Milwaukee One-Key: the end of tool theft?

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Milwaukee One Key Tool TheftTool theft may soon be a worry of the past for Aussie tradies with Milwaukee’s soon-to-be released One-Key system allowing for advanced tool tracking along with remote tool control, reporting and inventory management.

The app, which is available on iOS, Android and desktop was released in the US in 2015, uses Bluetooth 3.0 and the power of the crowd to create a network that can find a One-key tool that has been activated as missing.

Tool Tracking

Unlike the DEWALT Tool Connect, the Milwaukee One-Key tracking chip is located in the tool itself, not the battery, so thieves can’t just discard the battery and walk off with your skin. It is also available as an external retrofit option for older or non-Milwaukee tools, however the main benefits to this would be inventory management rather than theft prevention as the retrofit chip could be easily removed by thieves.

Within a 30 metre radius the chip will sync wirelessly with the app on a tablet or smartphone to give a live Google maps location.

The last known location will be stored on the app even when the device or tool goes out of range.

A lost or stolen tool can be activated as missing so that if it is picked up by any in-range device on the One-Key network, a push notification with its location will be sent to the missing tool’s owner.

The more users there are, the more effective the tracking system is as the network grows denser and covers a greater area.

“The crooks are going to quickly realise that by pinching a Milwaukee product, it’s actually going to be painful for them,” a Milwaukee spokesperson said.

This potential to deter thieves is only going to increase when the tool lock-out function is added to the app as it will prevent tools from being used even with a battery.

Tool Control and Reporting

The tool control functions in the One-Key app allows for comprehensive customisation of the tool outside of the factory set modes.

Different tools have different adjustable settings, such as drive control, torque control, trigger ramp up and light duration and brightness. There are also some pre-loaded modes for specific applications and others can be saved as profiles for later use.

Once a tool is set for an application, the One-Key app can be shut down or moved out of range without affecting the tool settings.

“It is about unlimited customisation of the tool on the jobsite,” a Milwaukee spokesperson said, citing increased productivity and prolonged tool life as benefits.

Some features also provide safety improvements for the user, such as the kickback control in the One-Key hammer drill which automatically shuts off the tool to protect the user’s wrist.

Diagnostics reporting will also be possible, allowing inspectors or servicers to know exactly what the tool has done and whether it has been overloaded or abused.

When asked about what effect this might have on warranty claims, a spokesperson said they didn’t think it would lead to Milwaukee denying more claims.

“We’re about supporting the end user in their investment,” he said.

Tool Management

Particularly for big companies, the tool management system will be one of the most exciting features of the One-Key application, especially as it is not restricted to One-Key or even Milwaukee products.

Products can be filtered by manufacturer, tool category, tool status, location, trade and person.

Users can track servicing, warranties and repairs, as well as generate different reports to audit and keep track of spending, allocation of tools to different jobsites and inventory.

Privacy and your data:

While lost tools will be activated on the network, no personal data will be shared with other users.

The app will require fairly standard personal data access, with users able to deny permission for location and push notifications although this will affect the available functions, according to a Milwaukee spokesperson. He added that the minimum account information required would be name, email address and trade.

Pricing is yet to be officially annonced however Milwaukeee indicated there would be around a $50 per tool premium for One-Key enabled tools.

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