It was a hot day in Texas, this last September, when Hilti hosted their Innovation 2018 event at the Cavanaugh Flight Musuem. With cool vintage aircraft ever-present in the background, they showed us several of their current and newer products and allowed us get hands-on experience with many of them.
They filled two separate hangars and the outdoor space between them with three separate rotations: saws; measuring, layout, and inventory control; and vacuums and anchoring. I’m not going to discuss everything they covered at the event, rather I’m just going to pick out what I thought were the highlights in each rotation.
In the saw rotation, the first thing Hilti showed us was the new brushless SR 6-A22 reciprocating saw.
One of Hilti’s selling points on this saw is that the tool performs better in unsupported materials that have a tendency to vibrate. For this demo, they set up a sheet of 4×8 plywood supported only at the top and bottom. As you follow a straight line from top to bottom, the closer you get to the middle the more vibration you should encounter, making it harder to follow the line. The video above shows the Hilti Rep performing this demo.
When I tried it later that day, the first thing I noticed when I grabbed the saw was the long narrow barrel on the front of the saw. The smaller barrel allowed me to get a really good grip on the saw. When I tried the plywood demo, it was really easy to follow and cut along the line, even in the unsupported middle of the plywood where it vibrated the most.
Next, I got a chance to try the Hilti SJD 6-A22 jigsaw. I was surprised at how compact it was for a D-handled jigsaw, and this is a good thing, as the shorter height brings your grip closer to the work surface. As I was making a cut, I tried to push the saw into tighter curves and it seemed to handle it pretty well.
I didn’t get to try the dust collection, but you can see the by the clear shield on the front surrounding the blade, and the thicker base with dust collection around the blade, that it wasn’t an afterthought. The saw connects to a vacuum with a hose adapter that attaches to the rear of the base.
Next, they showed us the SPX metal cutting diamond blades Hilti introduced in 2017. These are meant to be a replacement for abrasive cutting discs. While abrasive discs cut quickly and cleanly, you can’t cut multiple materials, and they wear out. Because of this, you need to keep changing blades on the jobsite, taking up valuable time.
Hilti’s SPX diamond cutting discs can cut most materials, including metal, wood, PVC, and concrete, and is said to last as long as 100 standard abrasive discs. It comes in 4.5″, 5″ 12″, 14″, and 16″ sizes to fit angle grinders and larger saws.
Here’s a demo of the SPX 5″ metal cutting diamond blade cutting through different materials.
This next demo shows an SPX diamond blade on a gas-powered saw being used to cut steel decking. With this blade on the saw, you don’t need to worry about what’s under the metal decking, whether it be wood, steel, or concrete.
I had an opportunity to get my feet wet testing out one of the gas saws attached to their DSH-P self priming water pump. This pump is powered by the saw and can be attached to all of their gas-powered saw models. Being a pump, it doesn’t require a pressurized source; it can draw water from a reservoir, like a bucket.
Hilti Layout Tools
Hilti has several ruggedized laser levels, but one of the neatest things I saw in this section was their universal PRA 90 automatic tripod, shown in action above. When using a compatible remote laser receiver, it can track the height of the receiver and automatically adjust the height of the laser.
Laying out a jobsite has become as easy as point, click, and drag. In the above demonstration, the presenter is using tablet software in conjunction with a total station to layout center points for drilling on a site. He picks his points on the tablet and the cart guides him to each point where he can transfer the point to the surface with a the laser pointer.
Vacuums and Anchoring
This is Hilti’s toolbox-sized 22V cordless vac. It is OSHA Table 1 compliant, and so it can be used for light dust collection and for cleaning up concrete dust on the jobsite. It has a HEPA filter and manual filter cleaning mechanism. Dirt is collected in a fleece bag.
The vac has two running modes: eco and max. The eco mode drains the battery slower, and doubles the running time compared to the max power mode. It has an 8 foot collapsible hose that stores on board the vacuum with the rest of the accessories.
I think one of the most interesting things I saw at the Hilti event was the SI-AS-22 adaptive torque module that connects to their SIW 6AT-A22 impact wrench between the wrench and the battery. This module allows you to either manually set the torque, or scan the torque off a box of fasteners. It then controls the amount of torque the impact wrench can drive, and records how many anchors you drove and whether all of them reached the proper torque.
The workflow looks like this – you grab a box of anchors, scan the label with the module inserted into the impact wrench, then drive the anchors to the proper torque with the impact wrench. You can remove the module and connect to it via a USB port to get a report of the fastening activity.
Rather than getting down on your hands and knees to set cast in place anchors, Hilti’s Kwik Cast (KCM-WF-ST) tool allows you to do it standing up. Just drop the anchor into the tube and use the slide hammer to drive it in. It has a color coded shaft, so when the color that corresponds to the color of the anchor disappears, the anchor is fully set.
There were 4 completely new embargoed tools that have been unveiled since the event, including the 36V worm drive style circular saw and SDS-MAX CombiHammer that I posted about back in November. I cannot share any photos because we weren’t allowed to take any.
Prior to this trip, I hadn’t really had much experience with Hilti tools, but after a full day of exposure, I was pretty impressed with their lineup. Their tools aren’t flashy or packed with features, but are solid and well thought out.
You probably aren’t going to see these tools in a big box anytime soon, as Hilti keeps a very tight grip on their distribution. It’s a conscious choice, they feel they can best serve their customers by being involved in every step, including sales and service.
Thank you to Hilti North America for inviting me to the Innovation 2018 event, and for covering my airfare and accommodations.