Data from GlobalData reveals that robotics patent publications in the apparel sector reached a peak of 104 in 2021 before decreasing to 67 in 2022. The number of patent filings also followed a similar trend, with 73 in 2021 and 34 in 2022. As of 2023, there have been 33 patent publications and 18 patent filings in the robotics field.
Interestingly, sportswear companies have been the most active in the robotics patent space. Nike, a leading US sportswear brand, has had 360 patent publications in the last 20 years, making it one of the most innovative players in the apparel industry. Japanese sportswear brand Asics and German sportswear brand Adidas follow with 13 and seven patent publications, respectively.
Nike stands out for its incorporation of robotics in its operations, specifically with its robot-powered system called the Bot Initiated Longevity Lab (BILL). This system, part of Nike’s Move to Zero initiative, is designed to extend the life of sneakers and reduce the company’s environmental impact. By using robotics in recycling technology, Nike can give its products a second life.
Asics has also introduced automation in the shoe production process at its Sanin Asics Industry Corporation (SAI) base in Japan. The company’s automated production system utilizes industrial robots to partially automate the bonding process between the upper and sole of the shoe. This innovation has led to a significant increase in per-worker output.
In 2020, Adidas developed STRUNG, an industry-first textile and creation process that integrates athlete data into the precision placement of each thread. This allows the company to create lightweight and precisely fitted shoe uppers with specific performance zones and properties.
The introduction of robotics in the apparel sector has also impacted apparel retailing. Robotics technology helps in customer profiling, personalization, understanding market trends, and improving operational efficiency. This innovation has the potential to revolutionize the apparel industry and address various challenges faced by retailers.
Overall, the increased focus on robotics in the apparel sector demonstrates the industry’s commitment to innovation and sustainability. Moving forward, we can expect further advancements in robotics technology that will continue to shape the future of apparel manufacturing and retailing.
Sources: GlobalData, Nike, Asics, Adidas, Just Style