Posted on November 12, 2019, 1:26 PM IST
The gigantic footwear company Adidas has made some major annoucements, it has come up with the decision of shutting down the Sppedfactory run by robots by April next year. The Speedfactory, factories, in Ansbach, Germany and Atlanta, US will be seeing a closure early next year as the company campaigns to focus more on production at its factories in Asia, particularly China and Vietnam.
Adidas which is conscious about its financial crunches mentioned that, it will be more economical and flexible to continue the production line with humans. Earlier a pioneer of propagating the production by robots theory, Adidas started manufacturing running shoes at the Speedfactory in the town of Ansbach in Germany back in 2016. The production was taken over by robots. It turned out to be a celebrated concept at that point of time. The second Speedfactory starting producing shoes and apparels in 2017, in Atlanta, USA. The end came up due to existing financial loopholes and issues.
“Starting at the end of this year, Adidas will use its Speedfactory technologies to produce athletic footwear at two of its suppliers in Asia. The company expects this to result in better utilization of existing production capacity and more flexibility in product design,” says the company in an official statement. The company also confirmed that they will maintain to build up, advance and test manufacturing processes in Germany.
Robotic factories turn out to be implausible potent and flexible setup, bringing out the new products at an incredible pace. But they cost a bomb to be maintained, even more so by humans who organize them. It is a financial strain to modify, configure and upgrade the set infrastructure in these factories, plus the robotic arms, the computing systems that coerce them, accuracy mechanics and more. It is easy to over-commit to robotics and then not be able to uphold the technological move.
Adidas insists the technological upgrades that the Speedfactory introduced to the process of producing running shoes and apparels will now be deployed in the factories in Asia. “These will continue to be characterized by a particularly short production time, allowing the company to continue to respond quickly to consumer needs,” Adidas says.
Expertise to cut down the production time, in a factory where robots do most of the production, will now be deployed in a factory where humans do all the work. More than a million workers exist in factories across Asia.
It has not always been a soft journey for Adidas with regards to the working circumstances of factory workers. In 2018, the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) report recommended that factories in Indonesia, Cambodia and Vietnam which were producing for Adidas, were not paying workers the minimum wages as mandated by the law. The factory workers’ average salaries are 45 percent to 65 percent below the legal minimum wage, according to the report.
It will be interesting to see whether Adidas commits on improving the labour conditions in these Asian units on par with the robotics that they were so accustomed to.