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From Idle Resources to Increased Ideality by Saurabh Kwatra


The Russian design methodology of TRIZ discovers or unearths pairs of mutually conflicting system properties (or functions), fine tunes them in space & time domains, at times intensifies them & finally resolves them using TRIZ tools applied to available resources. Instead of shying away from contradictions, technical or physical, TRIZ boldly discloses and tackles them: instead of a bulky conventional trade-off trivial solution, we get a lean inventive product. Greater the idleness or freeness of ‘exploited’ resources’, trimmer is the design & higher the factor of ideality ‘I’ of system. So a guided treasure-hunt of resources replaces errand trial-and-error technique. Resources can be classified in several ways: on system level, it can be direct or modified use of an unseen, hidden or little used feature of tool or object or environment. In cotter joint for instance, the geometry of tool (cotter) is tapered or wedge shaped for faster, easier & reliable fastening (and unfastening). System here consists of cotter (tool) applied to (object) coupled rods or shafts. In packaging industry, small packets are combined to a larger packet. Here object(s) is modified. Frequently, features of tools are more of possible use than those of objects. Of course, environment has abundant resources and is the king of all. Empty space is used to hang stuff from ceiling in a crowded garage. Pores, foam, etc in manufacturing technology are common. Extra & noisy component of energy fields also serve active resources. So to design a teapot that signals pouring by emitting a musical tone, it is preferable to use a sprout with specially created geometric interior – one that interacts with out-flowing liquid tea to generate an acoustical wave. With this, a useful function, namely detection & information communication of flow is added to list of what is called MUF or Much Useful Function(s) in TRIZ terminology. I = MUF/sum of harmful effects. With numerator going up, ‘I’ increases. A non-TRIZ innovator may come up with idea of battery operated, liquid-actuated sensor causing a standard ringtone. In latter case, increase of MUF is accompanied by battery power, weight, dimensions, etc. all contributing to increase of harmful effects. It is debatable whether ‘I’ is genuinely raised or not in latter case! Interestingly enough, note produced by tea striking interior of teapot is more soft, natural & soothing. Who would not prefer a waterfall murmur to an electronic alarm clock? Thinking in terms of size at times helps: stream of water droplets constitute a better fire extinguisher (tool) in controlling fire (object) than a continuous water stream. Here air gap (free environment resource) is used in conjunction with moving from macro to micro level. Many patents exist where atoms of a hot metallic liquid act as conveyor belt to transport a lighter substance. On other occasions, reciprocal is beneficial. A lawn-mover’s noise level can be reduced by shifting paradigm from system to super-system. If we think of park with grass+ lawn-mover as one huge super system, we can direct exhaust gases from muffler downward towards grass. Grass acts as muffler too in this case. Interestingly, strict pollution norms these days are responsible for high emission standards: ecologists need not worry about grass getting damaged by smoke. On contrary, hot exhaust gases raise   temperature of to- be-cut grass making cutting more effective. In conclusion, psychological inertias of varied types need to be broken for us to notice and unveil many idle resources around us.



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