Robot shoemakers’ Achilles’ heel
There’s one thing preventing robots from taking over footwear manufacturing— shoelaces—said Marc Bain in Qz.com. Creating a pair of Adidas sneakers requires about 120 separate steps, and many of them have long been performed by machines in Asia-based factories. But there is one “seemingly simple task” shoemaking robots haven’t yet been able to master. “The biggest challenge the s hoe industry has is how to create a robot that puts the lace into the shoe,” Adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted said last month. “That’s a completely manual process today. There is no technology for that.” Adidas has been investing heavily in automation, with plans to open a robotrun “Speedfactory” in Atlanta this year. But executives don’t expect robots to make a pair of sneakers from start to finish anytime in the next decade, in part because “human hands are still essential” in certain parts of the production process.