Umpires, Strike Zones, Analytics and Manufacturing….What Do They Have in Common?

After watching the Cleveland Indians and the Toronto Blue Jays play in Game 4 and Game 5 of the ALCS, I could not help but notice how effective (or ineffective) the umpires behind home plate in both games were in determining strikes vs balls. When TBS uses its strike zone monitor and pitch tracking technology (TBStrike Zone), it is apparent how surprisingly often a human can, and does, error in calling strikes when the pitched ball is clearly outside the batter’s strike zone.

Baseball very much needs to come to the conclusion that the umpire has a very large influence on the outcome of these games. We all know that technology is available today that could much more accurately determine a strike from a ball. Yet baseball will not utilize this technology. Why? For the same reason I hear when I ask manufacturing management about using newer methods to more accurately track production on their factory floor. Just like baseball, they have always done it that way.

As an owner of a company that creates 21st technology for the factory floor, this inability to accurately observe expected performance is a problem you find too often in a manufacturing production plant. Of course, it is a stretch to compare the accuracy of calling strikes/balls with missing opportunities for improvements on the factory floor. But problems on factory floor occur. And too often, these process problems are not seen or tracked. Many times what really happens is not made visible to management when easy-to-use software is available to allow shop floor data collection and problems to be captured in real-time.

And just like in these playoff series, even when some technology helps track performance data, it is not analyzed to help identify areas where improvements can be made in the process. The umpires will not be called to task as they make mistakes in calling strikes for pitches shown clearly to be outside the strike zone. They enjoy a freedom that manufacturing organizations can no longer afford. Manufacturers must clearly identify the problems for a production process that fails to meet the standards set by management.

And beyond trying hard to identify these performance issues, manufacturing companies can use software technology and newer Production Tracking Software to help identify the who, what, where and when these problem situations occur. They can not only be alerted in real-time, much like the TBStrike Zone Technology, but they can capture the data and analyze it to promote best practices.

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