Killer Question #38

Have you ever wondered what life was like before battery powered power tools?  I’m a nut for tools … drills, saws, nail guns … you name it, I want it.  I remember as a kid helping my dad do odd jobs around the house.  The biggest hassle was dragging power cords around to power the tools.  When my dad purchased an early version of the batter powered drill, I thought nirvana had arrived.

Do you know the history of this innovation?  It all started in April of 1969 when Makita deliver their soltution to the hassel of powering drills by launching the 6500D battery-powered drill as the first rechargeable power tool.

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Makita didn’t rest there.  They have remained focused on a creating a series of innovations that helped reduce or eliminate the hassle of of using power tools for both construction works and do-it-yourselfers like me.  These string of innovations include:

  • April, 1969 – 6500D battery-powered drill  as the first rechargeable power tool.
  • Dec 1978 – 6010D rechargeable drill  as the first nickel cadmium battery tool
  • Feb 1981 – AN5000 pneumatic nailer and AC6001 air compressor as the first air power tools
  • Aug 1997 – 6213D rechargeable driver-drill  as the first nickel hydride battery tool
  • Feb 2005 – TD130D as the first to use Lithium-ion battery
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Talk about focus and leadership by answering just one question …

What makes my product hard to use?

Source: Makita company site
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0 thoughts on “Killer Question #38

  1. This is a great topic! It’s great for both leadership and innovators alike. From the perspective of an engineer, often I find myself in the trap of believing because I thoroughly understand my product, the customer will too. It’s a tough hurdle to get over unless leadership stresses usability and can manage to get passed engineers egos to get the engineers thinking about the customer first in everything they do. Sometimes this requires bringing in people outside of engineering, which can get a little dicey because some of us engineers and engineering managers are actually quite sensitive ;p.

    In terms of product simplification, though, I find the lean process concepts port nicely into product development. For example wringing unnecessary work from the process and creating interfaces that decrease the chance of operator error always benefit the customer.

    On the matter of drills, having recently purchased one, they are now making smaller and lighter drills in recognition of increased female and child users. This also improves usage for everyone because the drills can now fit into tighter spaces, they are more portable, and induce less hand and arm fatigue. (There is a trade off, though. Because of the shorter handles and smaller motors, the torque load capacities are lower than a traditional drill.) LED lights have been added too, so a second person isn’t needed to hold a flashlight while the other person drills. In hindsight these seem like commonsense innovations, but it took many years to get to where drills are now. It also makes me wonder whether the drill design teams are more diversified to get ideas about that expand usability beyond a typical male construction user on a construction site.

  2. Engineer should learn about marketing, or the engineering team take a part in marketing, so they know, what product that acceptable to consumer.

  3. The product should be build based on usability and functionality. Ideally when the user look at the product, they already have a clue or feeling about how to operate it.