Hilti, Inc. is optimistic about the future of the infrastructure and commercial construction markets. That’s what Cary Evert, president of Hilti North America shared this morning at World of Concrete in Las Vegas when setting the stage to introduce the company’s two newest innovations: its hollow drill bit technology and anchoring solution, and its cordless combihammer drill.

Having experienced its best year in company history in 2012, Hilti achieved its highest customer satisfaction scores, employee engagement and retention rates in its history as well.

“In 2009, we took a different direction than a lot of companies. We made two critical decisions in 2009. We would not reduce workforce and we would not stop our R&D dollars. Did we try to cut costs as sales slid? The answer is absolutely,” Evert says. “We did a lot of things with our team members to cut costs but we made a conscious decision in a direct sales force model and secondarily to hold our R&D dollars. What you’re going to see today is the R&D dollars we spent in 2009 and 2010 are delivering the products you’re seeing from us today.”

The firm’s indicators show about 6% growth in infrastructure and commercial construction markets, evidenced by “seeing real job sites of real magnitude” coming out of the woodworks. Evert pointed out Apple’s new $7 billion project in California – significant because there hasn’t been a $7 billion commercial project in the United States in the last five years, he says.

Cordless Technology

The continuing journey of cordless technology, as Evert put it, is moving beyond the two-pound tool meant for drilling 1/4-in or 3/8-in holes.

“What we want to do is we want to realize the long-term vision we have of cordless jobsites. No more extension cords, no more generators, no more temporary power,” Evert says. “To do that, the contractor has to be able to drill beyond the small holes. Today you’re going to see our first introduction into what we call the Cordless Combi.”

The new Hilti TE 30-A36 is a cordless combihammer drill with a drilling range of 1/4-in to 1-in diameter with SDS+ (TE-C) drill bits, and up to 3-1/2” using percussion core bits. The device drills and chips into concrete up to 40% faster than the largest SDS corded tools on the market, according to Hilti. It can also perform a full day’s work, with the need to swap out batteries only once a day thanks to the the new 36 volt, 6.0 amp hour battery.

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The Hilti team demonstrates the use of its cordless combihammer drill with a corded competitor.

During the morning’s demonstration, compared to traditional corded drills, the new combihammer drill was 2-1 times faster than its corded counterpart.

“If it’s a commercial jobsite, with tens of thousands of holes, it makes a big difference on labor, time and delivery of the project,” says Hilti’s David Schimmel.

The other feature is the speed of getting to work with a cordless tool. No dragging extension cords around.

“People would like to get rid of the cords, and the industry is slowly but steadily doing that,” Schimmel says. “There will still be a place for corded tools, but we believe that there’s a real opportunity to give contractors a choice. We’re moving into power levels that we’ve just never done before. There’s not been a lot of activity in the rental industry for cordless tools, because no one’s been able to get the power levels, do the applications that contractors come in and rent tools for. And we think that’s changing.”

By combining the high-capacity battery and utilizing Hilti brushless motor technology, the firm is providing a cordless solution that delivers a single impact energy of 2.7 ft-lbs and a full hammering frequency of 4,500 impacts per minute.

Drill Bits/Anchoring Technology

Hilti’s second innovation of the morning was its Safe Set Technology and HIT-HY 200 Adhesive Anchor System.

“Right now, when you drill a hole, you’ve got to clean the hole, it’s very messy, you never know if it’s clean, you don’t know if that anchor’s going to perform,” Evert says. “What you will see today is a breakthrough in drilling technology called the hollow drillbit – it evacuates the dust as it drills the hole, and when you pull the drill bit out of the hole, you have a perfectly clean hole all in one step.”

Attached to a specially designed vacuum, the drillbit clears a hole while the suction from the vacuum pulls away the concrete dust and debris, leaving a clear hole with no need to go back and clear the way using the current industry standard of using compressed air and a wire brush to clean the drill hole.

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Hilti's hollow drillbit at work.

This allows for the use of one of two adhesive options: HIT-HY 200-R for “regular” working times and HIT-HY 200-A for “accelerated” working times, allowing contractors to choose the perfect adhesive for the application and jobsite conditions. Hilti’s new HIT-Z, zero cleaning rod, with its cone shaped helix, works as a torque-controlled anchor as well.

“The other thing is, 30-50% of the fastening time on the anchor is the cleaning part. So on the reliability and also the productivity side, it’s a huge breakthrough that’s going to change the way we fasten anchors,” says Hilti’s Rafael Garcia. “Our goal is to bring more efficiency, more productivity and safe application for our customers on the jobsite.”

Paired with the Hilti POS 180 and Hilti POS 150 Robotic Total Stations, jobsite drilling could be even more efficient. The new compact controller has digital plans stored in its memory and remains in permanent wireless contact with the total station. The POS 180 and 150 provide reliable Building Information Modeling (BIM) to jobsite and jobsite to BIM data flow.

And sales of all these products are already underway.

“We’re one of the few vendors that sell at the World of Concrete. We actually sell product here everyday. Yesterday in the first hour, we had already sold more than the first day of last year. At the end of day, we had sold more than 200% of our first day last year,” Evert says. “We’re expecting that the activity here is going to be about 90,000 people this year versus the numbers that were quoted of about 65,000. “