Situation: United Technologies Automotive was developing a novel system designed to control several mechanisms incorporated into the liftgates of SUV’s and mini-vans. The system would be used in hundreds of thousands of vehicles. Midway through the design process, a serious failure mode was discovered. For almost a year and a half the design team brainstormed the solution space, searching for a failure-free system design. Various solutions were proposed, but none complied with the target cost. Since the project was nearing its deadline, management made the decision to invite The TRIZ Group to help solve the problem.

Actions: We analyzed major design, manufacturing and other relevant constraints, as well as all of the previously attempted solutions. This analysis allowed us to formulate a key system conflict that had to be resolved in order to meet the design and cost targets. We then used conflict resolution tools of TRIZ to develop several concepts of effective and cost-conscious system designs.

Results: The client selected three concepts, for which two U.S. patents were subsequently granted. The whole project – from initial data gathering to concept development to analytical verification – took three weeks.