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When it comes time to specify power tools, no question is a dumb question.
Front-line technicians rely on a range of tools — drills, saws, wrenches, grinders, rotary hammers and screwdrivers, among them — to perform daily activities in institutional and commercial facilities. Maintenance and engineering managers specifying these products face increasing challenges in staying abreast of changes in power tools related to battery life, ergonomics, durability, and safety.
With those challenges in mind, we asked power tool manufacturers about the specification questions they hear most often from managers.
The most common question manufacturers receive from managers regarding the life of a power tool battery is, “How long does it last?” Though managers typically want a specific answer, it varies depending on the technician’s power tool use habits.
“It varies by user,” says Jason Feldner of Bosch Power Tools. “If you were going take a car and drive it on the road and take it slowly, go the speed limit, stop it nicely and never over accelerate when leaving a light, versus a guy who’s always driving it hard and using it hard, you’re going to get more life out of the first car. It’s the same with power tools. Most batteries go more than two years, (but) we have users that use them for years and years.”
Manufacturers also can interpret the battery life question another way and break it into two parts.
“One (concern) is runtime life of the battery, and the other is recharge life” the lifetime of a battery, Feldner says. “For most users, people talk about them interchangeably. Runtime means, ‘How long will my drill or saw last as I’m working with it?’
“When you’re thinking about specifying batteries, and people want to know about runtime, one of the things I always let them know is that amp hours are increasing very dramatically and very quickly, which means you are getting more and more run time out of these packs these days. The real beauty behind that is you are getting so much battery power out of packs right now that for most people, the most average things they are doing, you are getting a full day’s work out of the packs.”
Battery packs for power tools can cost $69-$100, so when technicians use multiple tools on a job and require several batteries, knowing effective steps for extending battery life is important.
“If guys get to a situation where the pack is hot, let the pack cool down on its own,” says Ward Smith of DeWalt Industrial Tool Co. “You hear some stories of guys trying to help the cooling process, whether it’s putting it in a cooler or trying to assist it. It’s not the best thing to do. Heat in general is a bad thing for tools, whether it’s the motor, switch, or any electronics.”
Critical Questions When Specifying Power Tools