Innovation Hub Pro Athlete

CASE STUDY: Innovation Hub – Custom Box Configuration

In Case study by Patrick Shore

CHALLENGES

As a growing e-commerce company selling baseball and softball bats and gloves, Kansas City-based Pro Athlete Inc. was beginning to outgrow its manual procedures, especially the process to create one of the boxes needed to ship their products.

The company needed the ability to configure, package and ship 1,500 bats (in individual boxes) per day to meet the growing number of orders. Company leaders considered hiring two individuals to manually configure the boxes, but the small size and tight folds of the bat box made the configuration process very labor-intensive, said Scott Hedrick, chairman of Pro Athlete.

“It’s just hard for humans to do it,” he said. “It takes some strength and it wears you out. It’s actually very hard work.”

To keep up with demand, Hedrick needed to find an automated solution.

SOLUTION

The bat box needed to be 35 inches long and three inches square, but Hedrick and his team quickly found that traditional box manufacturers were not able to create a box to meet those dimensions.

“We looked long and hard, and we found all these other box companies … and we couldn’t get anywhere with anybody,” Hedrick said. “We couldn’t figure it out.”

Hedrick was then introduced to the innovation team at Veracity, which began working to identify companies with the ability to automate the box configuration process. The team discovered a local company that was already producing box machines for global companies such as Wayfair, U-Haul, JCPenney, and others—and that could manufacture a machine to create the specific box size needed by Pro Athlete. Veracity worked with the company to get Pro Athlete worked into the busy schedule, as well as provided project management oversight with the manufacturer to design, construct, test and implement the new solution.

RESULTS

The new machine was implemented at Pro Athlete, immediately providing the company with the ability to properly configure 300 bat boxes per hour—which eliminated the need to hire additional labor. Compared to the cost of salaries and benefits of additional employees, the machine’s payback period was less than 18 months. Hedrick said he was very impressed with the solution as well as Pat Shore, Veracity’s vice president of innovation, who spearheaded the project.

“Pat navigated it through and did all the work,” Hedrick said. “Just watching how his mind works is pretty cool. He’s on it.”