MacLean-Fogg is reinventing the automotive wheel fastener, again. Since the founding of our company in 1925, MacLean-Fogg has been recognized as an industry leader in innovation and product development. However, like most manufacturing companies, our innovative processes have rarely strayed from the standard development practices.

In 1968, we invented the Stainless Steel Capped Wheel Fastener. Previous solutions included Chrome fasteners, but their faults were glaring. These nuts would peel, rust, and fail in nearly every aspect. The market demanded a better solution, and MacLean-Fogg responded. We succeeded in creating a product that was safer, more durable, and more attractive than the existing chrome solutions.

Despite the successes of our wheel fastening business, an escalating issue led our team to shift their focus and bring our 93 years of expertise to the world of wheel theft deterrence.

Wheel theft has become an increasingly common issue across the nation, and despite the technological advances in the fastener world, mechanical locks are at a standstill. Created to prevent unauthorized removal and theft, the locks are far from perfect. They’re unsightly and effortlessly pried off, which creates an issue not only for the vehicle owner, but for dealerships and manufacturers as well.

This issue led us to ask ourselves “How might we engineer something better?” The result? AlarmLok: the world’s first smart security fastener.

AlarmLok is a security wheel fastener with embedded technology that works alongside your existing vehicle alarm and on-board system. If a thief attempts to steal your wheel, the AlarmLok technology instantly sends a signal to your vehicle. This signal can be used to sound the alarm, flash the lights, call for help, and engage any cameras.

Although the solution may seem simple for some, the process was no easy feat. Deviating from the standard practices, the MacLean-Fogg team took a new approach to product development. The idea was generated not from a customer, but from going to the gemba.

This concept comes from lean manufacturing, where it is believed that the most effective improvement ideas come from going to the “actual place” where the problem is occurring. With the new plan of attack in play, MacLean-Fogg employees were sent to various locations including parking lots, malls, and dealerships. From the gathered data, the team learned that although the current solutions exist, any experienced thief could combat them.

That process led us down a completely different path than we expected, and as a result the AlarmLok innovation was born. We are deeply excited about the AlarmLok innovation and our Innovation process. When the team at Automotive News heard about the development, they were excited too and decided to run a feature in their May 21st edition.