Flex DW45 18.0-EC: Collated screwdriving, cordless style

THIS new collated screwdriver from Flex is part of its move to EC or brushless motors on most of its new cordless tools. The benefits of EC motors have already been explained, so let us skip lightly over to evaluate the driver itself, explains PETER BRETT.

On those house-beautiful programmes on the telly, I have seen skilled workers bashing up plasterboard in minutes with a collated screw driver.  They make it look so easy with barely a pause between screws as the plasterboard is fixed into place. However, when I tried it myself for the first time a few years ago, I was somewhat chastened as to how many factors on the tool had to be taken into account, so my first efforts were clumsy to say the least. Fortunately, it was a practice piece and my reputation didn’t depend on it.

It helps to have a good quality driver

Since my first efforts at butchering plasterboard I have used several collated screwdrivers of varying quality and cost, and it is true to say that there is a correlation between cost, quality and ease of use. Usually, the more expensive, the better they are to use.

What I have against some of the less efficient drivers is that they usually have a fiddly quality to making adjustments for screws and driver. It is so much easier if these are tool-free, easy to locate and easy to adjust, because setting up a driver properly can involve a bit of trial and error depending on the hardness of the material you are driving into and the depth to which you need the screw heads to be countersunk. If I were in the market for a collated screw driver, I would reject outright any driver that was complicated to set up and required tools! So there!

What does the Flex DW45 have?

None of my no-no’s feature in the arrangements on the DW45. It follows a very well-established shape for collated drivers that is a bit more pistol-like – more like old-fashioned corded drills. The reason for this is that the forward effort to drive the screws is needed directly behind the line of the screws so that they can be driven straight and the driver point will not cam-out of the screw heads. The hand arrangement then is that the thumb and forefinger fit into the grooves above the main handle, while the last three fingers can operate the elongated trigger.

Slick and skilled users will bypass pressing the trigger for each screw – they will simply push in the trigger and lock the drill in ‘on’ position by pushing in the lock button that is located high on the handle. In this way, they can keep up a continuous run of screws – something I have done a few times but not nearly as often as I would wish. Perhaps if I was regularly fixing whole sheets of plasterboard on jobs instead of mainly doing fill-in repairs?

Forward, lock and reverse settings are done via a small lever switch rather than a push-through switch found on drill drivers and such. This is because the second finger doesn’t have an opposing thumb on the other side to push the switch back when needed.

Flex engineers have done a good job in making the handle grippy and ergonomic, with enough black rubber moulding to provide comfort and efficiency. There is a ‘bumper’ around the base of the handle where it connects with the battery slider, but otherwise overmould is kept to a minimum. A decent-sized belt hook and bit holder can be screwed to either the left- or right-hand side of the handle base, with provision for a wrist strap too (strap not supplied).

Basic mode

In basic mode, without the screw magazine fitted, a simple cone-shaped stop sleeve fits over the hex clutch drive into which a driver is fitted. The depth of drive can be adjusted by screwing the cone to clockwise or anti-clockwise. It is easy to do and clearly marked so I was actually ready to work in a minute or so and I had a 99.9% success rate in driving the screws, singly, to the depth I wanted.

There was ample power, the driver feels progressive and since it is easy to control drive speed through the trigger, results into hard or sift materials are easy to control. To be honest, in this mode I could achieve good results on any small job with confidence.

Fitting the screw magazine

For screwing industrial quantities of screws, the magazine needs to be in place. This simply clicks into place on the nose of the driver – without the cone of course.

Screw depth adjustment is via a big ridged dial near the back of the magazine. It will require a bit of trial and error to get the results you need.

The sliding steel nose arrangement is adjusted back and forward for the size of the screws needed. On the right-hand side is metric, while the left has imperial measures. A simple press of the red knob on top of the releases the lock on the nose so users can choose the size of screw needed.

Feeding a strip of collated screws is easy – just follow the arrows. I always use the best quality of screws that I can as cheap ones will cause jams and hiccups. I must credit the DW45 with making me a far more proficient user of collated screw guns. For one, it is light and compact, so it feels light enough (at 1.4kgs with a 2.5 Ah battery) to handle easily so that I could get the all-important lining up of the screw and driver head that makes for trouble-free screwdriving. I started slowly, and increased speed as my confidence grew. Even though I was using a practice piece of timber to drive into, so it was harder and more difficult to start into than a piece of plasterboard, I soon had a rhythm going and even felt capable of setting the motor to continuous mode after I had had more practice.

