Media events populate our calendars quite frequently; however, it’s typically for a specific manufacturer. This was quite different, so we weren’t sure what to expect. On April 25th we landed in Atlanta to partake in the first Home Depot Media Event, which combined multiple tool manufacturers under one roof. In addition to meeting and greeting with various tool companies, we also toured The Home Depot Tool Testing and Engineering Laboratory, as well as we joined with The Home Depot Foundation to build furniture for families in need. This was three days packed with fun, information and humbling satisfaction.
DAY 1 – The Home Depot Tool Testing and Engineering Laboratory
We are fortunate that we have the privilege from time to time to visit tool manufacturers labs, engineering and/or R&D facilities. However, this is a first to visit a retailer that not only has a testing lab, but also allows outside media to participate. In addition to purchasing thousands of tools from scores of tool manufacturers, The Home Depot has their own in-house brands, such as Husky.
All sorts of torture testing happens within these doors. Some the contents, machines and testing procedures were top secret, so we can’t share everything. There are still plenty of pictures and processes that we can share.
Husky Ratchet Strap Testing
I’m sure that most of us have a fair share of ratchet straps. You ever wonder how much weight they will hold? The Home Depot engineers performed a live test with one of the Husky ratchet straps in a TiniusOlsen universal testing machine. These straps are certified to hold up to 500 lbs., but this one withstood over 1,300 lbs. before one of the hooks stretched to its limit. The strap and ratcheting mechanism still held their own without failure.
Husky Tool Box Pressure
We rarely see a tool box in a garage or shop that isn’t overflowing with tools, usually overflowing the top so the lid doesn’t shut fully. To mitigate that possibility of their tool boxes collapsing, this testing lab puts plenty of pressure on the Husky boxes. This particular box is the 46-inch 9-drawer mobile workbench that claims to withstand 100 lbs. per drawer. My quick math tells me that should be about 900 lbs. You can see from the computer screen in the picture that it currently has over 6,000 lbs. (3 Tons) without buckling.
From screwdrivers to nuts and bolts, the environmental testing area can determine how exposure to salt-air, moisture and more will affect the durability. In addition to the salt and moisture, they can test against dust, contaminates, temperature, pressure, and ice. These are tests that many of us take for granted when we buy a tool or something from the hardware aisle. It’s nice to know that the Depot has our back.
One of the secretive tests were of compressors being tested for SCFM and max pressure. We were banned from taking pictures here. Maybe we’ll get to share it with you one day.
Bends, Drops and Stretches
Husky wrenches bent to the extreme pressure, only bending at the shank, not destroying the fastener-engaging end or breaking. Not only are the tools put to abuse, but also the packaging and contents. Knowing how packages get mistreated during delivery, The Home Depot Product Quality and Engineering Laboratory performs their own drop-tests from several feet. We watched as someone from our tour pressed the button (foot pedal) that dropped a Husky shop vac.
Product Material Testing – Initial and Follow-up
Home Depot uses some very intelligent technology and hardware to be able to read the molecular structure of thousands of materials used in their tools. Whether it’s plastic, rubber or metal, with a quick sample under the scope, the computer attached will give a breakdown of the ingredients and the name of the composite or metal material. What is unique about their process is they not only do this on initial orders from manufacturers, but they also perform these tests on later shipments, maybe months down the road. This process enables Home Depot to ensure that vendors are still providing the same products as ordered.
We feel honored when manufacturers, and now retailers, trust us enough to show the inner workings of their establishment. Even more so when it has to do with their R&D and testing departments. It is obvious that The Home Depot understands the importance of testing and torturing tools, so they can stand behind the claims of performance and durability.