Full minimally serviceable Technical System.
"… all true Believers shall break their Eggs at the convenient End."
Jonathan Swift. "Gulliver's Travels"
Full minimally serviceable Technical System
There is a set of technical objects united in a system, and there is a man-operator. Are they enough for the Technical System to fulfill its useful function and satisfy some need of a user? Is something else required?
Let us recollect a well-known TRIZ example given in the book by G.Ivanov . We mean the Russian scientist Kapitsa who visited the generator plant of Siemens and Schukkert. The plant owners showed him a generator, which refused to work, and promised him 1000 marks for repairing it. Kapitsa quickly put two and two together – the central bearing was skewed and jammed. He took a hammer and hit the bearing housing. The generator started to work.
The confused customers asked him to make out a bill for the work he has done. Kapitsa wrote: “1 mark for 1 hit with the hammer. 999 marks for knowing where to hit”.
And here is another example, from F. Cooper .
The characters of the story were running away from their pursuers. The Indians drove them into the brushwood and set it on fire. The firewall was moving towards them. What was do be done? An old hunter did not find himself at a loss and set on fire the grass close to the place where they were standing. The new wall of fire moved towards the first one eliminating fuel. The fire was extinguished and the fugitives survived.
What is the Technical System in the first and in the second case?
Let us consider the first example. The user's need is to start the generator. The useful function is to put the bearing into alignment. The operator is Kapitsa and the system of technical objects is the hammer.
So the Technical System is composed of Kapitsa and the system of technical objects is the hammer.
In the second case, the user's need is to stop fire. The useful function is to eliminate grass (fuel for the approaching fire). The old hunter is an operator, and the firestone and steel are the system of technical objects.
The Technical System is the hunter with the firestone and steel.
What do we have? An insignificant action performed by a man-operator with the aid of primitive technical means produces a grand result both in the first and in the second case! Is that all? Are they full technical systems, the action of which started the huge generator (like in the first case) and stopped the approaching firewall?
No, they are not.
The main thing is what was completely missed out in the previous reasoning – the information component. The main thing is what was completely missed out in the previous reasoning – the information component. The main thing is what was completely missed out in the previous reasoning – the information component.
The main thing is what was completely missed out in the previous reasoning – the information component. One could hit a generator with a hammer all the day long. But Kapitsa did not do that hit and miss, but in a strictly determined way. And in that case information provision of his action was composed of two parts: “the ability to hit with a hammer” and the knowledge, understanding of “where to hit”.
Just like setting grass on fire could appear futile and most variants could come to a sad end.
If we continue analyzing the second example, it becomes evident, that setting dry grass on fire makes sense when the hunter not only knows that wind can drive the fire towards the approaching fire, but when there is wind blowing to a needed direction.
Hence it is very important to know “how to do”, how to perform a useful function using technical objects and available field resources which also become part of TS for the time of its operation.
To form a full minimally serviceable TS, it is necessary to take into account the following information and material components:
1. Material technical and natural objects and systems of different level of hierarchy.
2. One or several operators having a set of skills in controlling material objects and systems.
3. Substances and fields necessary for the operation of material objects and systems; products of processing such substances and fields.
4. Substances and fields needed for an operator to function; products of their processing.
5. Processed object (in some cases).
The Full Technical System.
1.The classical aeroplane
This is just the TS composition that allows it to function absolutely independently anywhere. Even under weightlessness and in vacuum.
This approach – furnishing TS with all components it needs to perform its useful function – does not reject the traditional approach, but is very convenient. Collecting everything that is necessary for performing a function in one system and transforming this system by mentally separating it from a supersystem. Any work is easier to do if all necessary materials, tools and drawings are prepared in advance and arranged in the most convenient way so that it is not necessary to search a “workshop” (Supersystem) for them trying to recollect what else is needed to provide the serviceability of our TS.
This means that the Technical System is a supersystem for a system of technical (matherial) Objects.
This understanding of TS is close to its description given by N.Matvienko :
“Any Technical System is a set of material, energy and information elements (in other words material parts and components, energy resources for their functioning and a set of prescriptions, instructions, commands, signals, that determines the sequence and type of interaction of the material elements with the surrounding systems and between each other)”.
This approach brings into focus a man-operator as a central figure of the Technical System. In this case the “Technical System” organized by a man may imply the use of objective technical and natural elements, as, for instance, in case of acupuncture or cargo transport. Or it may do without them, for instance, a speech of the defence in court or a dance. Sometimes it is really of no importance, like in case with an advocate appearing before the court with or without a microphone.
And, when you get down to it, a man is a multifunctional Technical System. He is two-sided, he can think, model his actions and make decisions. And he can also act using its body for doing some work. This is where information and material components of a man are united to form a whole.
A man-operator includes all the basic components of TS and, with a proper information and material provision, can perform some functions conformable to the possibilities of his body. When these possibilities are exhausted, the body may be supplemented with material objects united in systems and thus expanding the man's possibilities. A normal process of the Technical System deployment starts. A stone, a stick, a spade, an excavator… The man becomes stronger and becomes capable of enduring an increasing workload.