There is a nice LED light – it comes on when the trigger is pulled. A motor brake helps keep control of driving too – I need such refinements.

Once again, the basic kit comes in a custom fitted L-Boxx with charger, batteries and bits, and there is room for the magazine inside the box too.

The DW45 is new, interesting and capable and definitely worth a look and a demo.


Tool theft affects 8 in 10 builders, finds FMB

MORE than three-quarters of Britain’s builders have been victims of tool theft, with some having lost more than £20,000 worth of tools in the past ten years, according to new research by the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).

Key results from the FMB’s research into tool theft reveal:

  • More than three quarters (83%) of UK builders have had their tools stolen.
  • More than one in three incidents involved theft from vans (38%) and theft from sites (34%). 7% of incidents saw tools stolen from a shed or garage at home, and 3% of incidents saw tools stolen from inside the home.
  • Of builders who had tools stolen in the past ten years (78%), the most common value of loss was £2,500. One in ten builders said that they had at least £10,000 worth of tools stolen, and 2% said they had at least £20,000.
  • When asked how many working days builders had lost to tool theft over the past ten years, one in three builders (29%) said one to two working days and 16% said two to five working days. 7% of builders said they had lost five working days or more.
  • Over a 40-year working life, a builder will typically lose £10,000 worth of tools and 6 working days to tool theft.
  • Tool theft is taking its toll on builders’ mental health, causing 15% of builders to suffer from anxiety, one in ten builders (11%) to suffer from depression and some reported experiences of panic attacks and suicidal thoughts.

Brian Berry, chief executive of the FMB, said: “Decisive action is needed to tackle tool theft. Eight in ten builders report that they have had tools stolen before. This is causing mental health issues amongst builders with reports of depression, anxiety, anger, frustration, stress and even suicidal thoughts. The Government needs to look into tool theft and consider the need for the introduction of tighter regulations around selling second-hand tools, and greater minimum fines for those convicted of tool theft.” 

Berry concluded: “Builders need to take extra steps to reduce the risk of theft by bringing tools inside at night, installing extra locks in the van, marking tools with an address or phone number, and painting them a special colour. Builders should also check their insurance policies to see what they have covered. Websites are available where tool serial numbers can be registered for extra piece of mind when it comes to making a claim on insurance. Tool theft is not a victimless crime and stronger government action is needed to help tackle this growing problem.”


'Urgent research is needed into the health of outdoor workers,' says British Safety Council

THE British Safety Council welcomes King’s College London’s research demonstrating a direct link between air pollution and health emergencies, saying more work is now needed on the effects of exposure on outdoor workers.

New research from King’s College London proves that hundreds of children and adults are needlessly suffering when air pollution levels are higher in nine major English cities. The research shows that hospital admittances related to cardiac arrests, strokes and severe asthma attacks increase during these key periods.

Commenting on the data from King’s College London, Matthew Holder, British Safety Council Head of Campaigns, said: “The more we learn about the health impacts of air pollution, the more concerning it becomes. The latest research from King’s College London provides evidence that even relatively short-term exposure to air pollution at high levels causes immediate and serious health conditions.

"At the British Safety Council, a charity focused on occupational issues, we are very concerned about the health of outdoor workers who spend week after week in the ambient environment, breathing in toxic air. Outdoor workers face a potentially higher risk of heart attacks, strokes and acute asthma than many people who live and work in our cities.”

In March 2019, the British Safety Council launched its Time to Breathe campaign, which is focused on the protection of outdoor workers from air pollution. The cornerstone of the campaign is Canairy, the first mobile app that gives outdoor workers and their employers insights into pollution and how to reduce staff exposure to it. It has been created in co-operation with King’s College London.

Matthew Holder went on to say: “Although Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said that King’s research provided the evidence of a ‘health emergency’, the government, the regulator and employers are complacent about this risk and are reluctant to take urgent and appropriate action. That is why we launched the Time to Breathe campaign.

“We are calling for:

  • adoption of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) exposure guidelines for nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and ozone in the UK by 2030;
  • pollution alerts issued by Defra to reference outdoor workers when necessary; and
  • better measurement of the exposure of workers, as well as comprehensive cohort studies into the health impacts of air pollution.

“Today the Mayor of London is hosting the International Clean Air Summit. Government ministers and business leaders will come together to agree new actions for tackling air pollution. We hope that the summit will move the agenda of air pollution forward significantly, including acknowledging the serious risks to outdoor workers.”


Winners of 2019 National CCS Company and Supplier Awards to be revealed

THE highest-performing construction companies and suppliers will be honoured at the upcoming Considerate Constructors Scheme’s National Awards.

