Power Tools Get Smart With Bluetooth


You might be forgiven for thinking that when it comes to technological advancement in construction machinery, all the greatest innovation is taking place in the engines and controls systems of big diggers, dozers and cranes. Sure, there is a lot of progress on such machines but smaller apparently simpler hand-held power tools are also embarking on a technological revolution, as was evident at the recent Bosch Blue Innovation Summit in Frankfurt, Germany.

The very near future, it appears, is power tools linked to smartphones by Bluetooth.

“The construction and trade sectors are under extreme pressure due to the continuous demands for high planning and execution quality,” said Ralph Dammertz, Bosch Power Tools senior vice president. “It is here that our connected products and services for professionals are being used. By linking a smartphone to a tool via Bluetooth, tradespeople can optimize their work processes and rule out errors such as those caused by the manual transfer of measuring values.”

Bosch should not be credited with being the first company to use wireless technology to connect power tools to smartphone apps. US manufacturer Milwaukee Electric Tool launched its One-Key system last year to customize, monitor and track a tool’s performance.

Milwaukee’s free-to-use inventory management platform allows companies to keep detailed records of each tool, even non-Milwaukee brands, so they can build a budget and manage annual spend on equipment. Managers can also assign specific locations or users to each asset. This year Milwaukee added a Tool Control application to give users the ability to store settings.

Milwaukee equipment

Much of what Bosch has now unveiled is along similar lines. Users of Bosch connect tools can individually configure their tools using an app and save their personal settings for future tasks. Intelligent displays directly on the tool, known as HMIs (human machine interfaces), are also expected to make working easier. Users also receive information regarding the status of their tools as well as tips for troubleshooting. In addition, the app provides information about when and for how long each tool has been used. In some cases, the app can also function as a remote control to save time.

From autumn 2016, Bosch Power Tools is offering seven connected tools: a combi laser, two screwdrivers, two combi drills, an angle grinder and a workplace light.

Bosch already offers networked measuring solutions with the GLM 50 C Professional and GLM 100 C Professional laser measures and the GIS 1000 C Professional thermo detector, which can be coupled with mobile terminals to facilitate documentation.

This range is being expanded with a combi laser with a rotating mini-tripod that can be controlled remotely: the GCL 2-50 C Professional. Thanks to the remote control function, if you are up a ladder, you do not need to come down to realign the laser.

Other networked power tools will follow, including the GSR 18 V-75 C Professional drill/driver and the GSB 18 V-75 C Professional combi in the ‘robustseries’ and the GSR 18 V-60 C Professional and the GSB 18 V-60 C Professional in the ‘dynamicseries’. In setting personal preferences, users can for example set the ‘KickBack Control’ function to trigger earlier via their smartphones. Users also receive warning messages via the app when the motors of their tools are stopped, such as due to overheating.

The GWS 18V-125 ISC Professional cordless angle grinder also offers this feature. As well as the information and settings that can be accessed via smartphone, it has an electronic HMI display on the top of the tool.

With the GLI 18 V-1900 C Professional worklight, the brightness can be adjusted using a Bluetooth-connected smartphone and settings saved.

A related innovation is ‘TrackMyTools’ – Bosch’s cloud-based inventory management system, which is designed to help companies manage and locate their equipment. Via the tool’s localization data saved in the cloud, tradespeople know where their tool is at all times and whether they have all the necessary equipment with them when attending a call-out or working site.

Track tool

Bosch is also developing the use of wireless battery charging through inductive energy transfer. The Bosch GEN 230V-1500 Professional mobile socket stores up to 1,650 watt hours of energy and provides a constant output of 1,500 watts without a mains supply. The next step is the GBA 18V 6.3 Ah EneRacer Professional. An improved power connector within the cells ensures lower internal resistance, which means that higher currents can be drawn from the cells over a longer time. The result is an increase in available power in a compact battery, the company says.

“We are convinced that we will be able to continue offering tradespeople better solutions in the future which, through networking, will provide more added value – from the individual configuration through to remote diagnosis,” said Ralph Dammertz.

Steve Rhine

About Steve Rhine

Community Manager at MachineryZone USA - All latest construction news on MachineryZone Mag!