Home Fixated’s roving reporter Michael Springer checking in once again from Las Vegas, this time at the World of Concrete 2018 trade show. I just spent a few days walking the show indoors and out to find the latest construction tools, accessories, and gear from some of our favorite exhibitors of the event. And thrown in just for fun are some cool looking vehicles and machinery, the likes of which I only see at this show, so I figure they’re worth sharing.
Dust Control Takes Center Stage at World of Concrete 2018
As expected, due to the OSHA crystalline silica standard having been instituted since last year’s show, dust control and collection measures and products were at the forefront everywhere. Not just as products for sale, but actually put into use at the show to reduce airborne dust as much as possible. It’s difficult to remember the exact amount of dust show-goers endured in the outdoor areas in past years, but I can say it was drastically reduced this year with all of the active mitigation efforts in place. From miniature cordless dust collection HEPA vacs attached to rotary hammers, to wet slurry vacs picking up after saws and grinders, to guys hosing down concrete debris being scooped up by excavators, the various methods actually work. It gives one hope that following the OSHA standard will greatly reduce workers’ exposure to dust containing crystalline silica on job sites from here on out (in the US anyway).
Veni, Vidi, et Vertit Nomen
And in a related development, you will see a move away from the term “saw” as applied to concrete and masonry cutting tools. Due to more restrictive rules that apply to saws in the new OSHA standard, tools you would have previously considered a saw are named grinders, cutters, cutting machines, and the like by their manufacturers.
For munching through mortar without damaging adjacent bricks, the oscillating action of the Arbortech cutter makes it the tool to use. New this year is a flexible boot for attaching the tool to a dust collecting vacuum.
It was also in the Arbortech booth that I first saw this vacuum. This “step-up” dust collection vac is an example of the next tier above the plastic-body dust collection/cleanup vacs we are accustomed to. These commercial vacs usually feature multiple-stage filtration, external disposal bags, and higher CFM and price tag numbers. One of the most interesting features is the foolproof, low-tech filter cleaning mechanism comprised of a rubber flap on the side of the tank that you manually pull open when the filter needs to be cleaned. Not much to go wrong there, and you only lose cleaning suction when you are ready for it instead of at regular intervals like many other machines.
The Bosch booth was booming at World of Concrete 2018, with concrete breakers and rotary hammers in action everywhere. And all connected to vacs of course. Despite the outdated labels that say “HEPA Ready”, all of Bosch’s vacs now come standard with HEPA filters to make it easier for users to follow Table 1 compliance requirements of the OSHA standard.
Besides the focus on turning concrete into dust, new measuring and cordless tools were around too. In 18-volt cordless news, the Core batteries with their larger cells are the focus going forward. Batteries for the inductive “wireless” charging system continue to be sold, but are not being outfitted with the new higher energy density cells.
The “connected” cordless angle grinder features an electronic interface for adjusting speeds between 7,000 to 10,000 rpm, determining the amount of battery charge left, and to alert the user to an overheat condition. The connected part comes in with the Bluetooth tracking tag screwed into the side of the tool body. This communication module, or “Como” as Bosch acronymically named it, can be bought attached to select new tools or retrofitted into the ports of these tools at a later time. Similar tags can be attached to existing tools and other assets without a Como port. Because they are removable, Bosch points out that they can be easily upgraded with future versions. The tracking tags are part of Bosch’s new Bluehound connection system that is subscription based with the rates dependent on how many tags a company has.
Another connected tool, though connected to a much larger network, is a new version of the Brute Turbo breaker with a LTE-based GPS tracking module attached. The GPS system can track the tool around the globe and can provide alerts if the tool is taken outside its assigned geo-fence, if the module is removed, or even if the tool is moved a little bit. For now, the module can only track and provide notifications, it can’t disable the tool if stolen, but maybe in Gen 2. The module adds $250 to the price of the breaker, and for the same price, a module attached to a power cord can be attached to any of Bosch’s pricier tools, even as a retrofit. A year of use with the tracking app is included with purchase, and then rolls into a subscription-based service. And if you ever track it to North Korea, do us all a favor and just let it go.
