Milwaukee ONE-KEY™ Review – The Future of Cordless Tools
Milwaukee ONE-KEY™ – Digital Jobsite
Milwaukee ONE-KEY System
Model number: ONE-KEY System
Price: $349 (Hammer Drill 2 Battery Kit)
Power source: 18V Li-Ion
Last year at the Milwaukee Media Event they unveiled the ONE-KEY™ platform with serious fanfare and excitement. The presentation left me with a feeling that cordless power tools are about to blast off into another galaxy that users have yet to explore. After months of waiting our team finally has had the chance to take a test drive with the ONE-KEY™ platform enabled on the M18 FUEL 1/4″ Hex Impact Driver and M18 FUEL 1/2″ Hammer Drill.
Before you turn up your nose at all this new technology do yourself a huge favor and read through this entire article. Trust me when I say this technology, and future iterations of it both at Milwaukee and other Brands, will change the way you run your business.
Milwaukee ONE-KEY™ Features
The Milwaukee ONE-KEY™ system offers four main categories of user control including:
- Tool Control – Allows users to connect their phone or tablet to a drill or impact driver and set custom settings for both speed and torque. The custom settings can be programmed into the tool memory and adjusted anytime.
- Tool Tracking – Users can track their ONE-KEY™ enabled tools even when there isn’t a battery attached to tool. Phones connected to the tools will register the tool location every time the tool comes within 100 ft of the tool. The phone app shows a map with the last known location. This feature also will alert when a “lost” tool is found.
- Inventory Management – This feature is part of the free cloud-based software that Milwaukee is offering with the ONE-KEY™ platform. It allows users to manage an entire inventory of tools (any brand and type), including copies of receipts, employees that are assigned to a tool, even images. This software creates an excellent link between the office and field for inventory management.
- Tool Reporting – This feature allows users of crimping tools to record and document time-based reporting of crimping activity.
Under The Hood – FUEL Power & Technology
Besides the ONE-KEY™ features, these new tools offer the latest in M18 FUEL features including their; POWERSTATE™ Brushless Motor, REDLITHIUM™ Battery Pack and REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence Hardware and Software. I think it’s fair to say that our entire staff feel the M18 FUEL tools are currently the top of the line in the industry for Impact Drivers and Drill Drivers so the tool itself is amazing even before the ONE-KEY™ features.
Milwaukee ONE-KEY™ – Our Thoughts & Impact To Our Business
This article really is more of an editorial piece than a review. I say that because this article really is about a new technology that is very likely to change the future of cordless power tools. I’ve read lots of coverage from other review sites and lots of Social Media chatter and it leaves me scratching my head a bit, and here’s why.
Let’s face it if you’re reading this article it’s very likely that you make a living using tools to build something. Even more likely is the fact that there is very stiff competition every day for the work you do from competitors who are bidding and fighting for the same work day in and day out. How do you stay in front of the competition? The answer is one we all know: Be More Productive, More Efficient, and Offer Better Quality.
I remember not that long ago talking to an old time carpenter and he swore up and down that he could work just as fast and good using a hammer vs a pneumatic nailer. We all know that’s nonsense and you’d likely not find anyone offering up that claim anymore.
So I chuckle at some of the comments I’ve read about how “macho” men don’t need the ability to change the speed and torque on their drill because they are so good they can perfectly control the tool and NEVER break a fastener. I’m here to say loud and clear that I call BS!
For me as a general contractor who oversees crews and manages large construction projects, I need my crews to be productive, efficient, and good. Quality control is a huge deal and any tool that can make my guys faster and eliminate quality control issues has my attention. In addition, I’m looking forward to the day when we have “one” cordless drill (or impact driver) that can do lots of tasks from demanding as installing 10″ lag bolts to installing small finish screws in Cherry cabinets.
I believe the ONE-KEY™ platforms Tool Control gets us very close to that goal. Being able to program in custom settings for speed and torque is a huge convenience and helps eliminate stubborn problems especially for smaller fasteners that are prone to breaking. Today’s drills and impact drivers have so much power than fastener damage is a fairly common problem.
