Tom Hammel 2017-10-03 02:02:18
IMPROVING USER PRODUCTIVITY, COMFORT AND SAFETY Today’s technologies have made 24/7 new tool development and rapid prototyping standard procedure and contractors couldn’t be happier. These eight leading companies are producing award-winning designs and life-enhancing innovations for workers in every industry. CRESCENT TOOLS Crescent is a premier brand from Apex Tool Group, one of the world’s largest hand tool manufacturers. The original Crescent adjustable wrench dates to the early 1900s, and the line now includes a wide range of mechanic’s hand tools, including screwdrivers. “Tool users are always looking for a feature or improvement that will help them get jobs done faster — and of course, safety is a given,” says Marisa Stephenson, product manager. “That extends to products as seemingly simple as screwdrivers, so we are constantly looking for ways to make them work better.” The latest example of this constant improvement is Crescent’s new Diamond Tip Screwdriver line. A diamond coating gives the tips up to four times the grip of non-coated tips, greatly reducing slippage and cam-out. The handle design features thermoplastic rubber molded over a tri-lobe-shaped acetate core that allows users to apply up to 20 percent more torque with greater control than traditional handle styles. This translates to jobs getting done faster and more safety. “We also conduct Voice of Customer studies to observe how tools are being used so we can design features that users will find valuable,” adds Stephenson. “For example, slotted styles feature square shanks and red acetate handle bases, while Phillips styles have round shanks with blue handles. All shanks have a manganese phosphate coating with laser-etched markings, and size markings on the ends of each handle allow easy identification when carried in a tool belt.” FISKARS “Whether they are plumbers, electricians or general contractors, pros are seeking tools that make the job easier, especially in the industries where the work is tough,” says Paul Tonnesen, president of Fiskars Global. “Ease of use is a cornerstone of Fiskars’ product design that we’ve integrated into our hand tools in several ways.” One of these is designing for reduced user strain. Consider striking tools; both the weight and the amount of shock and vibration generated by the tool create muscle fatigue and joint pain with prolonged use, making the job difficult to complete. “To address these issues, Fiskars launched the industry’s best shock control system: a new line of striking tools that have a shock absorption core (IsoCore) to reduce vibration, making the tool easier for a pro to use for a longer period of time.” Another way Fiskars improves its products is by amplifying a pro’s power. Fiskars’ new PowerGear cutting tools make this possible, as each aviation snip, bolt cutter and plastic pipe cutter includes a gearing mechanism that automatically amplifies a pro’s power without requiring additional effort. Fiskars says these tools’ patent-pending technologies surpass the industry’s top competitors in performance and ergonomics. “Regardless of the activity, ease of use is a trend influencing hand tool design today,” Tonnesen adds. “At Fiskars, we’re continuously analyzing the way professionals use tools to make our designs better and smarter.” DEWALT DeWalt’s newest hand tools include the first Perform & Protect hand tool, the model DWHT75900 carbon fiber composite hammer tacker. It features a lightweight carbon fiber composite structure that weighs 45 percent less than standard tackers and reduces vibration levels by 45 percent and muscle effort by 25 percent, allowing longer work with less fatigue. “Die-cast aluminum bodies and internal complexity make traditional hammer tackers bulky and heavy to use,” explains Brendan Pollard, global product manager, Hand Tools, Accessories and Storage for Stanley Black & Decker. “This can lead to lower job site productivity, especially for projects that require swinging overhead or multiple repetitions. Designed in conjunction with United States ergonomics standards, the DeWalt carbon fiber composite hammer tacker’s carbon fiber housing provides an ergonomic, slim and comfortable handle that gives the user an enhanced feel.” In manual tackers, the new DeWalt model DWHT80276 carbon fiber composite squeeze tacker features a carbon-fiber composite housing that weighs 50 percent less and also reduces muscle fatigue by 25 percent compared with older models. This 2-in-1 manual tacker accepts 18-gauge brads (1/2 and 5/8 inches) and heavy-duty staples (1/4, 5/16, 3/8, 1/2 and 9/16 inches). “DeWalt’s model DWHT51366 22-ounce demo hammer is an all-in-one tool designed for remodeling and demolition,” Pollard continues. “It features a patent-pending recessed drywall wedge, an elongated claw curve and an oversized strike face for breaking through drywall. It also a two-by-four-inch gripper for grabbing and prying floor boards and framing and a side nail puller.” The DeWalt DWHT51366 demo hammer has earned the 2017 Red Dot Award for Product Design, the international award for outstanding product design administered by The Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen. MILWAUKEE TOOL “Since Milwaukee Tool launched its hand tools expansion in 2010, we’ve introduced more than 500 new tools and counting,” states Tim Albrecht, senior vice president and general manager, Hand Tools. “Our approach to hand tool development starts with a thorough understanding of the user, paying attention to the little details that make the biggest difference for them in their work. By interacting with these users on the job site, we learn about their frustrations and ideas. This not only inspires real innovation, but drives us to develop solutions professionals truly want and need to perform their job productively.” Milwaukee focuses on providing application-specific solutions for the trades. One great example of this is the Cheater pipe wrench, the industry’s first adaptable pipe wrench. Through its new-to-world, three-length adaptable design, the Cheater gives users ultimate versatility on jobs that previously required multiple sizes of traditional pipe wrenches. “In addition to new products, we’re also constantly working with our users to understand improvements we can make on hand tools we’ve already introduced, because we want to make sure we’re always providing the very best solution possible,” Albrecht adds. “An example is our new magnetic tape measures with finger