The Awards, which recognise Scheme-registered companies and suppliers that have excelled in their standards of considerate construction, will take place on 31 October and 1 November in central London.

Fred Mills, The B1M’s co-founder and managing director, and Nick James, partnerships director at the CITB will be announcing whether each winning company and supplier has received a Bronze, Silver or Gold Award for their achievements. There will also be Runner-up Awards and winners for the coveted ‘Most Considerate Company’ and ‘Most Considerate Supplier’ Awards.

Only the very top-performing companies and suppliers are eligible to win this year’s awards, based on their performance against the Scheme’s Code of Considerate Practice assessed between 1 August 2018 and 31 July 2019.

Amanda Long, Chief Executive of the Considerate Constructors Scheme said: “The highest-performing Scheme-registered companies and suppliers are committed to raising the bar of considerate construction to higher standards, and we are delighted to be recognising these organisations at the upcoming National Company and Supplier Awards.”

“The efforts and determination of high performing Scheme-registered companies and suppliers shows what can be possible no matter what size or type of organisation. Everyone has a crucial role to play in making our industry more considerate to our workforce, communities and the environment.”

Follow all the latest from the award ceremonies on Twitter: @CCScheme #ccsawards #loveconstruction


A-Plant Accommodation expands fleet with eco-friendly welfare units

A-PLANT Accommodation has recently expanded its fleet of eco-friendly welfare units. The investment, supplied by Boss Cabins, is worth £2 million and is due to their ongoing commitment to deliver a greener, more environmental fleet to the market.

With more than 20,000 units already available nationwide, the new eco-units ranging from 12ft to 16ft will complement A-Plant’s existing product offering.

The cabins are 100% corrosion resistant and are constructed from high-grade stainless steel. With a minimum lifespan of 25 years as opposed to the average seven years for a mild steel cabin, 90% of the materials used can be recycled at the end of the cabin’s life.

Fitted with an eco-electric system that means that many of the cabin’s functions run off 12V battery instead of generator power, the new units give users a 33% average reduction in generator run-time and fuel consumption.

The cabins additionally offer a 16% increase in occupancy, as they can accommodate seven people instead of the industry standard of six. The units meet all the HSE regulations and provide a high standard of accommodation and comfort, whilst also demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.

Ian Needham, director of A-Plant Accommodation, said: “The new greener units will support our continued fleet investment as well as our commitment to reducing carbon emissions on a whole. Their light-weight and robust structure makes them ideal for the industry, while offering market-leading value and safety that will make a real impact to our customers on-site.”

Matthew Wordsworth, Boss Cabins director, added: “We are really pleased to be able to support A-Plant in their continued investment and growth. As a business, we are committed to helping our customers’ day-to-day operations by supplying units that are energy-efficient, safe and user-friendly with low running costs, extended service intervals and comprehensive aftercare support.

“Our products are designed to have the lowest environmental impact with real benefits in reduced fuel use, water consumption, carbon emissions and noise. In addition, the stainless steel build chosen by A-Plant is the most sustainable on the market, greatly extending the life of their fleet.”

The new eco-friendly cabins will be utilised at various sites across the UK. Their eco styled livery make them easily identifiable as a sustainable accommodation unit.


Morris Property to develop prime i54 site for sister business

LEADING Midlands contractor Morris Property has been commissioned to build the new manufacturing plant for sister company Morris Site Machinery after planners gave the go-ahead for the £6million investment at i54.

Work starts on 11 November to deliver more than 60,000 sq ft of manufacturing and office space at the flagship site next to Jaguar Land Rover on the i54 South Staffordshire high-tech business park.

When the 12 months building programme is complete, it will enable Morris Site Machinery to relocate from its existing base at Four Ashes, Wolverhampton, three miles away to its own purpose-built base.

New images released show a distinctive building designed by DPS Architects to help the business to expand at this prime central location with well-connected communications links. The growing site machinery business is renowned for its SMC mobile lighting towers which it sells worldwide and for its range

of other high-quality site equipment including generators, welders, pumps and pressure washers.

James West, Chief Operating Officer for Morris Property, said: “We have a track record of building quality schemes at major Midlands business parks. We are proud to be awarded this contract for a project that will make a significant difference to a sister business and which will add to our parent company portfolio.”

Chris Morris, CEO of Morris Site Machinery, said: “This exciting development is in good hands and represents an important step in our ambitions to build a flagship premises which can grow with us. We’ll be able to retain our skilled workforce by remaining local and have plans to also create new jobs.”

