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Development of the Next Generation Portable Toilet Through New Product Development Approach Based on the Combined Effects of Three Methods: TRIZ, VE and Marketing ~ Consulting Case Of Company S ~

| On 26, Jul 2002

This paper was presented at TRIZCON2002, The Altshuller Institute meeting in St. Louis, MO, USA, April 2002 and published in the proceedings of that meeting.

Development of the Next Generation
Portable Toilet Through
New Product Development Approach Based
on the Combined Effects of Three Methods:

TRIZ, VE and Marketing
~ Consulting Case Of Company S ~

Manabu Sawaguchi
The SANNO Institute of Management
Management Consulting Department
Senior Researcher

1. introduction

The author was involved in the development of the next-generation portable toilet — a hot product in an industry related to the elderly — at Company S, a Japanese leading chemical manufacturer, as a consultant of the Sanno Institute of Management. This paper introduces the case of skillfully utilizing technology management techniques, including TRIZ, with emphasis on its unique development process.

The uniqueness of this development process is that, although TRIZ was at the center, a trinity development approach was realized while organically integrating other technology management techniques: VE (Value Engineering), which is characterized by its functional approach, and the marketing technique, which is essential for new product business strategy.

This development process consists of three phases mainly using the following techniques: Phase 1: Developing a New Product Proposal — DE (Directed Evolution) of I-TRIZ + VE + Marketing; Phase 2: Generating a New Product Design Proposal — VE + IPS (Inventive Problem Solving) of I-TRIZ; and Phase 3: Developing of a New Product Business Plan — mainly Marketing.

Company S originally had developed engineers (in the position as an internal consultant) with profound knowledge of technology management techniques (especially, VE and IE) in the head office organization. Therefore, the support system for new product development and technical problem solution at individual divisions could have been established mainly with these engineers who received the TRIZ training (primarily Classical TRIZ) beforehand. This is a significant factor leading to this project’s success. Thus the actual project promotion system for the techniques such as TRIZ at Company S will be briefly explained at the end of this paper.

2. Overview of New Product Development Process

The overall flow of the new product development process, which was proposed and designed by the author and actually used in the development of the new-generation portable toilet, is shown in Illustration 1.

During the actual activities, Phase 2 (Phase for development design proposal) was further divided into Concept Design Phase and Basic Design Phase (a more detailed design review level), and DR (Design Review) was conducted four times in total along with this division (see Illustration 1).

Illustration 1: Overall Flowchart of the New Product Development Process

DRs and the actual project activities in time series can be summarized in Illustration 2. Illustration 3 shows the objectives of DRs in a series of these activities.

Illustration 2: Development of DR Activities and Project Activities

Kickoff: Friday, November 24, 2000, 13:30 – 17:00 (at Plant N of Company S)

Illustration 3: Outline of Each DR in Project Activities

Development Phase Objective for Holding DR Major Participants
DR-1 New Product Planning Phase A review activity for approving a new product proposal with very high value-added qualities Project members (e.g., planning / development, product designing, design development, sales, cost management), division director, development / design manager, sales manager
DR-2 Concept Design Phase A review activity for developing a concept design proposal suitable for the approved proposal Project members, development / design manager
DR-3 Basic Design Phase A review activity for refining the concept design and detailing it to a basic design proposal Project members, development / design manager, production related unit managers
DR-4 Business Planning Phase A review activity for developing an optimal business plan to introduce the design proposal into the market Project members (e.g., planning / development, product designing, design development, sales, cost management), division director, development / design manager, sales manager

3. Practical Process of New Product Development Activities

The practical process when the next-generation portable toilet was developed will be introduced in this subsection. This activity process can be compiled by each implementation step as indicated in Illustration 4.

