Plastics News is sharing information about an expansion taking place in St. Charles at Nike’s “Air Manufacturing Innovation Facility”. This is important for a number of reasons. It’s the second update of a facility in the middle of the US with Nike’s billion dollar facility in North Memphis where the company pushes out 30,000 pair of shoes per day to customers and wholesale accounts. This facility in St. Charles, Missouri is where the company manufactures the “Air” bladders for it’s Air Division of footwear cushioning. During Investor’s Day a serious emphasis was placed on the importance of Air.
As the Plastics News article shares about “Air”, “As a platform, it’s a several billion-dollar business and growing. In fact, if Air was a standalone athletic company, it would be the third-largest in the world.” During the Investor’s Day Nike also discussed their APCC and the process that has reduced speed of midsole and outsole production from 50 minutes to 2.5 minutes. Reducing the cost of footwear is allowing Nike to reduce the cost of shoes to consumers. Couple this with their CDO and you have an opportunity to have more domestic production (reducing import) and a better price.
Revolutionary Method of Make created in the APCC. (I discussed this on the site) Making an upper in 30 seconds. (video playing) Another discussion on Flyleather. Rolled good instead of imperfect hide. Reduces material cost. Will this reduciton be introduced to
Flex will deliver 3 Million pair in the next few years sold through Nike direct. Flyknit is now 12 weeks faster. Knit to order delivered in under 10 days. Many customers getting them in 3 or 4 days.
What isn’t being noted in this article is the potential for 3D manufacturing. As Nike ramps up production for “Air Sole Units” the facility naturally will shift towards 3D production as well. The St. Charles facility doesn’t just make Air Sole Units, it produces products for other companies as well. An update to a facility in middle America creates the perfect opportunity for Nike to expand testing in the 3D area as well. A little discussed fact about Nike is its patenting process. Over three years ago, while adidas and Under Armour were focused on bringing 3D to the consumer, Nike had already implemented 3D into performance footwear for NFL players. While New Balance was the first to actually produce a 3D ready shoe, Nike patented the process by which consumers, who could have access to 3D printers if the technology grows in importance and costs are reduced, could print their own footwear via Nike software for 3D:
The article above discusses the patent in relation to Nike’ loosening its hold on the brand image via customizing. Which was seen to a larger extent via the “90/10” project during NBA All Star Weekend 2018. Couple the information on the St. Charles expansion with info on Nike’s investment in Grabit a few years back and you have a storm brewing that isn’t getting as much attention as adidas and Speedfactory but underlies the shift in speed that Nike is working to reach 50 billion.