City of Wolverhampton Council Cabinet Member for City Economy, Councillor Harman Banger, speaking on behalf of the i54 South Staffordshire Partnership, said: “Our joint investment at i54 has secured hundreds of millions of pounds of further investment and has brought thousands of jobs to the area, with half of employees living within a ten-mile radius.

“We are delighted work has started this month on the new Morris Site Machinery development, which illustrates that demand from potential investors in a number of sectors for more accommodation is high, and the western extension of i54 will enable us to deliver that for the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

Morris Property and Morris Site Machinery are part of Shrewsbury-based fifth-generation family business group Morris & Company which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.

The property construction arm works in property investment and management, new build residential and commercial developments as well as restoration schemes.  The site machinery business made the 2018 Sunday Times International Track 200 for Export in both 2018 and 2019 which ranks Britain’s mid-market private companies with the fastest-growing international sales.


Snickers Workwear – waterproof working

You can count on comfort and protection throughout the autumn and winter with Snickers Workwear’s NEW AllroundWork Jackets for professional tradesmen and women.

Stay dry, warm and comfortable by choosing from a selection of water-repellent jackets that will give you basic protection from the effects of light showers with great breathability to ventilate your body if you continue to be active on site for short periods.

But if you need 100% protection from the rain for long periods on site, check out Snickers’ GORE-TEX® jackets and trousers. These highly technical garments are extremely durable with a membrane that has over 1.4 billion pores per square cm. They’re 100% waterproof to keep you dry, windproof to keep you warm, and breathable to keep you comfortable all day long.

There’s a host of designs, styles and extensive size options so you can select the right jacket for you and your job. There are also a great range of Winter Vests and Bodywarmers, even a Body Mapping Micro Fleece - so you’ll be well looked after all day, every day.

For more information on Snickers Workwear’s ‘Waterproof Working’, call the Snickers Helpline on 01484 854788, checkout the website and download a digital catalogue at www.snickersworkwear.co.uk or email [email protected]

BHETA to hold Meet the Buyer Day with Wilko

THE British Home Enhancement Trade Association (BHETA) is to host another of its Meet The Buyer retail networking days with Wilko, the home and hardware retailer which now has over 400, mostly high street, stores in the UK.

The event which will include the whole Wilko buying team will take place on 13 November in the Shelley Suite, Best Western West Retford Hall, North Road, Retford, Nottinghamshire.

Wilko’s listings include all the following categories – home living, kitchen and dining, decorating and DIY, storage, garden and outdoor, cleaning and household and stationery and craft, as well as pet, seasonal, toys and health and beauty. It positions itself as providing simple solutions to help families get their day to day lives sorted as quickly, easily and affordably as possible. At the Meet The Buyer event, Wilko buyers are looking for companies who can offer a wide variety of products. Current supplier rationalisation means that prospective suppliers must be able to offer multiple lines and garden suppliers need to have drop ship capabilities.

Commenting on the forthcoming event, BHETA’s chief operating officer, Will Jones, said: “We are delighted to be providing members with another great opportunity to schedule face to face meetings with the key buyers for their categories. It’s also exciting to be working with a retail partner which literally spans all of the sectors of interest to the BHETA membership.”

Wilko Retail Limited, formerly Wilkinson Cash Stores and Wilkinson Hardware Stores was founded in Leicester by James Kemsey Wilkinson in 1930 and remains in the hands of the founding family today. Companies participating in the event will be allocated a 20-minute appointment time. A maximum of two people from each supplier company will be allowed and suppliers are urged to use the time available to concentrate on the features and benefits of the products they are offering, supported by cost price proposals.
Will continued: “This event is sure to attract a big response and there will be a limit to the number of people that can be accommodated on the day.  Interested suppliers are therefore urged to make themselves known to Helen Farnell in BHETA Member Services team as soon as possible, so that we can confirm arrangements.”


Bosch Professional FlexiClick 12V – now with brushless motor

BOSCH Professional has boosted the power of its popular FlexiClick 12V cordless drill driver system by adding a brushless motor. The resulting Bosch GSR 12V-35 FC Professional Drill Driver is faster, stronger, more efficient and longer lasting, as well as maintenance-free.

With its upgraded specification, short length, low weight and range of adapters, this tool promises even greater effectiveness in a diversity of high-precision tasks – especially in tight spaces and hard-to-reach situations.