A new outdoor laser measure debuted as part of Bosch’s premium “Blaze” electronics line, and unlike most of us, it has a photographic memory. Since lasers are notoriously difficult to see outdoors, the unit’s viewfinder features center crosshairs that let you confirm your measurement target. To make it easier to access your data later without detailed written notes, the images are stored complete with the center target mark. Of course the device has an inclinometer which allows it perform indirect measuring and other feats of geometry, and handy tutorials programmed into the tool walk users through advanced functions instead of referring them to the manual (wherever it happens to be stored).
One interesting new product that’s low on sex appeal but up there in safety and utility is DeWalt’s new dust box evacuator. It promises a cleaner and safer way to clean out the controlled substance formerly known as concrete and masonry dust that gets captured in a tool-mounted dust collector. Instead of opening the dust compartment and banging it on the edge of a dumpster, a custom nozzle attached to your full-size HEPA vac fits against the smaller collector and evacuates the dust. Bingo—all of the cleanup with none of the silicosis.
After our quick glance at this tool at last year’s STAFDA show, we finally got a closer look at DeWalt’s new cordless 9-inch concrete and masonry cut-off machine. Part of the 60-volt Max Flexvolt line, this 6,600 rpm tool cuts up to 3 1/4-inches deep and features a waterproof battery compartment, adjustable guard positions, and a built-in water feed system.
Another great fit for the World of Concrete 2018 show is DeWalt’s new 1 7/8-inch cordless SDS Max rotary hammer powered by their Flexvolt 60-volt Max system. To date, it’s the largest cordless hammer we’ve seen.
Charging right ahead is the four-bay simultaneous battery charger, that’s right, simultaneous, not sequential charger. All of the 20-volt Max and 60-volt Max Flexvolt packs (which charge as three stacks of 20-volt) work in the unit. And the higher the amp-hour rating, the longer the charge time. 2.0 Ah at 35 minutes, 6.0 Ah at 60 minutes, and 9.0 at 90 minutes. (Note that the smaller cells of the compact batteries can’t take as much current per time as the bigger cells in the Flexvolt packs.)
Representing a totally different type of “connected” tools is DeWalt’s safety lanyard system. Select corded grinders already come with robust metal lanyard anchors at the back, and soon cordless drill/drivers will be similarly outfitted. For safety now, DeWalt offers a retrofit lanyard that screws into any tool with belt-hook mounts and includes a separate strap to secure the battery pack.
We don’t know much about them yet, but this German tool brand is owned by Chervon, the owner of Skilsaw, Skil, and Ego brands. On display in a corner of the Skilsaw booth were Flex grinders, a dust collection vacuum, and a drywall finishing sander. Apparently, this brand been available in the USA for a while.
Hilti is a major presence at the WOC show, with what must be the biggest outdoor booth of the show. Part of the acreage included an indoor cabin this year which meant the media didn’t have to freeze outdoors at the annual early morning press event. Yaay us! As a systems-based brand, the highlights included everything from epoxy mortar for certified anchoring, to a mortar strength testing device, to more deeply “connected” tool diagnostics, to a portable machine for slicing up nuclear power boilers, (yep). But here I’ll focus on highlighting the most tangible tool treats of the day.
To follow Table 1 of OSHA crystalline silica standards, not every process that turns concrete into dust can be done dry. Wet cutting is required of saws and some other tools. Whether required or not, wet cutting produces the best results and makes expensive cutting tools last longer. Large diameter coring drills are a good example. While sawing through a slab outdoors, you can usually flood the area with water and not worry about the runoff which drains down through the cut. But for work in a more finished space, a wet-pickup slurry vac is needed. Like a wet-vac, these units pick up liquids and solids together, but unlike a wet-vac, Hilti’s slurry vac has a filter bag that collects the sediment and lets the water drain back into a four-gallon holding tank below. Besides just picking up the water, the slurry vac also has a pump to supply the water to the tool and recirculate the same water up to seven times through the sediment filter bag. When the bag is totally full, the unit shuts off for safety, but a warning light provides an alert before shutting down. I’ve seen other slurry pickup and pump units, but for its manageable size and portable format, (similar to a dust-collection vac a contractor is used to), I have to award the Hilti recirculating slurry vac as my “Coolest Thing At The Show” winner.
