Eleven Uses of Effects

By Kalevi Rantanen
E-mail: kalevi.rantanen@kolumbus.fi

New software (the last SW package is TechOptimizer Professional Edition 3.0 - TOPE - published by Invention Machine Corporation in 1998) has made physical effects increasingly popular. One advantage of effects is that you can use them different ways and at different levels. If you simply want to enhance your knowledge, you can use the databases of effects as a smart technical encyclopedia - without any training, without any knowledge of TRIZ.

You can use effects (Effects mode in TechOptimizer) very effectively together with different tools of TRIZ. If you want to use effects for problem statement and concept generation, TRIZ is practically imperative. The manual of TOPE 3.0 characterizes the three problem solving tools as follows: "Effects, Principles and Prediction are intelligent problem solving tools. If these tools are properly used, the results will be efficient, patentable engineering solutions." (TechOptimizer 3.0, Software Manual, p.17)

The manual warns that Effects should be used "properly". This secretive expression reflects the experience that the user should know something more: trends of evolution, the concepts and models of contradictions (technical and physical), separation of properties, the use of the resources of the system, etc. Attempts to jump directly to the effect will give wrong results and, actually, repeat the method of trial and error.

We can compare databases of effects with a dictionary. TRIZ is the grammar. Databases give a large collection of examples that illustrate the concepts, principles and rules of TRIZ. To use the full power of effects we should know that concepts, principles and rules.

Altshuller and his team begun to collect systematically the database of effects in 1969. The idea to collect effects across sciences and industries has, however, a long prehistory. Altshuller was one of victims of arbitrary purges during the Stalin era, and lived in prisons and camps in 1950-1954. Once he was transferred to a camp in Vorkuta. In a barrack building lived, and died, aged intelligents. There were engineers, physicians, scientists, lawyers, architects, etc. Altshuller organized a "One Students University", where these experts from different sciences and industries gave him lectures for 12 to 14 hours every day. Altshuller obtained encyclopedic knowledge that helped him later to develope TRIZ, and among the tools of TRIZ, effects lists.

In 1960s become more and more clear that problem solving tools should be complemented with new, unconventional databases. Inventors didnīt need physics not in the "pure" form, but science connected with engineering applications. Altshuller and his students begun to make and publish lists, where descriptions of effects were arranged by functions. In 1979 was published a small handbook on physical effects for inventive problem solving. In 1981-82 the journal "Tehnika i nauka" ("Technology and science") published a series of articles on effects. In 1988 was published a work of Salamatov on chemical effects, and 1989 a paper of Vikentjev and Jefremov on the inventive use of geometry.

All these materials were published in paper format, in Russian language. From 1992 Invention Machine Corporation has published effects already in computer form, and in English.

It is easy to find very many uses for effects. We will consider eleven applications:

  1. Effects Databases as a Smart Encyclopedia
  2. Evolution Trends and Effects
  3. Functional Analysis and Effects
  4. Engineering Contradiction and Effects
  5. Physical Contradiction and Effects
  6. Forty Principles and Effects
  7. The Resources of the System and Effects
  8. Standard Solutions and Effects
  9. Feature Transfer and Effects
  10. Effects databases as a Knowledge Organizer
  11. Ideal Final Result and Effects

1 Effects Databases as a Smart Encyclopedia

Databases contain information of physical effects organized by functions, not by the branches of industries or sciences. The organization of knowledge by functions makes TechOptimizerīs Effects module a unique depository of information among existing encyclopedias, handbooks and databases.

Letīs suppose that we want to decrease the energy consumption of a car. Since the function of the car is "to move objects " (passengers of cargo), we can select, for example "Substance: Move" and further the function "to move objects". Now software gives a list of 39 examples and effects. One of them is "Lift effect". Clicking the icon we see pictures of an airplane and an airfoil. Additionally, there is a link to an example: "Flying tailgate for pickup trucks". In that link we find information of an interesting invention:
The tailgate is shaped into a plane airfoil and rotates along the horizontal axis. The head air flow raises it to a horizontal position. In a horizontal position, the drag of the tailgate is minimum. The lift holds the tailgate in this position at the velocity of a truck over 40 km per hour. We have got information that is valuable as such. Often, however, it makes reason to elaborate the idea further with other tools of TRIZ.