Illustration 4:
Implementation Steps of Development Activities under this Theme

Phase 1 New Product Planning Phase DE (Directed Evolution) Step 1 Collect information for the development theme.
Step 2 Sort out development history for the target system (past to present).
Step 3 Sort out development history for the target system (present to future).
Step 4 Map the Patterns of Evolution.
Step 5 Develop a concept for target system in the future – scenario writing.
Step 6 Evaluate each concept (scenario) for the target system.
Planning Phase VE (0 look VE) + Marketing Step 7 Position developing new product.
Step 8 Grasp market size.
Step 9 Identify customer image.
Step 10 Sort out the customer requirements.
Step 11 Determine the product basic specification.
Step 12 Establish a selling price and allowable cost.
Step 13 Develop a product plan.
Phase 2 Concept Design Phase Development / Design Phase VE (1st look VE) + IPS (Inventive Problem Solving) of I-TRIZ Step 14 Define functions required in planning.
Step 15 Sort out the functions required in planning.
Step 16 Establish the targeted cost for developing and designing.
Step 17 Conceptualize a basic idea for developing and designing (utilization of I-TRIZ: IPS).
Step 18 Evaluate the basic idea for developing and designing (rough evaluation).
Step 19 Concretize/Construct the basic idea for developing and designing.
Step 20 Evaluate/Determine the basic idea for developing and designing (utilization of I-TRIZ: IPS).
Step 21 Review/Develop a development/design specification (concept design proposal).
Basic Design Phase Development / Design Phase VE (1st look VE) + IPS (Inventive Problem Solving) of I-TRIZ Step 22 Define functions required in designing.
Step 23 Sort out the functions required in designing.
Step 24 Establish a targeted cost in designing a lower structure.
Step 25 Conceptualize ideas of the lower structure.
Step 26 Evaluate the ideas of the lower structure.
Step 27 Concretize/construct the ideas of the lower structure.
Step 28 Evaluate and determine the lower structure.
Step 29 Review/Develop a production specification (basic design proposal).
Phase 3 Business Planning Phase Mainly Marketing Step 30 Grasp internal environment (own resources).
Step 31 Grasp trend of the market (customers).
Step 32 Grasp trend of the competitors.
Step 33 Establish a basic policy for market development. (Establish the object for analyzing and mainly attacking).
Step 34 Develop a policy for market development. (Review the marketing mix.)
Step 35 Prepare a market development plan (action plan for implementing the policy).

 As clearly shown in the illustration, in Phase 1 the first half is based on DE and the second half corresponds to planning phase VE (including marketing technique). Phase 2 utilizes IPS (I-TRIZ) for conceptualizing ideas and compensating defects of ideas, while using development / design VE characterized by its functional approach as a base, and corresponds to the process to effectively implement the valuable design proposal. Then final Phase 3 is allocated to the activities for developing a market development plan in order to introduce the product design proposal, which is output of Phase 2, into the market (product launch). Thus this paper especially focuses on Phases 1 and 2, where the use of TRIZ (primarily I-TRIZ) was emphasized, and introduces its distinctive practical process based on the actual case study more in detail.

4. Phase 1: New Product Planning Phase to DE Activities + Planning Phase VE (0 look VE) Activities

Illustration 5:
Relations between DE Basic Steps and Reconstructed Activity Steps

DE Basic Steps (Broad Definition) DE Implementation Steps in Phase 1 (Narrow Definition)
Step 1 Analysis and evolution of the system evolution to date Analyze the target technological system from the past to the present and evaluate the degree of evolution. Proceed with this step by answering IPQ (Ideation Process Questionnaire). Identify the several Patterns and Lines of Evolution from the past to the present in this process. Step 1 Collect information for the development theme.
Step 2 Sort out development history for the target system (past to present).
Step 2 Development potential scenarios of future evolution) Predict the evolution state (so-called future) of the probable coming technological system by using several Patterns of Evolution identified in Step 1 and formulate the future state as a future prediction scenario. Step 3 Sort out development history for the target system (present to future).
Step 4 Map the Patterns of Evolution.
Step 5 Develop a concept for target system in the future – scenario writing.
Step 3 Decision-making Evaluate several future prediction scenarios and select the optimal one. Step 6 Evaluate each concept (scenario) for the target system.
Step 4 Secure intellectual capital Build a patent fence so that intellectual properties invented in the process of reviewing the future prediction scenarios will be protected and develop an activity plan for the future prediction scenario. Review commercialization of the adopted scenario from the second half of Phase 1 and beyond. During this process, review a possibility of applying the patent if necessary as a part of the corporate activities. (For the patent application, Sanno did not get involved directly but provided advice.)
Step 5 Implement action plan Put the future prediction scenario into practice. Review the activity results up to Phase 4 at DR-4 and commence the market introduction after obtaining the approval. (In this project, prototypes of the product were disclosed at an exhibition held in Oct. 2001.)

Note: DE is the development method patented by II (Ideation International Inc.), but the author partly added and modified its detailed activity procedures in accordance with the development theme with reference to the publications related to DE.

1) DE Activities: Step 1 to Step 6

These are the first half of Phase 1 and correspond to the activities until preparing a future prediction scenario of a product (portable toilet), which can expect a future improvement in value through DE (one of the techniques of I-TRIZ). These implementation steps of DE (see Illustration 4) can be sorted out in accordance with the basic steps of DE (based on the broader interpretations of DE as a decision making process in a series of corporate activities) as indicated in Illustration 5.

