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Using the Trends of Evolution (TEs) from the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) to Generate New Product Ideas for Optical Fiber Distribution Boxes

Authors:
  • Federal University of Technology - Paraná

Abstract and Figures

In this article, the Trends of Evolution (TEs) originated in the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ) are used for the generation of ideas for new products for the telecommunications infrastructure. Initially, the usage of TEs for ideation of new products is described. Then, a case study applying the TEs to an optical fiber distribution box, aiming to improve its usability, is presented. A number of promising new product ideas was generated in a structured way by professionals with no previous experience in using the TEs.
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Using the Trends of Evolution (TEs) from the Theory of Inventive
Problem Solving (TRIZ) to Generate New Product Ideas for Optical Fiber
Distribution Boxes
Rafael Yuji Ishi1,a, Marco Aurélio de Carvalho1,b
1Federal University of Technology Paraná (UTFPR) / Mechanics Department / Systematic
Innovation Laboratory / Av. Sete de Setembro 3165, Curitiba, PR, Brazil
arafaishi@gmail.com, bmarcoaurelio@utfpr.edu.br
Keywords: Product development, TRIZ, Trends of Evolution, Voice of the Product, Optical Fiber
Distribution Boxes.
Abstract. In this article, the Trends of Evolution (TEs) originated in the Theory of Inventive
Problem Solving (TRIZ) are used for the generation of ideas for new products for the
telecommunications infrastructure. Initially, the usage of TEs for ideation of new products is
described. Then, a case study applying the TEs to an optical fiber distribution box, aiming to
improve its usability, is presented. A number of promising new product ideas was generated in a
structured way by professionals with no previous experience in using the TEs.
Introduction
In the corporate environment, many companies seek innovation to reach or maintain the leadership
in their respective markets. Companies create different ways to add value to their products, be it by
proposing differentiated solutions or new ways to use existing technologies [1]. Increasingly
demanding customers require differentiated products, better performance and reduced costs. The
companies, on the other hand, strive to be creative and innovative in order to provide a fast response
to those needs [2].
Companies try to capture the Voice of the Customer (VOC) by asking what they wish and which
features of the current products don’t meet their needs [3]. The contact with the customer may be
done through research by using surveys, interviews, focus groups or other means.
VOC methods help to identify new ideas and improvements to the already available products,
although it is hard for radical or ground-breaking innovations to be generated through this method.
Customers tend to excel at requesting improvements to existing products, but it is difficult for them
to imagine what has not been offered yet [3].
By receiving this information from products that in many cases already exist, the development of
new products by the industry tends to be reactive to the market demand and the biggest problem of
this approach is that the final product ends up reaching the market after its competitors.
An alternative to VOC for generation of innovative ideas is through already existing products, with
the Voice of the Product (VOP) approach. The VOP can be obtained through brainstorming
sessions, checklists, application of the morphological matrix, value analysis, and many other
methods, especially including those originated by TRIZ and its variations [3].
The purpose of this article is to demonstrate how one of the VOC tools, the Trends of Evolution
(TEs), proposed by Mann in [4], was used to generate new ideas for a product, potentially
generating competitive advantages for a company in the Brazilian telecommunications market. The
TEs are a tool based on Altshuller’s (the creator of TRIZ) laws of technical systems evolution [5].
IDATE, a consulting company specialized in market research, verified that in Brazil, in 2012, only
6% of homes had the possibility of data connection via optical fiber [6]. According to a market
projection performed by IDATE, this number should increase by approximately five times by 2018.
If the rest of South and Central American countries, in which the company that performed this study
is also present, are taken into account, the demand will be even higher.
New applications that require data connection such as digital TV, FTTH (Fiber to The Home),
Smart Home and the internet have created a demand for larger bandwidth and faster networks.
Considering these needs products, which contribute to an improvement like faster or higher quality
service, are of great value to the company and its customers [7].
Other researchers have already used TEs to successfully generate new product ideas. For example,
TEs were used for generating ideas for a toothbrush and from the study carried out in a company a
new line of products was idealized and created [8]. Other researchers who applied the method used
ideality and the TEs to create a design and project guide for an ecologically sustainable vacuum
cleaner and then tested the method on students with no previous TRIZ experience and achieved
good results [9].
The Trends of Evolution (TEs)
In the 1940s, Altshuller and other scientists [5] proposed a problem-solving methodology, now
know as the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving (TRIZ), which is based on an extensive study of
patents over several years. According to the principles of TRIZ, systems evolve to increase ideality,
which is defined by Equation 1. Ideality is directly proportional to the positive attributes and
benefits and inversely proportional to costs and undesired factors [4].
