What’s fueling your tools? An in-depth look at battery technology with RIDGID

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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 with some of the major tool companies and talked about the tool batteries and the future of tool technology. Part I of this series, Mechanical Hub talked with Christopher Burton, global marketing manager for RIDGID.

New Advanced Lithium 18V Batteries from RIDGID® are the company’s next generation of power-tool battery technology, delivering improved performance and more benefits than their predecessors. Available in two sizes – 2.0 Ah and 4.0 Ah – the updated batteries provide short-circuit protection, over-current protection, over-discharge protection and cell balancing.  These batteries also work in much hotter temperatures, ranging from as low as 29° F (-20° C) and up to 158° F (70°C), allowing users to continue working in the most demanding conditions and extreme temperatures.  Outside of these temperatures, thermal protection shuts the battery down while over-discharge protection eliminates the trickle effect. “By offering the latest battery technologies in our next platform of 18V lithium-ion batteries, we are able to maximize tool uptime while simultaneously reducing battery size and weight,” says Burton.

Please talk about RIDGID’s dedication to research and development, especially in terms of battery technology?
Burton: Since 1923, RIDGID® has remained the symbol of certainty to dedicated professionals of the expert trades.  This is why every tool that bears the RIDGID brand is engineered to the same high standards of quality, strength and endurance as was our first product: the heavy-duty pipe wrench.  Over the past 90 years, we’ve remained steadfast in our commitment to research, development and product innovation. This innovation has enabled us to become a leading name in America for pressing technology and an industry leader in underground utility locating.  Both of these product lines rely on RIDGID batteries, which are continuously developed, tested and leveraged against the latest technologies to maximize uptime and productivity for our customers.

Does RIDGID interact with contractors to get a gauge on their needs?
Burton: At RIDGID, our sales, marketing and support teams have been on the jobsite with our customers for 90 years.  From jobsite training and field support to focus groups and product testing, we work with our customers every day to ensure that our products exceed their needs and that we continue developing new products to make their jobs more productive and more profitable. We also continuously listen to suggestions through the RIDGID Forum, customer surveys, social media and our customer service contacts.

Will new batteries be available to replace old NiCad batteries or only the late model lithium units?
Burton: New Advanced Lithium 18V batteries are compatible with all of our Press Tools and SeekTech™ products that currently use RIDGID 18V lithium-ion batteries.  Advanced Lithium batteries and chargers are also cross-compatible with previous RIDGID 18V lithium-ion batteries and chargers, maximizing flexibility and reducing confusion for our customers.

Are there any trade-in programs to help alleviate cost?
Burton: Not in this instance.  However, they do come standard with new Press Tools and SeekTech products.

Do existing chargers stay in play?
Burton: Since existing batteries are compatible with new Advanced Lithium chargers, old chargers will no longer be available.

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?
Burton: I think we’ll see a little bit of both.  Advanced Lithium batteries and chargers will be the only platform available going forward, so any customer purchasing new batteries or chargers will automatically receive the benefits of the new platform.

Do newer batteries have better performance ratings at lower temperatures? Burton: No, but they do offer a significant advantage over older batteries with an operating temperature range of -20° C to 70°C.

If you could let us see the RIDGID crystal ball, what are some things you could share with us regarding the future capabilities of battery technology?
Burton: Higher performance and longer run time – all in a smaller package.  The battery technology trend will continue to follow the same path as other technology trends: doing more with less.

Do you offer or intend to offer a hybrid corded/cordless tool? (While it is corded it also charges tool?)
Burton: Previously, RIDGID Press Tools were available in battery OR corded models (i.e., RP 330-B and RP 330-C).  The new RP 340 Press Tool offers users the ability to seamlessly switch between a battery and an available AC Power Adapter.  Flexibility for customers means that they can maximize uptime and productivity.

Do you foresee a time when tools become “smart,” using WiFi to integrate into the tool?
Burton: I think everything is becoming “smarter” today thanks to the internet, WiFi, Bluetooth, and smart phones.  As always, RIDGID continues to work with our customers every day to make sure that our products and solutions exceed their needs and allow them to become more productive and profitable.

There are a lot of companies that boast that their tool & battery combo is the best. Why RIDGID?
Burton: RIDGID Advanced Lithium batteries are designed, developed and engineered to work exclusively with RIDGID products.  This means that the battery technology is engineered to meet the precise power needs of RIDGID tools, resulting in longer run-time, better performance and maximum productivity.

Conducted by John Mesenbrink

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