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adidas building robotic shoe plant in Germany

In the 1990s, adidas decided to close its manufacturing plants in Germany and move production to Asia. Now the sportswear giant has announced that its facilities in Germany are to reopen and that a factory is also planned in the USA. The difference between the 1990s and now, however, is that the factory will be operated almost entirely by robots. The company plans to sell its first shoes that have been made in Germany by an automated system during 2017.

Chief executive Herbert Hainer recently revealed details of the company’s new prototype 'Speedfactory' to be opened in the south German city of Ansbach. Robotic production in the new 4,600 sq m plant is intended to enable the shoes to be made more quickly and geographically closer to key sales outlets.

According to adidas, its Speedfactory concept can operate around the clock. It involves raw materials being fed into hoppers, after which there is no human involvement other than inspections – which can be done remotely by camera – until the finished product is packaged and ready for shipping.

A pilot Speedfactory was opened in Ansbach in 2015, and the experience gained has led adidas to expand the system. Plans have also been revealed plans for more Speedfactories to be opened in Western Europe, with France and the UK among the locations under consideration.

Photograph above shows the pilot Speedfactory, which was opened in Ansbach in 2015.

Publishing Data

This article was originally published on page 2 of the July/August 2016 issue of SATRA Bulletin.

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