Situation: This privately held company sought to enter a new market that would maximize the use of its existing expertise and asset base. The company’s research revealed opportunities in developing next-generation controllers for fluid monitoring systems used in the semiconductor industry and in some biomedical procedures. Extensive interviewing of potential customers corroborated the potential market value of such a controller. In order both not to be a “me-too,” and to dramatically shorten time to market, the company commissioned The TRIZ Group to help develop concepts for a breakthrough controller.

Actions: Prior to initiating concept development, we decided to study the evolution of the overall system, of which the controller was a part. According to TRIZ, evolutionary trends of a system also determine the directions of evolution of its components. Conventional fluid analysis involves two steps. First, a sample of the fluid is taken from the pipeline. Then it is placed into a remote fluid analyzer, which examines its chemical composition. One of the TRIZ lines of technological system evolution involves the elimination of auxiliary sub-systems and delegation of their functions to main sub-systems. Applying this line to the fluid analyzers, suggested they would be integrated within the pipelines. Thus, the controllers' evolution would depend on when this integration occurred. We concluded that while further development of the controllers was possible, more promising opportunities rested with their integration within the pipeline. This would eliminate the need for developing the company's new controller.

Results: The client company conducted additional market research, further validating our conclusions: In-line fluid-analyzers were an emerging technology that was gaining momentum. The company abandoned development of a next-generation controller, thus saving enormous sums of time and money, and correctly refocused its efforts on investigating the in-line fluid analyzers.