High performance and added features made the TRW’s system too expensive for the market.
Use TRIZ to generate technical solutions to cost problems without degrading performance.
TRW Automotive needed to reduce the cost of its electric steering system in order to capture new automotive vehicle platform business at one of the major car manufacturers. This represented an opportunity of over $1 Billion of new business. The customer acknowledged that TRW was the technical leader and provided the best combination of features and performance, but lower prices from competitors put landing the business in jeopardy. TRW needed to reduce its costs 25% to be assured of the business. The sourcing decision date was fast approaching, and with little time to act, and such an aggressive target, it looked as though we would miss out on this significant business expansion opportunity.
As the Director of Value Engineering, I saw an opportunity to use TRIZ problem solving tools to land the business by putting together a credible, realistic cost down program backed by a series of concrete, workable ideas. I assembled a cross functional team of experts from the product group and conducted a study of the roadblocks to reduced costs, and generate ideas to overcome them. Through analysis of the systems and application of a set of Inventive Principles (illustrations of how similar problems were solved in similar situations in the past) a list of ideas were generated. These ideas were evaluated, and categorized as to their cost down potential and implementation timing. The best ideas were examined further for feasibility, patentability, investment requirement, and customer acceptance before being submitted to the final cost down list. Within just a few weeks, 68 ideas were presented to the customer along with projected timing for incorporation into the product.
The customer was so impressed with the detailed list of ideas, project timing, and level of commitment shown by TRW, that TRW was awarded the $1+ Billion multi-year contract. TRW was able to resolve
the contradiction that high performance and added features produces high costs, and provided the customer with a high value system. The ideas resulted in a system with fewer parts, which were easier
to assemble, and had increased reliability and durability. The design changes were applied to products sold to other customers, allowing the company to capture much more business – in effect doubling their sales over the course of just a few years.