40 Principles is one of the strongest problem-solving instruments that could and should be widely used for industry. This article describes the case study of how to create an optimal production process using problem-solving techniques.
Let’s solve a chemical problem. You do not have to be a chemist, not at all. You have to be a problem solver. For an endless number of chemists, there is a minimal number of problem solvers.
How do we identify a problem solver? It is very easy. A problem solver always uses problem-solving tools.
So, let’s begin.
Create a structure as per the image below.
Now, that is all we have as for the requirements. Let’s dive into the project.
In the PRIZ Innovation Platform, everything is wrapped in a project, regardless of the size and the time spent on it. It is not different for this case. We created a project, and this time decided to start with tasks.
Here are the tasks that we had created throughout the project and the resolutions for them.
Investigate the interaction between Metal 1 and Chemistry 1 to define the optimal time of the Metal 1 removal.
Resolution: An optimal time found for Chemistry 1 to remove Metal 1 – t1 sec
Investigate the interaction of Metal 2 with Chemistry 2 to ensure the required remainder of the Metal 2.
Resolution: An optimal time found for Chemistry 2 to ensure the required remainder of Metal 2 – t2 sec
Validate process parameters
Resolution: Created the following process flow
Unfortunately, after all these studies and investigations, we are observing an unwanted undercut of Metal 2, as shown in the schematics below.
Obviously, the resulting structure is not acceptable for production and should be corrected. For that we created yet another task.
Define a problem statement
Note: We described how to define a problem statement in our blog: How to define a problem statement?
Resolution: The following problem statement
Disadvantages of the situation
The customer does not accept the structure with the undercut
Chemistry 2 etches Metal 2 under the Metal 1
Once we have defined the problem we need to start understanding the reason for that, and what can be the better tool for that than the Cause and Effect Chain.
Investigate the root cause of the problem using Cause and Effect Chain (CEC) analysis
Resolution: The undercut is formed because the interaction between Chemistry 1 and Metal 1 has an exothermic behavior – the local heating occurring during the dissolution of Metal 1.
One of the possible solutions for this is to keep Chemical 1 at a low temperature. However, such a method is also not acceptable because the interaction at low temperatures will increase the processing time significantly.
Find a solution to the problem using 40 Inventive Principles
If the temperature of the process will be decreased, then no undercut will be created, but the processing time will be increased.
Chosen Improving parameter
Object generated harmful factors
Chosen Worsening parameter
Loss of time
The recommended principles
Great! Now we can start generating solutions.
Principle #1 – Segmentation
As a reminder, treat the principles as a general guide (a hint). These hits help us think about a potential solution.
Since the problem is related to the local heating, we can separate the Chemistry 2 process into a couple of steps. For instance, into two steps – process twice with half of the time each (“dip-remove-dip-remove”). With a such approach we should be able to prevent the structure from local heating.
Proposed improved process flow:
Think about more solutions, as the above is not the only one that comes to mind from the Segmentation principle.
We will now move to the second recommended principle.
Principle #22 – Blessing in disguise (Turn Lemons into Lemonade)
Same here – read and think. The main direction of the thinking is how to optimize the production process to eliminate a harmful action using another harmful action. How could this direction help to solve the problem?
Generally, there are two ways to create an optimal and capable process to provide improved undercut: eliminate either undercut or the overcut, as shown below.
Based on this idea, we can propose to segment the time of the first chemistry (Chemistry 1).
The improved production process flow could be as follows
And that is about it. Here we generated only two solutions, but while reading it you most likely thought of many more. The more we generate the better it is. The PRIZ Innovation Platform helps us with generating the ideas for solution, and select the best possible one to use going forward.
This article explores the various components of production costs and the factors that lead to their escalation, such as inflation, technological advancements, and market shifts. It emphasizes the need for a problem-solving culture as a strategy for effective cost reduction and highlights hidden opportunities for cost reduction through process optimization. The article further provides a simple strategy for reducing production costs by categorizing operations and improving or eliminating them accordingly. Production costs Production cost refers to the total expenses incurred in making a product or providing a service, including materials, labor, and related costs. For a more detailed explanation of…
Have you ever found yourself skipping the creation of a detailed description of the failure and jumping right into solutioning? Don’t worry, we’ve been there too! We are thrilled to announce the release of a new feature on the PRIZ platform that is designed to enhance the quality and completeness of project overviews. With this new feature, engineers and project leads can receive a thorough review of their written background and also get guidance and suggestions for improvement. One of the main problems this feature solves is that many engineers tend to jump straight into solutions without investing enough effort…
This article discusses the importance of using engineering thinking to solve problems in an engineering environment instead of resorting to engineering guessing. It covers the dangers of engineering guessing and the benefits of using engineering thinking. The article also outlines a systematic approach to problem-solving using problem-solving tools and facilitation, such as the PRIZ Innovation platform. Proper documentation, defining the problem statement, identifying root causes, and understanding the process are all essential components of engineering thinking, which is the only way to generate fast and effective solutions. Types of Problems in a Production Environment A healthy and growing production can…
Engineering work is built on three essential pillars: process improvement, cost reduction, and root cause analysis. Engineers should dedicate their thinking to a specific and measurable target, use thinking tools and resources, and recognize and value engineering thinking. The PRIZ Innovation Platform offers tools for engineering thinking, including Process Functional Modeling, 40 Inventive Principles, and Effective Brainstorming. Engineers should focus on improving only those operations that increase the value of the product, remove all operations that do not increase the value of the product, and understand the origin of defects and eliminate them. What does an engineer do? What does…
Process improvement is crucial for organizational success. It helps organizations to stay competitive, reduce costs, improve quality and efficiency, become more responsive to changing market conditions, and encourage innovation. There are several process improvement methodologies available, each with its own set of tools and techniques. However, these tools rely heavily on people’s creativity and analytical skills, which can be a trial-and-error process for teams. PRIZ Guru offers analytical and problem-solving tools to assist engineers at any step of the process improvement undertaking, equipping teams to overcome barriers during this initiative. What is process? As usual, we will start with an…
In today’s rapidly changing world, problem-solving and critical thinking skills are becoming more crucial than ever. One specific skill that can help individuals creatively solve problems is engineering thinking. In schools and universities, we teach math, physics, biology, programming, and many other tools. This is great! Knowing tools is extremely important. Unfortunately, despite its high demand, the current education system often neglects this very important skill called Engineering Thinking. The consequences of this neglect are significant. Without engineering thinking, students are not fully equipped to tackle real-world problems they may encounter in their future careers. Many students may find themselves…
This case study explores the usage of Process Functional Modeling (PFM) as a problem-solving tool in microchip manufacturing. PFM is an innovative way of thinking that involves breaking down a process into its components on multiple levels and generating innovative solutions. The tool enables us to move from general to specific, from process to operations, operations to components, and components to functions. In this article, we provide a real-life example of how a team applied PFM to the microchip manufacturing process. We want to demonstrate its effectiveness in creating a model of failure in the context of the whole process….
As an engineer or innovator, you may often find yourself faced with complex problems that require a solution. In these situations, it can be tempting to rely solely on your own knowledge and experience to find a solution. However, have you ever considered the benefits of using problem-solving tools? Why do we need these tools, and what can we gain from incorporating creative thinking instruments into our problem-solving process? In this article, we’ll explore the importance of problem-solving tools and the advantages they offer for engineers and innovators. Let’s start with a definition, and try to answer what is engineering…