One of the biggest problems that faces any service or construction related company is tracking the equipment. Whether you’ve got 5 guys or 500 everyone we’ve talked to has some level of frustration due to tracking tools and tool lose, theft or otherwise. When ONE-KEY was first launched from Milwaukee the first question many of us had was can it track my tools. The answer at the time was a diplomatic no but… soon we might have something for you. Well that day is here and we are very impressed as well as a little scared about our how easily traceable our smart phones make us.
How Does It Work
Inside all Milwaukee M18 Tools with ONE-KEY is a chip that can be pinged for up to 2 years after the last time it has been connected to an M18 battery. So YES even without a battery you can track the tool for months and years later! Anytime that chip comes into range (about 100 ft) with any smart phone running the Milwaukee ONE-KEY app that tool is pinged and that ping can be tracked by the person/company who setup the ONE-KEY.
If you’ve got multiple service trucks and/or multiple jobsites that could mean potentially hundreds of tools out there that might be very tough to track. Assuming most or at least some of your employees used the app this would mean multiple pings each day for every tool in the fleet. From conversations we’ve had, even if no tool was ever lost again, this system could potentially save hundreds of man-hours and many thousands of dollars if you could quickly and easily identify where tools were, who had them and what tools to expect back after a job.
Lost & Found
If a tool should ever come up LOST or STOLEN (essentially not pinged for a day or two) you can simply mark that tool as MISSING. This will then notify you the next time that tool is pinged (within 100 feet of anyone with the Milwaukee ONE-KEY app) and you can see where it is. This might be across town or at a pawn shop 500 miles away it wouldn’t matter. This is a pretty huge theft deterrent in our heads because essentially it could be used to pinpoint a thief at their home or if they did try to sell it. Also a huge benefit to actually get your tool back if it does get sold on Craigslist or to a Pawn Shop.
How You Can Help Reduce Tool Theft
So basically the more people who download the ONE-KEY app the more effective this tracking system will be. Even if you don’t use Milwaukee Tools but want to help fight tool theft simply by downloading the app and going about your life you might be able to help. Walking by a car or place where stolen tools are located you would be able to help solve a crime. That is pretty big and may make tools a much less attractive target for thieves.
Milwaukee ONE-KEY vs Hilti ON!Track
The closest competition to the Milwaukee ONE-KEY platform, marrying tools & tech, is the Hilti’s ON!Track which is another good solution for tracking power tools on the jobsite but works with a little different technology. The ON!Track solution uses RFID tags, very similar to a 3rd party solution like Trimble AllTrak. These tags can also be added to other equipment as well (ONE-KEY does not yet offer this but we were told it was a future possibility).
The price tag on this program is roughly cost $8000/year but is typically built into their 3 year lease programs aimed at larger companies. The scanner unit’s cost (& replacement cost) is $3000/unit which seems less terrible over a 36 month lease however you will need one anywhere you want to track the tools. If you’ve got multiple locations or jobsites that is a lot of money on the table just for the scanners. If even 1 of those units go missing anytime in those 3 years that’s some serious cash just to replace a tool which sole purpose is to prevent lose. Of course if the Hilti RFID tools do get stolen this system will help determine that as well but there is no proactive global system to help you get those losses back and/or help catch those responsible.
When you look at the ONE-KEY solution in the same light, it makes the $30-50 one-time up-charge on these tools look like a bargain! Looking at the two programs side by side the Hilti solution looks to be aim more at very large companies where money and multi-year contracts are less of a concern, also who run very tight tool cribs already focused on a few larger commercial jobs. For small or medium size companies or any size companies with lots of service vehicles on the road the Milwaukee ONE-KEY solution seems to have some big advantages in tracking, cost savings and flexibility.
Is ONE-KEY the Future?
When it first launched we saw the features of tool reporting and ability to control features/setting as very valuable for specific niche solutions but we did question their mass appeal. The inventory/tracking piece of ONE-KEY in our minds does give the platform mass appeal to pretty much every individual or company, whether a small crew or on a national scale. Every new version (free) of ONE-KEY app you update improves the way your ONE-KEY tool works. Milwaukee is currently working on additional features for more security, remote shut-off, service alerts, additional tracking and many more “top secret” ONE-KEY features.
This sort of “upgradable platform” approach works for every other apps we all use everyday. As costs will continue to come down on the tools it is pretty clear this is what the future looks like for professional power tools. We would not be surprised if this is an industry wide trend over the next 3-5 years with other brands either partnering/licensing the ONE-KEY technology or building their own similar solutions.
Great news is you can right now buy M18 FUEL ONE-KEY tools as FUEL Drill/Drivers, FUEL Impacts, FUEL Combo Kits and Electrical Crimpers/Cutters but we would imagine soon FUEL Sawzalls, FUEL Rotary Hammers, FUEL Band Saws and much more will all be getting converted over soon. If you have any questions give the pros at Ohio Power Tool a call 800-242-4424.