As Illustration 5 clearly shows, the latter half of the DE basic steps (Steps 4 and 5) correspond to all from the second half of Phase 1 to Phase 4 of the implementation process of the new product development activities (see Illustration 4). This means that if DE is defined broadly, DE activities cover the whole new product development activities. This paper, however, limits its focus to Steps 1 to 6 based on the narrow definition of the DE activities.

Illustration 6:
List of Collected Information on Portable Toilets (IPQ) [Partial]

  1. 1. Information about the system which requires DE
  1. System name: Portable toilet for the physically handicapped
  2. Basic concept of the system: Protecting dignity as a person; Taking care of the person; Willing to use; Willing to sit
  3. Reason for selecting: Company S’s primary business area: [Market condition]: In Japan the nursing care goods market grows at about 110% annually. When considering the future demography (growing population of old age), this field will further be growing. After the Long-term Care Insurance System was introduced in Japan, a portable toilet is covered by this insurance, so customers can purchase at 10% of the market price.
  4. Primary useful functions of the system: Keeping excrements; Delivering excrements; Allowing a person to excrete by himself; Ability to set near a person requiring care, portability and stability
  5. Secondary useful functions of the system (more desirable functions if any): Treating excrements; Cleaning function; Deodorizing function; Easy to dispose of excrements
  6. Design feature (sensitivity function): Warmth; Caring; Sense of security; Cleanliness; Design emphasizing high grade (color, shape, feel)
  7. Ideal final result: It doesn’t look like a toilet, but, without being noticed by other people in terms of five senses, enables the elderly to excrete independently.
  8. History of the system: From 1970: Standard type ® With armrest / storage pocket ® With backrest ® Low type which can store underneath a bed ® …………… With deodorizer ® Heating seat type ® Adjustable armrest type ® Seat with shower
  1. Information about current failures, harm / risk of process, service and technology (details omitted)
  2. History of attempted improvement and invention of the system (details omitted)
  3. Information about related systems and resources (details omitted)
  4. DE target setting (details omitted)

Step 1: Collect information for the development theme.

In this step we collected information related to the development theme (next-generation portable toilet) from every angle. In reality, we sorted out the information using the Questionnaire for Collecting Information of the Development Theme provided by II (partially added and modified IPQ: Ideation Process Questionnaire). This questionnaire contains many opportunities to consider the idea of Patterns of Evolution and enables the members to sort out the matters like history of technology evolution, which may be missed in the normal market-research type analysis.

Step 2: Sort out development history for the target system (past to present).

Illustration 7:
Matrix for System Evolution of Portable Toilet [Partial]

Past (1970s to 1980s) Present (1990 to now) Future
Supersystem · Industrial society (high growth)
·
The initial use of portable toilet was at a construction site (not firmly established).
· Used for the patients at hospitals.
·
Used for the elderly at nursing homes.
·
Started to use at Japanese style houses (in a space mainly in a tatami room) etc.
· Arrival of the society with priority to people
· Arrival of the aging society with less children
·
Increase of rental to hospitals and nursing homes
·
Growth of the elderly industry
·
Introduction of the Long-term Care Insurance System
· Use in western style houses (living space mainly the bedroom)
· Full-scale supply of portable toilets for the elderly as personal use
· Arrival of the serious aging society
·
Maturity of the elderly industry
·
Acceleration in lineups of portable toilets for personal use suitable for the care levels (light, medium, heavy) of the elderly
·
Drastic increase of recognition toward environment
System · Introduction of the standard type (toilet + bucket)
· Added the secondary functions.
· Appearance of portable toilet with high level of customer satisfaction (high grade type)
·
Also considered design (sensitivity function)
· To portable toilet with consideration toward environment
Subsystem · With armrest, storage pocket, backrest etc. · With function for pulling out the footrest
· With function for deodorizing by activated charcoal
· Adjustable seat height
·
With tissue holder
·
Appearance of furniture-type design etc.
· With deodorizing function
·
Toilet easy to handle for caretakers
· With function to support excretion encouraging independence of the elderly
· Cassette type excrement bucket
· Silencing
·
Shape easy for cleaning

Note: The above table contains only the introductory contents, but in reality we analyzed quite thoroughly.

We structurally sorted out the changes from the past (assuming 1970s and 1980s) to the present (assuming 1990s) for the target system (portable toilet), its subsystem (components of the toilet) and its supersystem (space in which the portable toilet is used and more widely social environment). The history of technology evolution from the past to the present was sorted out utilizing the matrix for system evolution (see Illustration 7). Specifically, we sorted out the technological system, its subsystem and supersystem, which seemed to be applicable to each cell of the matrix, with reference to the answers of the questionnaire in Step 1.