stop. “This new lineup is designed with features that build upon the innovation that made our Milwaukee tape measures industry favorites, such as proprietary Nylon Bond Blade Protection and a five-point reinforced frame for drop protection to provide the longest life in the industry. But they also include new features such as an improved finger-stop mechanism, a more compact magnetic hook and a more ergonomic fit in the user’s hand. Our users asked for this and we listened.” RIDGID Ridgid continues to improve the lives of electricians and cable technicians with tools that maximize job site productivity. For example, the new RE 60-MLR manual hydraulic crimp tool crimps color-coded lugs and splices up to 600 MCM in copper and 350 MCM in aluminum. Featuring a lightweight, compact, ergonomic design, the RE 60-MLR’s RapidAdvance technology requires only one pump to engage the lug and completes connections with fewer pumps. The low handle force reduces hand strain and operator fatigue. A built-in pressure relief valve indicates when maximum force is reached and crimping is complete. This means more crimps in less time. “Electricians appreciate how the RE 60-MLR’s 330-degree head rotation and slim latching-crimp-head design provide maximum access in the most confined panel spaces,” says Gina Hartman, global marketing manager. “Its manual hydraulic operation makes the tool ideal for use in remote locations with limited access to power.” Ridgid’s new lightweight manual cable cutters include three ratcheting and two manual models for cutting copper and aluminum. The ratcheting cutters weigh 1.5 to 6.4 pounds and cut 600 to 1,000 MCM copper and 750 to 1,000 MCM aluminum. A ratchet mechanism makes cuts easily and a blade release can be used at any point during the cutting cycle. “RIDGID manual cutters range in weight from 1.5 pounds to 3.3 pounds and have aluminum and copper capacities from 500 to 1,000 MCM,” Hartman continues. “Each features a sickle-shaped, rounded blade of the highest quality for precise cutting and an impact-resistant coated and hardened handle with a soft grip.” SNAP-ON INDUSTRIAL Safety is a key influence on hand tool design. A great example of making a tool safer for operators is a gas meter wrench designed jointly by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) and Snap-on Industrial. This new tool reduces the risk of injury to utility workers tasked with servicing or replacing gas meters, while improving productivity and efficiency. UWM engineering students designed and tested the tool in conjunction with the university’s Consortium for Advanced Research in Gas Industries (CARGI), which is dedicated to improving ergonomics, safety, productivity and quality in the utility world. The UWM team found that loosening the gas meters’ large fasteners, which may have been rusted and tightly torqued for years, requires a tremendous amount of force. Conventional wrenches often slip, resulting in a high rate of shoulder, knee and ligament injuries. “What I saw was a tool that improves the way technicians were doing their work. It makes the job go quicker and reduces the strain on the individual doing the work,” says Andy Lobo, director of product management and development, Snap-on Industrial. “When you add all of those things up, it’s a rather ingenious development.” Lobo and his team refined the tool, redesigning the interchangeable head retention mechanism to allow one-handed operation and making other improvements. “The finished tool has a 19-inch handle and is made of light, aviation-grade aluminum,” Lobo says. “The wrench enables users to apply greater leverage and torque without fear of the wrench slipping under extreme forces. Its design also reduces peak pressure points on the hand by 20 percent compared with traditional wrenches and cuts muscle activity in the arm and shoulder by 20 percent and 40 percent, respectively.” KRAFT TOOL Kraft Tool Co. has been proudly manufacturing high-quality hand tools in the USA since 1981. “A prime example of Kraft Tool’s emphasis on quality tools is the Elite Series Five Star finishing trowel line, designed and engineered for the professional cement or plaster finisher,” states Steve Cook, international sales and marketing manager. “The blade features a precision ground edge that is already ‘broken-in’ and ready for immediate use. Less break-in time means more finishing time. Blades are available in carbon steel, golden stainless steel and blue steel to meet a variety of finishing needs.” A high-strength, lightweight aluminum mounting on Elite Series Five Star finishing trowels stands up to the rigors of cement or plaster work. An oversized stainless steel toe rivet provides extra strength when applying pressure on the trowel – eliminating the likelihood of popping a rivet while working. “All Elite trowels are available in four different handle styles including ProForm Soft Grip, laminated hardwood, leather, and the patent-pending cork handle,” Cook adds. “This new cork handle offers natural moisture-wicking properties to help eliminate slipping and sticking. It also features an ergonomic and fatigue-reducing design that provides a comfortable grip that is fast becoming a favorite of finishers across the country.” ZIRCON “At Zircon, our focus is on the user experience,” says Barry Wingate, executive vice president of Creative at Zircon. “Hand tool designs and applications are greatly influenced by technologies that can enhance it. We specialize in fine-tuned ergonomics, ease of use and intuitive display interfaces. These latest trends have propelled designers to think of the hand tool’s continuous functionality and how to seamlessly fuse the UI display technology and feedback. It is vital to control the relationship between the user and the tool. Designing the tool for just-right sensitivity enables simplicity, utility and quality control. “The new Zircon MetalliScanner MT 7 metal locator is an excellent example of Zircon’s commitment to designing products that enhance the user’s experience,” Wingate says. “The MT 7’s patented pinch grip provides automatic tool adjustment to conform to the user’s hand, regardless of the material being scanned. This intuitive pinch grip reduces user fatigue.” The pivoting handle attachment, when paired with the optional extension pole, also eliminates the need to climb on a ladder when scanning overhead, making it safer and easier for the user to work with the Zircon MT 7 MetalliScanner.
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