We saw the unit attached to a coring rig fitted with a pickup ring that kept the water from getting away from the immediate work area and causing a mess. These rings are available in various diameters to complement different size coring bits and suck down tight to the floor surface to effectively corral the water and sediment.
Back on the dusty side of concrete and masonry, it’s interesting to note Hilti’s claim that their 22-volt cordless rotary hammer puts out the same power as their larger 36-volt version. I guess that means longer runtime is the main benefit of going bigger, which provides good enticement for users to stay in the brand’s more standard-size 22-volt line (which was called 18-volt in the US until last year). Both tools fit an onboard dust collection unit or can do without it when using hollow bits attached to a vac.
Meanwhile, in “breaking” news, Hilti announced their new mid-size 32-pound demolition hammer positioned in between their 27.6- and 65.9-pound hammers. Designed as a lighter tool for working on floor surfaces, the 32-pound tool boasts 37 percent more impact energy than the smaller model with an increase in weight of only 16 percent.
Okay, I couldn’t resist. Here’s the diamond-grit cable demolition machine for those of you with your own Chernobyl situation. The dry-cutting abrasive bumps on the cable are especially suited for dismantling nuclear contaminated materials since there is no resulting water waste to dispose of. The overhead gantry is steered into place by an operator up top, and then you play the waiting game while the band saw-style cable cutter guillotines your disposables. Sadly enough, after a “hot” job these majestic machines are probably themselves cut up, stuffed into barrels, and buried in a salt mine somewhere.
Hitachi is a relative newcomer to this show, and now in their second year, they had things covered with booths both inside and out at World of Concrete 2018. Hitachi has been a player in grinders, rotary hammers, and larger breakers for years, and they have many boots and shrouds to attach their tools to dust collection vacuums. But their (first?) actual dust collection vacuum in the US stood out in the booth right away. The design of the Starmix-made vac is familiar as it is the same top-quality unit sold by brandmate Metabo that has performed very well in my past testing. The vac features a HEPA filter, a 9.2 gallon capacity, and dual-filters with a self-cleaning mechanism for Table 1 compliance right out of the box.
A sneak peek of things to come: Hitachi’s Multi Volt 36-volt battery pack. The packs fit in the brand’s line of 36-volt tools, BUT, also fit in their more popular 18-volt tools where they act as 18-volt batteries with twice the amp hours. Shown is a 2.5/5.0 Ah pack, complete with onboard fuel gauge. There are also 4.0/8.0 Ah packs.
Keen Utility continues its efforts to make safety footwear more appealing and comfortable for the widest range of users. From heavy-duty, full leather models that look like work boots always have, to sleeker sneaker styles for the less traditional wearer. Younger employees entering the construction or manufacturing workforce often gravitate toward athletic styles and Keen is keeping up with that need. To lighten up some of their shoes and boots, aluminum or composite protective toes take the place of steel toes, and many of the styles are available in a soft toe version as well. I got a sneak peek of a few select models coming out for fall and I really liked what I saw with some fresh new concepts for the brand. Stay tuned…
Makita popped the top with their expanded booth layout this year. Gone was the Rockstar party bus, and in its place were more tools and crowds of avid Makita tool buffs. Leading the way with cordless concrete tools were the brand’s rotary hammer, compact vac, and 9-inch wheel cutter.
According to Makita, their X2 cordless SDS Max keeps up with the performance of their similar 1 9/16-inch corded tool. The cordless version runs on two 18-volt battery packs and is part of the wireless AWS system that turns on the brand’s compact HEPA vac via a Bluetooth connection.
