TRIZ Case Studies: Report on the Total Product Development Symposium

Ellen Domb, Editor
The TRIZ Journal
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The American Supplier Institute presented the Third Annual International Total Product Development Symposium November 5-6, 1997, in Dearborn, MI, USA. The symposium brings together practitioners of the Taguchi methods, Quality Function Deployment, and TRIZ, to learn more about each of those disciplines and to work on methods of integrating the tools and methods into an overall process of improving product and process development.

The TRIZ case studies were much more detailed than those in past conferences, and will begin to satisfy the demand for modern case studies from a wide variety of fields that arises when people begin to study TRIZ. The TRIZ Journal will reprint several of these articles in the coming months. For those who would like complete copies of the papers quickly, the proceedings of the Symposium are available for purchase from The American Supplier Institute,

One overall theme emerged from the case study and theoretical presentations: the practice of TRIZ is in rapid development. Some organizations use a combination of analytic tools of TRIZ with the TRIZ databases of solutions to create large numbers of potential solutions to recalcitrant technical problems. Others use much more extensive analytical methods, to generate a small number of highly targeted solutions. This review will cover corporate case studies and consultant presentations.


Corporate Case Studies

Ford Motor Company was featured in 3 outstanding papers. Colin Young, B.J. Saltsman, and Mike Lynch presented 2 cases

In both cases the TRIZ/SIT internal consulting group worked with the subject matter experts from Ford and from its Full Service Suppliers to get full details of existing methods of design and production, and conducts benchmarking studies and patent research to establish the current state of the art. They then applied the analytic methods of SIT to refine the definition of the precise problem to be solved, and use the contradiction resolution methods of TRIZ to generate solutions. Both the Invention Machine and Ideation software were used at various stages of the solution generation.

Results were as follows:

In both cases, the authors have explained the development of some of the concepts in great detail, and illustrate the importance of extensive technical knowledge of the physical mechanisms causing the problem to generating useful solutions. The combination of the SIT and TRIZ techniques helped them focus their solution concept generation on areas with high probability of success. There was some audience discussion of whether some of the tools of ARIZ are similar to the SIT method.

Eugene Rivin and Victor Fey of The TRIZ Group presented an update and more detailed review of the use of TRIZ to eliminate rough idling in a compact car based on the case study presented by Larry Smith of Ford at the 1996 symposium. This case provides a dramatic demonstration of the differences between traditional systems engineering approaches to the problem and the TRIZ approach.

 The Eli Lilly Company demonstrated the use of TRIZ to solve 2 major problems in pharmaceutical production, and also discussed their method for deploying TRIZ training throughout their global research centers in a paper presented by Wes Anderson and Justin Farrell of Eli Lilly and Karen Tate of The Griffin Tate Group. Forty problems were solicited by the TRIZ coaches, and 5 were selected for solution during a week-long Global Technology conference. Solutions were presented for two of these:

  1. A freeze-dried drug forms a solid plug which dissolves too slowly when reconstituted. Thirty-three new ideas for solutions were generated, and action plans were developed for five of them.
  2. Insulin is grown by tailored bacteria. The cell walls must be broken to release the insulin in the production process. Existing ways of breaking the cell walls are unreliable. Sixty ideas were generated, of which two were selected for action. Lab tests on the two methods are in work now.

The presenters emphasized the need for a mix of subject matter experts from production and research with TRIZ application coaches in a team environment.

Michael Slocum of ITT-Cannon presented the case of improvement of a feedthrough (gland) for a nuclear reactor vessel that used the Invention Machine TechOptimizer™ to organize extensive use of the value analysis and trimming tools of TRIZ, among others, to achieve a 63% cost reduction, 42% component reduction, 100% harmful effect reduction, and dynamic system response improvement by 12dB. The case is reprinted in this issue of The TRIZ Journal.


Consultant Presentations: Advancing TRIZ Theory and Case Presentations

James Kowalick and Ellen Domb of The TRIZ Institute presented 2 papers that used the airbag deployment problem (familiar to regular readers of The TRIZ Journal—see the June and July issues for several articles ) to illustrate TRIZ techniques of technology forecasting, S-field analysis, and the new technique of Polysystem TRIZ, also called "Plus-Plus" analysis, presented by Kalevi Rantanen in the August and October issues of the TRIZ Journal. Polysystem analysis of the gas generator system for 9 possible gas sources with respect to 10 system requirements gave a detailed and very precise definition of the problem, which contained within the definition the keys to a solution using segmentation of the airbag and the gas generator system.

John Terninko of Responsible Management presented "An application of directed product evolution" derived from a study written by Alla Zusman, Boris Zlotin, and Gafur Zainiev of Ideation, Inc. Directed evolution is a system of postulates that are applied to the TRIZ technological forecasting tools to constrain the future system to those that are most probable from a technical perspective and to those that are most acceptable from a market success perspective. The directed evolution method was illustrated using a case study of an endoscopic medical instrument to fasten together cut ends of intestine, showing the evolution from suturing to stapling to continuous attachment using liquid media (polymers) and the various means of polymerization that could be used in the body.

Eugene Rivin of The TRIZ Group and Wayne State University presented a case study "Accessory Drive for Internal Combustion Engines" that was developed in part as a capstone design project in the engineering curriculum at Wayne State University. He shows how the analysis of the conflict between the limitations of the capability of available technology of both flat (poly-V) belts and V- belts with adjustable width pulleys caused the analysts to select the TRIZ evolution pattern "Transition to a Higher-Level System" (combining two systems into a super-system) as the solution to the problem. An elegant combination system in which the flat belt drives most of the accessories while the V-belt provides the variable transmission ratios was patented and is under development.

Gregory Yezersky of the Systemology Research Group showed examples in metallurgy, space shuttle design, and plastics production to demonstrate the use of his systemology method of grouping the TRIZ tools into systems of tools. The ultimate goal of the process is to convert a problem to a standard problem, so that the standard solutions of TRIZ can be applied. Systemology uses a decision tree to direct the flow of problem solving choices toward the clarification of correct set of methods for each class of problems.



The Total Product Development Symposium builds on the great success of the American Supplier Institute’s Taguchi Methods Symposium series, in which major advances in the theory of Taguchi methods are presented (such as introduction of the Mahalanobis distance method and the dynamic Taguchi methods) and then a family of case studies is presented in the next several years to illustrate the range of applications of the theory to a wide variety of cases.

In 1995, almost all the TRIZ presentations were basic tutorials on the methods of TRIZ. In 1996, almost all the TRIZ presentations were again tutorials, although some were illustrated with case studies (Ellen Domb’s study of software applications of the 40 Principles, James Kowalick’s presentation on technology evolution, and John Terninko’s presentation on the use of existing resources in conflict resolution.) In 1997, many case studies were presented that illustrate the sophistication of the applications of TRIZ in a variety of industries, and major theoretical advances were proposed. We will await the future meetings to see which of these advanced theories are used in case studies to solve significant technical and business problems.