DeWalt’s Connected Systems Tony Nicolaidis, vice president of marketing, and Kelly Musselwhite, vice president of sales, answer construction writers’ questions about the company’s jobsite WiFi product.

DeWalt unveils digital, physical tools

Sept. 9, 2017
The venerable toolmaker introduced its latest products to construction writers, bloggers and podcasters at a media event in Nashville in mid-August.

NASHVILLE — Making the point that the future of construction revolves around digital information, DeWalt introduced software and digital tools alongside its traditional cordless and corded power tools and accessories. The venerable toolmaker introduced its latest products to construction writers, bloggers and podcasters at a media event here in mid-August.

Chief among them was the jobsite WiFi and Construction Internet of Things initiative that was announced in June. DeWalt has contracted with a firm that builds military grade hardware to produce the WiFi mesh network for larger construction sites. The WiFi product joins the firm’s Revit plug-in for hangers and second-generation Tool Connect version.

Tool Connect provides inventory management, diagnostics, find-and-locate, enable/disable, custom settings such as speed, and out-of-range alerts. The offering also includes soon-to-be-introduced features such as Tag, a small device that can be attached to equipment and monitored with a mobile app, and Bluetooth in batteries and tools themselves to allow monitoring and control, such as disabling them when they go outside of a geo-fenced area.

When Tool Connect was introduced in 2015, it was initially for battery management. The latest version features an inventory management solution that includes the Tool Connect Inventory Manager web portal, the updated Tool Connect mobile app, and connected products. DeWalt’s latest power tools have Bluetooth built in, but the firm also showed a “Tool Connect Connector” for older 20V tools. The Tool Connect Connector snaps into the battery slot on a tool and then the battery snaps into the Connector, explained Product Manager Ward Smith. So that thieves can’t defeat Bluetooth tool tracking by removing it, the Connector locks onto the tool — you’d have to take it to a DeWalt service center to have it removed.

The jobsite WiFi was designed to be easy to install and expandable as a jobsite changes through the construction process, said Kelly Musselwhite, VP of Sales and Commercial Operations, Connected Systems. The network starts with the WiFi the contractor has in the trailer upon which the quality of the jobsite network depends. Each WiFi box in the network plugs into A/C power and covers 10,000-sq.ft. The boxes, which cost $1,499 each, are immune to rough conditions such as temperature swings and inclement weather. DeWalt’s partner in its beta test, Mortensen Construction, has said that its payback was four months by eliminating time foremen and superintendents spent walking around to get information and by eliminating rework because the latest set of plans is always available.

“Entering the connectivity space is a great move for DeWalt and a promising opportunity for the industry,” said Taylor Cupp, technologist for Mortenson Construction. “They bring a wealth of expertise to the industry as the first company to truly focus on creating a platform to support the Internet of Things. In tackling connectivity, we see huge potential and opportunity for DeWalt and the wider construction community.”

DeWalt will begin taking pre-orders for the offering soon.

DeWalt also showed its design assist software that’s primarily aimed at structural engineers, and its Hanger Works anchor design software for MEP contractors that’s a Revit plug-in. Product Manager Jake Olsen noted that Revit data comes along with the hanger locations, such as point loads for each hanger, along with a full bill of materials and cut list. Engineering calculations are built-in to the tool that enable it to calculate loads on various components, size hanger assemblies based on the weights of the MEP system including contents (water, wire, air) and determine hanger locations based on building code requirements and user-defined project standards.

DeWalt also introduced plenty of hand and power tools and accessories.

Associate Product Manager Mike Peiffer showed an expansion tool for Uponor style PEXa tubing. The user can interchange heads in ½-inch, ¾-inch and 1-inch sizes, and tool comes with food-grade grease since it’s assumed the tubing will be used for potable water. As an added plus, the tool is made in Charlotte, North Carolina. Peiffer also demonstrated a 20V manual feed drain snake that clears 35-ft. with ⅜-inch cable, and up to 50-ft. with ¼-inch of 5/16-inch cable.

DeWalt showed a compact reciprocating saw designed to fit into tight spaces. The cutting head can rotate 90-degrees for added utility. Additionally, the firm announced new Breakaway reciprocating saw blades with a two blades in one design. Users are able to break away the used section of the blade, and then reinsert the unused blade section back into the saw. The Breakaway saw blades come in 6-inch and 9-inch sizes. The 6-inch blades break into 4-inch blades and can cut materials up to 1-inch in diameter. The 9-inch blades break into 6-inch blades and can cut materials up to 2-inches in diameter.

DeWalt has been selling its ToughSystem tool storage cases for a while and in Nashville it debuted its new ToughSystem Van Racking Solution designed to transport ToughSystem cases from workshop to garage and jobsite. Part of the appeal of the Van Racking Solution is that a contractor can install it himself without the services of an upfitter. Available in the U.S. beginning in September 2017, the Van Racking Solution is offered in two sizes to accommodate standard van sizes for vehicles up to 62-7/8-inches high and tall work vans for vehicles up to 82-inches high.

Each Van Racking Solution includes two telescopic metal bars that can hold a load of 155-lbs. per rack; three sets of reinforced brackets are compatible with all ToughSystem modules and allow 44-lbs. (per pair) capacity and fold when not in use; an adjustable tie bar for strengthening and stabilizing the system, and four floor connectors for attachment into the van floor.

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