tape measure solutions. The company stands behind the strength of these products, putting one Milwaukee tape measure through both a punishing drop test and being slingshot into a concrete wall.
CLICK HERE to see Milwaukee Tool’s new open reel long tape being drawn through a mud bath to show the debris wiper’s capabilities.
The Inkzall line of jobsite markers now sport fine-point versions for easier labelling of wires, Romex and drawings.
Sawzall has a new Ax blade with carbide teeth, promising 30x the life over bi-metal blades. And the company is very pleased with its new Hole Dozer hole saw: a new thermoset paint keeps it spinning fast, and they will replace your Hole Dozer should you ever break one. Despite the new paint, Milwaukee says there will be no price increase.
The company also showed off its next-gen socket adapter, which has been updated with Shockwave technology to last longer; a new reamer combines EMT reaming with a bit for fastening; and Steelhead diamond cut-off blades now come in sizes ranging from 4 in. to 14 in.
Milwaukee says it continues to invest millions into technology, promising we’ll see dramatically improved Sawzall blades, Hole Dozers and more. It also says it has invested in its supply chain to improve reliability for its distributors. The manufacturer is also bringing more LED lighting solutions to market. Speaking of lighting…
Milwaukee’s jobsite lighting technology is three-pronged, says the company, as it focuses on better LEDs, optics and battery performance.
One of the new products they would like you to consider before you string up any corded jobsite worklights is the M18 Radius LED compact site light (which will become smarter in October when the OneKey version hits the shelves). Because these units also accept—and convey—AC power, you can daisy-chain up to 15 of them to cut the cord and still provide jobsite lighting. A single unit provides 4000 lumens when on the highest setting, and you can adjust the site light to provide light in all directions, or turn one side Off to provide directional lighting.
CLICK HERE to watch a cordless Radius compact site light take a beating.
Additionally, you can buy different lenses for Radius; specifically, you can remove the diffuse lens for a stronger light output (5000 lumens) but, naturally, the light will be harsher on the eyes.
The M18 Rocket LED tower light/charger provides 3000 lumens and is equipped with a built-in M18 charger. Supplying both task and area lighting, the tower delivers multi-directional light via three adjustable light heads. The new M12 Rover flood, meantime, is touted as the perfect replacement for 250W halogens, as it sticks, clamps, hangs, etc., just about anywhere.
Now, a special lighting offering specific to linemen is the new M18 utility bucket light, which is built to handle bad weather, high voltage and other abusive conditions. It will also be paired with the 9.0 pack, and is expected around December 2016.
Clothing and storage
Milwaukee introduced heated garments a few years back but, for 2016, the company says it has focused on the garment itself.
“People are going to rethink how they see performance workwear” with the GridIron (ripstop polyester) workskin base layer and more, we were told.
The company is using tougher materials to offer greater abrasion resistance and 5x longer garment life. The battery pack for the heated hoodie has been moved to a “better location” while the hood itself has been redesigned to fit better under hard hats. Milwaukee also introduced a battery-less GridIron hooded jacket, while its FlexFree work gloves allow you to operate touchscreens while wearing them.
And new storage solutions continue to be the rage. CLICK HERE to see handle and wheel testing of the 18-in. rolling bag.
Batteries and apps
Milwaukee is very pleased with its M18 platform, which is now found in over 100 solutions. The big news on the battery side was the unveiling of the “high-demand” 9.0 M18 RedLithium pack, which promises up to 2x the performance of the XC5.0 and, most importantly, works across the entire M18 platform. (The price of this pack was not available at the time.)
The OneKey app was described as “not just an app”, as it promises to help you customize, track and manage your OneKey tools. Besides logging the location of your tools—and locking out those who would steal your tools—OneKey allows you to, for example, establish the RPM set-point of your tool for a specific application. Milwaukee says this could be handy for jobsite novices who have yet to develop the years of experience that would give them a feel for the right way of working a given material. One of the tools used for demonstrating this capacity was the new-to-market programmable cordless Sawzall.
And, as predicted (wished for) a couple of years ago—especially by the woodworking editors in attendance—Milwaukee finally unveiled a cordless dual-bevel sliding compound miter saw (M18 Fuel). It is married to the new 9.0 battery and weighs about 50 lb with the battery pack.
Taking a serious look at property aesthetics, Milwaukee has now entered the outdoor/yardwork power tool space with three new M18 offerings: hedge trimmer, leaf blower and string trimmer. All three are expected to be available January 2017… too late for Christmas, but just in time for my birthday.
CLICK HERE to see the hedge trimmer in action.
CLICK HERE to see my “blower cam”.
That’s a wrap
The items I mention above really just scratch the surface of everything Milwaukee Tool had to show us at this year’s New Product Symposium.
To get more insights into these and other solutions, visit Twitter and search the hashtag #NPS16. BUT, for the hashtag to deliver relevant results, you have to scroll back in time to June 8, 2016.
Stay tuned to EBMag over the coming weeks as we cover these and more solutions individually, and keep your eyes open for some more exclusive content in October.
* A big thanks to the folks at Milwaukee Tool—especially James, Amanda and Kharli—for organizing my trip and taking great care of me while in Milwaukee.