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TRIZ, Telematics and Texada

By Nash Ashur

Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? The four members of British rock band Queen could be forgiven for asking themselves those questions, since "Bohemian Rhapsody" spent nine consecutive weeks at the summit of the British charts, an achievement which no British band, including the Beatles, had achieved.

The namesake film went four-for-five at the Oscars, winning more awards than any other film. The movie won for Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing and Best Actor - the latter for Rami Malek's portrayal of Freddie Mercury. There is one commonality evident about both versions of "Bohemian Rhapsody": nobody had ever experienced anything quite like them before.

A similar phenomenon is happening with the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The First Industrial Revolution mechanized production, the Second created mass production, the Third automated production and now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by a “Bohemian Rhapsody” of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.

To conceptualize this trend in the context of the equipment rental industry, we introduce a Systematic Innovation framework (TRIZ), a case study that foreshadows the advent of fleet telematics, a contemporary understanding of the systematic evolution of fleet telematics and a statement of intent for the future of our Systematic Rental Management (SRM) platform.

 

Systematic Innovation (TRIZ)

The Romanized acronym “TRIZ” comes from the Russian phrase Teoriya Resheniya Izobreatatelskikh Zadach, which means the “theory of inventive problem solving.” Originally developed in Russia by Genrikh Altshuller in the 1940s, the brilliance of TRIZ stems from the origins of its data set.

Altshuller analyzed 40,000 registered patents to determine their common inventive principles and explored systematic attributes of inventions. The short version of his findings is that there were 40 basic inventive principles, 39 common parameters that engineers look to optimize, and 76 standard approaches that engineers and inventors used in their designs, a taxonomy which has been leveraged systematically for innovation by the likes of Samsung.

 


In his classic treatise And Suddenly the Inventor Appeared, the TRIZard believed that the most important attribute that the contemporary inventor needs is to have a very precise intellectual process of thinking. Citing the Sherlock Homes adage: “I never guess. That is a very bad habit, it kills the logical thinking process”, Altshuller noted that technical systems are similar to living organisms: they consist of inter-related parts subject to the general laws of evolution.

Every technical system has a “superior” system above (supersystem) and a “subordinate” system below (subsystem). An improvement in one part of a system that impairs other parts of the system, or adjacent systems, creates a Technical Contradiction – and making an invention requires removing Technical Contradictions.

 

Telepathic Telematics

One of the book’s thought experiments (Problem 19: Let’s do it without telepathy) describes a car stalled on a highway whereby the driver runs out of gas and wishes for a gas tank that would somehow send a telepathic signal when the gas tank is empty (this was prior to the internet age). According to Altshuller, the automobile is a supersystem. The solution should not jeopardize any “interest” of that system. This means that nothing should be changed or redesigned in the automobile. This is typical for any supersystem as long as the problem does not require drastic changes or replacement of that system.

 

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Subsystems also have their own requirements. The car’s fuel control system (the central system in this case) consists of four subsystems: gas, gas tank, something that makes a signal (“X” – what is being sought after), and the driver’s head. Any modification of the driver’s head is unacceptable, and we also cannot consider any changes in the gas. There are two subsystems left: “X” and the gas tank. The gas tank has a very simple requirement: It cannot be changed.

So, the conclusion is that “X” should almost equal nothing, otherwise the gas tank or the automobile must be modified.

Hence, the requirements for the supersystem, the system and the subsystems become so clear that Altshuller remarkably determined “X” with mathematical accuracy. The empty, or almost empty, gas tank should send a signal to the head of the driver.

 

Technology Triage

That “X” should be so small that neither the car (the supersystem) nor the gas (the subsystem) would require any changes with its introduction points to the fact that the most common way by which telematics data is captured is via the installation of a black box in each fleet unit (as opposed to the buoy envisioned by Altshuller while distinguishing between electromagnetic, optical, mechanical, audio and thermal fields in his case study).

The word ‘telematics’ combines ‘tele’ – a prefix denoting remote communications – and ‘informatics’, a discipline incorporating the practice of information processing. Generally, this is what telematics is about: technologies associated with communication for equipment, from the advent of the General Motors’ OnStar program to Google’s self-driving vehicles to aftermarket location-reporting gadgets.

 

 


Equipment rental companies now realize that connecting their fleet to the Internet of Things that Move (IoTtM) is a huge competitive advantage in location tracking and driver and equipment operator monitoring, including engine and driver hours.

They are empowering their fleet management teams with diagnostic data in order to continuously improve their services and provide digital maintenance tools in order to better support customers. Yet, as per the contemporary TRIZ Journal analysis depicted above, a key challenge of telematics systems is the integration and the synchronization of multiple devices which are not originally intended to synchronize.

Becoming a data-driven company requires a connection to equipment and integration with business systems. This integration becomes the catalyst for new insights that provide an edge in a competitive market. 

 

Systematic Rental Management (SRM)

Someone, somewhere, solved your problem. An aphorism sitting right at the heart of the Systematic Innovation methodology for embracing complexity, finding the ‘right’ (contradiction) problem, and then solving it by eliminating the compromises we normally take for granted.

Texada Software’s customers are managing over $10 Billion in fleet with SRM™, which has been a mainstay in rental business software for over 25 years with thousands of users all over the world.  Serving small customers with a hundred assets, to huge corporations with hundreds of thousands of assets, FleetLogic also scales with you as you grow your business.

We partner with the software vendors like ZTR and Trackunit (telematics), SmartEquip (inventory) and OpenEdge (payment processing) that you may have always wanted to work with, but couldn’t with your previous software provider.

 

 

 

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As Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) says in the “Bohemian Rhapsody” trailer, “We’re four misfits who don’t belong together, playing for other misfits and the outcasts right in the back of the room, who are pretty sure they don’t belong either … we belong to them.”

Texada Software is the Fourth Industrial Revolution misfit of the equipment rental industry: a strong system integrator and software supplier long before Internet of Things that Move (IoTtM) telematics became popular. Our Systematic Innovation culture and equipment rental experience via Noble Iron will rock the industry with leading solutions for years to come. You will have one proven supplier, avoiding the headache of dealing with multiple vendors. We belong to you.

 

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Tags: field service, SaaS, Software Utilization, Telematics, SRM, Rental Management