By Gregory Frenklach and Michael Pomerantz
Specifying the problem situation is fundamental to the problem-solving process. Examples for this illustration of defining and solving problems were taken from classic examples found in ARIZ appendixes. [1, 2]
Describe the situation simply using words and expressions that will be clear to someone inexperienced in the situation. (If a teenager understands the gist of the problem, the description is correct.)
It is necessary to create (for various technological and scientific applications) liquids with a special, optical-like cleanness, which contain the minimal quantity of insoluble particles. It is easy to detect big particles using the light reflection. But it is impossible to use known optical methods when dealing with very small particles. It is, therefore, necessary to develop a method for the detection and calculation of very small particles in colorless liquid.
Usually a parachute model is placed inside a glass tube and water is pumped through it to investigate a vortex (whirlwind). A thin layer of color covers the model during vortex formation. But the color expends too fast for analysis. How can this problem be solved?
There are two types of problem situations. The first type exists when it is necessary to conduct some function of a technical system, but the technical facilities for it are absent or unknown (e.g., the colorless liquid described above). The second type arises when the problem situation is connected with an undesired effect (UDE) inside the existing technological system (e.g., the vortex/parachute model described above). If you run into difficulties defining a problem situation's type, specify it to whichever is the closest match.
When the situation is the first type ("absence of the facility"), follow Group A's steps. When the situation is the second type ("existence of the UDE"), follow Group B's steps. If you cannot find the known facility in other fields of technology, skip steps 3 and 4.
Both types of problem situations may be combined into single type, which is defined by four characteristics as shown in the table below.
|Summary of Problem Situations|
|Number||Characteristics||Example 1||Example 2|
|1||UDE||Quantity of reflection of laser radiation is small||Fast debit of color|
|2||Element connected to the UDE||Laser mounting||Color|
|3||Function of the element connected to the UDE||Discover particles||To paint (mark) water whirlwinds|
|4||Object of function||Particles||Water whirlwinds|
Gregory Frenklach is a R&D engineer at Medinol in Israel. Contact Gregory Frenklach at gregory_f (at) 012.net.il.
Michael Pomerantz is a Software Engineer in R&D of Algorithmics Inc. – the world’s leading provider of enterprise risk solutions. Pomerantz become involved with TRIZ in 1978 and has published refereed articles on physical effects in TRIZ practice. He has a Ph.D. in Mathematical Physics from Azerbaijan State University. Contact Michael Pomerantz at m_pomerantz (at) hotmail.com.