Stuart Hamilton reports from Berlin on the launch of Bosch’s Wireless Charging System for cordless tools.
Few cities have undergone as much change as the German capital. At various times a symbol of division and of unity, Berlin has emerged as a focal point for technological innovation – in 2014 it became the first city in the world to offer its own internet domain name (.berlin). Where better, then, to unveil what Bosch has declared to be a world first in the cordless power tool market – an inductive energy transfer wireless charging system.
The company’s vision is to make working with cordless tools efficient, cost-saving and time-saving. Henk Becker, member of the executive management of the Power Tools Division of Robert Bosch GmbH, explains: “We are convinced that we can be just as successful with this pioneering achievement as we were with the first integration of lithium-ion cells in a cordless screwdriver, a technology that was known prior to 2003 only from cellphones, but which 83% of all hand-held cordless power tools in Europe are now equipped with.” The Wireless Charging System launch programme kicks off this autumn with the GAL 1830 W Professional battery charger and the GBA 18 V 2.0 Ah MW-B Professional 18 volt lithium-ion battery, and there are plans to add more components as part of a long-term range expansion.
The concept of contactless energy transfer is not new, as anyone with an electric toothbrush will know… but here’s how it works. An alternating magnetic field is generated in the transmitter using a coil. The receiver also contains a coil which is penetrated by the alternating magnetic field. This induces a voltage and generates a current flow. In the case of Bosch’s system, this means that the charger emits a magnetic field which is received by the battery and transformed into charging current. To match the charging times of a wired power tool unit, however, the system requires at least 50 times greater power than that of an electric toothbrush charging station.
Among the benefits of the new system are:
- Cost-effectiveness compared with conventional systems in stationary applications as there is no need for a second battery;
- Greater user-friendliness and productivity because the batteries stay in the tool and can be parked on the charging station during moments of downtime to charge them;
- Flexibility because the inductive batteries are compatible with all tools in that voltage category;
- The charging stations no longer have contact points, so are no longer sensitive to water, dust and dirt.
The GAL 1830 W Professional is described as exceptionally compact and currently the smallest charger available on the market for 18 volt lithium-ion batteries. As with the battery, it also has “wireless intelligence”: an electronic system which ensures communication between charger and battery, starts the charging process and adapts it to the current state of the battery. This ensures that the battery is optimally charged in each temperature range and achieves long life. The system solution also includes a frame which is suitable for stationary applications. It can be mounted on workbenches, shelves or other work surfaces and serves as a flexible but secure holder for the charger, battery and tool.
The GBA 18 V 2.0 Ah MW-B Professional is a compact 18 volt battery which combines the advantages of the new technology with those of the previous system. This 2.0 Ah battery has a charge level indicator and is equipped with Bosch CoolPack technology, which improves heat dissipation. This, and the fact that lithium-ion batteries do not have memory effect, has a positive effect on the battery’s life. Additionally, the battery is compatible with all 18 volt Bosch professional power tools and chargers.
In a nutshell
The advantages of the system are summed up by Bosch as follows:
- Increased productivity and convenience – tools are always ready to use;
- Technology saves costs because a second battery is no longer necessary;
- Charging units with no contact points are protected against water and dust;
- Full compatibility with the entire 18 volt professional system from Bosch.
Josef Ortolf, head of Bosch’s professional power tools business unit in Europe, Middle East and Africa, revealed the following market research data: “Professionals spend only about a third of their time performing their actual tasks… the majority of their work time, about two thirds, is spent on unproductive activities such as searching for, gathering together and purchasing tools and accessories, and driving to and from the jobsite. Therefore, [there is] enormous potential to increase productivity.”
A quarter of a century on from the fall of the Berlin Wall, the demise of the wire may be upon us.