How technology is changing trade tools

How technology is changing trade tools

A global construction survey by KPMG earlier this year indicated those in the construction industry were not utilizing technology as much as they could. According to the KPMG report, 23-36 per cent of companies still do not use mobile technology on projects. Yet, young apprentices that are joining the industry have grown up surrounded by technology and expect it in their jobs.

In addition, technology has lead to the development of tools that improve efficiency and safety. Many contractors have found technology has been beneficial on the jobsite, particular when it comes to tools and power tools.

Power Tools

A 2017 article in Contractor Magazine estimates that the power tools industry earns over $15,000 a year, which shows how important power tools are to contractors.

Some of the most recent advances include better LED work lights, enabling contractors to work in dark spaces. While this helps to get the job done quicker some manufacturers have added features such as having lights that are able fit into awkward spaces or hang upside down.

Many new tools also feature a panel with crucial information about power supply and even if recalibration or service is needed for the tool. Some power tools come with built in wireless connections, which also allow a user to select from several pre-set functions like torque and speed. Saws have also become connected and users can use an app to track and manage the tool and companies like DeWalt have developed connected tools that allow users to connect to the battery packs, enabling users to monitor the tool.

Plumbers have been able to better diagnose problems thanks to pipe and drain cameras. They can save on time as it eliminates the need for a plumber to head down into the pipe to figure out the problem. These tools can record video and still images, send the information to a phone or tablet and also come with a mini-USB connector or SD card.

GPS

From finding your way to a customer’s home, a building site or even your tools, GPS has changed the way contractors work.

Lost and stolen tools can not only affect the jobsite but also the cost for the overall project. This is one of the reasons manufacturers have opted to develop technology that helps contractors track their tools.

Milwaukee has dubbed its system the One-Key tool that includes wireless connectivity to the tool, which can record the last time the tool body was within 100 feet of the monitoring device. It will also update devices with the One-Key app when it comes within range of the tool, helping to find lost equipment quicker.

DeWalt’s system is similar and they have the capability to shut down the battery completely, if it has been determined that the tool has been stolen. Another advantage is that the tool connects only to one device. It will not work with any other remote device until it has been unpaired through the app. If another user attempts to control the tool, its location will be reported back to the original user.

Safety

Technology has even been developed to ensure safer tools on the site. One saw has been developed to retract if it comes into contact with a human hand. SawStop, developed by Stephen Gass, was one of the first on the market but later other companies began jumping on board, including Bosh with their table saw Reaxx. However, Reaxx has not been available for sale following a lawsuit that has blocked it.

While the costs of developing such a sophisticated machine may be high, the value to a contractor facing serious injury will be worth it.

Mobile

Connectivity on the worksite has become the norm thanks to smartphones and tablets.

Smartphones now do more than just keep contractors in touch on the job. They have also become a way of transmitting information among team members. For example, electricians can take photos at the job site and send them to the office, as well, office staff is able to send links or diagrams or other information to those at the site.

Tablets have also become common place, allowing contractors to carry project plans on the device, which is easier to carry and use than a laptop.

Drones

While not necessarily considered power tools drones prove useful in a number of industries including the trades.

One of the biggest advantages that drones offer is that they are able to access remote and dangerous areas. This proves to be beneficial to contractors who want to ensure the safety of a site without risking an injury. The KPMG report found that 42 per cent of companies were using drones to monitor sites and 30 per cent were using automated technology or robotics.

Innovation

Sometimes research develops products that are not always in demand but are intriguing all the same.

Nemo Power Tools have developed a range of handheld tools that can be submerged in up to 50 metres of water without causing danger to the tool or the user. The tool needs to be air pressurized with a pump before being used under water but a test of the tool by Popular Mechanics demonstrated its usefulness.

Interesting enough this power tool comes with LED lights that help light up the job site underwater.

While not an obvious choice for the day-to-day tradesperson, these types of tools prove to be beneficial for rescue divers, fire departments and even sewer-repair crews.

Conclusion

While technology has been advancing in many other industries, there has been a slower move to implement technology into the trades. However, one of the main ways it has been applied is to enhance power tools used on the job site. As manufacturers find more and more ways to integrate advances in their tools it has made for a safer and more efficient workplace for contractors and tradespeople.