TRIZ Lies. Part 3

G. L. Filkovsky, TRIZ Master,
Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

Most of TRIZ examples are retrospective - they are inventions made without TRIZ and tailored to TRIZ after the fact. Many other examples are retrospective while being presented by TRIZers as genuine - see "TRIZ Lies" and "TRIZ Lies. Part 2"”. There are a very few published examples of genuine TRIZ inventions. Are these inventions good? Let’s take look into one of them.

This invention is related to improving icebreaker. It was originally made during one of the first TRIZ seminars conducted by Altshuller in the late 1960’s – early 1970’s. This example was extremely popular in the 1970’s, and appeared in many TRIZ articles and books and practically on all seminars and courses conducted by Altshuller and his disciples (I was one of them).

Here is a more recent reference to this example, by John Bracht.

“The normal way to improve the icebreaker’s ability to penetrate the ice is to install larger engines… The increased weight of the ship and the complexity of the support systems… effectively counteract any gains from increased engine power… a solution proposed by the TRIZ method is to re-make the hull such that the upper portion of the ship (above the ice) is separated from the lower portion (below the ice) and thin walls along the left and right connect the upper and lower sections … the tendency in the evolution of icebreaker technology has been toward increasingly powerful engines—but this trend is doomed... Only the overcoming of a contradiction will propel the technology to new heights and new possibilities… the ship may initially be improved by solving the routine problem of increasing engine power. But eventually no more improvement is possible by this route... True progress, true invention, requires moving to an entirely new hull design…”

Thirty five years have passed since this TRIZ invention has been made. Did it “propel the technology to new heights and new possibilities”? Was it a step in a “true progress”? Was it a “true invention”?

In this time new icebreakers have been launched in US, Russia, Finland, and Canada. Newer icebreakers are under development. Changes in icebreaker design have been made. More changes are expected. Here are some examples.

“Recent advances in ship propulsion have produced new experimental icebreakers… Azimuthing Podded Propulsors, or Azipods, improve fuel efficiency, ship steering, ship docking, and remove the need for rudders. Azipods also allow a ship to travel backwards as easily as it travels forwards. The double acting icebreaker is unique because its stern is shaped like an icebreaker's bow. Normally traveling forward, a double acting icebreaker uses a conventional ship bow for a more comfortable ride. When ice is encountered, the ship turns around and travels backwards through the ice.” (Wikipedia)

“The most modern of the Finnish Maritime Administration's icebreakers are designed as multipurpose vessels, fully operational throughout the year… For instance, they are capable of laying flexible pipes and cables, handling heavy anchors, acting as supply and support vessels for oil drilling platforms and even hauling icebergs through Arctic waters.” (Icebreakers — Virtual Finland)

A design where icebreaker’s hull is cut into above- and under-water parts connected with thin walls, is nowhere mentioned. Although the other directions of icebreaker evolution can be easily labeled – retrospectively – with various TRIZ principles, a direction actually invented with TRIZ, is not there.

This time TRIZ does not lie about the origins of invention - it lies about its success. This is a TRIZ failure story.