Production of Baseball Bats – From Forest to Field

Posted on April 25, 2012 | in Baseball, Inventory, Lean Wastes, Manufacturing, Motion, Overprocessing, Sports, Transportation | by

As a follow-up to the video about the production process for baseballs, Mark Graban of LeanBlog.org passed along this ESPN video about how baseball bats are made.

Forest to Field from ESPN Creative Services on Vimeo.

Very interesting to see all of the production steps together, all the way from a felled tree to Hanley Ramirez’s locker in Miami.

So recognizing that all processes (whether they’re deemed efficient or not) will have some waste activities inherent within, here are some of the waste activities I saw in the video.

  • Quite a bit of transportation – hauling the felled trees to the trailer, then driving the trailer to the sawing facility
  • Collecting inventory of trimmed sticks (the raw, round cuts from the tree, yet to be shaped into a bat by the lathe) builds WIP between process steps
  • Repeated touching and motion by the operators – transfer from conveyor to pallet, set on pallet and push, picking pallet up and transferring to semi trailer
  • Handling sticks from pallet into mechanical queue for lathe
  • Manual shaping of the bats while on the lathe could introduce inconsistencies – either cutting too much or not enough
  • Tapping of numbers into ends of sticks – the ends are removed during the trimming process, so the tapping process is essentially overprocessing

Obviously there will be more, and not every waste can be alleviated. The tree is felled in Pennsylvania, but the bat is created in Louisville at the Louisville Slugger plant – waste of transportation would be minimized if the felled tree didn’t have to be shipped so far or could be processed as close to its roots as possible – Louisville Slugger isn’t going to relocate itself to where the trees it uses are growing.

You have to look at waste activities as those parts of the process for which the customer isn’t willing to pay. Louisville Slugger is willing to pay for trees to be shipped from Pennsylvania if they’re the preferred ones. Ideally those trees would be closer. Maybe Hanley Ramirez wants his bats delivered a dozen at a time in a cardboard box with each bat individually bagged.

But if there is an opportunity to find ways to reduce the investment in time, money, or effort in order to accomplish what the customer desires, the opportunity should be investigated.

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One Response to “Production of Baseball Bats – From Forest to Field”

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

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