Thursday, November 03, 2011


Day 2 ETRIA TRIZ Futures 2011, Dublin

Leonid Chechurin from St. Petersburg State Politechnical University and the Politecnico di Milano opened the session with the keynote “Creativity IN the Exact Science.” He charmed the audience with his story of the difference of his students’ reaction to learning TRIZ vs. their reaction to learning the mathematics of control systems. Both space and time domain analysis are frequently used in TRIZ (Su-Field or function analysis and cause/effect chains, or engineering system models, 9 windows, etc.) In contrast, mathematical models are based on the laws of science that describe the relationships between parameters. Asking experts is cheaper than doing the research to define a law of physics! He recommends flow models, rather than static function models, for situations changing in time—less abstract than full mathematical models, but more real description of the situation.

His next challenge: how to get from the model to the invention. His definition: invention is not optimization of parameters, rather it is novel, change, new paradigm, case-sensitive (not a general theory). Great example of the difference between the solution to the problem of ski gondolas swinging in the wind—solve the differential equations or use TRIZ?

Short papers are very short at this conference—10 minutes deach, which provides an opportunity for the audience to decide which authors to talk with. Godwin Ekong from U. Sussex used TRIZ to develop concepts for control of tip clearance in gas turbine high pressure compressors. TRIZ was used to simplify and sort the 400+ ideas generated by multiple other methods.

Giuseppe Carignani tantalized us with “Matching and merging TRIZ and Post-TRIZ evolutionary theory of technological change. “ He started with Konrad Lorenz’s Nobel lecture about parallel evolution of complex organs in different species (such as eyes in octopus and mammals), and asked about the evolution of TRIZ itself. He used the classical invention of the safety razor and showed how a TRIZ separation principle invention could be reinterpreted as a functional shift (feathered dinosaurs, etc.) He suggests that post-Altshuller TRIZ can take advantage of modern biological evolutionary theory.

Darin Moreira from Intel in Penang, Malaysia, showed the complementary use of TRIZ with Lean methods to prevent component misplacement in the tape and reel process of pan applied to the ckaging and shipping integrated circuits. 2-4 million units a week are being processed, with up to 25 tool stoppages per day. Lean was used to guide the observations of the full problem situation, then develop a full cause/effect chain analysis. TRIZ was then used to create a function model that made clear the opportunities for change, and straight-forward use of the contradiction matrix and principles give them 3 ideas for problem prevention. (Principle 10 applied to 3 areas of the system.) First test results show no defects, with a saving of US$half million per quarter. The audience a discussion that continued later at the break, of whether the solutions could have been found without TRIZ—Darin countered that they had worked on this problem for a number of years without finding the simple, elegant TRIZ solutions.

Toru Nakagawa from Japan presented “Problem solving in everyday life: On methods and tools for weeding.” The problem may be everyday, but the solution requires the same kind of understanding of the situation as any technical problem, which revealed 5 primary purposes, of weeding (beauty, preparing for crops, etc.) multiple strategies and multiple methods for each strategy, and multiple tools (and multiple energy sources!) for each method.

Yael Helfman Cohen challenged ETRIA with “what can we learn from biological systems when applying the laws of system completeness?” She started with a comparison of biological and technical systems and a context-dependent definition of system (the organism), subsystem (internal parts) and supersystem (environment.) They created a set of questions for the elements of the complete system to make it easier to identify the elements in biological systems. Both the working unit and the control unit can be environmental or internal to the system. Environmental control is positive feedback, non-environmental is negative feedback. The classical lotus leaf self-cleaning system was shown, with the energy being chemical/adhesion, engine and transmission are both epidermal protrusions, the working unit is the water droplet, and the control is positive feedback (the process continues as long as there are both particles and water.) The gecko feet show negative feedback: Energy is van der Waals force, engine and transmission are hairs on the feet, the working unit is the surface of the hairs, and the control is the gecko’s nervous system which guides the leg. Future research will look at which of these elements changes through evolution, and what lessons these changes may have for technical systems.

