Dogs and Buns | Quality Digest

In the case of golf ball manufacturing, a seemingly simple end item passes through no fewer than 10 machine-intensive operations: mixing rubber; extruding blanks; molding the core of the ball; grinding it to perfect concentricity; covering it first with a soft mantle, then a hard shell; painting; printing; affixing a custom logo; and finally to sleeving.

In a humorous moment from Steve Martin’s comedy Father of the Bride, there’s a scene where George Banks (Martin) argues with a store clerk that the number of buns in a package is mismatched with the packaged number of hot dogs: “I wanna buy eight hot dogs and eight hot dog buns to go with them. But since no one sells eight hot dog buns, I’m removing the superfluous buns from the package.”

Published Feb. 26, 2024, in the Old Lean Dude blog.


How about in your factory? Are you driven by local efficiency, especially for machine-intensive operations? Please share a story in the comments below.

The incident in the supermarket reminds me of a tour some years ago of a golf ball factory to which I invited my teacher, Hajime Ohba. The site had made some nice improvements to reduce overproduction by improving machine setups and converting a system of push production to pull. But they still struggled to keep kanban supermarkets filled.

Through all of these operations, machine efficiency dictated optimal batch size which, like in Bank’s hot dog-and-bun example, all but guaranteed what Ohba pointed out were “mismatched indices.” For example, compression molds held 48 parts for each shot, while injection molds were optimized for only eight parts. The lots for each were baked into the tooling. Ultimately, none of the process indices matched the final pack-out quantity of three balls per sleeve.

Perhaps these mismatches would be more obvious if the work were manual; maybe if the factory was less functionally organized the mura would be more obvious. “The worst waste,” as Shigeo Shingo once noted, “is the waste we do not see.”

According to Banks, the mismatch is caused by some “big shot at the wiener company colluding with a big shot at the hot company.” Perhaps. Or maybe it’s because each of the production processes has been driven independently by local efficiency.

At each level of production, the variety of SKUs was onerous. As background, for those of us who aren’t golfers (not including Ohba, who loved golf), product variety in the golf industry abounds. Any new ball that promises a few more yards to the green can be an overnight success. But product proliferation places a heavy burden on factories with equipment changeovers.