Milwaukee One-Key Tool Technology – All You Need to Know
We saw Milwaukee One-Key tool technology demonstrated at the Milwaukee 2015 media event earlier this year. It offers several integrated technologies that take brushless tools to their logical conclusion. In particular, Milwaukee One-Key offers three things: Advanced tool control, job site reporting, and power tool inventory control. We’ll go into all three in greater detail and also do a full hands-on Milwaukee One-Key review.
I remember when mainstream tools were first going cordless back in the early 80s. It was exciting to think you could drill a hole or drive a screw without being tethered to a power cord. Then came lithium-ion around 2005, and everything pretty much got better, faster, stronger, cheaper, and more flexible. People don’t realize, however, that it was brushless technology that really leapfrogged us into the age of “smart” tools. By using electronically commutated motors, manufacturers now had the ability to control torque and speed (and even clutches) digitally.
Update 7/22/19: Milwaukee One-Key now has an updated Inventory system, and new features for People, Places, Transfers, and Alerts. check out our hands-on review. The original article was published on March 17, 2016
How It Works
With new Milwaukee tools, One-Key can register a new tool by simply scanning for nearby tools, connecting to them, and automatically registering the tool type, serial number, and model number. You can then give it a tool number and show where you purchased it. You can also upload the receipt which then goes into the cloud. Checking out a tool from the tool crib is easy, and when a job is completed you can mark the tool(s) as returned, missing, or damaged.
For any tools without One-Key, you can add the Milwaukee Tick tool tracker to add that product or tool to your inventory.
Free Mobile and Web-App Software
This is the first free piece of mobile software available to end-users that targets companies of any size. It shows the tool photo, manufacturer, tool description, model, tool number, and location. The app also stores helpful info on the tool like the serial number, category, and purchase information (giving you the “when, where, how much” info you need). Finally, it even accesses your smart phone’s camera and lets you store digital proofs of purchase for each of your tools.
Milwaukee One-Key Power Tool Control
The first thing that Milwaukee One-Key does is offer advanced digital tool control. I remember one of our media friends asking during last year’s 2014 Milwaukee media event: “So if Milwaukee can digitally control power, torque, speed, and clutch functions—when do we get to tap into those controls ourselves?” A few higher-ups looked almost nervously at each other and declined to comment.
As it turns out—Milwaukee was already working on this technology. When the tool-control portion of the technology debuts in January 2016, Milwaukee One-Key will provide the ability for users to tap into the tool and customize and configure it for their own particular needs.
How Milwaukee One-Key Tool Control Works
The One-Key iOS or Android app actually connects to the tool using Bluetooth technology. Once connected you can set up and custom configure the four different tool modes. These are the modes that, previously, simply indicated low, medium, and high speed/torque. Now, you can customize RPM (speed), torque, ramp-up time, and whether you use torque control to stop the drill/driver.
For example, if you’re fastening into metal you may want to increase the trigger ramp up speed so you help keep the self-tapping screw from wandering on start-up. Or, you can adjust an impact driver’s start, drive, and finish speeds—helping you better protect your fasteners, but giving you the power when you need it. For a drill, you can set the maximum RPM speed for both low speed and high speed. You can even enable kickback control that determines how hard the tool has to bite before kickback protection shuts it down.
And Milwaukee says this is just the beginning.
“The possibilities that One-Key brings to the job-site are endless, and these benefits are not the end result, but just the beginning! The capabilities of the program will continue to grow and evolve, and for the first time, we will be able to deliver more and more features to our product even after it is purchased.”Christian Coulis, VP of Product Management for Milwaukee Tool
Electronic Tool Control
One-Key essentially lets users connect to their tool and tie that to a cloud-based web of information that is suitable for a single user—or even the manager who wants to manage hundreds of touchpoints. But, instead of just making a smart Bluetooth battery, Milwaukee “over-invested” in their both their tool electronics and battery electronics, so that they are now positioned to provide tons of services for the Pro user.
The tools can be custom configured, allowing users to use pre-determined set-ups for specific fasteners and materials—or even completely customize their own profile with torque and speed settings for the application at hand.
You simply touch a button on the tool and easily go back and forth between these saved profiles so that each application is done with the most accurate and productive settings. Think about the possibilities:
- Setting torque control for stopping your impact driver when a fastener hits the metal
- Initiating a slow ramp-up speed, fast running speed, and final slow down for sinking drywall screws
- Programming a fast start-up and steady drive with torque control shut off for driving self-tapping screws into steel studs, purlins, or sheet metal
At one point I tested a Milwaukee One-Key impact driver on a mockup of a commercial electrical panel. On just this application alone, the customized settings really made a lot of sense. First, the outlet boxes are fastened to steel studs—that requires self-tapping screws. Then, the panel itself is anchored to cinder blocks with Tapcons—another great application. Finally, you’re running conduit, with both MC cable and EMT fastened to steel studs.
What’s the Big Deal?
Previously the plan for manufacturers has been to make a tool that fits the widest audience. Now, that’s being blown out of the water. With Milwaukee On-Key you can dial in a tool to a particular job type. Take the Milwaukee M18 Fuel impact driver. It has three preconfigured speeds—but now you can customize those as needed. The same tool can be configured for use by an electrical, or for use by an MRO professional, or HVAC technician.
These tools are smart, and they’re going to make professionals more productive. By allowing custom ramp up, driving, and ramp-down speeds as well as torque controls, Milwaukee is all but eliminating the need for you to do much more than pull the trigger to get the job done.
