Two years ago Adidas set its sights on its next big project, The Speed Factory – a series of robot-staffed manufacturing facilities located in Germany and eventually in the United States.
Adidas is the first shoe manufacturer to take on a project like this. Normally, most shoes are manufactured in remote factories by human workers. However, Adidas is stepping into the 21st Century – where a majority of their new Futurecraft athletic shoes will be produced by robot workers.
The new robot workforce will get their manufacturing specs form a program called ARAMIS, a motion-capturing technology that maps a person’s skin, bone structure, and muscles to create a perfect fitting shoe.
A small human workforce will aid the technology used to produce the Futurecraft shoe. 3D printers, robotic arms, and computerized knitting machines will work around the clock producing extremely lightweight shoes that fit like never before.
Adidas claims that their new Speed Factory is “reinventing manufacturing”. What sets this new process apart from all others is the fact that Adidas is using their new technology to create shoes that geographically make sense for the user.
In London, for example, because many people commute to work by foot the shoes need to be made with high visibility for dark or rainy conditions. Since New York City is organized in a grid, runners will need shoes that can hold up over time while making sharp 90 degree turns. In Los Angeles, shoes will need to be made that can hold up to high humidity and heat. In China, research indicates that a majority of people workout indoors, therefore the shoes will be made with specs that meet those requirements.
With new technology like this being used in manufacturing, we are one step closer to having products made that can be totally customized to fit our precise needs, yet still remain affordable. It won’t be long until we see this same production philosophy begin to be used in other industries as well.