What’s fueling your tools? An in-depth look at battery technology w/Milwaukee

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Tools are a contractor’s best friend. They accompany contractors on every jobsite and they need to be counted on at any time. Durable, ergonomic, dependable are all great traits for your trusty tools to have. Lately, though, it comes down to the latest and greatest in tool batteries. Innovations in battery technology have taken tools to new heights — performing better, and for longer periods of useage. Mechanical Hub recently caught up Milwaukee Electric Tool’s Paul Fry, vice president of cordless product management, and we talked tool batteries and the future of tool technology.

Milwaukee continues to demonstrate an unrelenting commitment to innovation as they introduce their 6th generation of Lithium-Ion with REDLITHIUM™ 2.0 and XC4.0 batteries in 2013. Boasting all the benefits of the original REDLITHIUM™ batteries and more, the new 2.0 and XC4.0 batteries provide up to 2X more run-time, 20% more power and over 2X more recharges than standard Lithium-Ion batteries.

MH: Does Milwaukee interact with contractors to get a gauge on their needs? If so, why is this important? 
Fry: When it comes to power tools, there isn’t an expert out there who knows what works better than the professional. At Milwaukee, we take the time to walk in their shoes…we get out on the jobsite to work side by side with real craftsman to understand the demands of a constantly changing workplace and how we can best deliver solutions that help them work both faster and smarter. With an unwavering commitment to the trades, Milwaukee continues to revolutionize the power tool industry with a focus on providing innovative, trade-specific solutions.  We know professionals sweat the small stuff, and so do we. We pay attention to the small details that that make a big difference. This user focus not only leads to solutions for real jobsite challenges, but fuels the disruptive innovation seen across all product lines.

MH: Will new batteries be available to replace old NiCad batteries or only the late model lithium units?
Fry: Milwaukee continues to make NiCd battery packs to support the needs of users with NiCd powered tools. New Milwaukee M12 and M18 batteries will only fit M12 and M18 tools (not older units such as V18).

MH: Are there any trade-in programs to help alleviate cost?
Fry: Milwaukee Distributors often offer trade in programs to customers to alleviate cost. See distributor for details as Milwaukee does not sell direct.

MH: Do existing chargers stay in play?
Fry: The latest M12 and M18 Milwaukee batteries still fit on previous M12 and M18 chargers.

MH: Are you hoping for straight up trade-up based off of added performance or expecting replacement to come via the need to replace old, worn out batteries?
Fry: In addition to both of the sales opportunities you mention above, we also know that professional users are transitioning more tools to cordless simply because the power and portability are better than ever as well. With the advancements in Lithium-Ion and Electronics, many cordless solutions are now providing the power that was once only available with a corded tool.

MH: Do newer batteries have better performance ratings at lower temperatures?
Fry: Yes, our newest batteries can operate below 0°F

MH: If you could let us see the Milwaukee crystal ball, what are some things you could share with us regarding the future capabilities of battery technology?
Fry: We are unable to share details of our product road for competitive reasons, but there are a couple of key concepts that are important to understand for the future capabilities of Lithium:

1) With all of the power that is available in today’s battery packs, manufacturers will continue to be able to challenge conventional wisdom about what types of tools can be effective cordless solutions. For example,  Milwaukee has leveraged the advancement in Lithium-Ion to expand the market’s vision for cordless by introducing industry firsts like the M12™ PVC Shear, M12™ Test and Measurement products, and M12™ Heated Jacket.
2) Lithium-Ion also opens the door to incorporate more advanced electronics and technologies. As seen in Milwaukee’s recent launch of M18 FUEL™, Lithium-Ion has allowed Milwaukee to integrate their new POWERSTATE™ brushless motor and REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence system to deliver up to 10X longer life, 25% more power and 50% more run-time than competitors.

MH: Do you offer or intend to offer a hybrid corded/cordless tool? (While it is corded it also charges tool?)
Fry: We do not offer this type of tool and are unable to share details of our future product road.

MH: There are a lot of companies that boast that their tool & battery combo is the best. Why Milwaukee?
Fry: With the broad offering of Lithium-Ion in the market, it is more important than ever to understand that not all Lithium-Ion is created equal. Milwaukee is leading the advancements in Lithium Technology, tackling their 6th generation since 2005. Milwaukee’s REDLITHIUM™ batteries provides up to 40% more run-time, 20% more power and 50% more recharges than standard Lithium products. The new technology also operates in extreme temperatures as low as 0°F/-18°C and will run 20% cooler with fade free power and no memory effect.

In addition, as Lithium-Ion technology continues to mature, some may focus on reducing cost by compromising on the benefits and innovation that Lithium can provide when executed properly. However, Milwaukee will continue to drive the development of innovative products that re-define end-user productivity, and will continue to raise industry standards for cordless performance and reliability. Contractors should also think about how many products can work on the same battery. Milwaukee’s M12 family offers over 50 products that are powered by the M12 Battery and more than 40 Products in the M18 family that are powered by the M18 battery.

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