𝐼𝑑𝑒𝑎𝑙𝑖𝑡𝑦 =(!"#"$%&')
(!"#$#!!"#$%&'$#!!"#$%&') (1)
Another central concept of TRIZ is the Ideal Final Result (IFR), which proposes that, in an ideal
situation, a product theoretically executes all the desired functions with no negative influence. If the
ideal situation is not reachable, it is necessary to take some steps back until an intermediate, yet
tangible, solution can be found. Figure 1 illustrates this concept [4].
Figure 1 - Concept of Ideal Final Solution [4]
Altshuller and his colleagues [5] analyzed a big number of patents and realized that new product
ideas evolved according to nine main laws of technical systems evolution. Mann [4] compiled the
laws suggested by Altshuller and other authors [5], as well as from other TRIZ related publications,
and proposed 31 TEs, incorporating them into a comprehensive and useful ideation tool. The 31
TEs are listed in Table 1.
A previous study [10] made an evaluation of new product ideation tools, and the TEs ranked very
high, with 27.6% creative ideas generated with this tool. As a point of comparison, the current
standard method used by most companies for new product ideation, Brainstorming, resulted in
17.3% of creative ideas. In that study, creative ideas were those evaluated as both original and
useful ideas by experts in the specific domain.
In Table 1, the evolution potential of each one of the trends of evolution is shown. The evolution
potential was determined in such a way that the highest number corresponds to the maximum
theoretical potential, that is, there is no way for a system to further evolve following that trend [4].
For example, in Table 1 consider the potential levels for the first item “Intelligent Materials”, which
varies from one (passive material) to four (totally adaptable material), four being the maximum
potential for this trend. In case of a specific product, if its material was totally passive, it would be
given grade 1 in this trend and there would be a big potential for evolution to stages 2, 3 and 4.
In Figure 2, the evolution potential is shown in the shape of a radar chart. Each TE is one of the
axes of the radar and the blue painted area represents the current system, while the unpainted area is
the evolution potential, that is, the directions in which the method proposes the systems can still
evolve. The evolution potential can be defined as the difference between the maturity of the current
system and the point at which it will reach its maximum theoretical evolution potential [4].
TEs can also be used as a support tool in strategic decision making for companies. According to
Cascini [2], the evolution potential of the TEs of a system or sub-system which has not yet been
taken advantage of, can be used to aid executives in decision-making. In Figure 2, by analyzing the
chart, it would be possible to concentrate most of the resources in researches to improve the trends
with the most evolution potential.
Table 1 – Mann’s 31 TEs
Evolution)trend)
Evolution)potential)
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Method Applied
In order to achieve the proposed goal, a multidisciplinary group was formed, comprising five
professionals from different areas (product engineering, marketing, logistics and energy cables) to
use the 31 TEs proposed by Mann in [4]. The method was applied in the generation of ideas for a
product in a telecommunications infrastructure company located in Curitiba, Brazil. The company
preferred not to disclose its identity. The method consisted of evaluating a system and each of its
subsystems according to each of the TEs and then generating ideas inspired by the latter.
First, the system and its respective subsystems were listed. Then, the product and each of its parts
were evaluated according to each TE. After the session, a set of evolution potential graphics was
generated. The results were combined on a table and a series of radar charts with the evolution
potentials was drawn.
Case Study
Currently, optical fiber products have small dimensions (160x130x55mm) and some are
manufactured with thermoplastic materials, which have a lower cost when compared to metallic
materials.
The chosen product for the application of the method was an optical fiber distribution box for wall
mounting, which we will refer to as B. Such boxes are where the fusion of the optical fibers in each
building floor occurs.
The choice was made considering that the product is in the maturity stage, already possesses a
constant monthly sales demand and, at this stage, gradual evolutions or even the substitution of this
product for a new one are being planned.
Telecommunication operators also have interest in expanding their networks due to the increase in
demand for data and data transfer speed. To respond to this demand, the product range must offer
competitive advantages, ease and agility in installation, among other factors.
Product B, shown in Figure 3, consists of seven parts: base, lid, tray for fiber rectification, upper
board, lower board, rubber seal, and 12 adapters.
Figure 3 – Optical fiber distribution box B
For the chosen product, the evaluations in terms of each TE were made for the set and also for each
separate part, as shown in Table 2.
