The highlight of Milwaukee’s recent media event – see all of our new tool coverage here – was One-Key, which they’ve been making a huge deal about. So what is Milwaukee One-Key all about, and how will it unlock the digital jobsite and the future of jobsite technology?
In simplistic tools, Milwaukee One-Key is part hardware, part software. New upcoming Milwaukee One-Key tools will be smart tools, which will communicate with One-Key software. One-Key apps will work on mobile and traditional computing devices.
Milwaukee One-Key tools will communicate with smartphones and other compatible devices via Bluetooth.
Milwaukee provided a number of clues, and we asked you what you thought One-Key was all about. Some of your Milwaukee One-Key predictions were quite close to the truth.
One-Key Features & Functionality
Inventory Management (Launching Sep 2015)
Tool Reporting (Launching Oct 2015)
Tool Control (Launching Jan 2016)
Tool Control is the functionality I am most excited about. As you can tell, functionality will be rolled out in 3 initial waves.
Milwaukee One-Key Tool Control
The closest “What is One-Key?” guess was from Noah, who wasn’t even guessing at the riddles! His comment was in response to my preview of Milwaukee’s 2nd generation M18 Fuel impact driver and wrenches! He said:
I can imagine a time in which I’ll pull up an app on my phone and choose from dozens of modes for my driver, not just the four on the unit itself.
Milwaukee is coming out with a new M18 Fuel drill and a hammer drill, to replace the 1st generation models. And a new M18 Fuel impact driver and impact wrenches. All of these tools will also be available as One-Key versions.
Milwaukee has said that they will first focus on fastening tools, such as drills and impact tools, as these tools often see very broad use and would benefit the most from One-Key’s tool control potential.
Let’s talk about the big question – WHY? It seems that Milwaukee believes, and rightfully so I think, that giving users the ability to customize certain aspects of their tools’ previously factory-set profiles will lead to faster, easier, or more efficient work, or simply better performance and end results. This should all translate to savings in time, fatigue or frustrating, and even money.
Basically, Milwaukee One-Key will allow users to reprogram their tools, at least their compatible One-Key tools.
The new One-Key M18 Fuel drills and drivers are scheduled to launch in January 2016, when the One-Key Tool Control functionality becomes available.
The One-Key drills and impact tools will ship with factory settings which can be reverted to at any time. If you revert back to factory settings, you will have to connect with the One-Key app to re-sync your customizations.
Update: Something I should have pointed out is that changes to a One-Key power tool’s settings or modes are done on the app and then uploaded to the tool.
Your phone doesn’t need to be in constant connection with the tool. It’s set-and-forget, unless you want to change or tweak overall settings or those of the selectable modes.
M18 Fuel One-Key Drills
Milwaukee’s One-Key Fuel brushless drills will feature 4 settings buttons, similar to the new impact drivers. And users will be able to customize each of these selectable modes. Once you have the settings set to your liking, you can change back and forth from the different modes with a touch of the appropriate settings button.
That’s correct, the drills will have electronic mode selection buttons on the bottom, just like the new M18 Fuel impact tools do.
You can customize things like the speed range, torque levels, and even select from preset application, drilling, and fastener-specific profiles. I believe you could also even customize the clutch settings!
Want to set the tool back to factory mode? You can. But after you do that you’ll need to re-sync with the One-Key app to restore your customizations.
Something to keep in mind is that the drills will have electronic clutches. Because of this, you also get anti-kickback control, if you want it. I tried this feature, and found it to be particularly effective.
What the drills’ anti-kickback setting does it limit the current draw to the motor, based on the setting on a scale of 1 to 10. This can be manually customized, or it might be tweaked based on a fastener or drill bit profiles.
Speaking of profiles, you can use ones that are created by Milwaukee, or you can create your own.
M18 Fuel One-Key Impact Tools
The Milwaukee One-Key M18 Fuel impact driver and impact wrenches will offer similar speed and torque customization functionality.
The non-One-Key versions have 3 preset speed and torque settings and 1 special 4th mode. With the One-Key impact tools, you can have 3 customized speed and torque modes, or make them all special application modes. You’re in control of how the tool is set and configured.
Milwaukee One-Key Tool Reporting
Right now, there is only one tool that’s coming out that will work with Milwaukee’s One-Key reporting functionality, and that’s their upcoming One-Key M18 Force Logic 6T utility crimpers.
Using the reporting software, users will be able to creating reports that track the success and timing of electrical crimps and terminations. The example they gave discussed setting up electrical service for a hospital, which required X-number of crimps.
The One-Key Force Logic crimper will then report the exact number of crimp cycles, successful crimp cycles, a plot of the pressure for each crimp, and the percentage of crimps that were completed at the full pressure rate.
Milwaukee’s product managers kept emphasizing that this – and other aspects of One-Key – are “just the beginning.”
What I could imagine is a saw that tells you how long it takes to make a cut, or how much current is being drawn, or it might cut to the chase (pun not intended) and tell you when your blade is getting inefficiently dull and in need of replacing.
Maybe one day your One-Key band saw will email you to tell you that it’s time to replace the blade. Or that you are cutting with too much or too little pressure.
Or maybe a tool will email a supervisor to share a tool’s performance profile with your boss.
Milwaukee One-Key Inventory
Fire up your One-Key app, and it’ll recognize all of the One-Key tools in range. This gives rise to easier inventory management of a truck, or small tool crib.
There will also be added inventory management where you can manually add in additional brands’ tools.
Milwaukee has said that they will first focus on the needs of individual users and small teams of users, and will scale up with functionality aimed at larger organizations later on. Some of the demonstrated capabilities included the option to check tools’ last reported locations, to flag tools with special notes, or to mark tools as in need of repair.
I was told that the One-Key M18 Fuel drill and impact combo set will cost $50 more than the same non-One-Key Fuel kit. So maybe it will be ~$20-25 more per tool.
I am downright excited about the tool control aspect, I truly am, and I believe that some users will see the immediate benefits of being able to tweak and set each mode to their desired speed and torque limits. As mentioned, the drills have electronic clutches, which means you can set them to be coarse or finely-tuned, depending on your needs.
Will everyone benefit from One-Key’s tool control? Forgive my language, but hell no! And I expect to see a fair share of comments reflecting this.
I think there will be some very enthusiastic early adopters, some users that catch on after learning more about One-Key and hearing or seeing what it can do, and some users that should spend their money elsewhere.
Keep in mind that One-Key will cost a premium on top of Milwaukee’s most premium Fuel brushless tools.
Despite how impressed I was with the One-Key functionality, I cannot ignore that it’s not going to be benefit all users equally. I’m sure Milwaukee’s not ignoring this fact either.
To be frank, I heard “this is just the beginning” a whole lot, mainly about the tool reporting feature, but about everything. It’s hard to get excited about tool reporting when I don’t even have a good grasp of what a 6-ton crimper is used for. I think that the tool reporting aspect holds great potential, but until it’s relevant to my needs and usage tendencies, it’s just that – potential.
The tool inventory aspect is neat, and is something I might use, and not just for Milwaukee tools. What I would like to see is an import and export feature where it can work with 3rd party spreadsheet software. That should make backups easier, or when a rolling offline record is desired.
Overall, I am very optimistic about what One-Key will mean for users.
What do you think – do any of Milwaukee’s One-Key features or functions appeal to you? What would be on your One-Key wishlist?
What’s at the top of my Milwaukee One-Key tool wishlist? While not as exciting sounding as what can be customized with the One-Key drills and impact tools, I’d really like to see some Milwaukee One-Key LED worklights where you can control the brightness settings for different outputs. Oh, and M12 Fuel One-Key tools too, please!