Power tool innovation has developed significantly in the last decade with the technological leap forward similar to that of the rapidly evolving mobile phone market, a trend indicated by companies such as WORX, which is striving to achieve 2-3 innovations per year.
Product improvement is a key driver of new innovations with brands evolving their product range by identifying issues with tools already on the market through consumer engagement and assessing how they can be improved. Brands and companies now have R&D specialists and scientists working round the clock on everything from new cordless battery technology and advanced electronics to innovative tool uses.
With tool innovation entering a golden age, there are six key areas where companies will be focusing their R&D to develop the latest and greatest in power tools to gain market share.
Over the next 10 years, advances in technology will see huge increases in voltage and a major shift away from corded tools. Presently, approximately 55% of tools are cordless, a figure that is expected to increase to 85% in the next decade as companies find new and efficient ways of harnessing cordless power.
Poor battery life and slow recharge times are the bane of every power tool user. Companies looking to stay ahead of the competition will focus on these issues for improvement. A possible drawback for longer run time will be larger batteries, adding to the overall size and weight of the tool, but brands will rely on consumers favouring the increase in productivity over any increase in battery size.
Larger and more efficient batteries will bring with them more power for longer lengths of time. This is particularly relevant to high power draining tools such as cordless mitre saws. As battery technology evolves, leading to increased amp hours and power output, cordless power tools will be more receptive to heavy use for longer periods of time.
The introduction of Lithium-Ion technology has gone a long way in delivering cordless power since the days of NiCad batteries. Although it may be 10 years before another battery chemistry is developed to replace Lithium Ion, scientists say there is still room for 100% improvement in the technology in that time frame.
Despite the added weight of larger batteries, the general size and weight of power tools continue to decrease drastically. The focus on ergonomic design and functionality is largely due to the cordless trend and the use of Lithium-Ion batteries. As companies move further away from the outdated Ni-Cad batteries and explore the possibilities presented by Lithium-Ion, consumers will continue to see tools becoming more compact and lightweight.
Multifunction tools such as the WORX Sonicrafter represent a big trend that is likely to continue into the future. The increase in the DIY ‘Weekend Warrior’ segment has seen companies developing tools useful for several applications. Power tool companies are also realising the benefit of single platform battery technology, which allows users to buy batteries that work across an entire range of tools. WORX is already announcing its own Powershare20 and Powershare40 power tools to run across the entire garden and DIY range from 2014.
Among the most important innovation challenges will be developing tools that are environmentally friendly in both development and application. Consumers can look forward to improvements in efficiency and waste disposal as companies seek to go ‘green’.