Overview of the Application of Triz
Cristian Muñoz G.
Quality and Operations Managenet - Chalmers University of Technology
Creative Problem Solving in Engineering - TIF 186
Abstract — Triz comes across as a very effective method for both problem solving and innovative solutions. The questions that arise are who are using this methodology, how they are us- ing it and why it has not been more spread among companies. This paper tries to answer these questions based on the avail- able literature including the most recent articles on the topic. It has been found that several western companies are catching interest on the methodology, but still, Triz has deepen its roots among eastern companies
” TRIZ is a problem solving method based on logic and data, not intuition, which accelerates the project teams ability to solve these prob- lems creatively. TRIZ also provides repeata- bility, predictability, and reliability due to its structure and algorithmic approach. TRIZ ” is the (Russian) acronym for the Theory of Inven- tive Problem Solving. ” G.S. Altshuller and his colleagues in the former U.S.S.R. developed the method between 1946 and 1985. TRIZ is an in- ternational science of creativity that relies on the study of the patterns of problems and so- lutions, not on the spontaneous and intuitive creativity of individuals or groups. More than three million patents have been analyzed to dis- cover the patterns that predict breakthrough so- lutions to problems. ” 1
This paper tends to bring alight how the Triz methodology is used in the real world, what are the difficulties, strengths and weaknesses as well as give a hint on how companies are implementing it. Since Triz have not taken a privileged spot in the same scene as other well-known best practices on innovation, a limited number of articles depicting real cases have been found. Companies that are seriously work- ing with Triz, consider this methodology as a competitive advantage. Therefore, limited information is shared to the public knowledge. Still, there are well-known companies that openly discuss Triz.
An article in Forbes magazine2, expresses admiration for the Korean company about how it manages to com- pete with Apple which before the arise of the Galaxy S4, was the worlds best tech company. The Samsung success can be traced back to the early 1990s when the company brought Russian scientists into its innovation programs after a reestablishment of diplomatic relationships between South Korea and the Soviet Union. Along this path, Russian sci- entists saw the opportunity to introduce TRIZ as a system- atic innovation method. The TRIZ mythology made such an impact, that Samsung made it to a cornerstone of the de- velopment process of new products. Samsung has been an important source for Russian science patenting. One exam- ple is the eye-tracking software for user interaction included as a feature in the Galaxy S4. Behind this innovation lies a cooperation between Samsung and the Russian Academy of Science (FIAN)3. This cooperation can be studied in more detail in the Agreement on Cooperation Procedure of RAS Scientific Organizations and Samsung Electronics. High- lighting the article 1 of the agreement; it is stated:
Samsung and Academy are willing to perform search and selection of industrial property ob- jects, created as a result of fundamental scien- tific and experimental development performed by the Institutes of RAS and corresponding to fields of interests of Samsung (hereinafter ” In- ventions ” ), its registration as patents in Russia and/or other countries (hereinafter ” Patents ” ) and commercialization in form of Samsung products or intellectual property right itself ” 4
2.2. General Electric (GE)
GE considers the TRIZ methodology as a complement to its design to value toolkit. From a way to solve technical or physical contradictions, which covered a limited scope, GE has expanded the focus to problem identification tools such as; function modeling, cause-effect chain analysis, trimming, among others. In addition to this, multiple problem solving tools as contradictions, standard inventive solutions, etc.5. TRIZ is also used for the development of conceptual designs, to strengthen intellectual property and to capture whitespace opportunities6.
2.2..1 Administration of Triz at GE
The organization of TRIZ at GEGR, has a top-down struc- ture forming a pyramid constituted by four levels. Upon the pyramid, management support (TRIZ Stakeholders) and Core Leadership are considered crucial for the efficiency of TRIZ5.
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Fig. 1. Triz Administration at GE Global Research
- TRIZ Stakeholders: Senior leaders fully support pro- grams and recommend teams.
- TRIZ Core Leadership: Quality team is responsible for success KPIs and the management of all aspects of the programs.
- Level 1: All technologists and interested functional personnel attend to basic workshops in teams. In the case of GE, there is more than 2000 people engaged. Therefore, it creates a valuable source for feedback to the company.
- Level 2: TRIZ practitioners attend advanced work- shops. Here, the main focus is towards chiefs, princi- pals, lab managers, project leaders and to implement TRIZ in projects.
- Level 3: TRIZ experts give professional training. At the date of 2014, GE counted with 60 experts on this area, identifying new opportunities and serving as teachers and coaches.
- Level 4: TRIZ specialists helps to set strategic direc- tion.
