| Milwaukee’s New High-Tech Tools Will Test Market’s Loyalty
With its newly created test and measurement division, Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. has officially declared war on longtime supplier Fluke Corp. and hopes to grab a significant share of this roughly $1-billion market. It also would enable its parent, Hong Kong-based Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd., to move into an entirely new category.
The inaugural line, which launches in August, will test the loyalty of professional builders, electricians, heating-and-cooling technicians and remodelers. Brookfield, Wis.-based Milwaukee has been at it for more than a year with several former managers it recruited from Everett, Wash.-based Fluke Corp.
Fluke, a longtime supplier of multimeters and other instruments, builds to a broad customer base. “We don’t care how an electronics technician defines ‘test and measurement,’ says Mike Jones, Milwaukee vice president. He says the new test-and-measurement line due next year will continue to expand on tools that are geared specifically around construction trades.
Twelve new products will come this year. Seven run on alkaline batteries, and the remaining five use Milwaukee’s 12-volt lithium-ion pack.
The smallest tool is a $25 noncontact voltage detector with an LED work light. It can be used by itself, or it can slide onto a new $179 digital multimeter. That gets around a Fluke patent that kept Milwaukee from baking a voltmeter into a multimeter. Another patent from a separate inventor locked up lights on noncontact voltmeters, so Milwaukee purchased it, says Jones. In contrast, a $139 fork meter (2nd tool on the image) includes a noncontact volt detector and LED light. It handles large-gauge wire and up to 200 amps of current.
Running on a lithium-ion battery is a space-age-looking clamp meter (3rd tool on the image) for $349. It sports high-contrast display, noncontact voltage detection and LED lighting. Another nifty tool is a $349 Sub Scanner (1st tool on the image), which detects objects in walls as well as rebar buried in 6 in. of concrete. Though it can “see” through most walls, it is limited on plaster due to key-and-lathe irregularities.
| Liebherr’s Niche Loaders Get Fiery Reception As Sales of Mainstream Products Remain Cold
Many manufacturers retrench to the center when the economy goes south. But Switzerland-based Liebherr, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, says it will keep engineering for the niche markets it serves. New to its line are three extreme-duty machines that are finding a warm reception inside America’s steel mills.
Two crawler loaders, the 19-ton LR624 and 23-ton LR634, and one wheel loader, the 35-ton L586, can be had with a special-issue package for carrying hot slag. The option requires special chains and tires for the L586, and the crawler loaders are similarly hardened with a heat-resistant undercarriage. All units include heavy-duty lights, glass, air-conditioning, slag buckets and heat-resistant hydraulic hoses. There is even a fire extinguisher in the cab, just in case things get out of hand.
Available in smaller sizes in Europe for several years, the larger U.S. machines will cost between 20% and 30% more than their non-rugged versions, priced at $300,000 and $350,000, respectively, for the crawler loaders and $450,000 for the wheeled version.
These are low-volume machines, but Liebherr also has a new LR614 crawler loader, with a compact weight of 12.2 tons, for general-duty work. Starting in 2010, it will no longer build crawler loaders for John Deere. Globally this year, Liebherr expects a 17% revenue drop for all products and as much as a 50% slip for U.S. construction machines.
| Wind Power: Small Turbine Hits Hardware Stores
Wind turbines for homes, offices and other buildings have a bad reputation because they often put out less power than promised. The new Honeywell turbine, which hits Ace hardware stores in late fall, is uniquely designed to work at a wider range of wind speeds, claims the manufacturer. Its price tag is about $6,000 installed, about half that of a typical unit’s.
Most small turbines start generating electricity at 7.5 mph and shut down at 30 mph. Friction losses at the core, where the generators are located, restrict operating range. The core also spins more slowly than the blade tips, requiring bigger blades and higher mountings to catch faster winds. Honeywell’s 2,000-kWh-per-year turbine generates power at the tips of the blades, allowing it to start producing juice at 2 mph and on up to 45 mph before it cuts out.
“We are serving a bigger wind range, and we are getting a bigger output because of it,” says Brian Levine, vice president of Muskegon, Mich.-based EarthTronics, which licenses the device to Honeywell. The 2-kW unit will cover about 20% of an average home’s power needs, he says.
Though it will be available at Ace, the manufacturer recommends using its network of installers. The 95-lb, 6-ft-dia unit can accept six different mounting configurations. Installation takes about a day.
| Building Wrap: High Permeability
GreenGuard C2000 is a building wrap with a qualified air barrier of high water resistance as well as a high level of permeability. The building wrap has a permeability level of 94, according to ASTME 96, Procedure B standards, allowing moisture vapor to escape at a higher rate than many other wraps. It’s three-ply design also resists tearing. Pactiv Corp. 888-828-2850; www.pactiv.com
| Concrete Treatment: Faster Installation
Planiseal Easy is a fresh-concrete epoxy treatment that is designed to allow for faster flooring installation on recently poured concrete slabs. It can treat concrete slabs up to 14 days old that exhibit moisture-vapor emission rates up to 8 lb per 1,000 sq ft per 24 hours. After Planiseal Easy has been applied, flooring installation can resume within two to three hours. Mapei Americas; 954-246-8799; www.mapei.com
| Grade Control: Supports New Modes
Trimble has introduced version 11.1 of its Trimble GCS900 Grade Control System, which includes new 3D configurations for soil compactors. The new modes allows for usage of total-station-based machine control across more types of machine, which allows for precision grading in areas with poor or no GPS coverage. Grade settings can now be imported among dozers, graders, excavators and soil compactors. The new grade-control system also integrates with the Trimble AS455 angle sensor for excavation purposes, allowing improved integration through all equipment on a jobsite. Trimble; 800-874-6253; www.trimble.com
| Upgraded Articulated Cranes: Higher Lift Capacities
Iowa Mold Tooling’s line of articulated cranes has been upgraded, with lift capacities from 1,740 lb to 35,405 lb, at a radius of 14 ft, 5 in. Eight of the new cranes are now available in either single-link or dual-link configurations, depending on the nature of the job. The new crane booms also feature over-bending, which allows the main boom to lift maximum loads in all boom positions and work through narrow spaces. The crane models are all equipped with rated capacity limiters, which signal overload conditions. Other features include an internal hose rating system and a redesigned stow bracket.