A German factory operated largely by robots will make its first 500 pairs of running shoes for Adidas early next year as the sportswear company seeks to cut labor costs and speed up delivery to fashion-conscious consumers.
Founded by German cobbler Adi Dassler in 1949, Adidas has shifted most of its production from Europe to Asia and now relies on more than 1 million workers in contract factories, particularly in China and Vietnam.
But Adidas now wants to bring production back closer to its major markets to meet demands for faster delivery of new styles and to counter rising wages in Asia and higher shipping costs.
The new "Speedfactory" in the southern town of Ansbach near its Bavarian headquarters will start production in the first half of 2016 of a robot-made running shoe that combines a machine-knitted upper and springy "Boost" sole made from a bubble-filled polyurethane foam developed by BASF.
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Once the robots take over, what will all those refugees who came to Germany be doing?