Adidas could build new type of shoe factory in Detroit
Detroit — Adidas, the sporting apparel giant, has big plans to save the world and its strategy may include Detroit.
The German multinational wants to make sneakers out of recycled ocean waste. And it wants to have robots help make shoes in Detroit, possibly by 2017.
"We can bring manufacturing back to Detroit, that's where we want to be in 2017," said Eric Liedtke, group executive board member global brands for the German adidas Group, on Monday. He was speaking at the United Nations in New York, where the company showcased a prototype shoe made from reclaimed and recycled ocean waste and illegal deep-sea gillnets.
Adidas is also working to create small automated factories for shoe assembly, a concept that if successful, could mean a facility in Detroit, Liedtke said. Adidas is one of the most recognizable brands on the planet. The company produces and markets athletic and sports lifestyle products. Last year it generated $19.3 billion in sales, according to Forbes magazine.
A prototype "speed factory" is scheduled to be opened by adidas in Germany next year. If the concept works, Detroit is a good choice for expansion because of the city's familiarity with automated assembly in auto production, Liedtke said.
One of the partners in the German factory venture is Johnson Controls, one of the leading manufacturers of vehicle seats and seating components. The Wisconsin-based auto supplier has a facility in Plymouth.
According to information on Johnson Controls' website, the "speed factory" project aims to greatly increase the ability for humans and robots to work together to produce textile products.
An adidas spokeswoman confirmed that manufacturing shoes in Detroit is a goal.
"Going forward, speed will be a key competitive advantage for us as we transform the adidas Group into the first true fast sports company," said Katja Schrieber in the email sent Thursday.
"One element will be the evolution of production capabilities to dramatically expand product customization options for our consumers. This is where the project you have read about, 'speed factory', comes into play," Schrieber said. "Our vision is to have a fully automated and scalable manufacturing option with independent cells wherever we want and where it makes the most sense for our consumers. We plan to kick off automated footwear manufacturing in Germany in 2016 and in the U.S. in 2017."
For more background regarding the "speed factory" concept, visit this website.