The Evolution of A Smart Tool—Milwaukee’s One-Key Platform

Share With:

Nearly five years ago, at an undisclosed location nearby its corporate headquarters, invitees to the annual Milwaukee Tool NPS event were introduced to what would be the future of how contractors in the field view and use tools. Piggybacking off of what Milwaukee stands behind, One-Key—Milwaukee’s initial dive into tool connectivity—is another statement in the company’s ongoing mission to be a solutions provider. “More data in the hands of contractors helps them make better decisions,” says Steve Matson, director of Program Management, One-Key.

The Evolution of Smart Tools—Milwaukee’s One-Key Platform, One-Key, Smart Tools, digital tools, power tools, Milwaukee One-Key

According to Matson, the smart technology that is One-Key falls within Milwaukee’s general approach to development—being a solutions company first. “When we started rolling up the problems that we were hearing during our product research years ago, connectivity became a great enabler to solve these issues in ways that we couldn’t in the past,” says Matson.

“If you accept that technology is continuously evolving, it starts to become more of a conversation around how you can maintain a platform that’s adaptable and capable of change over the years, and that’s how we plan. We recognize that even though most smartphones turn over once a year or once every two years, our products are expected to last closer to a decade. The conversation becomes focused on how we set a contractor up for success, and how we ensure that purchase remains as capable five years down the road as it is today,” says Matson.

When first launched, One-Key was touted as the first digital platform for tools and equipment, One-Key integrates industry-leading tool electronics with a custom-built cloud-based program to provide a new level of control and access to information. “By leveraging this cloud-based innovation, we’re opening the doors to a virtual, interactive, and instantaneous experience for power tool users; ultimately creating a jobsite of endless possibilities through smarter tools,” said Andrew Lentz, product manager, Milwaukee Tool, back in 2016.

The Evolution of Smart Tools—Milwaukee’s One-Key Platform, One-Key, Smart Tools, digital tools, power tools, Milwaukee One-Key

One-Key interface

This was done in three ways:

  • Inventory Management— the mobile App and web interface will allow users to input any product (via serial #, receipts, etc.) and keep detailed records of each tool. Managers were also able to assign locations or specific owners to each asset, providing accountability, and enabling easy information sharing between the field and back-office. This feature helps contractors be better inventory managers.
  • Tool Reporting— will give the user the ability download critical information and use this information to generate reports that can confirm the success/accuracy of an installation, and will be able to upload data and history to create custom reports that track the success and timing of electrical terminations. By syncing tool data, users can conduct preventive maintenance through data analysis and collection.
  • Tool Control— Users can use pre-determined set-ups for specific fasteners and materials, or completely customize their own profile with torque and speed settings for the application at hand. With a touch of the button on the tool, they can easily go back and forth between these saved profiles so that each application is done with the most accurate and productive settings.

When asked about the possibility of an auto shut-off feature for the tool for guys who take the tool home from the jobsite, or the possibility of embedding some type of GPS component, Milwaukee representatives didn’t rule it out for the future. “This is really just the beginning,” I was told. Not too long after, Milwaukee offered Integrated Tool Tracking where users could identify where and when their One-Key compatible tools were last seen.

Today, the One-Key platform is considered the industry’s largest tracking network, and the platform is said to provide, on average, up to five million location updates every single day, which have helped facilitate the recovery of thousands of tools. With Community Bluetooth tracking, barcode scanning and geofencing, users get complete control and visibility of their inventory across any job, crew and location. Real-time alerts help prevent loss and expensive setbacks.

“We’re always looking at ways to make this technology more available in our tools and equipment,” says Matson, as evidenced with the launch of the MX Fuel line late last year.

“2020 will be our biggest launch year yet for One-Key enabled product. I see a lot of similarities to how the FUEL line has grown over the years, from just a drill and an impact driver to a healthy majority of our line. Where connectivity makes sense, adds value, and solves a problem: you’ll see One-Key,” says Matson. “If you haven’t experienced One-Key in a while, it’s time to take a look again.”

Benefits of One-Key

  • Free
  • Digital Record of Ownership
  • Beacons out Identity
  • Service Reminders
  • Provides Warranty Info
  • Track Tools and Lock Tools
  • Geofence Your Job
  • Get Alerts
  • Who Is Using Tool; What Are They Doing with It
  • Spec in a Tool; Give Report
  • Complete Inventory Management Via App or Desktop

For more info on the One-Key platform, visit