Employees at GE has emphasized two key benefits; Differ- ent approach to problem thinking which lead to different unanticipated solutions, and Clear problem definition leads to shorter lead times to final solution.
As for the company, it has led to hundreds of new disclo- sures. In some cases, multiple disclosures from a single team. Cost savings, simplifications in design, improved performance, among others. Furthermore, the program had been expanded to cover business units for the identification of technical and cost challenges. On top of that, TRIZ has been used for assessing IP strategies and the structure of products5.
Bombardier is the worlds leader within the manufacturing of planes and trains. Bombardier Transportation counts with 61 production and engineering sites and 18 service centers in 28 countries7.
Bombardier Transportation started the implementation of TRIZ in 2008 for the development of an interoperable pan- tograph which is a key component for electric traction. This component has been continuously developed during the last 100 years. The end result was considered successful since TRIZ enabled to describe the problem and find a solution with at the time, unknown ways of thinking8. The solu- tion is depicted in figure 2.
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Fig. 2. Pantograph- Result of Triz.
Dr. Georg Kinnemann is an inventor being responsible for more than 18 patents mainly assigned by Siemens.
Modern TRIZ connects strategy and practice of technical thinking with intuitive models of inventiveness. It is so stunning to find ef- fective and economical solutions when experi- enced professionals working in their field, are quite sure that they know all the variants and possible solutions and all possible prospects. ” - Dr. Georg Kinnemann9
Innovation on Demand workshops are conducted since 2005 at Siemens Automation and Drives (AD). The underlying reason to conduct these workshops were to both test the TRIZ methodology according to its ability in problem solv- ing and to prove the willingness from employees to utilize this methodology in problem solving. The workshops re- sulted in a clear success, hence it was decided to continue the training and implementation of the methodology at AD.
Overview of the Application of Triz
Since October 2005, 1238 ideas were created in these work- shops. Of this amount, 243 issues were subject for disclo- sure. In line with this, there was a significant increase of disclosures for inventions during the fiscal year 2005/2006. Out of 25 workshops with more than 244 participants, 8 patents were facilitated. The methods used in the sessions varied depending on the group confronting the problems with TRIZ and creativity methods. Nevertheless, it was pos- sible to identify a common set of methods that were used in almost every workshop. Brainstorming and Gallery method to get the first ideas from participants, - Morphological box and Mind mapping, which in combination were utilized for structuring and documentation of the workshops. The next group of methods consists in the introduction of easy-to- learn-methods which include the 40 innovative principles, feature transfer, system operator and effects. On the ad- vanced methods required the explanation of experts. These are the systems evolution, function analysis, SCT-Operator, process analysis and prediction. The last group utilized the Advanced Methods” including ARIZ-85B, innovation situa- tion questionnaire and inventive principles. The TRIZ tools were divided in three categories; Classical TRIZ, Modern TRIZ and Based on TRIZ. These categories now form part of the training program at the Innovation Tool Academy” which designed a training approach based on the skill level of the participants; basic, advanced and professional10.
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Fig. 3. Knowledge levels of methods10.
In accordance to the knowledge of the participants, the TRIZ tools were sorted into different courses.
- Basic level: Function Analysis and Trimming of prod- ucts; Cause and Effect chains analysis; Feature Trans- fer; Function oriented search; Engineering contra- dictions; Inventive principles and Physical contradic- tions.
- Advanced level: Pragmatic S-curve analysis; Func- tional benchmarking with S-curve analysis; Standard Inventive Solutions.
- Professional level: Function Analysis and Trim- ming for processes; Nuances of Feature Trans- fer; Cause-Effect Chain Analysis; Flow Analysis; ARIZ; Clone Problem Application; Inverse Function- Oriented Search; Super-Effect analysis; Failure antic- ipation Analysis and Trends of Engineering System Evolution.
3. Practitioners Around the Globe
Goldence Group, Inc. (GGI) is a consulting company fo- cusing in process improvement and technology integration (Goldensegroupinc.com, 2017). GGI published an article titled Triz is Now Practiced in 50 Countries.” In where it is reviewed the extent in which TRIZ has been spread since the methodology became available for English speakers.
