How does Nike use automation and robotics in its manufacturing?

Welcome to Thomas Insights – every day we post the latest news and analysis to keep our readers up to date with what’s happening in the industry. Sign up here to receive the best stories of the day straight to your inbox.

Reducing costs has long been a major challenge for manufacturers in the retail industry.

Over the past decade, retailers seeking to optimize their manufacturing costs have resorted to offshoring. Establishing production overseas offers several advantages, including reduced expenditure on labor and materials, tax breaks, shorter supply chains, and access to a workforce. qualified and highly specialized work.

More recently, however, rising costs of foreign labor and materials, political instability, and unpredictable supply chain disruptions have made offshoring a less attractive option for U.S. organizations, leading to many people choose to relocate their operations.

Retailers looking to repatriate production may need to offset higher manufacturing costs in the United States by moving away from labor-intensive processes and taking advantage of automation and robotics. . Some brands, including Nike, are ahead of the game.

1. Grabit’s Stackit robots

In 2017, Nike has partnered with Silicon Valley startup Grabit to increase the speed at which its shoe uppers are produced.

Grabit has developed a new technology using electro-adhesion, which allows robotic grippers to grip and work with a multitude of objects and materials. The adoption of robotics in the retail industry has been slow, largely because robots generally have difficulty handling and molding softer materials. But Grabit’s technology appears to have overcome that hurdle, with the company claiming robots can grab a 50lb egg, soft tissue, or box with the same ease.

This is an important property for a brand like Nike, whose shoes can include 40 different materials in the single upper. Their assembly requires a precise process of stacking and fusing.

Rather than mimicking a human gripping motion, the robot is equipped with electrodes, which produce an electric field that can adhere to most surfaces, allowing the grippers to grip an object.

Nike has invested in several $ 100,000 Stackit robots, which make between 300 and 600 pairs of shoes in an eight-hour shift. Robots are expensive, but Nike can now produce their shoe uppers in just 50 seconds.

2. Geek + Smart robots

Early 2020, Nike announced the arrival of same-day delivery in Japan thanks to a new partnership with smart logistics solutions provider Geek +.

The company’s personal cargo robot series serves Nike’s distribution center in Chiba, transporting products to warehouse workers to reduce costs and improve warehousing efficiency. Mark Messina, COO at Geek +, says robots have increased Nike’s order picking rate by 100 selections per hour to over 300.

For some time now, brands like Nike have been feeling the pressure of labor shortages in the logistics industry. In a post-COVID world, the growth of e-commerce and concerns about worker safety will further increase the need for products like Geek + ‘s robots, which are inexpensive, efficient and safe.

3. Flyknit 4D knit

Sports brands are constantly striving to make their shoes lighter without compromising the support required by athletes.

In 2012, Nike launched its Flyknit technology, which uses high-strength fibers to create lightweight uppers that fit “like a sock.” In addition to being exceptionally light, the material offers breathability and support, and it has a low environmental impact.

Today, the production of Nike Flyknit shoes is highly automated. A CNC knitting machine weaves the shoe upper in one piece, which can reduce the labor cost by 50% and 20% material usage. The automated process allows for more frequent updates and improvements to the shoes, because data is returned from factories in China to US-based designers and engineers.

4. 3D printing

Nike was an early adopter of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing. Technology has spurred innovation and product customization, and it has enabled the brand to produce components that would have been impossible to manufacture with traditional methods.

In 2013, Nike Football unveiled the Vapor Laser Talon, its first shoe equipped with a 3D printed plate, designed to provide optimal traction on football fields.

More recently, the company has taken advantage of computer design, which enables manufacturers to power parameters and physical properties in a template to create designs that would be nearly impossible for a human to produce. Nike used this technology to produce their Vaporfly Elite FlyPrint shoe.

In 2018, Nike claimed that its 3D printing prototyping process was 16 times faster than any previous manufacturing method.

Image Credit: pio3 /

5 ways to answer “What are your salary expectations?” “Next story »

More automation

Source link

About Shirley Dickson

Check Also

Bring Christmas to the Boys’ Ranch

By the BH-FP press team Area residents once again have the opportunity to help make …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *