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Pugh Method Example: Design of a Car Horn© 2006, Edward Lumsdaine and Monika Lumsdaine

This teaching example was originally developed by Professor Stuart Pugh. When it hasbeen used in workshops with engineers, the same design always emerges as superior, evenwhen very different groups conduct the evaluation. The following text describing thisexample is taken from Creative Problem Solving: Thinking Skills for a Changing World,College Custom Series, McGraw-Hill, 1993. We have made some changes from theoriginal version by Professor Pugh, since we are using it as an illustration, not anevaluation exercise. Also, this example only includes the first round of evaluation.

Professor Pugh’s example is used by several authors who teach the Pugh method in theirdesign texts. We have rearranged and simplified the example to bring out some points wewant to make more clearly. The datum is a widely used car horn (in the 1990’s). Table 1gives a list of design and performance criteria for the horn; these criteria are expressed notjust as quantitative targets but as positive goals. They are stated in broad terms and ranges,not in restrictive detail. At this point, they have not been ranked according to importance.

Eight different conceptual designs were developed with this set of criteria. Two newdesigns were added to the matrix during the first round of evaluation. These concepts areshown in Table 2. Table 3 shows the completed Round 1 design evaluation matrix for thecar horn. This matrix includes the additions to the list of criteria. Design #1 is the datum(the “best” existing product); it is entered in the first column next to the list of criteria.Each new design concept was then evaluated against the datum for each criterion.

TABLE 1: Design Criteria for Automobile Horn

Original List of Criteria Ease of achieving 100 – 125 decibel (sound level) Ease of achieving 2000 – 5000 Hertz (sound frequency) Resistance to corrosion (water, pollutants) Resistance to vibration, shock, acceleration/deceleration, wear-and-tear Resistance to temperature cycling and extremes Low power consumption Ease of maintenance Small size Long service life Low manufacturing cost Ease of installation Long shelf life

Criteria Added During the Round 1 Discussion Quick response time Small number of parts—simplicity of design Ease of operation (accessibility, emergency response) Ease of integration into the automobile subsystems Low weight



Discussion of the Results of Round 1

When the Round 1 evaluation has been completed for each concept, we can take ageneral look at the results to judge the validity of the criteria. This is an important stepthat must not be skipped. In the example, we notice that not one of the new concepts wasable to improve on the datum (or existing design) for resistance to vibration andresistance to temperature changes; none was able to achieve smaller size or longer shelflife. If one or more of these four criteria were important consumer requirements (withmany complaints and warranty claims), the designers would have to do more creativethinking to come up with ideas that would address these concerns.

What happens during this first round of evaluation is much discussion about the criteriaand what they really mean. A consensus may emerge about which criteria are the mostimportant and should be given more weight than others. In the example, shelf life andsize may be insignificant parameters—in this case, they could be eliminated from furtherconsideration. On the other hand, quick response time, low weight, and small number ofparts were found to be important and were therefore added to the list, as were ease ofoperation (especially during an emergency) and ease of integration of the horn into thecar’s systems (under the hood, in the steering column, and in the electrical system).

Can the students think of other important criteria (as customers)? For example, shouldthe horn be operable when the ignition is off? Some years ago, we had someone backinto our car while it was parked and we were sitting in it—there was not enough time tostart the ignition, and without the engine running, the horn did not work. The result was abig dent and inconvenience for the repair and insurance claim.

Next, the total scores for each design are obtained. The positives and negatives are addedseparately since positives cannot cancel out negatives. The results from Round 1 showthat some concepts were able to improve on the existing design; however, all conceptsaccumulated a large number of negative marks. Therefore, the next activity concentrateson making the concepts better by trying to eliminate as many of the negatives as possible.Concept #6 was expanded into two additional versions (#9 and #10), where Concept #9has only one negative—high manufacturing cost. This may not matter if this horn is for aluxury car; if it is for an economy model, additional creative thinking may be able toreduce the cost. If low manufacturing cost is very important and cannot be reduced forthis design, then other concepts that do not have this barrier need to be optimized further.

Although a team may decide to quickly throw out a few of the low-scoring concepts, thisshould be done with caution. Some of the better features or improved components ofthese concepts may be merged with other concepts for a better design. They should beexamined for stepping stone ideas; thus they provide a valuable service. During thisreview and discussion of each design in an effort to make improvements, amended ornew concepts are added to the evaluation matrix as new designs. This process may occurduring the first meeting, or new concepts can be developed after an incubation periodover several days. The later concepts would then be evaluated in Round 2.

This concludes the car horn example. A Kitchen Lighting Example in three rounds isgiven in the Entrepreneurship book by Lumsdaine & Binks and is available inPowerPoint upon request (see for ordering information).

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