Adidas is abandoning its robotic “Speedfactories” after just four years admitting defeat on its ambitious automation experiment.
The Speedfactories, entirely automated factories which it opened in Ansbach, Germany, in 2016 and Atlanta, US, in 2017, will now be closed within six months threatening 160 jobs.
Adidas launched the project with a view to moving its production out of Asia and creating its products in the heart of its most lucrative markets, dramatically reducing both production and delivery times.
Shoes produced in Asia can take up to 60 days to make from start to finish, and another 60 to distribute around the world.
Its SpeedFactories, run by German company Oechsler, promised to be able to produce shoes in a matter of days, while incorporating 3D printing, mass customisation and near-sourcing.
However, these factories were limited in what they could produce, unable to make leather shoes with rubber souls such as its Stan Smith and Superstar ranges, stating that it was yet to find a way to automate the joining process.
Adidas has confirmed that it will now move its Speedfactory production to Asia where the majority of its goods are made anyway, and use what it has learnt in Europe and the US to improve the production process.
“The knowledge we gained from setting up and operating the Speedfactories was made possible through constructive cooperation with Oechsler and the team there,” Adidas’ Martin Shankland stated.
“With this, we have pioneered new manufacturing processes, including significant reduction in production time of athletic footwear.
“We very much regret that our collaboration in Ansbach and Atlanta has come to an end and thank all project participants for their commitment. At the same time, we are pleased to continue our partnership with Oechsler in other areas, especially in advanced 4D printing.”