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TRIZ Research Programme at LRPS France

| On 19, Mar 2002

First published in the proceedings of ETRIA TRIZ Future 2001 – November 7-9 2001- Bath U.K

TRIZ Research Programme at LRPS France

R. De Guio
LRPS-ENSAIS Strasbourg France tel: (+33) 388 144 749
Mail to: roland.deguio@ensais.u-strasbg.fr

1 How Triz started at LRPS

The Industrial Automation Research Laboratory in Strasbourg (LRPS) is principally involved in complex problems linked with the design and development of products and production systems, taking all the technical, human, organisational and economic aspects into account. To succeed in its aims, LRPS has set up a team of researcher-lecturers from the ENSAIS Engineering School (Ecole Nationale des Arts et Industrie de Strasbourg), who stem from a broad range of disciplines in engineering sciences, social sciences and the humanities. Furthermore, the laboratory works in close cooperation with Department for Applied Economics and Theory BETA UA CNRS 1237 (Bureau d’Economie Théorique et Appliquée) at Louis Pasteur University in Strasbourg and ENSAIS’ Computing and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (LIIA). LRPS is involved in a number of industrial projects through the application of its research. The researcher-lecturers at LRPS are particularly keen on transferring the know-how they gain from their research to the industrial world in the shortest time possible.

Research topics are constantly enhanced and coordinated through multi-disciplinary projects as demonstrated in the figure below:

Product and production system design

The purpose behind the work on product design is to develop methods and tools which assist in the Innovation and Design processes for products and systems. The work related to innovation is focused on the TRIZ theory and deals with the first phases of the design process. Our aim in terms of mechanical design is to come up with rapid development methods for products both in the definition phase for graphic models and the validation of the recommended solutions through simulation.

The fields of application for production system design as defined by our laboratory, cover the production system as a whole, i.e. the sub-systems concerned with information, decision-making and the operating system. In this area, our aim is to develop analysis tools and methods for production system design. Over the last few years, we have developed three main areas of research.

Area 1: Modelising systems and the activities inherent therein

The purpose of this research is, firstly, to develop methods and tools which can provide a visual representation of production systems and activities and how they are organised and, secondly, to examine how modelising tools can be utilised in projects where a socio-technical system is totally or partially reorganised. For specific crafts, we are also developing system ontology based on general methods for modelising production systems.

Area 2: Organisation of flows

The aim of research in this area is to control the evolution of operating flows in a production system. More precisely, it deals with analysing whether operating flows are adequate in terms of the flow organisation modes, defining the best flow organisation modes for a system, analysing the flows and the concept of activities and jointly developing the operating flows and the flow management system.

Area 3: Designing an information system

This research aims to define and provide instruments for an open meta-method for designing information systems using the principles laid down in existing methods and which can integrate principles generated by future methods.

Education and design

This topic covers, firstly, all the problems encountered when teaching design at educational institutions and secondly the problem of managing individual and collective skills in a company environment in the field of design.

Innovation management

This research topic is dealt with in partnership with BETA. It covers both the macro-economic dimensions of innovation management and the organisational dimensions of innovation management on a company scale, studying the characteristics which lead to success or failure, building decision-making tools and the procedures which go with the innovation.

TRIZ

We discovered TRIZ by chance in the framework of the research work carried out by D. Cavallucci for his thesis. His research then took a turn to focus more on how to integrate the simplest problem-solving methods put forward by TRIZ into product design methods so as to improve the solution-seeking phases. Little by little, interest in TRIZ grew and spread to the entire laboratory when we realised how much TRIZ could contribute to our various fields of research. We also realised how well the multi-disciplinary skills of our laboratory and our network of partner laboratories corresponded to certain developments currently occurring with TRIZ. We therefore decided to set up a research team on TRIZ whose purpose was to develop new research on TRIZ, but also to assist in transferring TRIZ to other fields of research, in particular those carried out by LRPS. More details on the current objectives and research work will be given later on in this presentation.

2 TRIZ and the educational project at ENSAIS

ENSAIS trains engineers in a number of fields such as mechanics, civil engineering, electrical engineering, energy and architecture. Planned recent developments at ENSAIS include setting up courses for specific branches with a common core curriculum so that each student can gain in-depth professional and technological skills founded on a broad-based training background. The new reform will give students greater autonomy by decreasing actual class time and inciting a project-based approach to their studies. Our objective is to enhance the efficiency of our training courses so that the future engineers can develop a finer grasp of scientific knowledge and speed up the learning process for the know-how they will be required to take on board both during and after their education. ENSAIS is also contributing to a nation-wide think tank in France on technology teaching practices.

