Only a few years ago, Adidas started the highly automated production of sneakers in Germany and the USA. But that will be over soon. The so-called speed factories in Ansbach in Franconia and in Atlanta will be closed at the latest in April next year, said Adidas. In return, the technology will be used for largely automated shoe production at two suppliers in Asia.
Adidas first introduced the automatic factory in Ansbach in December 2015 and worked closely with the plastics processing company Oechsler. The Speedfactories were created to respond as quickly as possible to new trends, especially in running shoe technology and fashion. For example, in the factory in Ansbach 3D printers made plastic soles that are individually adapted to the foot.
Low costs thanks to production by robots
The high-wage location Germany seemed to be attractive because in such high-tech factories, personnel expenses are hardly significant thanks to robotic production. The factory in Ansbach started with 160 employees.
Previously, Adidas had no more shoes manufactured in Germany for more than 30 years. Even the production in Ansbach accounts for only a fraction of the total production. Because the mass business is still based on glued together by hand shoes from Asia.
However, the project in Ansbach combined the expectation of bringing back at least a small portion of the costly shoe production from low-wage countries in Asia back to Germany. To start, Adidas had referred to the short transport routes and lower storage costs.
Adidas and Oechsler want to continue working together
Adidas expects the shift of Speedfactory technology to Asia to better utilize existing production capacity and provide more flexibility in product design. In addition, more variants of the Speedfactory shoe models could be offered in future, the company said.
Adidas and Oechsler want to continue their cooperation despite the closure of the factories. Adidas said it would continue to develop, improve and test manufacturing processes in Germany.