• Adidas will stop production at the Ansbach and Atlanta facilities by April 2020 "at the latest."
  • Process innovations in the supply chain will be tested and driven forward at the company's site in Scheinfeld, Germany, – the so-called adiLab.
  • The company will use its Speedfactory technologies to produce athletic footwear at two of its suppliers in Asia.
Production at the two Speedfactories in Ansbach,
Germany, and Atlanta, USA, will be discontinued by April 2020 at the latest

Production at the two Speedfactories in Ansbach, Germany, and Atlanta, USA, will be discontinued by April 2020 at the latest

Sportswear giant Adidas has announced production at its Speedfactories in both Germany and the US will be discontinued next year amid plans to deploy Speedfactory technologies at two of its Asian suppliers by the end of 2019.

In a statement today (11 November), Adidas said production at the two Speedfactories in Ansbach, Germany, and Atlanta, US, will cease by April 2020 "at the latest".

The Speedfactory concept uses robotic technology in automated modular production cells to combine fast response with the flexibility to offer products that are uniquely customised for individual consumers.

With its automated and robot-led production lines, manufacturing flexibility and proximity to consumers, Speedfactory enables accelerated speed to market – three times faster than the standard production times – allowing for quicker response time to trends and shifts in the marketplace. Other benefits include a shift to mass personalisation, efficiency, and greater sustainability by bringing production closer to the end consumer, slashing transportation costs.

"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," said Martin Shankland, member of the executive board of Adidas AG, responsible for global operations.

Starting at the end of this year, Adidas will use Speedfactory technologies to produce athletic footwear at two of its existing suppliers in Asia. It expects the move to result in "better utilisation of existing production capacity" and more flexibility in product design.

The company added its consumers will benefit as the combination of the existing technical skills of the Asian suppliers, coupled with new production methods developed at its Speedfactories in Ansbach and Atlanta, will allow for more variations of Speedfactory footwear models in the future.

"These will continue to be characterised by a particularly short production time, allowing the company to continue to respond quickly to consumer needs," it said, adding in the future, Adidas will concentrate its resources and capacities even more on modernising its
other suppliers and using 4D technology in footwear production.

Going forward, not only running shoes but also models of other product categories will be able to be produced in a short period of time by using the production processes tested in the Speedfactories.

However, Adidas will continue to develop, improve and test manufacturing processes in Germany, with process innovations bundled and driven forward at the Adidas production site in Scheinfeld, the so-called adiLab.

In addition, the firm said it will continue its collaboration with Oechsler, the operator of both Speedfactories, in other manufacturing areas such as the production of soles for shoes using Boost technology, soles for football shoes and 4D-printed soles.

"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. We very much regret that our collaboration in Ansbach and Atlanta has come to an end and thank all project participants for their commitment," Shankland added. "At the same time, we are pleased to continue our partnership with Oechsler in other areas, especially in advanced 4D printing," Martin Shankland stated.

Dr Claudius Kozlik, CEO of Oechsler, AG, said while the company understands Adidas' reasons for discontinuing Speedfactory production at Oechsler, it regrets the decision.

He added, however, the company looks forward to continuing its "close and trusting cooperation" with Adidas in the area of 4D sole printing.

"With the Speedfactory production for Adidas, we have gained extremely valuable insights which have already been and will continue to be incorporated into the production of other Oechsler Group divisions – automotive, medical and innovative solutions."

Oechsler told just-style that while it cannot yet quantify the total number of job losses, after an initial internal review more than 100 of the 270 employees currently working at the Ansbach/Brodswinden plant are affected as well as all employees of the Speedfactory based in Atlanta, where about another 100 staff are based.