And what about convolution? It seems as though it is impossible for a man to convolve. Yes, it is impossible if we deal with objects. But in this case convolution occurs at the information level.
For instance, it is time to water garden-beds. You can take a watering-can, adjust a hose, or even a watering machine. Or you may just look at the sky and do nothing at all if it looks like rain. That is, convolution occurs at the level of functions, technological operations. And, finally, at the level of system and process design. The logical continuation of this trend is TRIZ itself, because the concepts “Ideality”, “Ideal Final Result” are basic ones in this method.
People were wise to see that ages ago, so few fairytales do without a miracle, when something comes about of itself and a man achieves something without striking a blow. Breaking mountains with the force of one's brains. Travelling in time and in space. The “specifications” for developing a man in this direction are actively developed by fantasists and fanciful writers. There is every reason to believe that success will be achieved in this direction. Levitation, moving thing with the force of sight, communication at great distances without any technical means and many other things will become accessible to a man.
Yes, it is interesting, but what does that get us in the context of transformation and improvement of the Technical System in real life?
An abrupt increase in the number of resources which could be used in system transformation.
With the traditional approach, the following resources can be used:
1. System itself.
2. Its subsystems.
3. Connections between the subsystems.
4. Connections between each subsystem and the system.
The proposed approach increases abruptly the number of resources to be used. Below are some of them:
1. Technical System itself.
2. Technological process.
3. Technological operations.
4. Systems of technical objects.
5. Subsystems of the system of technical objects.
6. Operator as a thinking system.
7. Operator's body as a material biological system.
8. Operator's sense organs.
9. System of skills of the operator.
10. Separate skills of the operator.
11. Substances and fields used by the system of technical objects.
12. Substances and fields used by the operator.
13. Connections between the Technical System and the technological process.
14. Connections between the technological operations and the technological process.
15. Connections between technological operations.
16. Connections between the Technical System and technological operations.
17. Interaction of the substances and fields used by the Technical System with the system of technical objects.
18. Interaction of substances and fields used by the Technical System with the operator.
19. Connections between the subsystems of the system of technical objects.
20. Connections of each subsystem of the system of technical objects with the system of technical objects.
21. Connections of the subsystems of the system of technical objects with the technological process.
….. And many other combinations of the Technical System elements.
It is high time to give some examples.
of the beginning of the 20th century was composed of two wings, attached to a fuselage with the aid of multiple posts, and guy-ropes. For such an aeroplane to fly well (it was especially important for users), the guy-ropes had to be properly stretched. Since the ropes extended under load, it was necessary to frequently adjust them with the aid of a very simple helical mechanism. A special ruler was applied to the guy-rope and the latter was pulled with the aid of a dynamometer. The degree of tension was evaluated by the guy-rope deviation from the straight line. It was a painstaking and very slow process.
What was do be done? How could the guy-rope adjustment process be accelerated?
As a matter of fact, it was necessary to synthesize a new system of guy-rope adjustment. If the solvers proceeded only from the System of Material Objects that were used to perform this function, then it would be very difficult to solve this problem. If they took into account that there is an operator in the system, then the number of possible transformations would increase considerably. Thus, one can solve this problem by using the operator's sense organs.
Why not to use hearing, or it is better to say, people with a tuneful ear? To adjust guy-ropes, piano tuners were invited. As a result, the adjustment process accelerated tenfold.
It is worthy of note that because there were not enough piano tuners available, the solvers had to find the following solution which demonstrates the trend of “forcing a man from a TS” described repeatedly by TRIZ. The guy-ropes adjustment was again trusted to mechanics, but instead of a cumbersome ruler and dynamometer, it was proposed to use a properly tuned tuning-fork.
One could hardly imagine what an amount of work inventors did trying to make an oil lamp shine well. The problem is in bad supply of oil to the end of the wick. To improve oil supply, there were created lots of spring devices producing pressure in the oil fountain. Pumps for forced supply of oil were also used. That is, the work was focused on the “system of technical objects”. Inventors did their best to improve the machine.
But when they examined the full TS, it became clear that the problem was not the lamp design, but the fuel. The problem disappeared when difficult-to-absorb oil was replaced with fluid kerosene.
Suppose it is necessary to use a computer in the dark. If we mean to transform the System of Material Objects, the first idea that strikes our mind is that of luminous keys, lights, etc. If we mean the Technical System, the answer is obvious –
the operator must be able to type in the dark, to remember the arrangement of the keys.
To conclude, we may say that nowadays there is a confusion as regards the concept of the “Technical System”, i.e. a system that performs
some function, and the concept of the “System of Technical (Material) Objects”, i.e. a system designed for performing
Without calling the readers to agree with me, I will be happy if this attempt to analyze the problem is interesting and useful for them. I am also grateful to my colleagues –
V.Lenyashin, G.Severinets, E.Novitskaya, N.Khomenko and the merciless reviewer V.Sibiryakov for their assistance in the preparation of this material.
I would be exceedingly grateful to readers for feedback
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