Choosing service truck tools
Air-powered tools have always been a must-have on service trucks, but technicians today also frequently reach for cordless tools to complete maintenance and repair work in the field.
Cordless tools (also called electric tools or battery tools) are becoming more commonly used thanks to technology advancements like improved battery life. But air tools will remain a jobsite staple, especially for larger jobs that require more power.
Both types of tools have their place on a work truck — and both types have advantages and disadvantages. So it’s important that technicians have the capability to run the style of tool they need for a specific job. This delivers optimal flexibility and efficiency.
Learn more about the pros and cons of air tools and cordless tools and how having the right technologies on a work truck can enhance the versatility of both types of tools.
Service truck tools: air vs. cordless
The first question to ask when choosing between air and cordless options for tools like impact wrenches, grinders and scalers is “What are the demands of the job?”
If the job is bigger (using a 1-inch impact wrench for jobs that require high torque output, for example) it will likely require the more robust torque of an air tool.
The jobsite environment is another consideration. There are no hoses to arrange or move with cordless tools. This makes them a good option when the work is being done farther from the truck and portability is important.
Technician preference may also play a role in choosing between air tools and cordless tools. Some techs may prefer the portability of battery-powered tools. Others may like the dependable power of air tools, which fleets often provide to techs.
Advantages of air tools
While cordless tools are growing in use on service trucks and jobsites, they will probably never fully replace air tools. That’s because some jobs simply require the greater power that air tools provide.
The main advantages of air tools include:
- Power: Many heavy equipment mechanics need a ¾-inch to 1-inch impact wrench for their work. Some cordless tools are not available in those larger sizes, making air tools the only option for many jobs.
- Reliability: Air tools run on compressed air, so techs never have to worry about battery life or charging a battery. However, keep in mind that air tools do wear out and require some routine maintenance.
- Versatility: Once techs have an air tool on their truck, a wide range of accessories and attachments can be used on that tool. Cordless tools can also provide good versatility, with many types of tools available for different jobs or applications.
Advantages of cordless tools
As battery life and power capabilities have improved, cordless tools are a more popular choice on work trucks and jobsites. This is especially true on smaller service trucks (like utility and municipality trucks) that don’t typically require high air demand for most jobs.
The main advantages of cordless tools include:
- Convenience: Because these tools run on battery power, technicians don’t have to lug a cord and air hose in order to move and use the tool. This is a big factor on jobsites where work is done far from the truck or in a hard-to-reach spot. This also reduces possible tool maintenance and repair since there are no cords or hoses that can be run over or damaged.
- Reduced noise: With air tools, the air compressor is running constantly while the tool is being used, generating additional jobsite noise. Cordless tools produce their own noise when in use, of course, but they don’t require the air compressor to run. This results in reduced noise levels. It also helps improve operator comfort as well as efficiency and communication on the jobsite.