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Observations on the TRIZ Developers Summit 2010

| On 09, Aug 2010

Guest Commentator

Kalevi Rantanen reports from the TRIZ Developers Summit 2010 ——————

Highlights

* A non-governmental organization, the TRIZ Developers Summit conducted the conference in Saint Petersburg, July 26-27, 2010.
* Approximately 90 experts from 12 countries participated in the summit.
* First day topics included “TRIZ-based Forecasting Methods.”
* Second day topics included six thesis presentations and discussions for a TRIZ Master’s Degree; four were accepted.


More information can be found on the website: http://triz-summit.ru/ru. The following includes my personal experiences and feelings.

New Ways to Forecast

The forecasting topic was particularly interesting. The audience wants answers to three questions:



  1. What will happen?
  2. When it will happen?
  3. How much will happen?

Last year I wrote several articles about energy technology. People want to know which technologies will be used to generate energy, particularly electrical energy. For example, will nuclear energy be an important part of energy mix or will it fade away? They also want to know when the changes in technology will happen. For example, when will solar power get economically viable in the large scale production of energy? They also want to get quantitative foresight. Most experts agree that we will have more solar power in 2050, but how much? Will concentrating solar power provide ten percent of the global electricity in 2050, as the International Energy Agency’s expert group forecasted last spring? Or will it provide more or less?


To answer the first question of what will happen, involves using TRIZ tools. To answer the two other questions it involves conventional forecasts such as using scenarios from the International Energy Agency.


The summit provided a wealth of inspiring material, mainly for finding better answers to the questions of qualitative changes. Here are some highlights:


Simon Litvin talked about a new tool called parallel evolutionary lines and its applications to forecasting. Engineering systems pass through similar evolutionary stages. That’s why the evolution of less developed systems can be predicted using the knowledge of advanced systems.


Litvin gave one example, the problem with sealing for leak prevention in oil transportation. A nearly ready solution was found from the submarine industry.


On the question of reliability of forecasts Litvin answered that the solutions are obtained adapting proven technologies from other industries such as parallel evolutionary lines for highly reliable results. 


Reliability can be studied by analyzing the successes and failures of earlier forecasts. Boris Axelrod´s paper “Experience of Effective Technical Forecasting” in conference proceedings contains a rare and informative retrospective analysis of a forecast made 15 years ago. Axelrod wrote that the history of TRIZ-based forecasts, “Is still too short to give us a number of real examples that would make it possible to look back and analyze their results.” One of the existing examples is a forecast of the evolution of a toothbrush.


Axelrod talked about errors in the project as well as its success as a whole. He stressed: “A lot could be said about successes here, but errors (are of) much higher importance for a researcher.”


For example, he identified timing errors. Using technology developments for modifying toothpaste at the precise moment of teeth cleaning was anticipated in about 20 years. Later, however, it was found that work in this direction was already going on. The market potential of some minor improvements at stage two of the system evolution was underestimated. From the other side, some developments of “smart toothbrushes” were overestimated.


Axelrod’s work may be the beginning of more rigorous statistical evaluation results. So far the evidence of the efficiency of TRIZ has contained mainly case studies. The history of forecasting by TRIZ has been too short.


Besides statistics of successes and failures we need better repeatability of results too.


Gaetano Cascini and his team have worked to increase repeatability of technology assessments. He talked about the correlations between contradiction evaluation and the law of increased ideality. The paper contains an example of how to assess tablet production technologies in the pharmaceutical industry.


The important problem of repeatability was also considered by Aleksey Pinyayev. He said that his tools have shown good repeatability. He talked about algorithms for defining an application condition and a why-why analysis. They are advanced functional analysis tools.


Functional Analysis Is Progressing
A pleasant surprise in the summit was the progress of functional analysis. 


Of the four thesis projects accepted three were directly devoted to functional analysis. The fourth was on the use of phase transitions (also with connections to the functional analysis topic). It contains tools for the transition from the functional analysis results to the appropriate solution standards.


All were of high quality, particularly one. Oleg N. Feygenson presented strong work for, “Improving the Methodology of Function Analysis for Engineering Systems.” Feygenson has connected the concepts of space (place of function performance), time (time of function performance) and harmful effects mapping (functional disadvantages) into an advanced function approach. He also implemented the new approach to industrial projects. 


The Spirit of the Summit
The summit was friendly and offered an informal atmosphere, connecting strongly critical approaches to work with high respect to the people creating the work. It was pleasant to see the best traditions of TRIZ continue.




In the 1970s Kalevi Rantanen worked in Finnish youth organizations, mainly on problems of education. From 1979-1985 he studied in the former USSR, earned his M.Sc in mechanical engineering and discovered TRIZ. He worked in Finnish industry from 1985-1991 and at the same time conducted TRIZ training. Since 1991 he has been an independent entrepreneur. He has also conducted TRIZ training from 1991-2001. Since 2002 he has concentrated on science and technology journalism. Contact Kalevi Rantanen at kalevi.rantanen (at) kolumbus.fi.