Carpenter Jim Marshall has developed a new device for securing your batteries and chargers on site.
As any tradesmen will know to their cost, replacing lithium-ion batteries on cordless tools can be an expensive proposition, and if light fingers relieve you of them before their time has come, then the unexpected additional expenditure can be particularly irksome. When power tools are not in use they can be secured back in the van, or in any one of the many storage solutions currently on the market. If you are to work at your most productive, however, a replacement battery will often need to be charging close at hand, which makes it particularly vulnerable to the opportunist thief. Suddenly lose the power that drives your tools, and your ability to do your job that day is also somewhat compromised, with the loss in earnings that might entail. So what to do?
Bitter personal experience is motivation enough for many a tradesman to find their own solution and carpenter Jim Marshall was given just the incentive he needed. “It’s actually something that’s happened to me a few times in the past,” laments the Hampshire-based chippie. “On some sites there’s just nowhere where you can securely charge a battery – and they could end up 100 metres away and well out of view. They’re just such easy things to pick up and pocket, and there’s no way of knowing who it might have been. We were working on joists on a housing development one day, and we had to plug our batteries into charge in a container down below. When I went back to retrieve one of mine I discovered they’d all gone.”
Builders are by their nature problem solvers and, determined not to fall victim again, Jim initially came up with his own makeshift solution. “I got myself a cat cage – the kind of thing you’d take your pet to the vets in – and, by adding some plywood at the bottom so I could fix it to a floor, that served as temporary solution. In truth, it wouldn’t have been difficult to rip it open, but the extra time it might take to do that was deterrent enough. Given that I didn’t lose any batteries again, however, it quickly became apparent that there was a market for a more purpose-built product.”
What Jim developed was a lockable unit that was small and light enough to be easily transported around a building site, could be quickly made safe by fixing to a floor, or making use of a loop chain and padlock system, and from which multiple batteries could be charged – and the result is SafeCharge. Whilst many fledgling inventors have found the journey from that light bulb moment to the finished product a long and often tortuous one, Jim was able to move quickly, sourcing a local CAD designer who could bring his rough sketches to life, and enlisting a manufacturer who could produce the first prototypes, all within the space of a year.
Jim charts the evolution of the concept: “A key principle of the product is its portability, so we went through a few versions before we got it down to a good size, and the finished version is now just 8kg. Batteries will obviously generate heat when they’re charging so there needed to be adequate ventilation built into the design. Thanks to the multiple plug hole and cable slots, it can be orientated in any number of ways on site, and there’s a whole array of mounting holes in order to fix it down, either through the base or via the back panel.”
It is an old adage but one with which it is difficult to disagree, because the simplest ideas really are often the best. Once the SafeCharge is made secure, all a tradesman needs to do is place the chargers inside, feed the plug through the access holes and power up. Close the lid, secure it using a padlock, and the peace of mind of knowing that your batteries are safely stowed is assured.
“Probably the best testimony I can give it is that it’s a solution that’s definitely worked for me,” concludes Jim, “and a SafeCharge is now a permanent fixture on the back of my van.”