“What if we broke the process into intervals?”

Periodic Action: Instead of continuous action, use periodic or pulsating actions. Use pauses for scheduled service.


Examples include an impact drill, electric carving knife, electric toothbrush and the sewing machine.


In order to draw attention, and save electricity, signal and warning lights will often be made to flash.

Several energy consuming devices can be made to run on a small power supply if their periodic actions are deliberately un-synchronized so that there is no time when all the devices are on at once.


In modern car engines, port and direct injection allows fuel to be added at precisely the right moment for good power, economy, emissions and responsiveness. This contrasts with older designs with throttle body fuel injection which continuously added fuel to the passing air.

It can often be more efficient to perform work in batches, rather than at a low rate continuously, for example a batch of 12 cupcakes is easier to make than one cupcake after another a dozen times.

Sabbaticals, periodic intervals of time away from teaching, are granted to faculty members so that they can focus on research.

Rather than continuously examine business activities, audits are taken periodically to avoid the expense of constant effort.

Traffic can be divided into period flow in only one direction when roads are restricted due to construction.

More examples

As I stumble across real world examples of this Inventive Principle in action I add them here.

Your turn

What problems do you face that this inventive principle could help solve? Have you used this principle before?