Emergency hospital power, and construction

Earlier this year, construction equipment manufacturer Makinex celebrated its 20th anniversary during World of Concrete — at the same time the annual trade show in Las Vegas celebrated its 50th event. The company operated one of its latest products, the Portable Power Box (PPB), on its stand in the Las Vegas Convention Center for the entire run of the multi-day show.

The Portable Power Box from Makinex. The Portable Power Box from Makinex. (Photo: Makinex)

While designed to replace traditional small gasoline-fueled generators, power tools ranging from hand-held grinders to concrete core drills and also charge battery-powered tools such as saws, the Makinex marketing team plugged a phone charger into the device so attendees could see it really was working – in silence. Operating power tools inside the convention center was frowned upon, at least during show hours.

“But this machine does work very well indoors and it’s great for confined spaces,” said Philip Shumack, group marketing manager, Makinex.

“It’s gotten a lot of attention from the concrete side of the construction equipment industry because they’re often working inside. General contractors are telling them they can’t run gasoline, so they have to find a solution to power their tools. This is it.”

Developed in-house and made by Makinex at its headquarters near Sydney, Australia, the PPB has 6 kW of output power combined with up to 15 kWh of storage from a bank of lithium-ion batteries. The company said it can be recharged in seven hours using standard 120 V, while 240 V and connected solar photovoltaic (PV) charging are optional.

The unit includes fault and thermal overload protection and is IP44-rated for weather resistance. Connection options for the version distributed in the United States by Makinex USA include three 15A outlets and 5V USB-A outlets.

“While there are portable gasoline generators with more power, the PPB runs in absolute silence with no fumes,” said Shumack. “Hospitals have shown a lot of interest in it, and it fits in an elevator. Crews can’t bring a gasoline-powered generator into a clean room.”

Founded by Rory Kennard and Paul Weaver, Makinex (its brand derived from the phrase MAKing INefficiencies EXtinct) has made a name for itself by designing and manufacturing a range of unique tools. The catalog includes a powered hand truck that uses an 18 V rechargeable lithium-ion battery and a linear actuator to help reduce back and shoulder injuries enabling solo lifts up to 309 lb.; a lightweight plug-in electric floor stripper; and a mobile charge pod to help keep tool theft and battery-based thermal runaways from ruining the workday.

Today, Makinex has 50 employees with offices in Sydney and the Dallas suburb of Mansfield, Texas, where some products are also produced. The company is supported globally by more than 4,000 equipment rental companies and over 1,000 dealers. It also supplies some of the biggest names in the professional power tool business.

The PPB will be sold under the growing Makinex Renewables brand.

Gasoline and lithium-ion power

“Our generator range is probably one of our most well-known products in the U.S.,” said Weaver, head of Strategic Sales for Makinex, “and they are some of the most portable units for their power output in the world. Some customers are looking for different ways to charge tools on the jobsite, and the PPB is our first iteration of a battery-powered generator. It has 15 kWh of power in the fuel tank, as we say; when running handheld tools and other plug-in equipment, customers can get a full day’s work out of it.”

Weaver pointed out that most of those applications are intermittent – most customers are not grinding steel for a full shift. The PPB doesn’t continue to idle when the tool stops.

“Most of our ideas come from our customers,” said Weaver, “and ultimately, we do have a growth mindset. Throughout our whole team, we’re always speaking with our customers to find out where their pain points are and turning a solution into a reality for them. We’ve managed to do that on a number of occasions over the last 20 years. And we’re really looking forward to continuing to do that over the next 20 years or more.”

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