To understand the data shown in Table 2, consider that for the first TE – “intelligent materials”, the
product received a grade equivalent to 1/4. This means that it was classified as a “passive material”,
that is, grade one, considering that the maximum potential would be four if it was classified as
“totally adaptable material”. The grade consists of the classification of the material in relation to the
maximum evolution potential.
In case a trend is not applied to the system or subsystem, a hyphen was used. That means that there
is no grade, as opposed to a zero, for example, which would be used when there is potential for the
TE, however it is not used yet.
From the data in Table 2, the potential evolution charts were adapted for a scale of zero to one and
were plotted in a radar chart as shown in Figures 4 and 5.
By analyzing the data in Table 2 and the evolution potential charts in Figures 4 and 5, it can be
verified that, theoretically, there is plenty of room for evolution, since only in a few cases was the
maximum evolution potential reached.
Table 1 – Results of the TE analysis
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Figure 4 – Evolution potential of product B
Figure 5 – Evolution potential for the parts of product B
Results and discussion
Previous works applied the TEs successfully. Students who did not know the method used the TEs
to evaluate their functionality and also obtained good results. A design guide for home appliances
was proposed by those students [9]. In the corporate arena, a new line of products for personal
hygiene was created [8]. In our case study, the method was applied by professionals who, in spite of
not having previous experience with TRIZ, achieved good results, generating 42 ideas in 120
minutes.
In Table 3, some of the ideas generated through the session are listed. Besides these listed in Table
3, several other potential ideas were generated and maintained in secrecy. The ideas were taken to
the marketing department of the company and have a chance of becoming new products or
improvements on existing products.
Table 2 – Results of the TE ideas for product B
TEs
Some of the ideas generated
2
Space segmentation
-Add sections to forward the fiber from the adapters to the tray
3
Surface segmentation
- Place textures for a more modern look
- Increase the mechanical resistance of the product by placing ribs
5
Macro-nano evolution
- Reduce product height
13
Action coordination
- Exchange the type of closing of the lid to a slide, to facilitate
opening/closing
- Exchange of the type of spinning latch of the tray (avoid doubts)
22
Increase in transparency
- Transparency to know which fiber is connected
25
Design point
- Avoid contact with the fiber fusion
28
Controlability
- Separate the installation and activation areas from the customers
- Add electronic control to ease the activation of customers at
distance
29
Reduction of human
involvement
- Dislocate the fixation position of the product to the external part,
reducing the risk of accident with the fibers
30
Design methodology
- Increase the capacity of the product
- A base with different internal modules for greater product capacity
Conclusion
The ideation goal of the assignment was achieved successfully, since 42 ideas of improvements or
possible new products were generated. Some of the ideas generated during the usage of TEs
coincide with products that already exist or are under development.
The use of TEs was effective in helping the team generate a relatively large quantity of product
ideas in a structured way. The team reported a marked improvement in the quality, when asked to
compare this approach to previous ideation sessions conducted using Brainstorming.
In the company, the result of this assignment was considered positive as the first step towards using
and implementing this tool in the product development process. However, to become a widespread
practice, the process must be tested again on other projects.
Acknowledgements
The authors thank Clarissa Ribeiro, José Ricardo Tobias and Luciano Pereira Gurgel for the
collaboration, and the employees of the company in which the study was conducted for their
support, patience and cooperation in the application of the TEs.
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... 1. Wang et al. (2016) and Park et al. (2013) propose to generate concepts by analyzing how similar technological systems (systems that perform the same function) evolve following a specific trend. 2. Other authors (Cavallucci and Weill 2001;Jianguang Sun et al. 2008;Berdonosov 2011;Yang and Chen 2012) propose to identify the trends in the actual state of the technological system and then generate concepts with those trends that are not applied at all. 3. The most common way is to brainstorm to generate ideas using the trends, as presented by Ishi and de Carvalho (2015). ...
Chapter
Innovation is regarded as a vital element for the development of new technologies to create a competitive advantage in the food industry. The innovation process in the food companies is principally driven by two strategies: the technological change (technology push) and the market orientation (market pull). Although both strategies provide the elements to encourage innovation, they can be only applied to solve specific problems or needs that are easily identified limiting their applicability. A new alternative strategy to innovate is to try to anticipate the future developments of technological food systems from an evolutionary perspective based on the TRIZ Evolution Trends (TETs). Thus, to improve the innovation process in the food industry, the present research proposes to combine elements of the TRIZ Evolution Trends, the technology push and the market pull strategies to create an approach to suggest recommendation of the most favorable transformation to improve or develop technological food systems. An example is presented to demonstrate the usefulness of this approach.
