Smart Power Tools: Benefits and Use Cases of State of the Art Tool Connectivity

Author: Harriet Sumnall

The first step toward the smart power tool was the advent of the connected power tool. These intelligent tool systems provide manufacturers, construction companies, and Do-it-Yourself (DIY) consumers with valuable data about their power tools, as well as various levels of automation like smart drilling/torque settings. Although the smart power tool market is immature, there are a number of reasons why the market will grow in the coming years, notably the practical application of tool data.

For this discussion, smart tools refer to the following categories:

  • Drills
  • Saws
  • Grinders
  • Oscillating and rotary
  • Compressors and accessories
  • Sanders

ABI Research expects the smart power tools market to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) 31% between 2022 and 2027, and ship 12.3 million units in 2027. North America and Western Europe will be the dominant regional segments.

Condition-Based Monitoring and Preventative Maintenance

With state-of-the-art smart power tools, users can constantly stay on top of the health of their power tools. When a tool begins to show signs of potential failure, the user will know about it through an app-based dashboard. While some solutions may send an alert about tool failure, other users may detect deterioration by monitoring which tool was used for a specific task. If there are any discrepancies in task performance, the user can simply trace back to the power tool that was used to complete the task and then remove it/fix it. By regularly reviewing the performance of power tools, consumers and enterprises can find out what’s wrong with their tools and resolve the issue before it becomes a more serious concern. Not only will this help improve work efficiency, but it will also extend the lifetime of the powered tool.

Asset Tracking

To safeguard from theft and tool misplacement, tools with smart capabilities feature tracking technologies. Either the tool will be manufactured with built-in connectivity, or a connectivity tag can be added on. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are the two primary connectivity technologies that are suitable for the average worksite. In addition to mitigating the risk of misplacing a tool or having it stolen, asset tracking also gives managers key insight into where tools are already stationed—helping them plan projects accordingly.

While Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are solid connectivity options for many use cases, their ranges are limited. If a power tool were to leave the worksite, there would be no way to tell where it is. This is why cellular networks like Long Term Evolution (LTE) and 5G are better candidates for high-value assets that are expensive to replace. Based on primary and secondary findings from ABI Research, asset tracking capabilities are bound to play a central role in the connected power tool market.

Quality Assurance Controls

Quality Assurance (QA) is critical in manufacturing and construction, and intelligent power tools systems make this process a whole lot easier. App-based software solutions permit manufacturing and construction firms to see what tasks the tools are assigned to complete. This makes it painless to pinpoint the culprit for performance shortcomings and other bottlenecks in operations. Understanding if a tool or a specific process (e.g., torque setting) is the cause of poor quality is paramount in many manufacturing verticals, especially as it relates to end-user safety. One only needs to reference the many vehicle recalls over the years due to poor QA processes.

Safety

Aside from creating a job hazard analysis to promote workplace safety, construction, manufacturing, and industrial managers, as well as consumers, should look into the benefits of cordless power tools. Traditional power tools are wired, which adds to the risk of tripping in work environments. However, smart tools are expected to increasingly become cordless/wireless as companies and consumers focus more on safety. Additionally, by adopting wireless power tools, manufacturers can save a significant amount of money on liabilities resulting from workplace falls and trips.

On the downside, wireless power tools require the battery to last long enough for the user to complete the task. After all, having to swap batteries in the middle of a task hinders efficiency and makes the work process discontinuous. Over time, battery technology will evolve and widen the market opportunity for cordless tools, particularly for larger industrial use cases.

It’s All about Visibility

The power tool market is rapidly changing as consumers, manufacturers, and construction companies demand smarter solutions. Indeed, broader visibility gives end users insight into how workflows can be greatly improved. To learn about this immature market—including use cases, regional demand forecasts, and key players—download ABI Research’s Smart Power Tools: Market Evolution and the Role of Connectivity research report. This report is part of the company’s IoT Markets Research Service.

 

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