Our mission to stop commercial vehicle wheel loss incidents
Gary Thomas founded Wheely-Safe in 2010 with his old school friend, Gary Broadfield. Their goal, from the outset, was to revolutionise wheel and tyre security through the development of simple, low cost and effective systems to prevent, initially, wheel loss from buses, coaches, trucks and trailers.
After three decades working in the industry, including senior engineering roles with Arriva, National Express Group and First Group, plus positions with manufacturers IVECO Bus and MAN Bus & Coach, Thomas had seen more than his fair share of wheel-loss accidents.
Immediately prior to setting up Wheely-Safe, he had spent eight years as a partner in his own company specialising in system and procedural compliance in vehicle maintenance, health & safety and training. This included assisting in representing companies in court for transport offences.
One case involved a torque wrench which had fallen out of calibration. The engineer at the time thought that the wheel nuts were tight, but because the wrench wasn’t working properly, they were loose. The driver took the vehicle out and the wheel came off down the road.
Reviewing all the safety systems on the market at the time, Thomas realised that none could truly provide protection for such mechanical and human error. Something totally different was needed, and the problem needed to be looked at from a completely new perspective.
Fresh thinking combined with an industry-leading TPMS
That different perspective came from Broadfield – a former Director of Technology and serial inventor for Nokia. Thomas felt he would be the perfect business-partner, because of his uncanny ability to look at issues from outside ‘the fishbowl’ of traditional mechanical engineering.
In fact, having invested serious time looking into the issue, Broadfield deduced that the way standard wheel rims attach to hubs was flawed. He argues wheels would be less inclined to detach if they were secured with a single central nut – much like on Formula One cars. But changing the design of every wheel on the road isn’t a reality. Instead, he set out to develop a safety product that would eliminate the threat of wheel loss once and for all.
Existing solutions on the market such as brightly coloured indicator tags only detect potential wheel loss situations on stationary vehicles during a driver’s walkaround inspections; but wheels don’t detach when a vehicle is parked, and wheel nuts only start to loosen once a vehicle is underway.
Broadfield was determined to find the answer. For the first few years he concentrated on developing a solution, testing prototypes and obtaining global patent protection. After nearly a decade refining and miniaturising the original concept – as well as securing a series of complex, global patents – the first-generation product was launched onto the market at the end of 2018.
During its development, additional features were added – including an intelligent tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to monitor for tyre under-inflation, fast leakage and internal air temperature, and also an on-board heat sensor that, due to its location next to the wheel rim and braking mechanism, could detect brake or hub issues involving low or high temperatures.
Award-winning wheel security and TPMS
The early feedback on the system was impressive, and within 12 months of launching Wheely-Safe picked up a whole host of major industry awards including:
Gold prize – Innovation
Euro Bus Expo Innovation Challenge 2022
Transport Technology of the Year
National Technology Awards 2019
Fleet Safety Product (In-Vehicle)
BRAKE Fleet Safety Awards 2019
Product Innovation of the Year
Most Innovative Product of the Year
FTA Logistics Awards 2019
A global ambition to maximise road safety
Thomas and Broadfield, together with the growing Wheely-Safe team, have demonstrated their product countless times to industry professionals and the reaction from people so often results in the same two words… ‘no brainer’!
Occasionally a fleet manager might remark that using a product like Wheely-Safe could be a question of their vehicle maintenance standards. But that’s really not the case at all. Fitting a wheel loss early-warning system, combined with an intelligent TPMS, is just a way of offering protection against certain scenarios that fleet owners have little to no control over.
In just a short time, Wheely-Safe has developed a proven solution to a longstanding road safety issue which had previously remained unsolved for generations. And its potential for fitment to vehicles internationally is huge.
Right now, Wheely-Safe is working with strategic distribution partners in different countries, as demand for the product continues to grow.
The latest generation systems entered full production in 2021 and already several thousand vehicles have been fitted with the kit, across fleets of all sizes, including buses, coaches, trucks and trailers.
Whilst initially the focus has been on engineering kits to fit most commercial vehicles on our roads, looking ahead, the company’s founders have other sectors in their sights too and wheel loss brackets to fit earthmoving, agricultural and industrial sectors will follow soon.
Put simply, any vehicle or wheeled machine has the potential to benefit from Wheely-Safe.
Company Registration No. 07184108