German sportswear multinational, Adidas, announced the opening of its first automated shoe manufacturing factory in Germany, called the SpeedFactory.
Adidas decided more than 20 years ago to relocate its production activities from Germany to Asia and it now returns to its home country, with the opening of the robot-operated factory in Ansbach, southern Germany.
Katja Schreiber, Adidas Group’s senior director of corporate communications gave an interview with Fortune magazine saying that with the opening of the new factory, 160 vacancies are created at Oechsler Motion GmbH, the strategic partner of Adidas and the company that built and now operates the Speedfactory.
Adidas is expected to operate another lights out factory in the US in late 2017 and it said that in the longer term it also plans to build robot-operated factories in Britain or in France.
Our goal is not full automatisation
The German firm said that it has no plans to completely withdraw production from Asia at this stage and Gerd Manz, head of innovation and technology at the German sportswear giant stressed that company’s goal “is not full automatisation.”
The Adidas factories in Asia are labour intense and the firm employs approximately one million workers who made 301 million pairs of shoes in 2015. However, the firm wants to raise its production and make 30 million more shoes each year to reach its growth targets by 2020. The SpeedFactory in Germany is expected to deliver a first test set of around 500 pairs of shoes from the third quarter of 2016 and its first complete series of shoes will enter the German market in 2017.
Schreiber, explained that Adidas aims to lower production costs by cutting transport and logistics costs: “The current model in our industry is very much based on us sourcing products from countries where our consumers are typically not based. By the time the consumer gets the products, the actual order placed by the retail partner was many months ago. We’re trying to bring our products closer to where our consumer is, cutting out the phase where the product needs to be transported. Ideally retailers will be able to place orders based on current trends, and we won’t need to keep huge warehouses of products just in case,” she concluded.