Cord or cordless? Key considerations when purchasing hydraulic rescue equipment
Brought to you by Holmatro Incorporated
Until relatively recently, choosing a hydraulic rescue tool set was a pretty simple affair. The decision was usually made on only a few key considerations and the configuration was pretty standard. All involved the fundamental requirements of a cutter and spreader or a combi tool, a ram, a pump and hoses. However, in the last five years, this decision has been made harder by the rapid developments in the field of self contained battery powered tools. Although choice is generally considered to be a positive thing, this has made the purchasing process more complex; how easy is it to make the right decision for your organization nowadays?
This whitepaper will guide you through the key issues to consider when selecting new hydraulic rescue tools. Each configuration, whether CORE Technology tool-hose-pump systems or cordless, battery-powered EVO 3 tools, has its benefits and operational considerations.
Holmatro EVO 3 Tools - The New Standard
Holmatro CORE Technology tools have been the industry standard for more than a decade and are well
established, but what about the latest generation of Holmatro cordless tools, EVO 3? On the inside, the
fully protected drive unit has been completely redesigned to achieve the same high tool performance at
a significantly higher speed, especially under heavy load. A quick look under the hood:
- Brushless motor - Powerful and extremely engery efficient motor, specially built for the application. Designed for use in hot, cold and wet weather conditions.
- Direct drive pump - The motor drives the pump directly, without a gear transmission in between. This eliminates mechanical energy loss and provides more usable torque to pump hydraulic fluid (read: higher flow). It also results in a lower weight and noise level.
- Electronic speed control (ESC) - ESC keeps the rpm of the brushless motor (and thus of the hydraulic pump) at a constant maximum level, even at high tool loads or when the battery voltage drops. This results in a continuous, optimally high tool speed.
- Sealed circult board - The electronics inside the tool are cast in resin and therefore fully protected against moisture and dust. In addition, EVO 3 tools have an IP54 protection rate against dust and splashing water.
Holmatro EVO 3 Tools Other Benefits
- Exact same capacity - Holmatro EVO 3 tools offer exactly the same hydraulic power as CORE Technology tools that are connected to an external pump; identical cutting, spreading and ramming forces, identical EN and NFPA classifications.
- No set-up time - The tools are immediately deployable. The only delay in their use is the time it takes to hit the ‘on’ button. Once the use of a tool has ceased and another tool is required, you simply pick that one up and continue working; no need to swap tools at the hose.
- Safer working environment - The use of battery powered tools also adds to a safer working environment. No hoses mean no trip hazard, especially at night.
- Less storage space - The lack of a separate pump means that all of your equipment requires a smaller amount of space on your fire truck. In recent years storage space has become scarce as rescue services have taken on more skills and as a result, much more equipment. Space is at a premium.
- Emission-free - As you are using batteries, there is no fuel being burned. This means that there are no emissions and no fumes, offering you an operational advantage when working in confined or enclosed spaces.
- In general, lower maintenance costs - A full set of battery powered rescue tools (compared to a set that includes hoses and a pump) has less to be serviced. The integrated hydraulic pump in battery tools is a so-called ‘closed system’ that does not require yearly oil replacement and spark plug replacement. Therefore, annual maintenance costs are reduced. However, there may be additional costs for battery replacement during the lifetime of a battery tool set. This depends on tool operating and battery management conditions.
- Easy battery management - Batteries can easily be managed as they can be charged on your vehicle. So before you even get back to your fire department, you are ready to be deployed once more. Holmatro batteries can be replaced with very little interruption as they are immediately accessible on top of the tool. In fact, if you keep an eye on the battery level indicator you can change a battery before it is empty, while other work is being completed. This will add no time whatsoever to your rescue. Last but not least each battery offers a small reserve capacity once depleted. This means the tool can be reactivated and removed from the vehicle at all times, should that be required.
- All weather proof - EVO 3 tools including batteries and mains power connectors meet the requirements for tool operating temperatures according to EN 13204 and NFPA 1936. The temperature range is from -20°C / -4°F to + 55°C / 131°F. Their IP54 rating ensures they can be used in wet weather conditions, including snowfall and heavy rain showers.
- Inline control handle with 360° access - Centrally placed at the back of the tool, always within reach. Even in the most difficult positions and at all sides of the car.
- Smart battery position - The battery on top of the tool is always accessible and easy to change, even when space is limited.
Are There Any Drawbacks to Choosing Battery Tools?
