Dewalt has introduced a new Tool Connect CHIP, model DCE042, which will allow compatible tools to be integrated into their wireless app and hardware-based tracking system.
The Chip acts like a Bluetooth beacon that can be used for tool tracking and management.
The TOOL CONNECT™ System is designed to seamlessly track, assign and manage jobsite inventory to optimize productivity, saving time and budget.
Tool Connect Site Manager software is available for mobile devices, and there is also a web-based interface.
Tool Connect isn’t a new development, but the Chip is. It’s essentially an add-on that can installed to compatible tools.
At this time, Dewalt says that there are plans to introduce more Tool Connect Chip-ready tools, with 15 additional power tool expected to launch within the next year.
Here is a list of current Tool Connect Chip-ready tools:
- ATOMIC Compact Series™ 20V MAX* Brushless Cordless 1-3/4-In. Bandsaw (DCS377)
- 20V Max Brushless Hammer Drill with FLEXVOLT ADVANTAGE Technology (DCD999)
- 20V Max Brushless 4-1/2-In.-5-In. Cordless Grinder with FLEXVOLT ADVANTAGE Technology (DCG416)
- 20V Max Brushless Reciprocating Saw with FLEXVOLT ADVANTAGE Technology (DCS386)
- 20V Max Brushless 7-1/4-In. Circular Saw with FLEXVOLT ADVANTAGE Technology (DCS573)
- Select units within the ToughSystem® 2.0 Storage System
15 more tools will be Chip-ready.
The Tool Connect Chip works similarly to the Tool Connect Tag (DCE041), which Dewalt says already works with 31 Tag-ready tools. Several additional Tag-ready tools are also in development.
Whereas the Tag can be installed to anything, regardless of brand, make, or model, and using industrial double-sided tape, glue, screws, or even zip ties, the Chip inserts into a special pocket that’s integrated into compatible tools and secured using two screws.
The Chip has a user-replaceable battery.
At this time, Zoro has the Tool Connect Chip for $13. Home Depot looks to have it for the same price, but have not yet updated their images.
Tool tracking seems to be increasing in popularity, and it will no doubt increase in popularity.
One limitation with this type of product is in the scope of the network. Each Tool Connect product has a Bluetooth beacon, and app-equipped smartphone devices will pick it up and transmit its location data. This means that the app is an integral part of the system, not just for its active use but for its passive functionality as well. The more devices the app is installed to, the broader the network.
At $15 MSRP, the Chip seems to be reasonably affordable, and that will help to lower the barrier of entry. Plus it installs neatly within a tool itself. While the Tool Tag is not bulky, there’s no streamlined way to install it to many existing products, only larger larger equipment such as tool boxes, ladders, and larger power tools.
It will be interesting to see what types of products will be Chip-ready, and which won’t be. Dewalt’s FlexVolt Advantage tools, for instance, are Chip-ready. Their new 360°x3 green laser level is not, but it is Tool Connect Tag-ready.
Dewalt isn’t the only cordless power tool brand with a tool tracking and inventory management system.
Bosch has a Bluehound tool tracking system, a fee-based subscription service.
A couple of select Bosch tools have Connected-Ready sockets, such as the 18V FREAK, and they seem to work with a module that’s available on Amazon for $19.
Milwaukee has the One-Key Tick tracker, and a growing number of tools with One-Key built in.
According to Milwaukee, their One-Key system is the tool industry’s largest tracking network.
There’s also of course Apple’s new AirTag, but so far it looks to be a consumer product with unexplored tool industry potential.