With speed to the customers

The future will be fast, very fast. And quite different. The recent development of digital media and the change in the habits of buying and demand already indicates this. A new concept in sports is currently being realized by the sporting goods group, Adidas. This year, the company has opened its first Speedfactory in Germany. On the basis of “automated manufacturing” the production will be brought to where the customer is. In this new type of factory, shoes and other sporting goods will be produced faster than ever before, as the lifestyle multinational promises.

Automized manufacturing allows production close to the customer / Source: Adidas

Automized manufacturing allows production close to the customer / Source: Adidas

The highlight: The modern robotic technology not only guarantees quality, but also a unique design. The first 500 pairs of running shoes as prototypes will be delivered before summer. Adidas CEO, Herbert Hainer started the project at the end of May, “Speedfactory combines the design and development of sporting goods with an automated, decentralised and flexible manufacturing process. The flexibility opens doors for us to be much closer to the market and to where our customers are”, says Hainer.

Together with the company Oechsler AG and the special machines producer, Manz, Adidas set up this pilot factory near Ansbach in Bavaria. The production will have positive impacts on the environment by cutting down on shipping emissions, while drastically reducing the use of adhesives, according to Adidas. 250 million pair of shoes per year alone are produced by Adidas in the Far East. Each single pair of shoes has to make a very long journey to reach Europe. This costs a lot of time and money, which can be saved with a factory close to the customers.

Own footprint: with the FutureCraft project Adidas wants to produce customized running shoes by 3D printing / Source: Adidas

Own footprint: with the FutureCraft project Adidas wants to produce customized running shoes through 3D printing / Source: Adidas

That is why the factory near Ansbach, as a testing ground for an industry-changing model of production will not remain the only one. Step by step, these Speedfactories will be expanded to other locations in cities around the world. Gerd Manz, Vice President Technology at Adidas says: “By doing so, the customer will get locally what he wants, when he wants it. This will accelerate the process tremendously.”

And this is only the beginning, according to Adidas. By using revolutionary manufacturing technologies, in-store customization and interactive digital communication between providers and customers, the Herzogenaurach-based group will offer a “holistic” approach. The customer has the choice, to develop his own design and thus individualizing his product and creating an unique model in lot size 1 – a vision that seems to become reality. In the best case, the customer can design and order his individual pair of shoes in the morning and can pick them up in the evening. Maybe for the next World Championship the tricots for the German national team will also be manufactured here.

Kirsten Rein

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