Some products are so functional and effective that there is little potential to improve them. The violin, for example, was designed by the Italian master violin-makers in the 17th century. Countless efforts have been made to challenge its basic construction in order to improve it, but in vain. The violin is so close to perfect that no one has come up with a fundamental improvement during the last 350 years.
Tire chains are not that old – they were patented in 1904 and ever since they have proven to be very effective for increasing traction.
It is said that the inventor, Mr. Harry D Weed, from Canastota, New York, got the idea when he saw drivers wrapping ropes around their wheels to increase traction. He then figured out a device that was more durable and would work on both mud and snow, and the rest is history, but are they even close to being perfect?
Flaws lead to improvement
Even if conventional tire chains are a good example of simple and reliable function, there are flaws. Tire chains are sturdy thus they are excellent for heavy-duty work. For example, on heavy fire trucks that go out on calls irrespective of road conditions, the key to tire chains' ruggedness is steel. However, depending on the use, weight may be considered a flaw, and heavy steel may not be the best option. One solution to this is to use textile socks providing a good grip and easy mounting at a very low weight – but at the expense of durability. Simply, textile does not withstand the wear when mounted on a heavy vehicle on rugged road surfaces.
Another flaw is the manual mounting which is tedious and puts the driver at risk since he’s often forced to mount the chains at the roadside in bad weather and at reduced visibility. Also, improperly installed or aging tire chains can break causing heavy damage to the vehicle's body components.
Killing two birds with one stone - automatically
In my opinion, the optimal improvement of the good ol' tire chain, is to make them automatic so they can be engaged and disengaged from the cab, even while driving. By this, we keep the steel chains’ durability and effectiveness while completely eliminating two flaws: the mounting time and the mounting effort. For the rescue driver, saving time is most important, but it doesn’t matter if the mounting time or mounting effort is the major flaw – with Onspot Automatic Tire Chains they are both history.
For a more detailed comparison of traction control for rescue vehicles, download our comprehensive guide where we compare conventional tire chains with automatic chains and textile socks.