When the Boston Red Sox in 2004 won their first World Series in 86 years, I noticed that the championship t-shirts, hats and other gear were on the streets of Boston within hours of Game 4. Knowing a bit about manufacturing, I found out just-in-time (JIT) is alive and well in the U.S.
Sunday, within 50 miles of Phoenix, Boston and Seattle, print shops will be ramping up equipment that will put Super Bowl XLIX memorabilia on the streets within hours. (If some enterprising individual hasn’t arranged for footballs and air-pressure gauges to be branded yet, you heard the idea here first.)
Here’s how super-JIT works: both teams have developed their winning logos and designs already. By Saturday, a limited number of t-shirts and hats will have been printed and then stored in Phoenix. Either the Seahawks or the Patriots will be sporting Super Bowl XLIX Champion gear right after the game.
Just as the clock ticks down to the final seconds of the fourth quarter, memorabilia production will begin in the areas around Boston, Seattle and Phoenix.
The supply chain works like this: All official gear is trademarked, so the NFL and the teams already have a bunch of preferred vendors around the globe. (The Red Sox have at least one major t-shirt vendor in the Far East.) Because of shipping constraints, the preferred vendors and/or the trademark holders subcontract out to local vendors in Boston and Seattle if needed. Once the go-ahead is given, printing shops will churn out merchandise and transport it to local distribution centers. In turn, the distributors will deliver the merchandise to retailers, which include newspaper and magazine kiosks, grocery stores, sporting goods stores, pro shops and the like. It will probably be available online within minutes.
Invariably, however, there are overages. Whichever team does not prevail will have some existing inventory of printed gear. Most of these organizations donate these goods to charities.
The electronics industry will be well represented during the game. All of the jumbo-trons, scoreboards, advertising signs and their ilk contain reams of LEDs, processors, drivers, sensors, connectors and wireless components. There are also lots of audio companies, precision timing gear manufacturers, camera makers and digital media represented. All in all it’s a field day for manufacturing.
In the interest of full disclosure, I moved to the Boston area from upstate New York in the early 1980s. Since 2000, I’ve had nine opportunities to write JIT manufacturing articles associated with Boston-area sporting events.
In the 2000s Boston’s professional teams had arguably the most successful decade in sports history, winning 8 championships (3 by the Patriots, 3 by the Red Sox, and 1 each by the Celtics and Bruins).When the Bruins reached the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals, the city of Boston became the first city in the 21st Century to have all four of its major professional league teams win a league championship, and it is the only city ever to have championships in all four major professional leagues within a ten-year span (from the Patriots’ victory in February 2002 to the Bruins’ in June 2011). In just ten years, between February 2002 and June 2011, Boston’s teams completed what Sports Illustrated dubbed as the “Grand Slam of North American sports.”