Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

Nike ‘transforming its supply chain’ with 1,000 collaborative robots

The world’s biggest sportswear brand, Nike, says it is “transforming its supply” to meet the needs of its customers globally.

The company says that, in the wake of the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the past two years, Nike has “risen to the challenges and is seizing the opportunity to accelerate a transformation in its operations”.

To that end, Nike has been accelerating the opening of several regional distribution centers across the United States and Europe, largely because “consumers across all segments immediately shifted to digital engagement” because of lockdowns and other problems in visiting brick-and-mortar shops.

Andrew Campion, Nike chief operating officer, says: “From early in the global pandemic, we knew that our recovery and return to growth would neither be linear nor intuitive.

“We believed that the immediate and significant shifts we were seeing in consumer engagement would be systemic.

“So we took decisive action and began building a digital-first supply chain to power Nike’s more direct, faster and precise service of consumers, all while prioritizing sustainability.”

He adds that Nike is building a digital-first supply chain globally to serve consumers more directly at scale, and has “tripled” its capacity to serve digital consumers in North America and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Campion says: “The challenges and constraints imposed by the pandemic have driven our teams to transform how we serve consumers through the implementation of new technology platforms, automation and process improvement in our operations.”

Using artificial intelligence and machine learning, Nike says it is leveraging technology to forward-position the products that consumers love most and deliver faster, more precisely, and without compromising sustainability.

In addition to the use of regional service centers, services such as Buy Online, Pick Up in Store, Ship to Store, the No Rush Shipping option for consumers prioritizing sustainability, and Direct Order Drop are helping ensure consumers have, as Campion says, what they want, when and where they want it.

Within distribution centers, Nike has also deployed more than “1,000 cobots” – collaborative robots – to aid Nike workers, or “teammates” as the company calls them, in the sorting, packing and movement of products, increasing speed in order processing, alleviating physical challenges and allowing teammates to focus on higher-value activities.

As a result, says Campion: “Today our teams are fueling a supply chain and technology transformation that will enable Nike to more directly serve consumers over the next 50 years.

“Their resiliency, strength and creativity will continue powering Nike. Our teams at Nike have been and continue to be our single greatest competitive advantage.”

Main image: Nike’s new, highly automated Court Distribution Center, in Ham, Belgium.

Leave a Reply