People mostly face two types of problems: one whose solutions can be easily available and those whose solutions are hard to find. Certain problems can be easily solved by finding its solution from books, journals, reference guides etc. These problems are solved in a general problem solving pattern as shown here:
General Problem solving technique
A particular problem is considered as general problem and then general solutions are found to that problem which ultimately becomes a particular solution to the problem.
Second type of Problems
Now, some problems are such whose solution is neither available in journals or books and reference guides. One needs to find a solution to such tough problems. These are known as inventive problems that lead to the evolution of a new solution. In today’s time when such problems occur, we term it as psychological issues that directly connect with brain, insights and the research done.
To solve these problems, people generally use trial and error as well as brain storming methods. Based on how complex the problem is, trails may be more or less. However, if the person solving the problem is of that particular field or has some knowledge about the same then such trails can be completed quickly.
Sometimes, people feel that solution can be found from their own experience and avoid using any latest technology to find a solution to that unsolved mystery. This can be known as psychological dullness which highly obstructs new technological solutions of the problem.
It often occurs that solution lies outside the field of expertise. It’s like pain was in stomach but the actual reason of pain was not overeating but high stress level. This means that the ideal solution to cure any problem may be outside the field.
Now, how these problems can be solved from technology point of view?
Invention of TRIZ
Above we discussed about problems that have solution outside the field of their expertise and sometimes in order to solve such problems, it is necessary to develop a new approach. TRIZ was a similar kind of technology based approach invented by Genrich S Altshuller to solve such inventive problems. According to him, an inventive problem solving theory should fulfill the following conditions:
- Must have step by step process
- Must be an ideal solution provider
- Can be repeated and relied on without any use of psychological tools.
- Must be familiar to inventors so that they can easily find the solutions.
Searching for various methods that met these conditions, Altshuller finally invented TRIZ. Based on his research, Altshuller has categorized solutions into five levels for any problem irrespective of the industry. These levels are as follows:
TRIZ: New Innovative Approach
TRIZ is a theory of inventive problem solving which consists of several laws. One such law is Law of increasing ideality where technical systems are found to progress ahead towards increasing degree of ideality.
Ideality is a state where there are no benefits and no harmful effects and only beneficial results are generated.
TRIZ: Systematic Process
As per Altshuller, problem solving technique must be systematic in such a way that it is easily able to solve the problems as shown in Fig 1. So, the step by step process of TRIZ is as follows:
- Defining My Problem
First the entire system must be studied through an innovative situation questionnaire. It’s operating environment, need of equipments, basic useful functions, harmful effects and ideal results should be known.
Example: Coca Cola Bottles- bottle used to fill coca cola which are filled and stored. The resources here needed are weight of empty and filled bottles, bottle construction. The main purpose of this bottle is to contain coca cola. Harmful effects can be cost of machines used to prepare bottles, fill coca cola in the bottle, wastage that includes broken or leak bottles.
The end result is that we need bottles that can contain sufficient amount of coca cola and can easily be carried by human beings without any damage to bottles as well as liquid filled inside the bottle.
- Examine the problem through TRIZ Go through the entire problem by means of physical contradiction, know all the possible problems that could take place and check if any solution to the problem is actually giving birth to other problem or not. Are there any chances of technical conflicts?
Example: Price of raw materials can be the reason to reduce costs and this can in turn lead to the creation of low quality bottles which may not bear the capacity to contain and preserve the cold drink for longer time.
Now here if we reduce costs then raw material quality won’t be good resulting into low quality bottles which are not fit to contain the beverage. So, this is the contradiction and once it is solved, ideal result can be achieved.
- Check for any similar problem solved perfectly Out of 1,50,000 patents, only 39 standard technical features were considered by Altshuller that really were the root cause of conflict. While identifying the problem, the principle that led to the problem is to be found and then the contradicting principle is to be identified and then the need arises to check which principle should be changed and then the principle that creates secondary effect must be known. This way one can find the standard technical conflict.