2 Evolution Trends and Effects

To solve the problem in an engineering system is necessary to answer to questions: how has the system been evolved? How will it evolve?

The information we got from software can be developed by trends. A tailgate rotating along an axis is a dynamic system. We can insert a "flying tailgate" into the dynamization line in the Prediction module of TechOptimizer 3.0.

Software proposes a tailgate with one joint. Dynamization trend gives, additionally, at least three concepts: tailgate with many joints, elastic tailgate, and tailgate from gas (maybe try to use exhaust gas flow for decreasing drag). And this is only one of trends.

3 Functional Analysis and Effects

The concept of function builds a strong connection between TRIZ, Value Engineering and effects. To use Phenomenon you need to define functions, that is to made the functional analysis. The analysis of functions is practically obligatory if phenomenon is used for the development of technology.

Some functions of the car:

Funtional analysis helps to find more useful effects. For example, we want to prevent crashes and protect object. We select a standard function "decrease motion and vibration parameters" from the group "Parameters: decrease". Phenomenon proposes some traditional solutions, as "Bumper of vehicle", and some more exotic, as "Damper with electrorheological fluid".

4 Engineering contradiction and Effects

If you have a function, you have an engineering contradiction. The useful function is coupled with undesired features or functions. If the useful function is "to move object", one typical undesired feature is: use of energy. Undesired functions can be: "to generate noise", "to generate hazardous gases"

Of course we can use Effects database itself, directly, to decrease an undesirable feature. We can try to find effects that decrease the consumption of energy. Effects list contains a standard function: "change energy of moving object". One of the proposals of the software is "a flywheel with an automatically controlled moment of inertia". Extra kinetic energy can be accumulated (a field resource!) and used to overcome peak rolling resistance, or to move with an disengaged engine.

At the same time the contradiction is one of key concepts of TRIZ. If you have impairing requirements, or an engineering contradiction, you always have a physical contradiction, too. If you have contradictions, there should be, according to the law of increased ideality, a solution that removes contradictions. And there should be substance and field resources that can be used to get the Ideal Final Result. As we will see, TRIZ greatly enhances the power of software.

5 Physical Contradiction and Effects

To solve a technical problem means to find a physical contradiction and eliminate it. Our example: The problem in is how to improve the energy efficiency of a car. The engineering contradiction: increasing speed (improved reature) increases the use of energy, too (worsening feature). The physical, essential conflict behind the engineering contradiction: speed should be high (to move object), and speed should be low, or zero (to decrease the consumption of energy).

Generally, physical contradictions can be solved separating features in time, in space or in structure (in different system levels). The contradiction "high speed - zero speed" can be solved separating features into different system levels. If cars are transported by train, they have zero speed, and the train can have a high speed at the same time.

The another physical contradiction: the car should have an aerodynamic, streamlined form, to decrease resistance, and should have a rectangular form, to give room for passengers. The contradiction can be solved in time. The car changes its form depending from speed. The flying tailgate illustrates the separation of features in time.

Physical effects are solutions of physical contradictions. Phase transitions, electromagnetic phenomena, thermal phenomena, etc. can separate features in time, porous materials, composites in system levels. The concept of physical contradiction - one of key concepts of TRIZ - helps to use and understand software.

6 Forty Principles and Effects

Simply listing the principles we find the principle 5: "Merging". Can we "merge" many cars some way, to decrease energy losses? Yes, there are projects to couple many cars or trucks electronically. Daimler-Benz has calculated that if many trucks are controlled automatically so that the distance between vehicles is 10 meters and the speed 80 km/h, the economy of fuel will be 15 per cent. The effect is the same that bicyclists and some birds (cranes) use, moving in an echelon.

Letīs see Altshullerīs matrix: We select a standard contradiction "weight of moving object - loss of energy". We get four recommendations:

A flying tailgate has some relation to the first three principles. Strong oxidants is a totally different principle. Maybe one day air enriched by oxygen will be used for burning of fuel.

