Kelsey-Hayes, a major supplier of steel car wheels suddenly found itself beset by a plague of defective steel tire rims. To make matters worse, many of the defective rims had tires mounted on them and were installed on new cars which were then stored in various holding areas around the country. In order to maximize space, the shiny new cars were parked only inches apart, so close that when one of the defective tires deflated, the vehicle tilted, damaging the finish to that vehicle and the one next to it.

Kelsey-Hayes asked Synecticsworld to help it detect the leaking rims quickly and inexpensively during the final stages of manufacture.


From that initial meeting it became clear that there were three possible avenues of action:

1. Discover how to make the defective tires identify themselves
2. Find a process for preventing the wheels from leaking
3. Invent a way to enable the leaking wheels to heal themselves

Synecticsworld knew that the best course of action would naturally spring from the company’s own employees once they were led through Synecticsworld exercises designed to encourage creativity and insight-led innovation.

Using metaphors from the world of psychology to recall examples of self-healing, the quickly assembled but carefully selected group explored the real-life issues of forgetfulness, prejudice, ambition, paradox, exhilaration and sexual excitement then used the insights generated by that exploration to revisit the leaking rim problem.


The freshly inspired group settled on the image of colored dyes speeding to the scene of the leak and filling the hole with lead. Further discussion brought out the suggestion of using boy and girl dyes. It was that innovative idea that triggered the decisive solution to create a two-component epoxy, both with the fluidity of dye. One component sprayed on the outside of the vehicle wheel, the other on the inside. The two components would then react on contact.

Leak plugged … company saved.

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