Techniques o f Value Analysis and Engineering

Every problem must be solved on the basis of its facts and assumptions. There are always assumptions. Great effort has often been made through tests and study of experience to minimize assumptions. Often data that are used as facts are in some part, small or large, assumptions. By incisive questioning and penetrating analysis, separate assumptions from facts. Determine, if possible, some cases in which more information or data can be found that will change some assumptions to the appropriate facts and that will modify some of the remaining assumptions to be more in harmony with the real situation.

Step 2: Separate Functions

Start with the total function that the customer wants and is willing to pay for. Make the total function precisely clear and understood, with critically reliable assumptions clear and sharp, and then divide it into the major groups of subfunctions, that is, functions that must be accomplished in order to achieve the total, or main, function. Proceed to identify each of these subfunctions with the same precision and clarity used in identifying the overall function. Next subdivide these subfunctions into functions that are necessary to accomplish each subfunction. Identify each of these sharply, question each, identify its real task, and improve its information and assumptions. Further divide, continuing the process until it reaches individual parts. This process has not, as yet, established, or "set," the problem in a form that will most readily yield a good solution, but it provides information and thinking essential to good problem setting.
EXAMPLE: Consider the function for which a customer pays certain initial costs and then a stipulated monthly or annual amount. A customer wants and is willing to pay for electric lighting and power service. The functions might be named: Use: Provide light. Provide power or energy. Aesthetic: Provide suitable appearance. Provide convenience (of use). Provide absence of noise.

Several subfunctions are required:

1. Provide energy. 2. Distribute current. 3. Control current.
Each function and subfunction must be performed within its established limits and constraints.

Problem-setting System


Further examining subfunction No. 3, "control current," it is found that the customer's wants are for Something to turn the lights off and on ( a "use" function) Acceptable "feel," appearance, and sound ("aesthetic" functions) The use function might be named open circuit or close circuit. TO accomplish this customer-wanted function, several more subfunctions are required:

1. Accept wires (of electric circuit). 2. Conduct current. 3. Resist disintegration ( caused by sparking 3. 4. Provide movement ( to open contacts). 5. Transmit suitable movement (from the thumb). 6. Mount parts.
Dividing subfunction No. 1, "accept wires," further would mean essentially naming materials and parts that perform it by the means we now have in mind: "screws," or "terminal," or "spring." Dividing subfunction No. 2, "conduct current," further would essentially mean supplying material, part, and operation names, not function names: "conductor material," "contact material," "braze," or "weld." Thus, customer-wanted functions have now been so effectively divided that names of parts or materials are being designated. It is at once seen that this depth penetration of function subdivision in itself has not "set" the problem. It has prepared the way for the problem to be set by suitable grouping. When considering function grouping on the wall switch, it would be helpful for the reader to group the functions and name the function groups in a manner that will cause other good solutions to come into view, such as the mercury bubble switch.
4-3 Step 3 : Group Functions

Of course, some benefits may come from suitable study of parts and materials but do not study individual parts and totally separate functions too long, but rather group them into functional groups, or assemblies, each with a specific, well-defined, and well-understood purpose. Group in different ways to provide the necessary supporting functions and finally the total function required. Get the whole task into "mind-sized" pieces. The individual must have the "pieces" that are "his size," that he can solve one at a time, and that will take him to his objective. Each step must be made on the basis of basic, objective material.

Problem-setting System


complish, and the skills that either are in the group or can be called in, this problem was made solvable as follows:

Functions that must be performed
1. 2. 3. 4.

Present cost
$1.00 1.50 1.00 1.00 4.00 0.50 $9.00

Required cost
$0.60 0.80 0.50 1.00 2.00 0.10

Sense temperature. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Actuate contacts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Interrupt circuit.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Provide adjustment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. Mount and protect. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6. Please customer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Total cost. . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . .



* In this case, while making the control function "solvable," the preliminary examination o the six functions indicated that it would be reasonable to expect to f accomplish a cost o $5 rather than the $6 assigned while examining the overall f product.
Note that the expected achievable cost, or "value," tentatively assigned to each function is determined by the precise situations surrounding that particular function, not by general rules or application of "blanket" percentages to all functions. With this problem now in solvable form, the problem-solving system and other techniques were used, with the following results:

1. A gas was used to sense temperature. Its property of contraction when cooler was used. A modified gas, which had the property of condensation and therefore a much greater change in volume at a given pressure right at the needed control temperature, was used. The sensing bulb was not needed. The tubing was changed to capillary tubing only. 2. The bellows, which reacted to the change in volume and/or pressure of the gas, was made much smaller, thus increasing its sensitivity and decreasing its cost. 3. The contacts were made differently, halving their cost, with the same functioning properties. 4. The system of mounting and protecting was made much simpler and smaller but still performed the functions with the same effectiveness. 5. Some cost in aesthetics was ended. It became well understood that the only contact the customer had with the control was the knob. Its appearance and ease and convenience of operation were the sole reason for aesthetic cost. Customer aesthetics on the knob pointer were improved somewhat but other so-called "aesthetic" costs in the mount and support assembly were ended.
The overall result was that the control function was accomplished for a little less than the $5, and a $4 contribution was made to the overall $25 task from only a $9 item. Similar procedures produced suitable results on the total project.


Techniques of Value Analysis and Engineering

4 4 Problem-setting and Problem-solving Overlap
The final problem setting is accomplished during the problem-solving work, described in the next chapter. In the analysis step, the problemsolving system, after much information has been secured, the precise problems to be solved and the order in which to solve them are "set." This frequently means a recycling back into information searching on the real problems as finally set for solution. Very often, after the information searching and during the analysis thinking, the real problem is clarified, narrowed, divided into two or more separate problems, or changed altogether. Thereafter the disciplined thinking of the creative problemsolving system is utilized on precisely the right problems. When a problem is properly set, it is organized into a group of functions (or a single function), which are often interrelated but which accomplish one significant purpose-they permit common information search, analysis, creativity, and judgment. If a group of functions is formed, it should not be so involved that incisive thinking becomes irnpossible or so separated that "pieces and parts" instead of "functions" are being studied.

Before investing important resources of time and energy in the task of solving a problem only to find later that either it was not quite the right problem or that it was so inclusive, exclusive, or mixed that good solutions did not result, penetrating thought should be given to dividing or grouping the problem right and stating it right. All costs are associated with the functions or subfunctions they accomplish. Manageable function groups or individual functions are then made into specific problems, which are stated in function terms that are in similar parameters and lend themselves to comparisons and alternatives. The final work of establishing the exact problems to be solved is done in the analysis step of the problem-solving system. At that time the initial problem will often be made more solvable.