Looking to capitalize on its "Built in the USA with Global Materials" program, DeWalt, a unit of Stanley Black & Decker, has expanded production at its Charlotte, N.C., facility with a broader range of cordless tools.
The facility first came online in September 2013, but production has accelerated in the past year, according to Steve Palmer, DeWalt's value-stream leader for motor production at the plant. "It's a 1.2-million-sq-ft building, and we keep adding production," he told reporters gathered for a media tour of the plant on June 3. "Right now we're putting out 66,000 to 70,000 tools per week. But that's not counting the rush around Father's Day and Black Friday. I think that a further expansion of the plant is in the cards." According to DeWalt representatives, the Charlotte plant has produced over 4 million tools to date.
This plant expansion is just one stage of DeWalt's long-term plan to bring its tool assembly back to the U.S. Moving the cordless tool production to North Carolina was done under an internal initiative dubbed "Project Eagle." According to DeWalt representatives, the company is currently tackling "Project Eagle II," which involves moving much of its corded tool production to a manufacturing plant in Greenfield, Ind., that was formerly owned by Bostich.
DeWalt has taken advantage of its growing U.S. manufacturing base to produce more unified tool lines. In May, the company introduced a new line of 11 pneumatic nailers and staplers, all built on a common platform. Earlier this year it brought out a cordless framing nailer that is significantly lighter than earlier models thanks to a switch to a brushless motor. "Customers are looking for a lighter tool, and a brushless motor allows us to get the weight down," says Jorge Silviera, DeWalt product director for framing tools.
DeWalt also introduced a cordless miter saw earlier this year, which can make 275 cuts per charge of its 20-Volt Max, 4-amp battery. The 32-lb tool accepts a 71/4-in. blade and can easily cut 2x8s. It retails for $399.
One area where DeWalt is focusing its R&D is battery technology. Major tool brands have more or less standardized around lithium-ion battery platforms that can deliver higher-amp power for demanding tools, so new features can help them stand out from the pack. The latest push at DeWalt is to capitalize on the electronic controls baked into every new battery with its latest built-in feature—full Bluetooth connectivity.
The battery can sync with DeWalt ToolConnect iOS and Android apps, allowing it to provide real-time charge information. "The battery is talking to your iPhone app, giving you updates on its status," says Ward Smith, DeWalt product manager, adding, "it even has a USB charging port on the battery." The app can also provide a simplified form of geofencing, alerting a user when the battery has wandered off the reservation.
DeWalt will be offering the Bluetooth option on its 20-Volt Max 2-amp and 4-amp batteries, which are priced at $99 and $139, respectively. Smith says the batteries and the new ToolConnect app will both be available in August.