‘Design, Protect, Build, Connect’ is guiding DeWalt’s path forward
August 24, 2017 by John Bleasby
Words from the top matter. So when Frank Mannarino made his opening remarks at DeWalt’s ‘Tough in the South’ North American media event in Nashville, TN last week to explain the direction his company is heading in the future and how it intends to get there, everyone paid close attention. Mannarino is the President of Power Tools and Equipment for DeWalt USA, and he made it clear that the company is committed to the evolving concept of the cordless job site combined with improved tool design based on the company’s FlexVolt battery system.
The cordless evolution continues
DeWalt’s FlexVolt power package system was announced with much fanfare in June 2016. FlexVolt’s ability to automatically change between two voltages gives users a serious advantage when it comes to efficiency by increasing the power and improving the runtime of DeWalt’s 20V MAX tools, thus eliminating the need to invest in a whole new battery system. At the same time, FlexVolt also brings the ‘power of corded’ to the company’s lineup of 60V MAX and 120V MAX tools. The company has built their cordless line out to 130 tools today, and they aren’t stopping there. “We see ourselves at over 150 tools over the next year,” Stephen Blain, Commercialization Manager for Stanley Black & Decker Canada told Canadian Contractor. “Where there are opportunities to take a corded tool cordless gives us more opportunities to grow the system.”
DeWalt’s cordless tool line up has expanded so much and is so comprehensive that it now offers something for every trade. In Nashville, framers had hands-on sessions with new cordless saws and nail guns, electrical installers with new power cable cutters and trimmers, HVAC installers with sheet metal cutters and grinders, drywall and concrete trades with powerful new mixers, and concrete foundation trades with powerful cordless drills with vacuum dust extraction attachments.
Cutting the cord is just the start
From DeWalt’s design standpoint it’s more than simply being cordless. DeWalt designers are equally concerned about the weight and balance of their cordless tools, and precise fingertip control. After all, many of these tools are operated for hours each day, often in situations that are random and unpredictable. This is where research and field testing plays a major role prior to rolling out new product offerings. Blain explains this point, using a cordless nail gun as an example. “A nailer is tool that can be operated above or below your head, at different angles. Things like the proper placement of the battery in the tool is very important,” he told Canadian Contractor. “If you put it in the wrong spot, it changes the center of gravity, which changes the overall feel of the tool. You want to avoid making the tool being either front or back end heavy. Imbalance will result in more strain throughout the day because the user has to compensate for the imbalance.”
‘Critical to Quality’ feedback is at the heart of DeWalt’s product development
To this end, DeWalt has established relationship with a number of key end users who give product designers valuable feedback prior to release. Particularly important are the social media ‘influencers’ — real-life construction professionals like Canadians Kieffer Limeback (Toolaholic), Joe Canning (Canadian Carpenter) and Murray Kruger (Kruger Construction). “You develop a relationship with people like that,” explains Blain. “They’ll tell us, ‘Here are the good points, and here’s what I want to see different or what is not up to what I want.’ This is the type of information we need before the tool hits the market.”
Cordless developments play back into the corded world
However, it’s important to recognize that corded tools have their place and will always. At the same time, key developments in DeWalt’s cordless line-up are having an impact on the corded line up in interesting ways. For example, Blain explains the impact of integrating brushless motors in corded tools, an element vital for the power and long battery-life demanded in cordless tools. “A user who is grinding all day isn’t likely to move over to cordless. He’s using the tool in his shop and he’s all set up for that with outlets and benches. The cord is his system,” says Blain. “However, if we can give him more power, which brushless motors deliver, and less maintenance since brushless motors don’t have brushes that need replacing, we’ve increased his productivity.”
Product developments offer complete tool control systems for contractors of all sizes
DeWalt’s commitment to integrating all aspects of the job site goes beyond the tools of the trade. A comprehensive line up of storage boxes, from the standard toolbox right up to 18 gauge steel worksite boxes and work van racking systems, are designed to make tool storage organized and retrieval easy. Job site LED lighting, some with Bluetooth control, improve worker safety. DeWalt goes even further, offering Bluetooth connectivity software and job site WiFi systems that allow larger contractors to manage, control, and locate tools over the largest construction sites. One soon recognized that Frank Mannarino’s words at the event opening, ‘Design, Protect, Build and Connect’, were right on the money.
If you’d like to see some videos of selected cordless tools from DeWalt, please visit me on Instagram and review some recent uploads from the ‘Tough in the South’ event.
Next week, I’ll be posting videos of three All-Star product selections, featuring well-known media personalities putting DeWalt cordless tools through their paces.
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