Under Armour’s CEO Raises the Bar to Automate Manufacturing and Reduce Human Touches

After Nike recently announced it would start offering customers the ability to make their own sneakers using 3D technology, Under Armour is also raising the bar with manufacturing automation.

Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank said in the company’s third quarter earnings call that footwear and apparel manufacturing facilities have yet to modernize like other industries have. He said it requires roughly 150 people to build a single shoe end-to-end, according to The Motley Fool.

Even Nike CEO Mark Parker said that 3D technology couldn’t make the entire sneaker end-to-end and that human intervention would be necessary in several components.

“After reducing the number of human touches 30%, Under Armour CEO Mark Plank says there is still plenty of room to run.”

Meanwhile, Plank said that Under Armour has already reduced the number of “human touches” by up to 30% from when it first started, but he says there is plenty of “room to run.”

The athletic apparel company is preparing to open a new facility in Baltimore in 2016 called “Lighthouse,” a 133,000-square-foot renovated city garage that will be the start to Under Armour’s new “Project Glory” manufacturing process improvement.

The Baltimore Sun reported that as of last year, UA apparel and footwear were made by 29 primary manufacturers in 14 countries, with nearly two-thirds of products made in China, Jordan, Vietnam, and Indonesia.

Plank said during the call that Project Glory will be an “advanced manufacturing innovation hub” that will allow new technologies to be tested and commercialized, then integrated into the company’s existing supply chain.

This, he said, will change the “dynamics of speed to market, pricing, costing and labor.”


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