Adidas Automates to Make Shoes Faster

Issue 10-09-17   |   Reviewer:   Duane Helleloid, Ph.D.


Adidas AG designs and sells nearly a billion shoes a year but does none of the manufacturing. Shoes are primarily made in low-wage countries by more than a million workers in over a 1000 factories in 63 countries. One of its manufacturing partners recently opened a new "speedfactory" in Germany, with an emphasis on producing high-priced and special edition shoes, as well as being able to respond quickly to market demands. The goal of this factory, as well as a similar factory near Atlanta, is to shorten the time from design to final product.

Current production plans call for the speedfactory to produce about half a million pairs of shoes annually, although production could be boosted to 2.5 million pairs. With rising wages in many developing countries, aspects of the automated system introduced in these factories may find their way to other factories as the production process is perfected and costs are reduced.

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