A description of how a device, product, component, or system should work, the science behind how and why the product/device does what it does. Developing a theory of operation becomes the first part of your product analysis.
Research articles and conference proceedings frequently contain Theory of Operation explanations for new products and processes. You can find these by searching a research article database like those listed under Useful Resources for a Product Analysis Report in this guide.
Select a a database that seems most likely to have related publications, then try other databases based on what you find
Try a search using "theory of operation" in quotation marks with your product or component. Examples:
"theory of operation" and gyroscopes
exhaust and measurement and "theory of operation"
"flash memory" and "theory of operation"
Once you've done an initial search, look at the results. Can you revise your search for more targeted results?
Look at the words used to describe the publications you found. These terms might be called Keywords, Topics, Subjects, Index Terms, Descriptors. Are any of them right on target? Then try searching that heading or descriptor
What terminology appears in the abstracts that describe the article? Is there a better way to describe your product to broaden the scope of your search or to focus it more narrowly?
Near the top of the screen, databases will typically show you what search was performed. For example in the ACM Digital Library you will see: 7 Results for: [All: "theory of operation"] AND [All: "flash memory"]. Is that what you wanted the database to search? If not, revise your search
Look at the ways that you can Refine or Limit your search such as Content Type or Document Type.
Note: Depending on the product you've chosen to analyze, you may not find a theory of operation for your specific product. You may need to look for components of the product or similar products and extrapolate.
Gathering, defining, and analyzing data about a product to make better decisions
Studying a product to understand its strengths and weaknesses
Through this process, you break down the product from end to end analyzing components, functions, technology, and costs. Your goal is to gather consistent information for comparison. You may want to set up a spreadsheet with columns for the product your are comparing and rows for the attributes
A Sample Process:
Start by answering these questions:
What is the function of the product? How does it work?
What are the major requirements of the product?
What is absolutely essential to satisfy these requirements?
What are the physical requirements or limits of the product?
What are the conceptual requirements or limits of the product?
These are not physical requirements, but must be met in order for this product to meet the overall requirements. Examples: the cost or time required to manufacture
What are the individual components of the product?
What additional features of the product are important?
Once you have answered these questions and have identified every component and feature. Create a 2-column spreadsheet or chart:
Left column: list all of the component parts and features
Right column: note the purpose of each component or feature. What is its purpose?
Identify which functions (right column) does your product need to fulfill?
Which features (left column) are absolutely essential to meeting the functional needs listed on the right? These are design requirements