Top speed has been increased by 35% to 1,750 rpm, while maximum torque has been raised to a powerful 35 Nm for hard screwdriving applications and 20 Nm for soft. Increasing maximum drilling diameter in wood to 32 mm (up 70%) and maximum screw diameter to 8 mm has also expanded the tool’s job range. At the same time, Bosch Professional have reduced its length by 17 mm compared to the previous model.

Unique adaptability

The four adapters – bit holder (with bit locking), drill chuck, angle attachment and off-set angle attachment – make this the most versatile and compact system in the market. Together they enable a total of eight possible configurations.

Bosch Professional is the only manufacturer whose angle adapter can be combined and used with any of the other three. Also unique is the ability to adjust the angle and off-set adapters directly on the tool. Sixteen working positions can be set without having to detach the adapter from the drill driver. For professionals like carpenters, kitchen fitters, furniture makers, trade fair booth fitters and installers, this saves time and gives extra flexibility when working in confined areas.

Available now

The Bosch GSR 12V-35 FC Professional Drill Driver can be purchased from specialist retail outlets. Also available is a fixed-chuck drill driver, without adapters: the GSR 12V-35 Professional. Measuring 154 mm in length, and equipped with the same new brushless motor, this is the shortest and most powerful fixed-chuck drill driver in the 12V range. Offering the same levels of speed and torque as the FlexiClick model, its performance stands out from others – particularly in terms of screwdriving accuracy and drilling in metal or wood.


GAP Group hits record profit as turnover exceeds £200m

GAP GROUP, the UK-based plant, tool and equipment rental company, has announced record annual profits and turnover in the year the Group celebrates a half-century in business.

GAP achieved a pre-tax profit of £18.7m in the year to 31 March 2019, an increase from £16.7m in the preceding 12 months, as annual turnover rose by 8.8% to £203m. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation soared to an all-time high, rising from £73.1m to £80.4m. For the first time in the company’s history, net assets have climbed above £100m as shareholder funds grew to £109m in the latest accounts.

Founded by Gordon Anderson in 1969, the family-owned and operated business has been run by his sons Douglas and Iain Anderson since 1988. With nine divisions, 142 depots nationwide and a total workforce of 1,858, GAP is the UK’s largest independent hire company.

The secret to its success: adaptation. In recent years GAP has diversified significantly beyond its traditional plant and tool hire offering with the launch of several specialist divisions: Lifting & TIC, Non-Mechanical, Trenching & Shoring, Survey & Safety, Welfare and Events Services. The new divisions which often require bespoke solutions, now account for around one-third of turnover and an even-greater proportion of pre-tax profits.

In addition to broadening its product offering and adapting to their customers exacting requirements, such as the introduction of their same-day delivery promise on Club 100 tools, GAP harnesses new technologies and innovative ways of working. For example, with a focus on providing environmentally friendly and efficient hire solutions to their customers, GAP has recently completed the roll-out of a cloud-based mobile resource management system called JobWatch from Leeds-based BigChange. The mobile apps include live vehicle tracking, job scheduling, photo capture on-site and electronic signature capture with proof of delivery and proof of collection records being automatically uploaded onto GAP’s Smart Office system. Over 500 GAP vehicles have been fitted with the system and more than 600 staff have been trained on best practice.

The family business also announced a new operational structure with an eye on succession-planning and to continue to meet their commercial and development aspirations. Four new Managing Director positions sit below the GAP Holdings Board which remains unchanged. Douglas Anderson’s son, Mark, has been appointed Managing Director of the business in Scotland and the North of England, and will be responsible for the profitability of the Plant, Tools, Non-Mechanical Plant, Trenching & Shoring and Welfare divisions. GAP is actively recruiting for two Managing Director roles tasked with taking advantage of the natural synergies existing between these branches of the business, overseeing the Midlands & South West and the South East of England regions respectively.

The restructuring recognises the need to provide greater clarity and focus on their Lifting and Survey divisions which are inherently more technical from an operational and sales perspective. Karen Greenshields, who is the daughter of Douglas and Iain Anderson’s sister Maureen Smith, has been appointed to this position. Both Mark and Karen will report to 25-year GAP veteran Kevin McEwan, who will be taking on a Group Operations Director role.

GAP’s excellent financial performance has been achieved amid political 'headwind' in Britain. In his statement on the accounts, Chairman Danny O'Neil added that GAP fully expects the trading environment to remain "challenging and competitive" but highlights the company's financial strength and increasingly diverse product range. With 50 years of continuous growth behind them and a flair for adapting to the economy, customer needs and the marketplace, GAP is well-positioned to continue its success story.



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