Step 3: Sort out development history for the target system (present to future).

We also structurally sorted out the future with reference to the analysis result of the changes from the past to the present of the matrix prepared in Step 2. Specifically, the same as in Step 2, the history of technology evolution from the present to the future was sorted out utilizing the matrix for system evolution.

Then, we created the target system for the near future (assuming 10 years from now, in this case) looking back at the history from the past to the present for the target system, its subsystem and its supersystem. At the same time, we created the subsystem and supersystem in the same way. When assuming the near future in this step, we tried to create the system in the form of idea widely, not limited to the answers described in the questionnaire.

Step 4: Map the Patterns of Evolution.

We applied the contents of the matrix for the system evolution prepared in the previous step to Patterns of Evolution and map them. In this case we did not stick to one Pattern of Evolution, but if several Patterns were applicable, we also tried to cover all of them. The actual mapping (including products of competitors) was very extensive, but the results are related to the expertise of Company S, thus the direct introduction is refrained. Instead, the photos of representative portable toilets of Company S will be introduced in a time series (see Illustration 8). Just seeing these photos is good enough to read out several Patterns of Evolution. (The author does not make any explanation here, but leaves it to the imagination of the readers.)

Step 5: Develop a concept for target system in the future – scenario writing.

With reference to the Patterns of Evolution mapping charts prepared in the previous step, we made several scenarios for the target system. In this project, each member individually developed one or two scenarios. There are various specific approaches to write a scenario, but basically while reviewing combination patterns of future events positioned in the mapping charts, a scenario is prepared for each combination group. But the details of the scenario greatly depend on a writer’s own creativity. When writing the scenario, the writer should note that the future events to be used will be described in details from the environment where the developed product will be used to the required functions of the target system (portable toilet) utilizing three levels (subsystem, system, supersystem) in a well-balanced way.

Illustration 8:
History of Company S’s Representative Portable Toilets Evolution [Partial]

Around 1970

Standard type (simple)
ê ê
With armrest / storage pocket With backrest (Can be stored beneath the bed)
ê
Heating seat
ê
Function to pull out the footrest
ê

Around 1990

With frame Seat having antibacterial effect Bending cover Bucket with silencer
ê
Seat with damper Small-diameter seat
ê
Adjustable armrest height With tissue holder

Step 6: Evaluate each concept (scenario) for the target system.

We reviewed the individual scenarios prepared by each member and attempted to refine them into an optimal scenario after some of them were integrated, if they could do so.

In actual work, there were originally 13 scenarios; we integrated and evaluated, and compiled them into five scenarios; then finally one of them was adopted as a commercialization scenario (so-called the base for commercialization concept) of this project.

When integrating and evaluating the scenarios, it is necessary to consider their feasibility. Therefore, the scenarios should be evaluated from the criteria such as technical limitation, economical investment scale, and legal regulations, and that scenario, which can be expected to have the highest feasibility as a result, should be selected. The commercialization scenario of this project was incorporated into a product proposal to be prepared as an output during the second half of Phase 1 (Steps 7 to 13).

2) Planning phase VE (0 look VE) activities: Steps 7 to 13

The second half of Phase 1 corresponds to the planning phase VE (0 Look VE) activities, and is the level to elaborate the scenario to comply with a product proposal level aiming at implementation of the scenario adopted at the first half of Phase 1.

More specifically, the functions required in planning to be equipped in a developing product should be defined using the commercialization scenario and the market (customer) information added from the marketing perspective. Then the basic specification (e.g., performance) of the product as corresponding to the functions should be established and incorporated into the proposal. The cost to be allocated to achieve these functions (so-called cost planning activities) should be determined.

A series of these activities are essentially the same as preparing a quality chart in Quality Function Deployment (QFD), but the point aiming at value improvement from the viewpoints of required functions and costs is a characteristic of the planning phase VE. As VE is a function-oriented approach, there is no sketch imagining the product (not to be bound by a fixed concept as object oriented), but only a product scenario in the product proposal of this project. This point is also unique from the conventional product proposals which contain product images (see Illustration 9).

Illustration 9: Characteristics of Planning Phase VE (0 Look VE)

The details of each step contained in this Phase are excluded here, but a part of the product proposal (draft) for the commercialization scenario is shown as Illustration 10.