The heart of the AWS (Auto-start Wireless System) is the XCV08Z compact dust collection vacuum. It too runs on two 18-volt battery packs and it features a HEPA filter and filter cleaning mechanism for Table 1 compliance for drilling and cleanup uses. Similar versions of this vac exist that offer wet cleanup and cordless or corded power.
After our quick glimpse of this new tool at STAFDA last fall, this is what one version of Makita’s 9-inch X2 cordless grinder has become. Outfitted with a diamond wheel, combination depth guide/wheel guard/dust shroud, and attached to a HEPA vac, it’s a cordless concrete and masonry cutting tool. Losing the power cord but still being attached to a vac hose seems like a bit of a head scratcher to me, but possible wet-cutting uses of the tool in the future would make sense. Besides its applications in concrete and masonry, the grinder itself can also be used with standard 7- or 9-inch grinding accessories.
Makita has new “connected” batteries that can be programmed when to work and when to disable themselves via a computer connected to a special charger. Designed for theft-deterrence and monitoring at the tool crib level instead of at the end user level, the Sync-Lock system is geared for companies with a lot of battery packs.
Who can resist a good chain saw? Not me. Makita’s all-red gas saw line now has a 56cc firewood saw named the Ridgeline. If you didn’t know, every brand’s mid-line landowner/farm and ranch class saw must have a name for some reason.
Metabo was all about the vacs this year, with new smaller and larger models, and a revamped motor in their existing model to give it a higher 157 CFM rating for Table 1 compliant use with grinders up to 6-inch diameter wheels. A real standout feature of Metabo’s standard vac is a filter-cleaning mechanism that only cycles when sensors in the vac detect reduced airflow. This way, the vac doesn’t lose dust collecting effectiveness repeatedly like most vacs that automatically cycle their filter cleaning with a timer.
Metabo’s new cordless compact HEPA vacuum runs on one of the brand’s 18-volt battery packs. It provides enough suction for concrete drilling and cleanup uses, and has a manual filter cleaning feature. The hose and attachments all fit neatly into a Tanos Systainer that can be stacked and stored efficiently. An optional dolly snaps into the bottom of the vac for roll-around use if needed.
On the other side of the dust collecting spectrum is Metabo’s new step-up vacuum for high demand uses. The vac boasts 250 CFM airflow generated by multiple turbine motors and runs dust through three filtration stages. A four-layer cyclonic separator captures most of the dust, and the exhaust air is further filtered through a fleece layer and a HEPA filter for maximum efficiency. The unit uses the ingenious Longopac continuous-feed bag system and has a wide 2 ¼-inch diameter conductive hose, which is a step more shock resistant than an anti-static hose.
Right at home at a concrete show, Skilsaw now has two small concrete and masonry saws powered by the brand’s signature worm-drive motor. The original Medusaw premiered last year. It takes a 7-inch blade/wheel, has rollers attached to the base for easy action over rough surfaces, and has a built-in water feed system. The new walk-behind Medusaw has similar features, but is also equipped with a folding handle and wider wheels for a more stable stance. Though saws always have to be used wet for OSHA Table 1 compliance, the manufacturer has tested the saws dry with dust collection and provides the objective data that can be cited by contractors as evidence of compliant use.
Though their forestry tools may be more fun, Stihl is no slouch in concrete cutting saws, sorry, make that “cut-off machines”. Borrowing safety technology from chainsaws, their latest model has the first-ever kickback brake in a concrete and masonry cutter which stops the rotating wheel nearly instantly if the tool grabs and jerks suddenly. With its active brake and top rpm half that of most gas saws, it is considered safer to use in awkward poses and its articulating guard adjusts to allow cutting with the top half of its wheel, such as needed when cutting the downhill side of a curved concrete culvert pipe.
And still a favorite innovation from Stihl, the first 9-inch blade cordless concrete and masonry cutter, while not new, now has a steel shoe to regulate the depth of cut.
Thanks for joining us for our World of Concrete 2018 coverage!