The significant trends for power tools reflect much of the same surrounding technology overall: a desire for more efficient, more powerful, and smarter products. As part of the effort by leading manufacturers such as Milwaukee, Bosch, and DeWalt to meet these needs, more heavy-duty tools continue to go cordless.

Theron Sherrod, product manager of cordless products at Bosch, says, “Much of the industry’s focus has been on advancing capabilities of cordless power tools. That includes brushless motors, electronics, and advanced battery systems.”

Paul Fry, vice president of product management at Milwaukee, points to “breakthroughs on the power side” that have allowed the firm to go cordless in more tools. “We have seen a rapid conversion of AC power moving to DC … and the two-cycle engine is starting to take a beating,” he says. “Whether it’s getting rid of a cord, a generator, a compressor, or all three, there is a huge potential benefit to the contractor.”

As the trend continues, firms are determined to manufacture cordless tools that perform just as well as corded ones. Battery options “will expand to include more runtime and power in a smaller package,” says Sherrod. “Just because a tool is smaller doesn’t mean it’s less powerful.”

Sherrod says that improved lithium-ion technology allows for “more run time [and] longer storage capacity retention in a more compact package.”

These lighter, smaller tools increase portability and the overall efficiency on jobsites. Fry notes the importance of buying a system rather than a single product; all of Milwaukee’s cordless products are compatible with either its 12V or 18V batteries.

But improvements to battery life and compatibility are not the only difference-makers. Though much of the technology is still on the horizon, the Internet of Things (IoT) is starting to make waves in the tool industry. On a basic level, IoT is a way to connect a tools to a smartphone and track their location, performance metrics, work time, maintenance, and more.

Sherrod says, “While there is general knowledge of connected/smart tools, we have not seen adoption across the industry outside of higher-priced specialty tools. That being said, the interest in connected/smart tools is there.”

Milwaukee is pushing IoT technology of its own as it continues to expand applications for its ONE-KEY interface. The cloud-based app allows users to customize tool settings, track products, lock and disable tools remotely, and report tools missing.