When looking to solve problems (whatever their nature) it clearly makes sense to develop low cost, efficient and environmentally friendly solutions. The identification of readily available resources can greatly assist with this.
When we make a conscious effort to identify locally available resources surrounding a problem it is often surprising to discover the number and variety of resources that exist.
For example, if we were to identify locally available resources surrounding a standard piece of single core wire, beyond the obvious resources of the copper and insulating sleeve, we could also identify the unused space within the sleeve, the current running through the copper and the air surrounding the wire but why stop there? Other resources could include oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide etc. that make up the air. The properties of the wire are also resources such as flexibility, width, circumference, temperature, texture etc. All of which, depending upon the nature of the problem, may be able to make a contribution towards a solution.
A good example of the efficient use of resources is that of the evolvement of corrosion testing.
Traditionally, corrosion testing laboratories used platinum lined vessels in which a sample of the subject to be tested would be placed along with a volume of acid (platinum being highly resistant to the corrosive effect of acid).The sample would be weighed prior to being placed in the acid for a specified period of time after which it was weighed again and the rate of corrosion calculated.
The problem with this though, is that platinum is extremely expensive and most laboratories only had one vessel with which to conduct the tests. This in turn meant that testing could only be carried out sequentially, being both costly and slow.
By identifying the immediately available and obvious resources a solution can quickly be found.
The subject to be tested can itself become the vessel. Simply bore a hole, weigh the subject, fill it with acid for a specified period of time, re-weigh the subject and make the required calculation.
This solution was not only cost effective but also meant that testing could now take place simultaneously, radically speeding up the process.
Through the systematic identification and prioritisation of resources it is possible to find low cost, efficient and environmentally friendly solutions without the need to introduce increased complexity as illustrated above.
To find out more about the use of resources and other systematic approaches to problem solving, idea generation and innovation, do get in touch.