In all of the hoopla around Super Bowl XLVIII, news trended from the weather in New Jersey to Bruno Mars’ performance to whether the defensive Seahawks would triumph over the offensive Broncos, but very few tweets and tidbits focused on the footballs. Wilson Sporting Goods Co. quietly produced 150 official game footballs and 800 official commemorative Super Bowl footballs at its Ada, Ohio, football factory—every National Football League game ball used during the competition. They did it using Gerber Technology’s Taurus II leather-cutting system instead of hand cutting, an innovation that has increased production at the football factory by approximately 10 percent.
Each cowhide will produce, on average, 10 footballs when cut manually, and cowhide is expensive. The Taurus II leather cutter uses a digital camera mounted above the cutter to capture the hide’s flaw zones. The cutter’s algorithms analyze the hide and efficiently place parts of the football, ensuring that Wilson gets the most parts from every hide. “We dramatically improve yield with part-nesting strategies that are 250 times more powerful than our previous offering,” said Mike Elia, Gerber president and CEO. The Wilson football factory produces more than 700,000 footballs each year, and the savings from Taurus II are helping to re-set production goals.