It's been more than nine years since Tools of the Trade began pushing for industry-sponsored, standardized test procedures so tool buyers could reliably compare performance specs across brands. So nobody could be happier than we are with the Power Tool Institute's release of new torque and horsepower testing standards for manufacturers, the result of an unprecedented collaboration by PTI member companies–fierce competitors that put aside their corporate egos for the good of the industry.

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Rick Schwolsky, Editor in Chief

For years, brand leaders across the board have acknowledged the need for industry standards. And while many leading companies supported establishing standards, each one would claim that its own testing methods were the most rigorous, accurate, and meaningful and should therefore become the adopted method. So the fact that the greater good overcame entrenched territorial resistance is a major breakthrough for everyone.

Of course, there were other hurdles, not the least of which for PTI was managing the unwieldy process that led to reaching technical and political consensus. But, when properly implemented, these new rules have the potential to change the industry in a big way.

Right now, PTI has two standardized test procedures that power tool manufacturers must follow in order to comply. One is the PTI Lab Test Procedure for Determining Stated Relative Torque Measurement for Corded and Cordless Drills, Drill/Drivers, and Screwdrivers; the other is the PTI Procedure for Determining Power Tool Horsepower.

Both use standardized methods and equipment to define laboratory procedures for measuring these two performance features. The Relative Torque Measurement (RTM) for the corded and cordless drills and drivers (excluding impact tools) requires tests of five sample off-the-shelf tools for each model. Companies must use identical electronic torque testers equipped with joint rate simulators that tighten during the test to measure maximum output of each tool. The procedure for cordless tools follows additional requirements, specifying the state of charge and conditioning status for the batteries as important test criteria.

The Horsepower test procedures, however, are not as clearly defined. They describe lab test conditions, electrical load criteria, and the use of a dynamometer for measuring results, but they don't spell out whether the goal is to measure peak or continuous duty results. This needs clarification.

Make no mistake, this is an important step for the tool industry, and we commend PTI and the member-companies that worked through the process. And as you'll see on page 11, Makita is the first company to use PTI test results to market its new tools. We encourage all tool companies to follow suit; adopt the procedures, acquire the prescribed testing equipment, and report your performance specs based on the standards, so that tool buyers finally can compare products with confidence.

Rick Schwolsky, Editor in Chief
bizops@hanleywood.com