Not only dies the One-Key system manage your tool crib, but it can also handle your personnel. The People dashboard lets you add, delete, move, and manage your staff. This includes contact information, assigned tools, and job site assignments. It will show recent and historical tool transfers, so you can manage your entire crew from the One-Key interface.
GPS Tool Tracking (Sort of)
Just a couple months after the introduction of Milwaukee One-Key, the company added an update to the One-Key app. The update included Integrated Tool Tracking. This functionality allows you to track your tools by simply pulling out your phone. The Integrated Tool Tracking technology does a couple of things: 1) it shows you where (and when) a particular One-Key tool was last seen, and 2) these tool records and locations are updated when a One-Key app comes within 100 feet of a One-Key tool that’s been reported missing. It’s not GPS (the system still uses Bluetooth connectivity to the app), but rather a sort of mesh network where tools can be tracked even without a battery inserted.
The Alerts dashboard holds all of the service reminders, warnings, and geofencing alerts. It has everything you need to be aware of to manage your personnel and inventory. It also serves as the “Lost and Found” for tracked tools. You can mark alerts as read or unread, and even recall delete alerts for up to 30 days.
Milwaukee One-Key Tool Reporting
Tool Reporting lets users and job site managers wirelessly synchronize with a web-based application whereby the user can upload tool data and history to track the success and timing of electrical terminations. The software can work with daily uploads or even uploads at the end of the week (or at the end of a job—though that’s less helpful).
The software can create custom reports that tell you exactly what you need to know and spot potential issues or problems before you leave the job site. The Milwaukee One-Key program will also assist in tracking the utilization and service intervals of the tool to maximize uptime and keep inventory lean. Got a Milwaukee Force Logic tool that was checked out of the crib but not used in the last week or so? Now, you can reclaim it and get it back into rotation instead of having it sit idle at the job site.
Using Milwaukee One-Key Tool Reporting for Inspection Verification
Inspectors are now requiring confirmation of electrical connections with inspections. This can be a very manual (and honestly a rather vague) process. Milwaukee One-Key can download, pull, and provide reports in seconds that will verify your crimps and connections in a way never before possible.
Force Logic registers the date time and the number of cycles the tool reached full pressure. At the same time, a project manager can remotely view the synced information from the job site (with all tools on-site checking in). You can even create a custom job report including documenting any incidents. You can also see when tools have been used and which tools are due for maintenance.
Milwaukee One-Key Managed Inventory
Currently, tool inventory can exist as a primitive paper-based system, an electronic spreadsheets, or even as an expensive custom software program. Milwaukee One-Key lets you share and update inventory across many levels—and it does it for free. The desired goal with the development of this software was to help organizations work faster with a higher level of productivity. Milwaukee also designed the software so that it’s suitable for anything from sole proprietors to 1000-employee organizations.
Take, for example, a tool like a compressor that isn’t at a job site (but needs to be). The tool crib manager will have to hunt all around and get the tool to the job site. Your entire job could be held up over a $150 tool. Milwaukee thinks this might serve as the “single source of truth” for end-users. Taking into account that 75-80% of contractors are 10 men or fewer in size, managing tools becomes a big part of reducing overhead waste. Why hold up a job when you don’t have to?
The Milwaukee One-Key Inventory web software got an update in July of 2019. They redesigned the entire interface, maximizing the organization of your inventory. It also includes a tablet-friendly browser for easy access when you’re away from your desk. With Milwaukee On-Key Managed Inventory Software, everything is present in the event of theft or some other event that causes you to need that info to report on the tools.
Transfer Dashboard for Tool Transfers
With the Transfer dashboard, you can monitor your tool and product transfers for your entire organization. This centralized location is important because you make a transfer from multiple places within the app, including the Inventory, Places, or Crew Member’s dashboards. The Transfer dashboard lets you recall all recent transfers made between People or Places You can also see all transfers stored in your transfer history.
The Places Tab/Dashboard
Milwaukee One-Key added a Places tab in 2019 that gives you several ways to manage job sites and track checked-out tools. Places lets you create locations for where your people and tools will exist. A place can be a project, job, vehicle, or tool crib (your “home base”). The dashboard lets you see total items, number of places, and types of places. You can also search. Adding Places is simple, and you can name the location as well as add details. You can even add a person to be in charge of the Place. For vehicles, you can add details like VIN, make, and model. Everything can be searched and filtered.
The system includes maps, photos, and grids to let you quickly and easily search, sort, and track your inventory and tools.
Milwaukee One-Key Software & Technology Conclusion
So what does Milwaukee One-Key technology mean for your company? It means a lot of things—potential things. For one, you can start using the free One-Key Managed Inventory software as early as September 2015. Next, you can consider what advantages a “smart” tool can mean for productivity on the job site. If you have issues with consistency and repetition or speed, Milwaukee One-Key can really up your game. It can automate a lot of tool functions that had to be done “by feel” in the past. It can also add functions that were simply not available without digital control.
Milwaukee One-Key tools with tool control will have a modest price premium. It promises to make this up in production savings and tool flexibility. If you’re a home user, this is likely a novelty. If, however, you drive fasteners all day, or if you’re managing a team of electricians using utility crimpers, then One-Key may have just fundamentally changed your life for the better.
As more and more tools become available with Milwaukee One-Key technology, we expect there will be even more reasons to like the customization this brings to the job site.
Geofencing is now in the public beta testing phase of One-Key. The geofencing system lets you set a virtual boundary. The One-Key app then alerts you if your One-Key tool strays outside of it.
When you use the web app, you’re already set to start using the new function. You’ll need to update the app on your phone or tablet to see it.