Well quite simply, there are minimal disadvantages, but they should be considered:
- No underwater use - Self-contained battery tools cannot be used under water. Although these types of incidents are rare, they do occur and any organization should ensure they have the capability to deal with them. However, as mentioned earlier, they do have an IP54 rating which means you can use them in wet weather, but not submerged.
- Higher weight, bigger size - By design, because they have their own internal pump, oil reservoir and power source, the tools (compared to hose tools) are heavier and bigger.
Holmatro Core Tools Benefits
Although battery technology quickly evolves, this doesn’t mean that tools with a hose and a pump are ancient history. Since the introduction in 2005 the Holmatro CORE Technology system (single hose, single coupler, tool change under flow) has turned rescue procedures safer, quicker and easier. It still has its place and offers several advantages over battery tools:
- Lighter, more compact and more ergonomic - CORE Technology tools are lighter, more compact and more ergonomic because of the separate hydraulic pump (including motor and oil reservoir). This especially applies to Holmatro’s latest 5000 Series hose tools which, compared to their predecessors, have a reduced weight and are easier to manage. This is thanks to a combination of new materials, component integration and smart design.
- Quicker (in general) - Due to the higher oil flow created by the external pump (flow = speed), CORE
Technology hose tools are quicker. However, when using a smaller pump the speed difference compared to EVO 3 battery tools may be (close to) zero.
- Suitable for under water use - If required, a CORE Technology tool can be operated under water as it is
connected to an external pump which stays on dry land.
- Less "management" - With an external pump that runs on gasoline or electricity, you do not need to manage batteries or think about the possible need to change them on scene. On the other hand, there are more items to check after use (tool, hose and pump) and with gasoline pumps you need to remember to refill the fuel.
What Should We Focus On?
Front end performance! Since the widespread introduction of cordless tools, the focus has become more about the power source than the tool itself. Many people focus on the battery and its capacity and tool performance has somehow become a secondary consideration. It is easy to identify and discuss advantages and disadvantages of battery-powered tools versus hose tools, but it is vitally important to remember that whatever power source feeds your tool, it is the performance of the product that should be the most important factor to base your decision on. At the end of the day the purchase of a hydraulic rescue tool set is to enable you to successfully gain access to a patient and rapidly and safely deconstruct the vehicle from around them; it is about saving lives. The good thing about Holmatro rescue tools is that whatever type you choose, CORE or cordless, the front end performance is exactly the same: same forces, same high EN and NFPA scores, same optimal performance on modern vehicles.
All Holmatro rescue tools, whether powered by CORE Technology or EVO 3 Battery Technology, come with many extras for the benefit of the user:
- NCT blade design - Whether ‘straight’ or inclined, Holmatro NCT blades are specifically designed for modern vehicle construction. Their U-shape pulls even the strongest materials into the cutting recess, where they are cut at the highest possible force.
- Inclined Cutters - Equipped with a 30-degree inclined jaw, these cutters reduce physical strain when cutting vehicles at high or low levels. They also offer additional working space between tool and car which improves patient safety and prevents repeated tool repositioning.
- I-Bolt - Pressing the cutter and combi tool blades together directly and more tightly, this central bolt construction minimizes blade separation and maximizes cutting performance. It ensures that more of the tool’s hydraulic capacity is used for cutting.
- LED lights - High-output integrated LED lights in the carrying handle ensure you are immediately ready to work in any environment and never have to work in your own shadow, day or night.
- Possibility of tool conversion - Most Holmatro CORE tools can be converted to cordless EVO 3 tools and
vice versa. Contact your local Holmatro representative for more information.
- Worldwide service - Thanks to Holmatro’s worldwide dealer network, there is always a qualified representative nearby, ready to assist you with your purchasing questions and service requests.
Like with any purchase, it is imperative that you do your homework.
Firstly, consider the needs of your department or organization. What do you specifically require from your hydraulic rescue tools? In what conditions will they be used and who will be using them?
Then consider the unique advantages offered by the different types on offer, hose tools and battery tools, and keep in mind the operational limitations of their design.
As you are buying risk critical equipment that will be used to save lives in very physically and emotionally demanding situations, your tools will have to perform without compromise. Remember that regardless of how they are powered, tool performance is critical.
Finally remember that this is not simply a case of “either or”. Many rescue services around the world will purchase a selection of both cordless EVO 3 and CORE tools, to ensure all of their operational needs are covered.
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