adidas is set to close its high-tech robot factories in the US and Germany just 3 years after the first one opened, the company has announced. The factories were created to help meet demand for faster delivery of new styles to its major markets and to counter rising wages and shipping costs in Asia. However, according to Quartz, there were many difficulties.
The robot facilities were only able to produce a limited number of models, that mainly consisted of running shoes with a knit upper. Also, they were unable to produce leather shoes with rubber soles, which include popular shoes like the Superstar and Stan Smith. It can also be more challenging to change production lines in a robotic factory, as opposed to retraining a human workforce.
As a solution, the sneaker giant is switching its focus to its speedfactories technology and produce sneakers at its two Asia suppliers in Vietnam and China. In a statement to CNN, the company admits that “it makes more sense to concentrate the production of the Speedfactories where the know how and the suppliers are located.”
Martin Shankland, Adidas head of global operations, also chimed in on the press release stating, "The Speedfactories have been instrumental in furthering our manufacturing innovation and capabilities. Through shortened development and production lead times, we’ve provided select customers with hyper-relevant product for moments that matter. This was our goal from the start. We are now able to couple these learnings with other advancements made with our suppliers, leveraging the totality of these technologies to be more flexible and economic while simultaneously expanding the range of products available."
Going forward, not only running shoes, but other products will be produced using the production of the speedfactories.