Ido Lapidot asked the audience to help him think about issues that might change our thinking about TRIZ in “Evolution, Predictability, Lamarck, Altshuller, Darwin and Chaos.” What makes systems move toward ideality? He suggested that Darwinian evolution depends on random variation with the environment making the survival of certain variants more probable, while Lamarckian evolution says that the needs of the environment cause evolution of traits, and that TRIZ evolution is more like the (discredited) Lamarck model. His candidate explanations are (1) convergent evolution, which occurs in the presence of strong environmental restriction forces and (2) Chaos/dynamic systems behaviors. The biologically-oriented and physically-oriented audience members had a variety of reactions (including my own suggestion that he look at the selection method as being reduction of entropy because of human decision processes.)

Concluding speaker for the session was Alessandro Baldussu, “About integration opportunities between TRIZ and biomimetics for inventive deisgn.” He used both the OTSM function model (a variant of Subject-action-object) and the NIST model, compared to the taxonomy of biological functions. Search methods were compared for exact match, match requiring human re-interpretation, and no match. All 3 databases require some changes before an automated search can be implemented.

The afternoon scientific session started with Denis Cavallucci’s report on the current work by his graduate students developing IDM TRIZ. He cited several limitations of classical TRIZ:

  1.  gathering the info about the system
  2. Contradictions: TRIZ solves one, real situations have many
  3. Contradictions: no methodology to define/disclose the right contradiction, reproducible result
  4. Glossary, ontology, logical links between triz components missing.
“We need to disambiguate TRIZ” was the conclusion, and he outlined the work to be done by INSA and its industrial partners. They are analyzing vast amounts of patent data, looking at 21 different aspects of research using a semi-automated method of extracting the relevant patents which is now being tested.

Jenny Harlim from Iouri Belski’s group in Australia reported on research that showed that engineers’ self-confidence has a strong influence on both motivation to solve problems and capability for problem solving. Perception of competence had a strong influence on the transfer of problem-solving skills. The training method used to teach TRIZ incorporates a structure designed to stimulate student reflection on each step in the method, and plan further improvement in their use of the system. Graduates of the class were asked their self-evaluation on current problem solving and on attitudes on future problems. , The TRIZ class had a strong influence on the students’ mastery and their perception of their own mastery; whether there is a correlation with actual performance is subject for future research.

Pavel Livitov reported on web-based asynchronous distance education in new product development and inventive problem solving, 3-year project conducted with industrial companies, featuring a new approach for measuring the efficiency of distance education.

The last practioner session of the afternoon featured Jurgen Jantschgi’s case study of applications of TRIZ to a cooling compressor design and to a forecast of the next decade in cooling compressors, especially considering the new requirements on energy efficiency. 4 years of TRIZ workshops produced a radically improved design (50% improvement in power/weight, 50 patents, 13 fewer parts…) that won European product of the year awards. The future project looked at general contradictions (diversification vs. standardization, etc.) as well as specific design issues (noise vs. size, etc.) and then quantified the cost impact of not solving the problem, and looked at cause-effect chains of contradictions, to reach a conclusion about which contradictions must be solved. They have now established partnerships with universities and other companies to work on the key issues.

“How TRIZ and other innovation tools can assist to innovate a several thousand year old product and a 300 year old company: The AXE.” Is a great teaching case and a practical application of innovation done by Jurgen and Leonhard Muller for the Leonhard Muller & Sons blacksmith company, which makes forestry products. The audience was fascinated by both the evolution of the axe itself and the “emotionalization” – the company now hosts people who want to forge their own axes, to establish an emotional connection to the tool and to the history of blacksmithing as magic.

Professor KW Lee demonstrated “Forecasting new business opportunities using TRIZ evolution approach” focusing on the pattern of transformation from commodity to product to service to experience (same pattern used by Muller going from making axes to hosting axe-making sessions) and demonstrated possibilities in many industries. He then added in aging society, low fertility, global warming, and changes in politics as influences. The audience was delighted with his golf simulator for year-round practice no matter what happens to the weather.

Paul Devaraj from Intel in Malaysia showed the role of TRIZ in the implementation of predictive maintenance in the test function within manufacturing. The benefits were obvious, but the cost of the sensors was prohibitive. TRIZ inspired the application of copying, doing the actual measurements only on one machine and replicating the plan for all machines. There were multiple additional problems in the implementation (fitting the test components into the functioning machines, etc.) Paul did a great job of presenting his reflections and “lessons learned” from this project.

The evening social event – an Irish specialty dinner with singers, Irish bagpipes, and very talented Irish dancers – was preceded by the selection of next year’s venue, New University in Lisbon, Portugal. See you there?




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