Adidas has re-opened in Germany after an announcement that it will begin distribution of it’s first series of shoes manufactured by robots.
The factory is still under construction however it is open to the press. Adidas has pledged to fully automate shoe production by 2017, which is currently done mostly by hand in Asian markets. This will allow shoes to be made much faster and closer to sales outlets
Large-scale production will begin in 2017 and Adidas was planning a second “Speed Factory” in the United States in the same year, said Hainer.
Hainer insisted the factories would not immediately replace the work of sub-contractors in Asia. “Our goal is not full automatisation,” said Gerd Manz, head of innovation and technology.
Adidas produced 301m pairs of shoes in 2015 and needs to produce 30m more each year to reach its growth targets by 2020.
Six subcontractors of Adidas in China declined to comment on the new factories or said they were not aware of them.
In the longer term Adidas is planning to build robot-operated factories in Britain or in France, and could even produce the shirts of Germany’s national football team in its home country, said Hainer.
The shoes made in Germany would sell at a similar price to those produced in Asia, he said.
Adidas is facing rising production costs in Asia where it employs around one million workers. Arch-rival Nike is also developing its robot-operated factory.