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Inventive Problem Solving For Eco-Innovation

06/09/2016 11:44 | Updated 06 September 2016

Technological innovation requires some prediction of where technology will evolve towards. Here the concept of evolution trends appear, which comes from the idea that all technical systems follow the same patterns of evolution, thus making it possible to anticipate the technological changes. Nonetheless, these new innovation horizons have been transformed by society due to the demand of more ecological products. So, the previous technological trends in which innovation was based could be affected by this objective change, since the demand for greener products has increased in the market and, consequently, enterprises are obliged to design, manufacture, and deliver them in a more sustainable way.

There exists a multitude of other technology forecasting methods; one of them is TRIZ trends. TRIZ is the acronym of Theory of Inventive Problem Solving. This theory is composed of a set of methods and tools to generate innovative ideas and solutions. Some of these more popular TRIZ tools are the contradiction matrix, inventive principles, ideality, system operator, substance-field (SU-Field), and the evolution trends.

Traditional techniques used in technological forecasting like Delphi or AHP prioritize alternatives in decision-making and consider the future impact of each present entity in isolation. This assumption is a simplification of a more complex reality, in which different entities interact with each other. To avoid this, a Fuzzy Cognitive Map (FCM) is used to analyse the interaction between evolution trends and strategies of eco-design in different scenarios.

A new proposal goes beyond the eco-rules definition or the prioritization of eco-friendly guidelines with traditional techniques used in technological forecasting. Fuzzy Cognitive Maps assess TRIZ evolution trends for eco-design innovation, allowing prioritizing and further decision making based on scenario analysis.

Fuzzy Cognitive Maps assess TRIZ evolution trends for eco-design innovation, allowing prioritizing and further decision making based on scenario analysis. Based in a field survey, this proposal also shows that it is possible to forecast environmental friendly ceramic products.

From a static point of view, the FCMs can indicate the relationships between the evolution trends and the strategies of eco-design. The individual results of the evolution trends range from slightly worsen to slightly improve eco-design strategies as a whole. Increasing use of colours and Decreasing density are the worst and the best environmentally friendly evolution trends, respectively.

From a dynamic point of view, FCMs can make what-if simulations and forecasting greener products according to previously established conditions. In this case, seven scenarios have been analysed and their environmental performance has been performed for four strategies of the first level in LiDS Wheel. Compliance with all evolution trends simultaneously achieves the best efficient eco-design but at low effectiveness.

However, there are evolution trends with good environmental performance. Evolution trends of ceramic products focused on Material, Design Process and Geometry are environmentally friendly. In contrast, evolution trends included in the category Aesthetics are harmful for environment.

Future research will include other real applications, linking different environmentally friendly product categories with FCMs and its extensions for greener product forecasting.

This research can be found at Research

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