Adidas announced Monday (Nov. 11) that it will be closing its robotic “Speedfactories” in Atlanta and Ansbach, Germany, within 6 months.
Instead, the company will use its Speedfactory technologies to produce athletic footwear at two of its suppliers in Asia by the end of this year. Adidas also plans to focus more on modernizing its other suppliers, as well as using 4D technology in footwear production. The company did not reveal what would happen to the jobs at the closing plants.
“The Speedfactories have been instrumental in furthering our manufacturing innovation and capabilities. 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,” Adidas global operations head Martin Shankland said in a press release.
“We very much regret that our collaboration in Ansbach and Atlanta has come to an end,” he added.
Adidas pointed out, however, that its partnership with Oechsler, the operator of both Speedfactories, will continue.
“The knowledge we gained from setting up and operating the Speedfactories was made possible through constructive cooperation with Oechsler and the team there. With this, we have pioneered new manufacturing processes, including significant reduction in production time of athletic footwear. … At the same time, we are pleased to continue our partnership with Oechsler in other areas, especially in advanced 4D printing.”
The factories, which opened in 2016 (Ansbach) and 2017 (Atlanta), were meant to help the company decentralize its manufacturing processes.
“Right now, most of our products are made out of Asia and we put them on a boat or on a plane so they end up on Fifth Avenue,” said Adidas CMO Eric Liedtke in an interview last year, according to TechCrunch. With the Speedfactories, “instead of having some sort of micro-distribution center in Jersey, we can have a micro-factory in Jersey,” he explained.