Adidas is ready to move their manufacturing duties over to the robots and back to Germany. It was 20 years ago that Adidas stopped producing their clothing in Germany and moved their manufacturing plants to Asia. Now they have set up their much-anticipated 'Speed Factory'. They will start large-scale manufacturing in 2017 and will build another factory in the United States.
The announcements come after Adidas tested the Speed Factory after they indicated they would be moving back to Germany last year. It must have gone well because now they are fully removing themselves from Asia. The company says that the German and American plants will be producing half a million pairs of shoes per year, each. According to Fortune, the company produces 301 million pairs of shoes as it is with physical labour.
"The current model in our industry is very much based on 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. Our goal is not full automation. There are highly skilled employees working in these facilities" says Katja Schreiber, Adidas Group's senior director of corporate communications. She is assuring the worried employees that their jobs are safe...for now.
That's not the only manufacturing Adidas has successfully experimented with. They've also delved into additive manufacturing. Yes, that's right. Adidas (and their competitors Nike) have been 3D printing shoes. Hewlett Packard has announced that Nike will be using one of their HP Multi Jet fusion 3D printing solutions for large-scale manufacturing. HP claims their 3D processing station is the cleanest, most efficient, low-cost answer to printing. The printers will preview what the future of printing shoes might look like, due to the printer being able to run at 10 times the speeds of 3D printers on the market today.