Samsung Electronics has gone from being a maker of commodity electronics to one of the world’s hottest brands. With $55 billion in sales, Samsung maintains its technology and design leadership through a strong R&D commitment to new growth from differentiated products. Samsung used Goldfire to create an innovative new design for the optical pickup components of its CD/DVD recorders/players. The resulting design increased Samsung’s CD-DVD market share by reducing component and manufacturing costs – saving $77.7 million dollars over a three year time period – while also improving product reliability.
Market and Project Background
Samsung wanted to strengthen its leadership position in the DVD market by designing a breakthrough solution that would significantly reduce costs while maintaining or improving overall product reliability and functionality. This case study chronicles the process and results of the SELLINO project – the fourth in a series of ‘extreme trial’ projects chartered to decrease costs through innovative new product design.
How Goldfire Helped
Optical pickups are used in CD and DVD devices to perform data recording and playback, but the requirements are not compatible. Thus conventional designs have deployed two separate optical pickup systems when combining CD and DVD capabilities in the same device. The team wanted to focus directly on this costly dilemma. Multiple alternative design variants were produced. The most innovative design involved removal of a lens and the DVD laser diode and beam splitter. The team faced the inventive challenge of finding viable solutions to perform the functions of the trimmed components.
They first turned to Goldfire’s proprietary content to stimulate creative out-of-box thinking. The library of Inventive Principles provided conceptual insights on how analogous technical challenges had been solved in the past. The principles stimulate creative thinking regarding contradictions – such as how a single set of optical components might deliver the conflicting CD-DVD requirements.
The engineers also consulted Goldfire’s library of System Modification Patterns. The patterns are recommendations, abstracted from analysis of patent literature, for alternative configurations that optimize interactions between system elements or measurement techniques.
Armed with these creative insights, the SELLINO team was ready to pursue detailed research into prior art, internal corporate knowledge bases, and the expertise encoded in worldwide patent literature.
In just hours the team mined the expertise of millions of patents and leveraged technical know-how from years of Samsung’s internal corporate documents.
Using Goldfire’s semantic indexing and natural language queries, the team quickly retrieved concepts relevant to their challenge. Queries such as “How to emit light of two different wavelengths?” or “How to combine CD and DVD optical pickups?” returned document lists highlighting the sentences that described the precise functional requirement. In just hours the team mined the expertise of millions of patents and leveraged technical know-how from years of Samsung’s internal corporate documents.
The team also used Goldfire’s semantic text summarization capabilities to expedite the process of assessing document relevance and extracting pertinent concepts. A list of potential solutions and concepts worthy of consideration was quickly assembled and organized by the software’s Solution Manager – a framework for managing and ranking potential solutions for each identified problem or functional challenge.
The solutions were then ranked based on objective criteria relative to implementation time, cost, reliability, manufacturability and other factors. The best ideas were then validated by more in-depth patent and deep web research to ensure technical and legal feasibility, market adoptability and competitive differentiation. Once again, Goldfire’s semantic knowledge engine enabled rapid identification and navigation of complex technical documents. In the final outcome, the team was able to design a solution that replaced the two distinct light emitting diodes with a single dual wavelength laser diode and eliminated the need for a cubic beam splitter and associated separate lenses.
Summary of Project Results
The SELLINO project achieved a more ideal design of optical components which improved reliability of the CD-DVD device while reducing cost and complexity. By combining the two laser diodes into one, and reducing the number of lenses from six to four, the project achieved a 38% simplification and cost reduction in components. Reliability was increased by 33% as the number of manufacturing bonding points was reduced from 38 to 26. And the productivity of the manufacturing process increased by 38% as the number of adjustment points was decreased from 13 to 8 points.
As a result of the new design, Samsung realized a net cost savings of $3.70 per CD-DVD player. At 7 million player units per year, over a three year time period, the total savings realized was $77.7 million dollars. Furthermore, the new designs expanded Samsung’s intellectual property portfolio by a total of 13 patents, four of which were filed in the USA.
Goldfire Usage Highlights
Samsung followed an ideation process leveraging Goldfire’s semantic knowledge engine and integrated problem analysis tools
- Stimulation of creative thinking from specialized ideation libraries
- Concept development via semantic analysis of internal & external expertise
- Formal ranking & selection of best ideas
- Final research using Goldfire Intelligence to review and protect solutions as new intellectual property emerges