Editor's note: On three separate occasions since July 2006, Tools of the Trade reported on the progress of an industry effort to create new universal power-tool measurement procedures . In January 2008, the Power Tool Institute announced the development and adoption of new voluntary procedures by member companies. Here is our report on how the individual manufacturers have responded to the voluntary procedures in the year since they were implemented.
In principle, a common power-rating test voluntary procedure that all manufacturers agreed to implement and publish in their product specifications would be a big help to buyers of those tools. Such a approach might not tell the buyer everything about the tool– how well it will accomplish a particular task, for example, or whether it is ergonomically designed– but at least it would give the purchaser a fair, equitable measurement with which to compare one tool against another.
That was the general idea when the manufacturer members of the Power Tool Institute met in an open forum back in 2005 to discuss formulating voluntary industry procedures . The first two proposed were test lab procedures for determining relative torque for corded and cordless drills, drill/drivers, and screwdrivers, and a procedure for determining power-tool horsepower. As noted above, these measurement procedures were enacted by PTI early last year.
According to a PTI spokesperson, all of the manufacturers directly affected by the voluntary procedures voted unanimously to implement them. They included the most prominent brands in the portable power-tool industry: Black & Decker (and its subsidiary brands DeWalt, Delta, and Porter-Cable), Bosch (along with its Skil brand), Hilti, Hitachi, Makita, Metabo, Milwaukee (with Ridgid and Ryobi brands), and Jet (with Powermatic).
Power-tool manufacturers that were not members of PTI but make equipment covered by the torque voluntary procedures (such as Festool and Panasonic), as well as a slew of stationary power-equipment manufacturers whose products would be covered by the horsepower rating, would– presumably– comply as well.
It hasn't quite worked out that way.
According to several manufacturers, the horsepower test procedure is a fairly straightforward, easy-to-apply measurement that was quickly adopted by most brands. The torque procedure, however, has become a contentious issue among the industry players. Although all of the PTI members shaped it, voted it into creation, and agreed to abide by it, the majority of manufacturers have yet to implement it.
To date, only two of the 13 brands affected– Hilti and Makita– are testing and publishing torque data for their drill- and driver-category tools based on the PTI specifications. The other manufacturers continue to test and promote their own versions of power measurement. Although most of the noncompliant toolmakers claim to support and even admire the PTI effort, they have not indicated that they will comply with the voluntary procedures anytime soon. Some of these manufacturers are simply taking a wait-and-see approach, watching to find out what their competitors will do before deciding their course of action.