Tuesday, September 05, 2006


TRIZ & Innovation: Puebla Congress Day 2 More

After a break from 2:30 to 4 we resumed with more excellent cases.

Raul Rodriguez Ordaz and Victor Ibarra Balderas from Instituto Tecnologico de Piedras Negras started the afternoon with a multi-purpose paper—demonstration of TRIZ, helping local industry with a serious and interesting problem, and helping the local economy by helping industry. The case study examined a stress shot peen finishing system that is used to increase the life of automotive leaf springs. The improvement modified the machine to produce 5 at once (instead of 4) using a straightforward application of the contradiction matrix and the 40 principles, focusing on the contradiction: area of a moving object improves but productivity degrades. The solution was particularly aligned with the ideality concepts, since they were able to modify the existing machine.

Jose Vicente Gomila (a TRIZ Journal contributor and a friend—he took me across northern Spain to give a TRIZ presentation at a Basque community college about 5 years ago—another cultural adventure!) used three case studies as examples to demonstrate his point that TRIZ is a necessity for inventors: the cappuccino machine, the autoclave, and the automated car wash. Bernoulli’s effect and the nature of the steam-water-vapor transitions play important roles in all 3 machines. IFR for the washer: the ideal fiber is one that doesn’t exist but performs all the functions—breakthrough: the water (with a biodegradable polymer) performs the functions of the fibers. The academic audience was interested in the consultant’s situation where the problems are always ones that the client has tried to solve unsuccessfully.

Arturo Moto Baza had a unique set of problems in electricity: Loss of energy from poor connections and illicit use of services. There is extensive interference with power meters to avoid payment for service, and there is a large amount of theft of wires, gauges, and other equipment. The authors considered this an application of TRIZ to a logistics problem, not a technology problem, with emphasis on the delivery of service and the maintenance of service without the work of constantly replacing stolen infrastructure.

Guiillermo Flores Tellez improved the design of flexible systems (with the help of TRIZ) to solve the problem of a sport training system that helps athletes stretch their muscles and increase range of motion – picture a torture device for learning to do “the split.” The industry is small but highly competitive. All the available products put the athlete into an incorrect posture during the stretching (injuring knees, hips, and other joints) The TRIZ problem was to create a system that works for men and women of all heights and weights without causing injury to the knees and hips. Contradictions: high stability with low weight, small volume with large area. (Some might dispute whether the actual features that he showed were these, but, as typically happens, the 40 principles gave useful answers.) Photographs of the prototype in construction and in use by athletes generated audience interest, along with his remarks about the relative ease of human testing in Mexico compared to other countries.

Maria de Lourdes Juarez Hernandez, also from the Instituto at Piedras Negra, presented a TRIZ application to variability reduction in an auto parts business. Initial situation was dimensional variation in the height of a curved shape, with high reject rate and high cost of waste of materials. Pressure, time of processing, rate of cooling, and means of opening and closing the chamber all have some impact on the results. Consideration of the ideal final result helped create the problem statement for the contradiction between stability and time. Principles 27 and 35 (per matrix) both gave useful concepts for the solution, but principle 37 was most useful (thermal expansion). Photographs of the new machine in action were most impressive, and variation was reduced from 25mm to 10 mm, well within specification, with a side effect of less surface scratching. Cost of the new line was $48k vs. the old line $36k, but the reduction of preparation time absorbed all the cost of the tooling, and the reduction of scrap resulted in profit of $250k. Questions about the combined management/engineering course at the Institute will be answNered in tomorrow’s presentation.

Joe Miller had the challenge of the last paper of the day—in English, explaining the method that he and I use to teach problem formulation by examining the “complete technical system” from Altshuller’s formulation and Ohfuji’s definition of functions. The paper will appear in another form in the ETRIA meeting in October, then in expanded form in the TRIZ Journal. Joe’s description of the problems of building his house in Arizona were received with great sympathy by the audience. (see also the TJ from April 1998 for the original presentation of the teaching model.)

The day concluded (at 7 pm, with some kind of festivity on the adjacent plaza) with the second keynote speech by Jose Vicente. He used a dramatic example of a printer that uses curved paper to achieve high speed and very small footprint, and Michael Porter’s model of cost vs. value to the customer to define the regions of differentiation in phase space. Jose used many business examples—my favorite was the sports example of the company that wanted the stars to wear their clothes, but the stars contractually are constrained to wear only specific brands. (Physical contradiction example) Solution: Separation—the stars were not constrained off the playing field and outside the stadium. He got his clothes worn by sports stars during their free time, and got all the benefits without violating any of the contracts. No cute examples in the section on risks of innovation: technological risk, financial risk, risks involved in management of the enterprise during the introduction of an innovation. Interesting questions: quoting “some TRIZ Masters” that TRIZ is only 80% complete; what is missing is a way to get from the conceptual solution to the problem to the specific detailed application and development of the working solution. He suggested that the semantic analysis method (as demonstrated in the Goldfire software system from Invention Machine) will be that missing part of TRIZ, and will be developed in many languages and many ways.

The day concluded with dinner in the elegant courtyard of the Carolino Collegio, with a string quartet to accompany our conversation.

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