Illustration 10: Product Proposal (draft) [Partial]

Outline of Developing New Product (Scenario)
What ? (New product = Target system name)
In this case, a portable toilet to be developed for a bed use by the elderly who require a light level of care.
Who ? (Customer image)
Users are the elderly who require a light level of care, need care for sitting down and standing up but can excrete by themselves; and mainly use bed. It is assumed that caretakers are wives or husbands (thus, the elderly), helpers = professional, and other family members (the middle aged like sons and daughters).
When ? Whenever the user excretes
Where ? (Place to use) Room where the bed is in a general house
How ? (How to use)
·
Aspect of maintaining the posture: Can disperse the pressure, has air permeability, has effect for preventing bedsores…
·
Aspect of supporting excretion: Supports a slouch posture and can take the posture in the middle between Japanese and western toilets…
·
Aspect of cleaning function Can clean by inserting a nozzle with temperature control function…
·
Aspect of treatment: Uses a spare bucket and can eliminate odor by deodorizing agent… etc.
Why (Reasons to use)
· To prevent the elderly from remaining in bed all the time; To maintain their dignity…

Customer requirements

Requirements (functions required by the customer) Basic specification (design parameters)
Compact design (storage capability) Dimensions: W ## x H ## x D ## mm
Light and easy to carry Max. ## kg
Do not provide too much stress to users Height difference from bed to seat surface: 0 mm Gap: ## mm or less
Make the height of armrest adjustable From ## mm to ## mm
Rotate the seat surface Rotate at ## degree
Push up the seat surface (support for standing up) Withstand load: ## kg or more Angle: ## degree or more

.
.
.

.
.
.

Type of developing product (positioning of developing product) New product in which the existing technologies are combined
Sales projections ##0,000 yen / year, Units to be soled: ## units or more / month
Initial investment ##0,000 yen

Phase 2: Concept Design / Basic Design Phase to Development / Design VE (1st look VE) Activities + IPS

In this Phase we practiced Development Design VE (corresponding to Steps 14 to 29, but IPS was used from Steps 17 to 28 when conceptualizing ideas) aiming at implementation of the product proposal (actually approved by DR-1) shown in Illustration 10. In this paper due to limitation of the space, the details are not included, but the essence of each step is summarized in Illustration 11.

Illustration 11: Outline of Phase 2 Activities

Steps 14 to 16 Defined the function required in planning from the product proposal developed in Phase 1, and sorted out to the function diagrams. Grasped each required function area from the function diagrams and determine the target costs within the allowable costs for each function area.
Steps 17 to 19 After ideas were obtained using the brainstorming technique aiming at achievement of each required function, the additional ideas were developed using IPS in order to further add and refine ideas. Then these ideas were compiled to several concept design proposals.
Steps 20 to 21 In order to overcome defects of the concept design proposals, IPS was used again. Based on the results, the optimal concept design proposal was selected.
Steps 22 to 29 The concept design proposal, which is the output in the previous step, was further examined in detail, the best design proposal for the detailed important parts were examined to try to make complete drawings.

Phase 3: Business Planning Phase to Marketing Activities

The objective of this Phase is to strategically develop a sales plan in the market of the product realized in the previous Phase (in reality, the review was started before the design drawings were completed). This Phase is not the main theme of this paper, thus no detail explanation will be provided, but the line map, which shows the positioning of the product developed this time (next-generation portable toilet: actually high-grade type with grain pattern) in relation to the competitors as well as the own existing products, is as below (see Illustration 12).

Illustration 12: Portable Toilet Lineup Drawing

5. summary

For the products realized through this development process, two prototypes were exhibited at the International Care and Welfare Equipment Exhibition (in Japan) from October 24 to 26, 2001 and stirred the great sensation.

The prototypes are as shown below:

Illustration 13: Portable Toilets Realized in this Project

As a great factor that could lead this project success, the author is confident in the point that he could facilitate the project team as much as possible as a consultant greatly contributed, but as the same level or even more, support from internal consultants of Company S should not be forgotten.

This is because, as mentioned at the beginning of this paper, these internal consultants have affluent knowledge not only in engineering technology but also technology management techniques (e.g., VE, IE, QC) as well as instruction experiences (as an internal instructor). Even if there was no external consultant (the author), there was sufficient support function to the project members. What’s more, it is worth mentioning here that Company S formed the actual project team after these consultants received the training (provided by the author), which combined the development VE and TRIZ fundamentals prepared by SANNO.

Utilizing this experience, the author will continue to support practical TRIZ introduction into the Japanese corporations.

[Reference]

  1. Theory of Inventive Problem Solving TRIZ 7. Evolution to Contemporary TRIZ. Monthly Research & Development Management, May 2000 [in Japanese].
  2. Manabu Sawaguchi. 20 Steps of Product Development Activities using VE. Doyukan Inc., 1996 [in Japanese]
  3. Boris Zlotin and Alla Zusman Edited by Victoria Roza. Directed Evolution Philosophy, Theory and Practice. Ideation International Inc.