By now, there's a good chance you've at least heard that the Milwaukee Tick Tool and Equipment Tracker has been released. We wanted to take a moment to really consider what this innovation means and what it means for the industry going forward.
When the Milwaukee One-Key technology was first introduced, we immediately started thinking about the potential for tool tracking. This will address one of the key issues facing contractors and tradespeople – tool theft from worksites. In fact, the options seem rather limited, and most serious systems are pretty clunky. The latest technology is a far cry from what we'd like it to be.
As of 2017, smarter tools have been around for a while. The Hilti On!Track asset management tool was launched last year as an RFID system. We witnessed some tracking capabilities of the DeWalt Bluetooth battery. Milwaukee One-Key Systems continues to gain more exposure on the job site. So what exactly does the new Milwaukee Tick Tool and Equipment Tracker offer?
What are Milwaukee ticks?
As you might have guessed, it connects via a one-click app. This makes sense since the infrastructure and user base already exists. Like their one-click inventory system, the Milwaukee Tick can be used with tools from other manufacturers. You can attach it to any device you like with glue, screws, rivets or straps. It has a low-profile design that easily hides over large tools and equipment. It's 1/2" tall and just over 2" long, making it a poor fit on smaller hand tools.
The Milwaukee Tick embraces the #NBHD culture with a weather and dust resistant (IP67) enclosure. Milwaukee also makes the case out of UV and impact resistant plastic so it can withstand drops (IK08) and vibration.
The Milwaukee Tick connects via Bluetooth, just like other one-touch enabled tools. The system will detect the Tick for at least 100 feet, but may extend farther. The internal 3V CR2032 battery has a runtime of 1 year. Users can also easily replace the batteries – even after installing the Tick tracker. Once paired with your one-touch app, you can assign it to any item in your inventory. There is no guesswork about which serial number Tick goes with which tool.
what they said
"Tool loss and the time it takes to find a lost tool has a big impact on a company's bottom line. A single tool lost or damaged on a job site can increase the time it takes to complete a task by over 30%. This is multiplied by the length of a large project increase, potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars in wasted labor and causing significant project schedule overruns.The goal of ONE-KEY™ is to simplify the process of managing tools, eliminating expensive or cumbersome methods in use today.
The ability to quickly identify the location of a tool saves time and money if the tool fails or is needed temporarily. By leveraging the same integrated tool tracking technology found in ONE-KEY™* enabled tools, we provide users with a way to track any tool, simply by connecting the TICK™. For professionals around the world, their tools and equipment are key to their livelihoods – TICK™ ensures they keep an eye on everything to better manage their investments. "
Steve Matson, Senior Product Manager
Setting up the Milwaukee Tick on the tool is very simple. Download the One Click app if you don't already have it. Select the inventory you want to add, then Tick has a tab. You'll insert the battery (or remove the sticker on the battery) and the app will detect it. The instructions are easy to follow.
Once paired, you'll add a few pieces of information, some of which are required, for the tool you want to assign the Tick to. Here's the breakdown:
- serial number
- tool number
- Status (available, missing, damaged or obsolete)
- service tips
- Purchasing Information
- Check mark (automatically filled in by the app)
After clicking save, you will be able to see most of the information on the screen when you select the checkmark. If you place it on a Milwaukee product, the app will load a picture of the tool. Two of the coolest features are the ability to see where the One-Key last detected your Tick and how much battery power is left in it. Seeing the battery level is a huge advantage of mastering changing batteries.
Why can't they just use GPS?
Effective tool tracking may not be the holy grail of the professional tool industry, but it might just keep people on track. The ultimate possibility for tool tracking remains some sort of GPS system. It can pick up signals from anywhere instead of limiting detection to within Bluetooth distance.
The problem is, GPS is power hungry and relatively expensive. With GPS enabled, my Garmin Vivoactive HR+ battery life went from 5 days to 10 hours. Car-specific GPS systems start at $100 and can quickly rise. our opinion? GPS may not be ready from an efficiency or value standpoint (is anyone really ready for a $50-$100 price increase?).
The Milwaukee Tick lets you tool track your most valuable assets and find them by approaching somewhere within 100 feet. While not perfect in terms of security, it does utilize a mesh network to locate tools. Generator going away when you head to the truck? You can track it as long as it is within range of a device with the Milwaukee One-Key app. Even if you don't know it's missing, encountering a signal will wake up an app that's sleeping or running in the background and remind you of its presence.
Confused? You are not alone
When Tick was first released, many thought it would finally be a complete solution for tracking lost or stolen tools, but that's not the case. You have to be within about 100 feet of the app's Tick — yours or someone else's — to pick it up.
Let's be real here. If your tool leaves the job site with someone else, the chances of you getting it back are slim—unless it was an accident and they brought it back. If you lose a tool and want to use Tick to track it down, there are several possibilities. First, it's out of sight and Tick saw you leave the room next to you.
Second, you leave it at work earlier in the day and drive by to see if it pops up. Maybe you're on a large job site and walk or drive to other areas where you're working.
If your phone is stolen, you can take it to a pawn shop or meet a suspicious person on Craigslist, but in reality your best chance of getting it back is someone else's app picking it up.
So the Milwaukee Tick is not so much about recovering a stolen tool as it is about allowing you to go back and find your misplaced tool. It will require a GPS solution to get full-time global tracking, and we're not there yet.
Milwaukee Tick Package Options
- 48-21-2000: Single pack ($6.95)
- 48-21-2004: 4-pack ($8.94)
- 48-21-2010: 10-pack ($27.49)
- 48-21-2050: Pack of 50 ($73.99)
Milwaukee Tick Tool and Equipment Tracker Key Features
- Secure with glue, screws, rivets or straps
- Withstands everything from weather, water, dust and protection
- Runs for 1 year on replaceable CR2032 battery
- Tracking Powered by One Click App
- Signal strength over 100'
- Location signal to wake up sleeping or background apps
Milwaukee Tick Tool and Equipment Tracker Specifications
- Power supply: 3V CR2032 lithium-ion button battery
- Tracking System: Milwaukee OneKey
- Weight: 0.05 lbs
- Length: 2.13 inches
- Height: 0.49 inches
- Width: 1.88 inches
- Operating time: 1 year
- Warranty: 1 year
- Signal Range: Greater than 100 feet
The industry has a lot of room to grow in tool tracking, but the Milwaukee Tick Tool & Equipment Tracker marks a major step forward. As more manufacturers seek to expand their tool tracking capabilities, integrating other manufacturers' tools remains key. Then you have to look at inventory management. The Milwaukee Tick helps here too. No matter how you slice it, the partial solution won't slice it. True tracking requires full site integration. We have a sneaking suspicion that Milwaukee hasn't finished the tick — it seems to have settled some important issues.