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Resumo A Voz do Cliente (VDC) tem sido freqüentemente explorada como processo de compreensão das necessidades dos clientes e ideação de novos produtos. Uma abordagem que pode complementar a VDC, a Voz do Produto (VDP), é abordada neste artigo. Esta última estratégia fundamenta-se na ideação de novos produtos a partir de produtos existentes. Mais especificamente, este artigo explora a implementação da VDP através das Tendências da Evolução (TEs) da TRIZ. Inicialmente, as abordagens da VDC e da VDP são apresentadas. Em seguida, são descritas as TEs como ferramentas para a VDP. Finalmente, é apresentado um estudo de caso envolvendo um produto de uso cotidiano – a escova de dentes e são derivadas conclusões. Palavras-chave: Voz do Produto, Tendências da Evolução, Diagnóstico Evolutivo, Geração de Idéias de Novos Produtos, TRIZ. 1. Introdução A introdução de novos produtos é uma das atividades mais importantes para o sucesso das empresas. Sabe-se que existe uma correlação entre inovação e liderança de mercado (COOPER, 1996). Entretanto, de acordo com Christensen & Raynor (2003), apesar dos melhores esforços, cerca de 60% de todos os produtos não chegam ao mercado e, dos 40% que são lançados, 40% não se provam lucrativos. Isto leva ao alarmante resultado de que três quartos dos recursos investidos no desenvolvimento de novos produtos não traz resultados maiores para as empresas do que aprendizado. Aprender é algo desejável, mas, sozinho, não leva ao atingimento do principal objetivo das empresas, o lucro, nem dos objetivos sociais da maior arrecadação de impostos, geração de empregos e desenvolvimento. Com a grande taxa de falhas em novos produtos, muitas empresas sentem-se compelidas a tornar-se pouco ousadas estrategicamente, contentando-se com o lançamento de cópias e extensões de linhas de produtos existentes (WIND & MAHAJAN, 1997). Esta é, porém, uma estratégia que, dificilmente, leva à liderança de mercado. Tendo em vista estes argumentos, os autores têm-se dedicado ao estudo de processos de ideação eficaz, ou seja, processos que permitam gerar idéias de produtos de valor para os clientes e avaliar o potencial de sucesso destas idéias, nas etapas iniciais do Processo de Desenvolvimento de Produtos (PDP). Alguns dos processos de ideação eficaz estão relacionados com a Voz do Cliente e outros, com a Voz do Produto, termos que são descritos no próximo item. O objetivo deste artigo é explorar o uso das Tendências da Evolução (TEs) da TRIZ (Teoria da Resolução de Problemas Inventivos) como forma de implementar a Voz do Produto. No item 2, os conceitos de Voz do Cliente e Voz do Produto são descritos. Em seguida, nos itens 3 e 4, são explicadas as TEs e seu uso para a realização da VDP, por meio do diagnóstico evolutivo, mapeamento do potencial evolucionário e ideação. No item 5, é apresentado um estudo de caso realizado em empresa atuante na área de materiais de higiene pessoal. Finalmente, no item 6, são derivadas conclusões. 2. Voz do Cliente (VDC) e Voz do Produto (VDP) Numa empresa, as idéias de novos produtos advêm de duas grandes fontes: externa e interna. A fonte externa está associada aos estudos da Voz do Cliente (VDC) e a fonte interna,
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The capability of anticipating the main features of future products and related manufacturing processes is more and more a critical asset in industry, due to the innovation-based competition of markets and to the extremely reduced lead time of modern product development cycles. The paper presents a survey of TRIZ, the Theory of Inventive Problem Solving, as a reference methodology to support design activities driven by the forecasted evolution of technical systems. TRIZ postulates, models and tools are described in the scope of technology forecasting and discussed within a more general design science perspective. The discussion highlights strengths and weaknesses of the theory and suggests relevant directions for further research in the field.
Book
http://store.systematic-innovation.com/hands-on-systematic-innovation-technical/
Available at: http://www.idate.org
  • Idate. Future Telecom
IDATE. Future Telecom (Report). Available at: http://www.idate.org/fr/Research-store/Future- Telecom-2025_735.html. Accessed on: 01/08/2014.
Olha só quem está falando
  • R Batista
  • P Wahnon
BATISTA, R; WAHNON, P. Olha só quem está falando. HSM Management.