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Design Insights: Baseball is Back!; Unmasking Manufacturing Speed

April 1, 2021
A review of the day’s top trending stories from Machine Design editors.

Baseball is Back!

April 1 is—no fooling—the start of the 2021 major league baseball season. The start of baseball is the surest harbinger of spring and a return to warmth and sunshine and summer’s fun. After a truncated season a year ago, the anticipation for a full season with some fans to start is makes this particular season one of the most anticipated in many years.

One way the game has changed in the last 20 years is the rapid growth of advanced analytics that has fundamentally changed the way we see baseball.

As Machine Design noted this week, baseball’s data analytics boom closely parallels what is happening in manufacturing—right down to changing strategies based on data and adapting your operations to maximize performance.

Unmasking Manufacturing Speed

There’s no doubt that if you were to have predicted a growth market before the start of 2020, medical masks would not have been on the list. When the pandemic forced a rapid ramp-up of mask manufacturing, it was clear the old machines would need a speed boost.

“All the mask-making machines we looked at were based on 20-year-old-designs; they were large, single-purpose machines,” says Tom Powell, vice president of Business Development for BTI, in a Machine Design article. “They were also expensive, needed lots of space and you couldn’t get one in the near term. With new technology, we knew we could make a nimble machine with high-capacity throughput on a small footprint for a much lower cost of ownership.”

The company’s successful use of design technology helped ensure the company could meet its need for today, but also be flexible enough to manufacture for different sizes and using different materials.

It may be further down the list of lessons from the pandemic, but one outcome is the idea of flexible machines that can be designed and reconfigured to meet the changing needs of a changing customer. “Speed To Market” was one of the watchwords of manufacturing design even before the pandemic. It will take on greater importance as the pandemic’s urgency subsides.

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