Last December, I published a piece about Adidas unveiling a prototype robot-based factory to make sports shoes. It all seemed a bit sci-fi but this week it became more real with the company saying it will start production in Germany next year.
So with Nike also working on a robot factory and the fashion industry getting what the car industry has known for years (robots make really good products), what does it all mean?
Adidas wants to get production close to where its biggest consumer groups are actually buying the products and also wants to personalise its shoes more in a way that giant factories in Asia can’t do.
So the Speedfactory near the Adidas HQ will be the first of a new breed of manufacturing plant that will also spread to the US and either the UK or France.
The company will still make shoes in Asia of course, as these low-cost locations retain their edge over Europe and the US. And it won’t be throwing people in those locations out of work because rising demand means it needs to increase its factory space every year anyway. These new robot factories will fill the gap.
For more on Robots see Robots: Tantalising or tacky, they’re in a store near you and set to change the world!, plus CES 2016: WowWee unveils Robot AI dog as well as Welcome to the future: Robotics market to soar
For more on sneakers and athleisure see Nike unveils raft of innovations and new personalisation app, plus Ivy Park by Beyoncé: Athleisure’s biggest launch yet, German sports market: Coolhunting (not sports) drives growth, Under Armour’s power performance: Athleisure & connected fitness and French sport shoe market sprints ahead