North America: According to the study11, in 2008 TRIZ was the third most used tool by innovators with a penetration of 21% of a sample of 300 manufacturing companies. 10% used it partially, 10% occasionally, while only 1% practice TRIZ as a completely embedded approach for development. The reason why TRIZ has not been widely spread is the lack of maturity as other practices such as Six-Sigma and Lean. In 2015, another study was carried out in where accord- ing reasonably good data about the global penetration of TRIZ between 2007 and 20015 were gathered. The results show that there are 50 countries in where TRIZ is practiced by 18.000 TRIZ-certified-professionals, while other 6.000 chose not to publish their certification. South Korea stands out with 65% of the global number of practitioners. 7% in Germany and China, respectively followed by Russia with 5%. U.S. and Taiwan with 3% respectively, finally, India and Netherlands share 2% each11.
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Fig. 4. Practitioners by Country.
GGI emphasizes in the potential of TRIZ due to its applica- bility to product creation as well as for the development of intellectual property. The methodology is used in different ways; the less strategic companies make use of TRIZ at the late stages of the design process targeting cost reduction. On the other hand, more strategic companies implement it as intellectual property development far ahead detailed de- sign and production. One interesting finding in the study performed by GGI, is that companies that are serious about TRIZ as development method, often discourage employees from discussing this matter outside the company, making it part of the confidentiality agreement since TRIZ constitute a competitive advantage11.
Furthermore, the demand for TRIZ knowledge exceed the capacity of 150 TRIZ Masters” around the globe. These are found mainly in Russia (about 70%), while U.S. and South Korea share the rest. Between 2007 and 2015, the demand for taking part of TRIZ fluctuates between 23 to 47% annual growth12.
3.1. TRIZ in combination with other approaches to innovation
Since Triz contains very effective problem solving tools and technological forecasting capabilities, it results fairly easy to integrate it into other well-known best practices such as; DFSS, QFD and Lean Manufacturing13. Axiomatic De- sign and Triz are as well very compatible.
Axiomatic Design is supposed to analyze the problem and structure it in the most conve- nient way, while TRIZ should solve the mini- mum number of design conflicts that are intrin- sically present in a case study. ” 14
4. Challenges Related to TRIZ
Although TRIZ seems to be a very effective method for problem solving and innovation, it is not exempt from chal- lenges. These challenges can be addressed to cultural dif- ferences and the lack of a global best practice approach. Ilevbare, Probert and Phaal15 carried out a survey of TRIZ enthusiasts with the aim of bringing to light the issues and challenges related to the TRIZ methodology. The question- naire was handed out to two LinkedIn groups constituted by professionals from different parts of the world. The ques- tionnaire covered; Application areas, Tools applied, Ben- efits and challenges and Overall impact and recommenda- tions. Hence, the following opinions are based on survey responses.
Nature of the Methodology. According to respondents, TRIZ comes across as an over-engineered approach due to the fact is has been engineered by engineers for engineers. It results difficult to adapt to visual or intuitive thinking and the tools have low effectiveness in relation to the required time to use them. Moreover, TRIZ comes across as an elitist methodology.
Acquisition and Application. It results very difficult to train people who requires different skills at different levels for each tool, which are not that easy to understand. TRIZ offers a huge variety of methods which can be a barrier.
Inordinate Time Requirement. The implementation of the TRIZ methodology requires unusual commitment and en- thusiasm from practitioners. Furthermore, it requires time for facilitation and training.
Lack of Standard. It is necessary to know when to use TRIZ and select the right tools. The variety of tools can be a bar- rier, and selecting them results essential in order to approach the problem in an efficient way. TRIZ lacks of standardized best practice which can lead to misunderstanding and devi- ation from the core problem.
Organizational Resistance. One of the reasons why TRIZ comes across as an elitist methodology is because gatekeep- ers within a company want to own the process of creativity, not wanting other people to be as creative as themselves. Moreover, there will always be resistance towards a toolkit in companies, making it difficult to convince people the worth of TRIZ. Lastly, because TRIZ requires much training and experience, it becomes difficult to work in teams where there are people unfamiliar with the methodology.
TRIZ has its roots in the Russian culture, therefore it be- comes difficult to apply it in western culture. Furthermore, it is the main reason to the lack of global standards.
Russian TRIZniks sneer at western approaches to TRIZ and demand certification on their own terms ” -
One question remains relevant; why has not Triz achieve a privileged spot in the world scene among well-known methodologies?. The GGI argues different possible reasons. Firstly, Triz did not succeed as fast as other methodologies in the western world since most of the expert are located in Russia. Secondly, the methodology is considered com- plex. Thirdly, to overcome the complexity issue, it is re- quired much time and full commitment for its implementa- tion. Lastly, until recent years, industries laid focus primar- ily on both supply chain optimization and operational per- formance. Only during the last years, innovation has been taken as a major priority.
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