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LIVE FROM HEALTHPACK: A new approach to solving medical packaging problems

The TRIZ method of problem solving may help companies evolve in a new way.

HealthPack medical device packaging conference
HealthPack medical device packaging conference

Evolution, and innovation.

They are two corporate buzz words that many companies use these days. They want their products to evolve over time, and get better. They want their products to be innovative.

But, how does a company really achieve that?

Richard Langevin, Executive Director of The Altshuller Institute, told a packed crowd of over 200 people at HealthPack that he thinks TRIZ can help.

TRIZ, pronounced like the word, "trees," is a Russian acronym for the "Theory of Inventive Problem Solving." It is a methodical way of examining inventive situations and developing numerous solution concepts by utilizing all available solution space, and is also based on the study of empirical data from patents, rather than psychology.

"These are not cookie cutter problems," Langevin said of the problems facing companies. "TRIZ will help you get to the solution from all concept space, not just where you are coming from. "

When medical device packaging companies are faced with a problem, this way approaching a problem, instead of traditional methods, can help them arrive at a better solution, according to Langevin.

Barriers to problem solving include shortage of individual knowledge, psychological inertia, a culture where people say, "this is the way we do it; we don't do it that way here," and a lack of problem-solving resources, among others.

"We don't know everything," he explained. "You have to get out of that box."

TRIZ takes a specific problem, and makes it abstract.

"You are not looking at solution concepts," Langevin said. "You don't need to reinvent the wheel."

Systems evolve according to objective patterns and, evolution, he explained, is not a random process. And, a lot of innovation takes place because humans don't want to do something anymore.

"Take the printing press for an example," he said. "Who wants to write books by hand? Nobody. Systems evolve in the direction of increasing ideality."

When it comes to medical packaging, there are a lot of questions that companies may be asking, such as, "is waste a problem," "where does packaging need to go," or "what is the next step for packaging."

In each of these cases, an ideal solution can be met, but how do you get there?

Using resources is one of those ways to get there. They can be internal or external, and don’t' be afraid of change, he explained.

"Change is not your enemy, it's your opportunity," he said.

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