BreakThrough Study Idea

"Thinking development" enabling new value creationNaohiko Sugita<Series 2 / complete>

Study Idea

2018.04.11

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The whole optimization of the production system is questioned

"You can get it when you want the product with a short lead time." This will be required of the manufacturing industry regardless of age. To build a production system that realizes this, optimization of the entire production system is indispensable, not partial optimization that has been done so far.

In such a production system, both the supply chain and the manufacturing system are leveled. Many companies have factories abroad, such as Thailand and China, but cooperation among manufacturing bases according to demand is questioned. Also, as products become more diverse, survival will be difficult unless there is a flexible, reconfigurable manufacturing system. In addition to engineering chains and digital integration, the necessity of product management has been increasingly being called out loudly.

Discover a new solution for "Thinking development."

As something required for the manufacturing industry is changing in this way, the creation of new value by a new idea method is being questioned. So, at the graduate school of the Tokyo University where I am a professor, I am doing a class with close attention to the creation of new value based on the fundamental knowledge. The slogan is "To express our thoughts and to form words." I call this a "Thinking development." Everything follows the route from "Goal setting" to "Task analysis," "Solution selection," "Concrete decision," "Execution of strategy."

Let's execute "Thinking development" with the beer mug production as an example. At this time, "Target setting" is "Drinking beer." That's why "I'd like a bottle to drink beer." Next, when analyzing the problem ("Problem analysis") here, the desire to "I want to drink as it is cold," "I want to drink very much" or "I want to enjoy the amber colour". Then, in "Choosing a solution" you will notice that "Pre-cooling in a refrigerator" or "You must make with a material with large heat capacity." Also, to enjoy the amber color it is necessary to see the contents, so you can see that "The glass looks good on the material." If you develop your thought using words like this, could you understand that it leads to beer mugs? "

The merit of "Thinking development" is the point that can be thoughtfully exhausted. Not only you can check it easily, but you can also discover new solutions starting from overlooking. Human ideas are made through "Issues" through "Requested functions" and "Mechanisms to realize" and "Structures that integrate mechanisms." Generally, "Task" and "Required function" are called "Purpose," "Mechanism to realize" and "Structure integrated with mechanism" is called "Design solution." In manufacturing, we are asked to issue a "Design solution" concerning the request function "Product can ~" or "Products are ~." However, what should not be overlooked here is "The purpose is the greatest invention." For example, in the age when there was no Internet, it is the greatest inventor who thought about "I wish I could do something like the Internet" and "Purpose." In other words, "Purpose" is the most important thing. "Objective" is also called a super concept, "Design solution" is also called subordinate concept. We want to acquire the habit of thinking "Going up" to the "Objective" or "Superior concept" of "Design solution" as well as "What you want to do in the first place." Then you will be able to see not only a new idea but also what you have overlooked.

Let's explain with an easy-to-understand automatic washing machine as an example. The upper concept of an automatic washing machine is "Washing automatically." To do this, it is necessary to separate fibers and dirt. The subordinate concept is "To separate from the fiber-dirt interface," "Melts only the dirt." As you can see here, as you go up to the superordinate concept, you can think that "Do not wash automatically." The "Purpose" we use a washing machine is "I want easy washing" isn't it? It can be seen that the automatic washing machine satisfied the "Purpose" one step higher. In this way, by thinking on the superordinate concept, a new "Design solution" such as "Hiring a part-time job" is born, and the request function (automatic washing machine) which was thought to be inevitable is, and it is noticed that it is only one means. Such "Thinking development" is significant in creating things. Furthermore, considering "No, do not wash it," another superior concept of "I want to wear clean clothes" is born. If you do this, you will discover that you can reach subordinate concepts such as "Dirty clothes" and "Disposable clothes" and that new ideas become possible.

Next time I will explain the current state of surgical assistance robots.

< series 2 / complete >


Naohiko Sugita
Professor of Graduate School of Engineering Department, University of Tokyo

Born in 1970 in Himeji city, Hyogo Prefecture. Raised in Kanazawa city, Ishikawa prefecture. He completed a master's course in the Department of Industrial Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tokyo graduate school in 1996, joined NEC Corporation and belonged to the Microwave Satellite Communications Division. In 2003 he became an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Tokyo graduate school, associate professor in 2007. He took office as a professor in 2014 to the present days. Specialty fields are production engineering, medical processing, metrology. Research fields include production processing (Cutting processing, Laser processing, Laser-assisted), machine tool (CFRP structure), medical application (Artificial joint, Bone resection device, Surgery assistance system), etc.

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