The presence of a problem operation and the appearance of a harmful product means that some machine components do not work as intended and there is a negative interaction between them. One of the interacting components is affected by the other one, it is a workpiece. The other component performs a harmful action, it is a tool. The tool can be compound, complex, not necessarily one-and-only part of the machine. It is especially characteristic of complex, distributed conflicts.
The structure of a conflict interaction is similar to that of any other function. The only difference is that in this case the conflict is a harmful function and the tool and action performed are also harmful, undesirable.
Building a conflict interaction
We start determining the structure of a conflict with analyzing the harmful product that appears during a problem-causing operation. Knowing the properties of the harmful product, it is comparatively easy to determine the workpiece. To do that, it is necessary to make a step back in time and to imagine what the harmful product resulted from, what exactly it looked like before the harmful transformation. Answering this question will help us find the workpiece. This is comparatively easy.
The next action is determining a harmful tool. Here it is necessary to answer two questions:
Exactly which machine components can directly interact with the workpiece? The answer to this question can be obtained by analyzing the workpiece and its environment.
Exactly which component (or set of components) from among those present in the system has capabilities for transforming the workpiece into a harmful product?
By answering these two questions, we will determine the circumstances of the conflict, its structure. After that, we need to determine the place and time of the conflict.
Conflict place is the space where interacting components and a harmful product are located.
The time of conflict time should indicate when the conflict starts and when it ends, how the conflict proceeds and how its existence relates to the process. The conflict can be permanent, it can occur periodically, appear at the moment the machine starts working, appear after the machine has worked for a certain time.
Conflict description template
It is convenient to describe a conflict according to the following formula:
Circumstances: “Harmful tool – acts on – workpiece.”
What is produced: harmful product.
Where: place of conflict.
When: time of conflict.
The difficulty in determining the circumstances of a conflict is that the conflict is the result of actions performed by some hidden harmful system, which is present in the general structure of the machine. Just at this step we cross the boundary and pass from the analysis of deliberately designed events (operations), to the study of events and circumstances which occur beyond the will of the designer (properties of materials, system effects, physical phenomena, latent processes, etc.).
About the work with TRIZ-trainer
The input is a description of a problem-causing operation with the indication of useful and harmful products that arise as the result of its performance. At the output of this step, we must obtain the structure of the conflict.
When working with TRIZ-trainer, we can give a verbal description of a conflict, without building a scheme, approximately in this way: "Harmful tool – acts harmfully on - workpiece", some harmful product is produced. Further it is necessary to specify the place and time of the conflict interaction.
Running problem. Pizza box
Problem operation: A user takes pizza out of a box. The harmful product is pizza with a torn bottom.
Building a conflict:
1. The harmful product is pizza with a torn base. Let’s take a step back: it is obvious that the workpiece is pizza that is not torn yet.
2.The bottom of the box and the air inside the box are in contact with pizza. By the nature of the damage to pizza we arrive at the following conclusion: air cannot tear pizza, so the harmful tool is the bottom of the box.
The conflict structure: “Bottom of the box – destroys – pizza base”, the harmful product is pizza with a torn base.”
3. Place: the point of contact between the bottom of the box and the lower surface of pizza.
4. Time: from the beginning of taking pizza out till its full detachment from the bottom of the box.