Siemens to work with Adidas on flexible manufacturing project

Automation giant Siemens has joined forces with Adidas on the development of a smart factory concept that the sportswear manufacturer has put at the heart of its plans for the future.

Adidas plans to transform the production of sports shoes (Credit: Adidas)

Through its so-called Speedfactory concept Adidas plans to use automation technology and flexible manufacturing technologies like robotics and 3D printing to enable localised and bespoke manufacturing of sports shoes: simplifying the supply chain and reducing the reliance on shipping.

The sportswear giant has already built a pilot plant in the Bavarian town of Ansbach and plans to begin production from the site later this year. It is also building a second facility in Atlanta in the US and ultimately plans to establish a global network of the nimble, new plants.

Siemens will be working with Adidas on the digitisation of the concept, and using its suite of so-called Digital Enterprise software tools to create a “digital twin” of the speedfactory which will allow the entire production process to be simulated, tested and optimised up front.

According to Siemens, merging the virtual and real worlds will help shorten the time to market, bring greater flexibility and provide improved manufacturing quality and efficiency.

“The speedfactories…are a perfect illustration of where the production of the future is heading,” said Klaus Helmrich, member of the management board of Siemens. “The social trend towards greater customisation coupled with new technologies capable of actually fulfilling these expectations will permanently change many production processes.”

Commenting on the collaboration, Adidas’ VP of Technology Innovation Gerd Manz said: “By digitalising the value chain, we will be able to implement new technological innovations more quickly, make more efficient and transparent use of the resources available and so respond more flexibly to the individual needs of our consumers – to give them what they want when they want it.”