Adidas is planning to close its “robot” factories in Germany and the United States reversing a decision to bring production closer to customers in the West. The firm, the world's second-largest athletic gear maker after Nike, plans to move production to Asia.
The change in plans seems unexpected as Adidas had originally planned a global network of such factories. No details were provided on why it was closing the facilities.
The facilities, called “Speedfactories" where shoes were produced largely by robots, first showed up in the southern German town of Ansbach in 2016 and near Atlanta in 2017.
Martin Shankland, Adidas’ head of global operations, said the factories have helped the company in its manufacturing efforts. "The Speedfactories have been instrumental in furthering our manufacturing innovation and capabilities," stated Shankland.
"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," continued the executive.
China and Vietnam
Adidas has already moved most of its production from Europe to Asia, particularly to China and Vietnam. Production in the German and U.S. factories will be terminated by April 2020.
However, the firm does plan to use the technologies it pioneered in those plants to make a larger range of products with quick production times. The firm will also continue to develop, improve and test manufacturing techniques at its adiLab site in Scheinfeld, Germany.
In addition, Adidas revealed it would hold on to its cooperation with Oechsler, the German company that operated the U.S. and European factories. "We are pleased to continue our partnership with Oechsler in other areas, especially in advanced 4D printing," Shankland added.