Adidas ‘Reboots’: Returns to Making Shoes in Germany

Recently, the German maker of sportswear and equipment, Adidas, announced that it will once again sell a series of sport shoes manufactured in Germany… this time, however, made by robots.

More than 20 years after Adidas ceased production activities in Germany and moved them to Asia instead, chief executive Herbert Hainer, unveiled to the press the group’s new prototype “Speed factory” in Ansbach in southern Germany.

The new state of the art factory is still being built, but Adidas showed off a foretaste of it to the press, promising to automate shoe production, currently done mostly by hand in Asia, and enable the shoes to be made more quickly and closer to its sales outlets.

The factory will deliver a first test series of around 500 pairs of shoes to be sold from the third quarter of 2016. Large-scale production will then begin in 2017 and Adidas is planning a second “Speed Factory” in the United States in the same year, said Hainer.

The group is targeting production of around “half a million shoes per year within three to five years” at each site, said Gerd Manz, head of innovation and technology.

CEO Hainer insisted that the speed factories would not immediately replace the work of sub-contractors done in Asia.

“Our goal is not full automation,” said Manz.

Adidas produced 301 million pairs of sport shoes in 2015 and needs to produce 30 million additional pairs each year to reach its growth targets by 2020.

Photo credit: “iStock.com/folewu”. Material used in the preparation of this article has been drawn from Industry Week.

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