39 Engineering Parameters
1. Weight of moving object
2. Weight of nonmoving object
3. Length of moving object
4. Length of nonmoving object
5. Area of moving object
6. Area of nonmoving object
7. Volume of moving object
8. Volume of nonmoving object
11. Tension, pressure
13. Stability of object
15. Durability of moving object
16. Durability of nonmoving object
19. Energy spent by moving object
20. Energy spent by nonmoving object
22. Waste of energy
23. Waste of substance
24. Loss of information
25. Waste of time
26. Amount of substance
28. Accuracy of measurement
29. Accuracy of manufacturing
30. Harmful factors acting on object
31. Harmful side effects
33. Convenience of use
36. Complexity of device
37. Complexity of control
38. Level of automation
If we relate our example, then our contradiction is to reduce the length of bottle to reduce costs i.e. principle no.4 “length of non moving object”. If we do so, bottle will have more tension, pressure (principle #11). So, here the technical conflict is “the more we lower the quality of any product, the more it will lose its capacity to carry the weight”.
- Find Analogous Solutions and then consider any one as “My Solution”
40 inventive principles created by Altshuller will support anyone to identify an inventive solution to the problem. To know what inventive principle must be used, table of contradictions was developed by Altshuller that lists 39 prinicples on X axis and possible solutions on Y axis , the intersection of these cells are the perfect inventive principles that can be used to get a solution for any problem.
List of 40 Inventive Principles
3. Local Quality
9. Prior counter-action
10. Prior action
11. Cushion in advance
16. Partial or overdone action
17. Moving to a new dimension
18. Mechanical vibration
19. Periodic action
20. Continuity of a useful action
21. Rushing through
22. Convert harm into benefit
27. Inexpensive, short-lived object for expensive, durable one
28. Replacement of a mechanical system
29. Pneumatic or hydraulic construction
30. Flexible membranes or thin film
31. Use of porous material
32. Changing the color
34. Rejecting and regenerating parts
35. Transformation of the physical and chemical states of an object
36. Phase transformation
37. Thermal expansion
38. Use strong oxidizers
39. Inert environment
40. Composite materials
Useful for solving various problems
TRIZ is an approach that can be applied for solving problems of many fields including medical. The main thing is it is used to solve inventive problems by following the TRIZ process where basically problems are formulated through TRIZ.
Different TRIZ Tools to solve difficult problems
This is one of the tools that follows systematic procedure to get solutions without any contradictions. Based on the nature of the problem, solution can be found within five to six steps.
1. Problem formulation
2. Converting the problem into a model
3. Carefully examining the model
4. Resolving contradictions
5. Generate ideal solution.
This tool basically includes functional statements that are related to one another. This can be used to know where actually a function fails
While developing new product, it is important to prevent sudden failures. This tool is used to discover failure mechanism and then identify the reason for their occurrence. Factors that lead to failures can be removed with this tool.
It contains 8 patterns of technological system development which is useful in creating product technologies rather than just making predictions about them. This tool is useful in generating future technology patents and stay ahead among competitors.
Engineers and developers can easily solve their problems using theory of inventive problem solving. It can also be used to invent new technologies.
When used with Quality function deployment, it can identify new functions and performance levels to gain better quality of products. The combination of TRIZ and QFD gives amazing results such as making use of direct concepts to give an overview of new products to the customers, solve engineering contradictions, remove quality contradictions, set the target values.
In Design, new variations can be introduced to lure customers, avoid failures while developing new products with the help of AFD tool. TRIZ is used to create new products with direct product evolution, reduce costs and lots more.
In short, use of TRIZ makes overall work smoother and easier.
Firms Using TRIZ
Below mentioned are some firms those who have started using TRIZ in U.S. in 1993:
- Allied Signal Aerospace Sector
- Chrysler Corp.
- Emerson Electric
- Ford Motor Co.
- General Motors Corp.
- Johnson & Johnson
- Rockwell International
- Xerox Corporation
Seeing the increasing popularity of this inventive problem solving theory, its software also came into existence. This helps engineers, developers to easily get the results by learning this technique within a short span of time.
It has various software packages that are responsible for different functions such as Improver is a software package which is used to improve currently available designs, manufacturing process, system quality, performance, manufacturing cost, product features, patent application etc.