Manufacturing Process of Baseballs

Posted on April 10, 2012 | in Baseball, Defects, Lean Wastes, Manufacturing, Motion, New Ideas, Overprocessing, Sports, Time Savings, Transportation | by

This is a great video on the baseball manufacturing process.

So how many wasteful activities did you spot in the process? Here are some things I saw (obviously not comprehensive):

  • Manual dumping of adhesives into drums – how important is it to have the same amount of adhesive for every batch? (Probably not critical, but if you’re using more than necessary you’re throwing money away and over time those pennies can add up.)
  • Excess motion in wrapping the first bits of yarn around the pill or central layers and putting into the machine before removing from machine after full wrapping
  • Measuring the circumference of each ball using a tape measure takes time and motion, plus is potentially inconsistent – perhaps there is a poka-yoke option to fit yarned centers through standardized holes of proper dimension?
  • Checking the weight of each center after the wool and poly-blend yarns have been wrapped around – is there a way to check weights of yarns used based on length of yarn consumed or checking earlier in the process after each step so you can tell if you’re using too much of one style of yarn?
  • Lots of excessive motion in the stitching of the seams – the stitching is necessary but that is a lot of strain put onto the folks sewing the seams
  • Overprocessing in pushing the seams into v-shapes after the stitching has been completed – is it possible to pull the seams into v-shapes as the stitching is being completed so the operators don’t have to go back and adjust their work?
  • Time between processes and the manual lifting of pills and centers into the adhesive drums
  • Excess motion in the date stamping of leather cutouts
  • Rubbing wax on threads for stitching the covers

There are many more – I wonder if Rawlings has looked deeper at how they might be able to streamline operations. What else did you catch?

(Thanks to Rob Neyer at SBNation for sharing this!)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
TAGS: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

7 Responses to “Manufacturing Process of Baseballs”

  1. Mark Graban says:

    Thanks for sharing that. I hope that tape measure was just used for illustration on the show… you’re right, there has to be a more precise way of gauging the size of the “pill.”

    I’m also surprised they punched/pressed each leather cover individually instead of having a press that could do many in a single motion (with a larger die).

    Seeing the rows of workers makes me think “holy sweatshop” but hopefully they are paid well and treated fairly.

    • Chad Walters says:

      The major domestic professional sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) have very tight specifications for the on-the-field tools (balls, pucks, goals, baskets, etc). For as tight of tolerances as they expect, you would think there would be greater application of quality standards at the beginning of the process. That being said, it’s entirely possible the video left those parts out – maybe they’re boring.

      I honestly couldn’t get my head around all of the motion and precise stitching/threading necessary to cover a baseball. My gut reaction to the lines of stitchers was similar to yours.

      I think the punch/press process is done individually because leather hides will arrive in different sizes and shapes, and an operator can maximize how much of the hide can be consumed by varying the locations of the punches and minimizing how much of the hide is thrown out. That being said, I don’t know how much the leather hide shape/size varies.

  2. Mark Graban says:

    At the very end, it looked like a sorting process for COM (commercial?), PRACTICE, and PRO balls. Some criteria that determine if it’s going to be game-used, practice, or just sold to fans as “authentic.” I wonder how automated that gauging is? Weight, size, visual appearance?

    It would be interesting to hear a pitcher’s perspective on the variation in the balls – the seams, weight, etc. Are some pitchers pickier about sending a ball back to the ump (for manufacturing variation reasons)?

  3. Pingback: Production of Baseball Bats – From Forest to Field | Lean Blitz – Do it better.

  4. Pingback: Manufacturing Process of Footballs | Lean Blitz – Do it better.

  5. Pingback: State of the Lean Blitz Blog: April 2012 | Lean Blitz – Do it better.

  6. Pingback: A #Lean Look at the #Baseball Jersey Manufacturing Process | Lean Blitz – Do it better.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Get Lean Blitz in your Inbox!

Subscribe to a daily digest of Lean Blitz posts by clicking here!