In the broadest terms, the TRIZ theory explores the general question of problem-solving in innovation. How should problems be analysed? How can we develop a creative spirit? How can we link up the know-how inherent in the search for scientific and technical information with a thought process that addresses problems in a rigorous yet unconventional manner? It is by putting forward these questions that TRIZ finds its appeal in the development of the creative spirit and provides an original, practical approach by making full use of the teachings of problem-solving methods for inventions in the field of technology, engineering sciences and cognitive sciences. Through broadening the scope of the work on TRIZ, LRPS, wishes to invest in studying this aspect, through our researchers in educational sciences, with the aim of developing knowledge and know-how on teaching TRIZ (in basic education and continuing education) and, more generally speaking, on training that can further design development for both engineers and architects. Cooperation projects with foreign universities are currently underway on this theme.

The educational project at ENSAIS is backed by the French Ministry of Education.

3 Spreading the news about TRIZ

ENSAIS and the LRPS team are also working on spreading information about TRIZ in the industrial sector. For instance, ENSAIS was a driving force behind the founding of the TRIZ France association, of which it is currently a highly active member.

ENSAIS, in partnership with ADEPA, the Region of Alsace and DRIRE Alsace, carried out a transfer programme in 1999-2000 to move ARIZ into small and medium-sized concerns on the one hand, and research into the various uses of the TRIZ theory for companies in general. Actions similar to the Alsace project have been launched in the Regions of Aquitaine and Rhône Alpes. ENSAIS has undertaken part of the training for these programmes.

To follow up the programmes communicating the TRIZ theory more efficiently, assess their impact and remain attentive to the evolving needs of the market, a monitoring process has been set up to record how the transfers and training linked to TRIZ are perceived. This monitoring process will contribute to LRPS’ research work on the managerial and organisational impact of using TRIZ, which will be studied in the framework of a doctoral thesis currently underway.

4 Current research and orientations

4.1 Research with and for TRIZ

Our first contact with TRIZ began in 1996. Until 1999, just two members of the laboratory team were involved with TRIZ. In March 2000, LRPS decided to include TRIZ in its research projects and to conduct research with and for TRIZ. A dozen extra researchers were trained in using TRIZ methods and ARIZ. We were helped in this by N. Khomenko who joined our team in March 2000. Backed by our growing understanding of TRIZ tools, we are beginning to study the impact and use of TRIZ in our fields of research.

In the field of designing information systems, we have therefore used the analytical approach to problem formulation put forward by TRIZ to reformulate the research problems in the field, highlight whole vistas of research which have escaped the notice of the scientific community and which are necessary to make a qualitative leap in the progress of research in this field. We have therefore been able to set up a research programme in the field of information systems. It may be reutilized at a later stage of this research. A similar approach has been conducted in the field of designing production systems, especially for operating systems.

Our educational sciences research team has positioned TRIZ in relation to the various approaches to problem-solving and inventive processes. It is now beginning to explore the relation between innovation training and TRIZ, in particular within the framework of vocational training, by focusing on the knowledge roused by a change in paradigm (meta-cognitive level). This work must be broadened to include a reflection on innovation management in an industrial context, where the organisational dimension of the knowledge network, industrial strategy and corporate culture (relation to knowledge) become key parameters.

Our management sciences researchers (economic management) are currently working on the consequences of TRIZ being adopted in companies. Following our experiments with implementing TRIZ in the industrial environment, we have been able to identify three ways of internalising TRIZ according to the degree of expertise acquired by the companies. We believe that it is clear that several elements will be taken into account to induce a company to select one or other of these adoption modes. First, the adoption method must be integrated into a strategic process: what are the company’s objectives? What are its needs in terms of innovation management? What skills does it have at hand? The strategic process will therefore be built up from the company’s current features and the strategic choices it will put forward. Therefore, depending on its size, sector of activity, degree of innovation, extent of this R& D and the number of projects it has to undertake, among others, the needs, and therefore the choices, for adopting TRIZ will differ. Another result of our experience of TRIZ being adopted by companies is our observation of 3 types of relatively significant incidence in terms of innovation management:

  • Moving from a follower attitude to a leader attitude:

  • An increase in the number of patents applied for:

  • The development of technological sectors covered during solution-seeking

  • Thus, we are attempting to examine how TRIZ can and will contribute to managing the innovation process in companies. It would be useful to highlight the dimensions which favour not only the adoption but also the successful utilisation of TRIZ in companies.

    The oldest work deals with integrating TRIZ in design methods and processes. A detailed presentation of this work is scheduled during the conference (D. Cavallucci).

    4.2 Research on TRIZ.

    Research on developing tomorrow’s TRIZ presupposes a sufficient level of training and expertise. We have therefore had to wait for the first experts trained by the laboratory to reach a sufficiently high level so that we can train a team dedicated to the development of tomorrow’s TRIZ. To speed up the process we have padded out our team of experts by recently welcoming D. Kucharavy as a member. The team’s precise programme of research is currently being drawn up. It shall include three major areas:

    Tools assisting in the formalisation of the problem model

    Moving from the solution model to the solution itself

    Using TRIZ in fields other that inventing technical objects, in particular in teaching and management.