Adidas brings robot-staffed "Speedfactories" to the US
Adidas is to open a second of its so-called "Speedfactories" following the success of its pilot site in Germany. Located near the US city of Atlanta, Georgia, the facility will boast high levels of automation, allowing for increased production volumes and more color, material and size options.
The planned facility is described by Adidas as "industry-defining" and "state-of-the-art." It is only the second facility of its type and, covering an area of 6,900 sq m (74,000 sq ft), is significantly larger than the 4,600-sq m (49,500-sq ft) pilot facility in Ansbach, Germany.
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Adidas says its Speedfactories will allow it to create sportswear faster than has previously been possible. They will be highly automated, employing robotic technology that the firm says will have the ability to produce goods both to a high quality and with customized designs.
Group executive board member at Adidas Eric Liedtke acknowledges that the firm has been producing goods in Asia "for years," helping it to keep costs down. He explains, however, that a new business model based on the Speedfactories will allow it to "decentralize" production to regional locations – in this case the US.
"We're fueling design at the ground level of creativity in Brooklyn and reinventing manufacturing with the first adidas Speedfactory in Atlanta," says Liedtke. "This allows us to make products for the consumer, with the consumer, where the consumer lives in real time, unleashing unparalleled creativity and endless opportunities for customization in America."
New customization options brought to consumers will include fit, comfort and look. The facilities will also allow Adidas to source materials and produce goods locally, helping to reduce transport emissions.
Despite high levels of automation, the Atlanta facility will see the creation of around 160 jobs. When it becomes fully functional next year, it is expected to have an initial annual production capacity of 50,000 pairs of shoes. The Ansbach facility was set up in December 2015 and is also due to begin commercial operation next year. Both sites will be operated by Adidas' strategic partner Oechsler.
We've reached out to Adidas and Oechsler for more information about the automation and robotics that will be used in the Speedfactories, and are still waiting to hear back.