Now add in the fact that you can track a tool and report it missing, keep track of all your tools (even non Milwaukee tools) with their free ONE-KEY™ app (including receipts, photos, and records) which is accessible from anywhere on the cloud, and also track crimping data for press tools and you can quickly see the value to any construction company.
ONE-KEY™ – Easy To Use
The ONE-KEY™ system is very easy to use and intuitive. To use the system you’ll need to download the free App to your phone or tablet (Bluetooth is required). Once the app is loaded the tool can be linked via Bluetooth to the device. Once the tool is paired with the phone or tablet the user can begin controlling the tool, logging it into your own database of tools, and tracking the location of the tool.
I found the app very easy to use and I was able to start setting custom settings on my Impact Driver within five short minutes. I didn’t have to spend any time reading a manual as the entire process was very intuitive. The images below show the ONE-KEY™ app in my phone with both the Impact Driver and Hammer Drill synced to my phone. Once the tools are synced to the phone, you can control each one by selecting the icon on the screen.
As you can see above, the screens and user interface are very intuitive and easy to understand. I was pleasantly surprised with the ease of navigating the system and impressed with the thought that went into the design. If you notice the right most photo above, it shows the last location and time that the phone and tool were linked to each other. This certainly makes it easy to determine (refresh your forgetful memory) where and when you last used the tool.
If the tool is lost or stolen you can report it missing in the app. Even if the tool is not connected to a battery, for up to two years, if that tool comes within 100 ft of ANY phone with the Milwaukee ONE-KEY™ app, it will ping the app and send you a message with the location of the tool. Obviously, as more and more people download the app, and start using it, they all act as “eyes” to help track your tools. If someone steals the tool, uses the app, you’ll know a location to report to the police. We think this is a pretty sweet feature!
For me, the ability to control speed and torque is an awesome feature. Above you can see screen shots from 3 of the 4 settings on my Impact Driver. The first two are the factory settings that come with the tool, and the 3rd image is a custom set up for Self-Tapping Screws that I’ve set for slot #3. In the app you can save any custom setting for future use, and if needed, tweak a factory setting to fine tune it for your own needs. Basically you’ve got full control of the tool and the ability to save your favorite settings.
Final Thoughts – Milwaukee ONE-KEY™
Milwaukee’s new ONE-KEY™ system takes power tool technology to a level we’ve yet to see in the industry. Other companies are offering tool tracking such as Hilti’s ON!Track and DEWALT’s Tool Connect, but neither of these systems allow users to take control of the tool like the ONE-KEY™ system. The versatility and possibilities with this system from Milwaukee actually makes my head hurt!
Here’s the bottom line…..Bluetooth technology will continue to expand in the cordless power tool market. While this surely adds expense to already expensive tools, it’s the additional productivity, improved quality and performance that make the investment worse the added cost. In a World of competitive bidding contractors need to take advantage of new technology and tool advancements to stay out in front of the competition. I think the ONE-KEY™ system has some great benefits and I love that the app is free, and as it develops over time existing ONE-KEY™ system tools will be able to take advantage of new developments.
If you’re looking for tool tracking, more tool control, and keeping up with cutting edge technology then I recommend the new Milwaukee ONE-KEY™ enabled tools. This technology will make you and your crew more productive, produce higher quality work, and help end lost time searching for tools.
Milwaukee One-Key Editorial Video
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We have these tools with One Key and is an awesome feature except for the one thing that renders it all WORTHLESS…. The inability to make the tool beep or make a sound to locate. Whatever “engineer” decided this was unnecessary at Milwaukee needs to be fired. So as it is, my $400 drill went missing. I am within 20 feet of my drill according to one_key app, but can’t find it. For all I know, some smart-ass hid it in one of the newly built walls?? So what do I do? Kick in walls, abandon my new investment or buy a metal detector? What if somebody steals the tool and hides it in a backpack on the job? Or stuffs it in a plastic bag and buries it to get it later? The Bluetooth rescue feature is useless without a Beeper. Shame one milwaukee for saving a penny to not install a piezo beeper in a fully loaded $400 tool!
What happened when your employee registered the tool u see his name and now he has gotten fired for stealing?
I reached out to Milwaukee for you and this is their reply:
“If an employee registered the tool and was terminated, and the company is trying to take ownership of the tool, they can contact customer service and we can help straighten it out”