It has to be one of the best kept secrets in the tool industry. Way back in June at its annual NPS event, Milwaukee Tool announced its game-changing MX Fuel Equipment System tool platform. Attendees were introduced to these innovative tools in setting that would make AREA 51 people jealous. Fast-forward six months and the company is excited—as are we—to announce the launch of these new tools. The MX Fuel line is just another addition to its already kick ass suite of tools, providing end user solutions on the jobsite.
Mechanical Hub recently talked with Andrew Plowman, VP of Product Management, Milwaukee Tool, to get the scoop on these revolutionary new products.
MECHANICAL HUB: What was the impetus for this new tool line, and how long did this process take from design to launch?
PLOWMAN: Like everything that Milwaukee does, we started in the field, with users, learning their applications and environments. We spent more than 10,000 hours with users on thousands of jobsites globally and found considerable safety and productivity challenges with some product categories – like gas-powered and AC equipment–due to very limited innovation. From gas headaches to design features that were causing stress on users’ bodies over time, it was clear that today’s equipment wasn’t delivering on user needs. By dramatically reducing the hazards and frustrations of the light equipment that has dominated the marketplace for years, MX FUEL™ will fundamentally change jobsites everywhere.
MECHANICAL HUB: Is the entire suite of tools launching on the same day or are they segmented?
PLOWMAN: The MX FUEL Cut-Off Saw, Breaker, Handheld Core Drill, and Drum Machine will start shipping in February of 2020 in North America. The MX FUEL™ Tower Light will start shipping in Q2 2020 and the MX FUEL™ Carry-On Power Supply will start shipping in Q3 2020. For more up-to-date information, please sign up to receive the latest on MX FUEL™ through our email newsletters. You can sign up here: https://www.milwaukeetool.com/innovations/mx-fuel
The MX FUEL™ Equipment System is the output of years of that tireless research and investment in new technology, ground-up development of new batteries, motors, and electronics – all simultaneously created under one roof. Designed to take on the very same gas and AC equipment that contractors have depended on for years, this system eliminates the emissions, and reduces the overall noise, vibration, and frustrations of gas maintenance that have been deemed acceptable on jobsites for decades – and additionally eliminates tripping breakers, voltage drops, and trip hazards. In order to achieve this level of cordless capability, they needed to simultaneously drive ground-up development of all three cordless technologies at once:
The largest and most powerful POWERSTATE Brushless Motor Milwaukee has delivered to-date
A new realm of REDLINK PLUS electronics design to achieve and manage extremely high power levels for long application durations
MX FUEL™ REDLITHIUM battery packs that utilize the best cells, electronics, and pack construction to support equipment of this size and capability
Much like our M18™ System, which will continue to deliver power tool solutions for contractors, each of the solutions on the MX FUEL™ System are all tied together on a single, compatible platform that will grow with additional solutions over the years to come.
MECHANICAL HUB: I assume part of the impetus was listening to users in the field. Were these tools field tested?
PLOWMAN: We are committed to working alongside trade professionals to identify challenges and provide solutions that are unparalleled in enhancing jobsite safety and productivity. Everything we do – every decision we make, every solution we develop – is driven by the user and our proactive research with them to identify their biggest frustrations and provide true solutions. MX FUEL™ went through years of extensive field testing with users.
MECHANICAL HUB: What was your biggest challenge with this overall project?
PLOWMAN: When we determined we could offer true productivity and safety enhancements in the light equipment market, we knew we had immense strengths – such as our leadership in cordless technology and advanced engineering. However, we also couldn’t be cocky. We couldn’t use the same approach here that we do with power tools. Equipment like this is a whole new game with different rules. We had to take the time and years on thousands of jobsites to work with users and understand everything we were getting into. Additionally, life-testing was critical. These equipment solutions must live in the most extreme environments for the long haul. We spent thousands of hours in testing to ensure the MX FUEL™ System stands the test of time.
MECHANICAL HUB: Can you explain how these tools perform under extreme conditions — cold, rain, etc.?
PLOWMAN: As mentioned above, these tools went through extensive life-testing to ensure they can withstand the most extreme jobsite environments for the long haul.
MECHANICAL HUB: Do all tools implement One-Key? How important is data and interconnectivity with tools?
PLOWMAN: Yes. All MX FUEL equipment solutions are equipped with One-Key capability to provide benefits such as tracking, security, and inventory management. As we face an evolving jobsite, it’s important to rethink processes that, while ‘tried and true’ are quickly being eclipsed by more productive digital experiences. Programs like One-Key build visibility into jobs and eliminate the downtime and cost associated with lost or stolen tools and equipment.
MECHANICAL HUB: What’s inside the batteries? Can you talk a bit about the technology?
While the construction industry has traditionally used voltage to communicate the power and capability of cordless power tool platforms, voltage alone is not a good indicator of capability when it comes to light equipment. For example, most would agree that a fork lift has more “power” than a hand-held power tool, but what many people do not realize is that most battery-powered forklifts operate at 48V while there are some handheld power tools at much higher voltages.
Technically, MX FUEL™ runs at 72v, but for the MX FUEL™ Equipment System to deliver on the performance, run-time, and durability needs of the trades, we had to simultaneously develop three Milwaukee-exclusive innovations from the ground-up – the POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor, REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence, and the MX FUEL™ REDLITHIUM™ Battery Pack.
These exclusive technologies deliver extreme performance and capability. Here are a few examples:
- The Power to Cut Up To 5” Depth in Reinforced Concrete
- The Power to Break Up To 2 Tons of Concrete
- The Power to Core 6” Holes Through Reinforced Concrete
- The Power to Clear Roots at 200ft
- The Power to Run Aggressive 15A Tools & Equipment
Patented Connection Interface — Elongated slide-rail design ensures the battery remains securely mounted, withstanding the extreme demands of the toughest equipment applications
REDLINK™ Intelligence – provides industry-leading communication between the battery, equipment, and chargers ensuring optimum equipment performance, compatibility, and battery life
Fully enclosed cell carrier
On-board battery fuel gauge
Water Protection barrier – routes water away from electronics and out of the battery through weep holes
Electronics coatings – protects electronics from water and condensation
Flexible circuitry – increased durability against impacts and vibration
REDLITHIUM Cells – 21700 power cells
5X more rubber overmold – increased rubber in impact zones absorbs shock when the pack is dropped, even while attached to equipment.
Integrated carry handle
MECHANICAL HUB: How will you be going to market with these tools?
PLOWMAN: MX FUEL™ solutions will be available through our existing Milwaukee distributors. Go to Milwaukeetool.com to find your local dealer.
MECHANICAL HUB: Why these particular set of tools under this platform? And do you expect more tools under the MX platform to be announced?
PLOWMAN: During our jobsite research, we searched for the biggest improvements we could make to overall user safety and productivity. After analyzing the most prevalent pain points, we chose 6 product focuses for the initial launch of MX FUEL™. Each of these products represent applications that have historically been challenging experiences for users due to stagnant equipment innovation and are the first battery-powered solutions of their kind.