Technology Reversing Offshoring Trend for Adidas

Adidas plans to launch second innovative manufacturing plant.

Adidas, Prototype 3D Printed Shoe

This week, Adidas announced it would open a new footwear production site in the Atlanta area in 2017. Known as the Adidas ‘SPEEDFACTORY’, the state-of-the-art facility will allow the company to manufacture products at a much faster rate as well as be stationed closer to its consumers.

The announcement bucks the trend of recent production strategies, which has often seen global brands like Adidas and Nike lean on the cheap labour of developing nations as their production basis.

The SPEEDFACTORY, which was first announced in 2015 and is already up and running in Germany, uses intelligent robot technology that allows for greater customisation. The group expects to have a high-volume production line to consumers by 2017.

Adidas’ Group Executive Board Member and Head of Global Operations, Glenn Bennett said on the news:

“Speed is far more than a business strategy for us… [it] is all around us. It’s what athletes train for, and it’s essential to our consumers who live in a world of immediacy.”

With the advent of 3D printing, the company’s focus on speed and personalisation insights images of a future where consumers will be able to go into a store and “print” their perfect pair of fitted shoes.

The 74,000 square foot factory in Atlanta is only set to employ 160 locals; however, it ensures that production is closer to the consumer, something that Adidas’ CEO sees as critical for the future:

“This flexibility [of the SPEEDFACTORY] opens doors for us to be much closer to the market and to where our consumer is.

“Ultimately we are at the forefront of innovating our industry by expanding the boundaries for how, where and when we can manufacture our industry-leading products”.

With the reduction of labour costs, companies will see the option of being geographically closer to their consumer, appealing on both a customer service and PR level. All the while for the last 30 years, supply chains and the economies of developing nations, have been reliant on cheap offshore labour.

Adidas’ innovation questions whether advances in robotics will be disruptive to the world’s globalised economy.