We are not sure how many times the words “disruptive innovation” were used in the single day Milwaukee press event but certainly it was much higher than we could have counted. While we are still not 100% sure how their new products are disruptive; it was clear the guys at Milwaukee have been hard at work on the innovation side of things. With a narrow focus on who they have identified as their core customers in the areas of Plumbing, Electrical, Mechanical, HVAC & MRO (maintenance, repair, operations) Milwaukee has really seemed to figure out who they want to be when they grow up. Below are just a few examples of new products we were not sworn to secrecy on.
With an entire new line of small angle grinders (18 in all) and several brand new SDS-Plus rotary hammers; 2010 is looking to be a pretty big year for Milwaukee corded products. It was not long ago Milwaukee had launched their current line of grinders so this update came as a bit of a shock for us. The new grinders however bring some serious internal improvements which could make Milwaukee grinders one of the top grinders in the near future. Some examples include larger gearing, more copper wiring in the motor (see below), overload protection, electronic clutch, electronic brake, just to name a few. All these improvements work together to significantly increase performance and durability in their small angle grinders.
On the rotary hammer drill side we were very impressed by the tiny new 5/8” SDS-Plus Hammer Drill 5263-21 ($179, Ohio Power Tool). Extremely light weight for overhead use and with the Anti-Vibration System (AVS) it’s almost hard to tell if you are actually in hammer mode. The D-Handle 7/8” SDS-Plus Hammer Drill 5262-21 ($189, Ohio Power Tool) was actually a bit of a disappointment for us. While it seemed to perform well against the competition, Milwaukee left off the Anti-Vibration System, for what we can only guess was pricing concerns. It is clear users want the AVS in their SDS-Plus rotary hammers, as it’s in all their other models and would also have made them the only D-Handle with Anti-Vibration, a clear advantage over the competition.
In the Milwaukee M18 category of 18 volt tools we got a look at two new products we had been expecting for some time. The M18 7/8” SDS-Plus Hammer Drill 2605-22 ($429, Ohio Power Tool) does a real nice job coupling power, runtime as well as the Anti-Vibration System into this small package. The other M18 product we had been waiting for was the Calk Gun, having been the most popular cordless calk gun in the 14.4V NiCd version we were expecting a Milwaukee lithium ion tool at some point and having used the final product we were very pleased.
The Milwaukee M12 cordless category probably brought the most innovative new items of the day. The M12 cordless ratchet is a nice addition as well as the new 360 Inspection camera with 9” attachment & ball guide for snaking in pipes/toilets. The M12 jigsaw came as a pleasant surprise to us and we really liked the unique feel of the handle positioning. Our first thought was, could the 12 volt platform provide enough power but in use it really meet all our expectations and with an XC battery we would guess runtime would be pretty respectable.
The biggest shock of the day however had to be the M12 Thermal Inspection Camera 2260-21 ($2499, Ohio Power Tool) which seems like a bold step for Milwaukee to jump into this arena but certainly does fit in with their core customers. The camera really has some unique features which at their price point makes this camera a very attractive solution for those who haven’t yet made the investment in thermal imaging.
We were really impressed with the entire presentation at Milwaukee and not a single power point slide show to sit through. It is exciting as a user to see so many very application specific tools and a company willing to invest the time and effort into developing products that solve real world problems. Hopefully the strategy pans out for the folks at Milwaukee and we see many more years of these innovative new tools.