Innovative principles add new ideas to the effects we can find from Effects. At the same time Phenomen helps to use principles providing many good examples. Flying tailgate is a good example of the dynamics principle (15). Flywheel with the controlled moment of inertia is an example, illustrating the principle of spheroidality (14, use of centrifugal forces).

7 The Resources of the System and Effects

The flying tailgate uses existing resources of the system: the body of a truck and air (substance resources), and the speed (interaction, energy, fields). There are other resources: exhaust gases, vibration, the energy of braking, resources in the environment (solar energy, wind), resources of higher system levels (road, transport system as whole). The analysis of resources helps to seek new effects from Effects database. For example, we have different resources of energy. That directs to functions like "accumulate energy"or "convert energy".

8 Standard Solutions and Effects

Standard solutions are the transformations of an elementary engineering system by evolution trends, innovative principles and effects. In TechOptimizer software standards are called predictions.

The elementary engineering system consists of the object of function and the carrier of function. To make the system work we shall add an interaction between object. The model of the tailgate:

We can now insert the object into the standard solutions and to improve the system. We can add to airfoil new substances: solid and elastic substances, particles, porous substance, liquid, gas, piezoelectric substance, ferromagnetic substance, void etc. We can add modified substances. We can multiply airfoils and connect them different ways (trend mono-bi-poly). Etc. So, ideas got by Effects can be improved by standards.

9 Feature Transfer and Effects

The same function, as "to move object" can be delivered by different ways. In the beginning we selected a flying tailgate.

Phenomenon gave 39 ways to "move objects". Letīs name yet a few:

Other ideas from Phenomenon:

Other tools of TRIZ have given us a number of ideas additionally:

Feature Transfer technology proposes to combine the pluses of different solutions. For example, magnetic levitation allows to decrease friction, but the technology is complex. How to transfer the feature "levitation" into more simple technologies? Maybe there will appear new forms of air cushion technology? Actually, a single solution is usually not very interesting. A right combination makes the difference.

10 Effects database as a Knowledge Organizer

Effects list helps to use more effectively existing information. For example, in principle we know that the energy of braking can be accumulated and used so that the total energy comsuption decreases. The accumulation of breaking energy (or mechanical energy in general) cannot be found in the software. We can add our example as an user effect. Information provided by TRIZ, too, can added to the database. We can then more easily find the information when it will be needed.

Altshuller advised to collect 30-40 entries of information in month. When the number of entries will increase, they are combined. The number of entries in a personal database should not be more than 1000, says Altshuller, so that the collector can manage his/her data. Thus, personal databases ase always limited.

Effects mode is a generic database that complements individual data collections and the databases of companies. Yet one example: Valmet Paper Machinery has developed a new device for the cleaning of air from dust particles. A new cleaning process combines centrifugal forces, an electric field and the capturing effect of a thin water film (Valmet Paper News vol. 14, no.2 1998, p. 20). This piece of information can de added to the database. Letīs now see TechOptimizer Effects. Clicking a standard function "remove particles" we get 32 effects and examples. There is not the combination developed by Valmet, but much information of the use of electric fields, atomized liquid, charged droplets, etc. This knowledge helps to improve the known solution further.

Personal knowledge is deep but narrow (covers one industry). A generic database is broad and covers many industries, but is "thin". The both complement each other.

11 Ideal Final Result and Effects

The Ideal Final Result is a lighthouse that shows the way to the good solution. Software gives easily tens or hundreds of effects and effect combinations. Two problems will appear:

  1. Even a long list of concepts will not always contain the best solution
  2. An excellent solution may be in the list, but the user can not detect it

To remove the first limit is useful to supplement Effects with other tools of TRIZ. To select a good solution the criteria of the Ideal Final Result can be used.

Ideas and solutions can be checked against the requirements of the Ideal Final Result:

The flying tailgate matches rather well the criteria of the Ideal Final Result:

The final conclusion is simple. TRIZ and new software are created for each other. Software is great. TRIZ is great. Together they give a great combination.