Product design case study | Keeping Britain moving with The AA
3D printed ROSE product designed by Simple Design Works shown on vehicle
The AA logo brand

As the UK’s largest breakdown cover organisation, The AA has learnt that anything can happen. That’s why they’re always innovating to prepare for the unexpected. You may be surprised to hear that not all automotive manufacturers equip new vehicles with a spare wheel.

The AA change ½ million wheels a year. They developed the MFW (Multi-Fit Wheel) in 2016 so members could continue their journey following a puncture. The MFW fits approximately 80% of vehicles and is used daily by the 2,200 AA patrols. The AA wanted to go one step further and began talking to us about developing the ROSE. ROSE stands for ‘Recovery Operation Securing Element’ and is a complementary safeguarding measure for the MFW.

A product designed for cars to caravans

We started by reviewing the existing concepts produced by the client and identifying the problems to solve. The ROSE needed to cater for both 17” and 19” wheels to cover everything from cars and caravans to 3 ½ tonne transit vans. Quite a few vehicle varieties!

Our engineering team quickly burnt through ideas focusing on speed and ease of method to fit. We proposed and developed a unique spring arrangement. This feature allowed the sockets to self-orientate when introduced over the nuts, as well as apply additional tension to prevent the nuts from coming loose. This gave the patrols a quick and easy assembly process. Plus it gave the peace of mind that ROSE provided another safety layer of preventive measures to the current system.

3D prototypes in workshop printed for The AA by product design agency, Simple Design Works

Designed to fit

We carefully analysed potential materials to choose the most appropriate option. The product has to be tough to cope with an extremely demanding environment, but also flexible to accommodate any wheel and nut size variation. We also ensured it could be fitted from both sides to cater for differences in wheel size and nut height. The material is recyclable although we expect the product to be used over 100,000 times before the end of its life.

After prototyping and successfully testing the proposed concept, we worked with The AA on colour options. Patrols can clearly see the high visibility yellow of the replaced wheel and the colour also makes the towed vehicle more visible to other drivers in low light conditions.

Usability was incredibly important as The AA prides itself on service. Therefore it was designed so that no special tools are required to fit ROSE. Simply line up the sockets and press on using the thumb tabs. The design of the sockets and springs easily curl to where they’re needed. Fitting the whole MFW and ROSE system is completed in less than ten minutes. Voila!

3D printed ROSE prototype shown on recovered vehicle towed by an AA van
3D printed ROSE shown on multi fit recovery wheel

Homegrown in the UK

The ROSE is perfectly compatible with other AA rescue equipment including the FWH (Free Wheel Hub). The FWH was developed for vehicles that can’t normally be towed on two wheels (such as 4X4s, electric vehicles or due to locked wheels or automatic transmission).

As with all AA recovery equipment, the ROSE is manufactured in England. This minimises environmental impact and supports the extraordinary skills and techniques homegrown in the UK. With designer, manufacturer and the client working together, you could say that together we’re going that extra mile to get you back on the road.

Michael Millard

The AA logo brand

“Inspiring innovations help us attain a strong position within our industry. The AA constantly seeks to evolve to meet our members’ needs and remain in synergy with modern vehicle manufacturing. This wouldn’t be possible without the collaboration and the assistance of Simple Design Works. Their extensive knowledge in design and mould manufacturing was advantageous during our project. As a result, we managed to reduce both the lead times and the unit price concerning the product. The result was exquisite and exceeded expectations whilst achieving impressive longevity as promised. Throughout, the Simple Design Works team were proficient and delivered unique suggestions to maximise the potential of our roadside innovation. We welcome the opportunity to work with you again soon.”

Michael Millard
National Repair Improvement Manager - The AA

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