When constructing the model of a problem, possible resources, the means which can be applied to transform a flawed system, should be constantly searched for and recorded. Surely, it is not enough to find an abstract idea when solving the problem. It is necessary to have the resources which can be used to “materialise” this idea.
Resources are anything which can be used to solve the problem: substances, fields, time, and space.
The key skill when solving the inventive problem is to know how and where to find the necessary resources or how to do with the minimum which is already at our disposal. As a rule, it is possible to get strong solutions when using the most unexpected (at first thought) resources.
Example. Lifting cargo from water
When carrying out diving operations, it is often necessary to lift various cargo onto the surface. This is achieved by means of lifting mechanisms: cable hoists, reels etc. However, a method providing for use of a gratuitous resource – the air exhaled by the diver – has got widespread use recently. The air is directed into a bag of dense fabric which is attached to the cargo being lifted and functions similar to an underwater balloon.
Example. Repairing the vehicle wheel
You replace the vehicle wheel at a deserted place and – what a misfortune – all four fastening nuts fall into the river. How do you get to the service station? It is possible to use resources: take one nut from each of the remaining wheels and fix the spare one. If you are not in a hurry, you can drive perfectly well.
Such examples can be multiplied for long but it is important to understand the most important thing: it is impossible to solve a technical problem without using resources. The meaning of the inventive problem is as follows: to apply the most appropriate resource in the best possible way at the right place and at the right time.
Types of resources
Resources can be divided into tangible, field, spatial, temporal, and information ones.
These are technical and natural objects as well as all substances in any physical state (solid, liquid, gas, plasma, vacuum) and mixtures of substances.
Example. Water supply in the desert
Potable water is the most important resource necessary for the life of mice and men. Water has a special value in the desert. Living in harmony with the nature, our ancestors learnt to extract water directly from the air while condensing moisture in the air. Thus, heaps of stones were found on a mountain above stone bowls in Feodosia, the city was supplied with water using the stones. Moisture condensed on the stones in the depth of the heap which always remained cold and trickled down into the bowls.
Modern technologies have made it possible to simplify and reduce the cost of getting moisture from the air. Under favourable conditions, the Cloud Harvester sheet provides a litre of water per every ten square metres every hour. The Groasis nursing box enables not only to condense water from the air but also to prevent evaporation of moisture accumulated in the soil.
Another device is a wind engine to condense water from the air. The blades of such a wind engine rotate a generator which, in turn, supplies a powerful cooler. Water vapour condenses on the heat exchanger of the cooler.
The field resources include all types of energy and fields (electric, electromagnetic, thermal fields etc.).
Example: Repairing the vehicle wheel (continued)
Let us recollect the example of the vehicle wheel and its lost nuts. If we had a strong enough magnet, we could use it to fix the same vehicle wheel without any nuts.
The spatial resources are free space, “emptiness” as well as additional space which can be obtained as a result of any transformations of tangible objects. Space can be used to position components more efficiently as well as to provide a system with the necessary properties. Any system skilfully designed is characterised by a dense layout and rational use of free space.
Example. Spatial resource
The empty space inside the plane wing is used as fuel tanks.
In floating tanks, bogie wheels are made hollow to increase floatability.
The space above the road is used as a resource when laying blocks. Workers lay the blocks on an inclined ramp along which the bed laid descends onto the road gradually.
The temporal resources are any time periods which can be used to improve the system operation. These are the pauses between individual stages of the process, the time before and after each operation. Besides, it is possible to organise the time of the process itself more efficiently, e.g. by accelerating the preparatory operations or combining several process operations.
Example. “Bronze Horseman”
The monument to Peter the First is erected on a huge stone in St. Petersburg. The technologies of the eighteenth century were such that it took more than two years to deliver the stone to the city. During this time, the stone travelled 11 kilometres by land and eight by sea. This time resource was used very efficiently: the craftsmen worked the stone during transportation, and a fully prepared pedestal arrived at the placement site.
Example. Rotary conveyor line
A modern example of efficient use of the temporal resource is the rotary conveyor line. Its application organises the production process in such a way that parts are machined in parallel with their movement. This enables to increase the output dramatically.
It is noteworthy that resources exist which are not used directly to transform technical systems but are somehow engaged to work with the problem: these are information resources and human resources (specific skills).
Examples of resources
The asteroid is a resource for space flight
Atmospheric moisture as a resource
The resource of a girl turning away a bold face
Cleaning the truck roof
Making a list of resources
When defining available resources, it is necessary to proceed as follows.
Make a list of material and field resources, which can be done by considering the already built models. We have built a useful system modelы, that performs a problem operation. We have defined a harmful system, that produces a harmful product. In addition, a causal model, has been built. It presents components that also relate to the occurrence of a harmful product. The components of these models form the basis of the resource list. When building a list of material resources, first you need to select the components that make up the operational zone of the useful system, i.e. parts of the working tool and work object. These components should be considered first of all while solving the problem.
Then, consider the components that make up the remaining parts of the system. These are components of transmission, engine, energy source and control unit. At the same time, the fields that provide the operation of these components are determined.
Similarly, it is necessary to analyze the composition of the harmful system and the causal model. Don’t forget the products obtained during the operation of the useful and harmful system.
Finally, the list includes the components of the supersystem that may be relevant to the operation of the problem system. This is primarily a higher level system, which includes the problem system, as well as easily accessible substances and fields. The substances that can be used are air, soil, atmospheric moisture, etc. Easily accessible fields include atmospheric pressure, natural thermal field, gravity and the like.
Keep in mind that the list of resources is preliminary and can be expanded.
Work with the TRIZ Trainer
It is difficult to refer the search for and identification of resources to a specific step of the template. Most of the resources become clear when analysing the machine arrangement and operation but this list can and should be completed at each step of the analysis stage.
Running example. Pizza box
Preliminary list of resources: Pizza, bottom of the box, sides of the box, cover.