Leading sportswear brand adidas welcomed De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) students to its factory in Vietnam, where they gained valuable industry insights.
Based just outside Ho Chi Minh City, the factory has a 3,000-strong workforce split across four key areas of production – knitting, digital and finishing, print and embroidery, and cutting and sewing.
Before taking a look behind the scenes with a guided tour of the factory floor, students were greeted by the brand’s head of apparel sourcing for South East Asia and director of operations management, who delivered a presentation and answered questions.
Students learned about the intricate sourcing and manufacturing process, as well as the crucial role automation plays in efficiency and how workers are upskilled to use the new technology.
They were particularly keen to hear about the brand’s sustainability efforts, including its initiative that takes recycles plastic waste from the oceans into polyester.
For Fashion Buying with Design student Zoe Wood, the visit was a chance to see what she has been learning about in action.
She said: “I studied a module dedicated to sourcing and supply, so today directly related to my degree and has given me some good ideas for my upcoming projects.
“You learn about the scale and efficiency of factories like this, but seeing it is really eye-opening. Adidas’ enthusiasm for sustainability was good to see, as that’s a huge industry focus right now. Not only are they reducing plastic pollution in the oceans, their off-cuts are turned into new fabric.”
Business and Management student Daniel Czyzak was particularly interested in the visit, having recently completed a placement year at SAP, a multinational software company helping businesses to run their operations more efficiently.
“Adidas is an SAP client, so I was excited to see what operations looked like from the other side of the business,” he said.
“My course looks into a wide range of issues affecting businesses around the world and so it’s very important for me to understand what big brands consider when choosing their suppliers and manufacturers.
“I’m going to leverage what I’ve learned today, as I want to go into a strategic role when I graduate, so it’s useful to know what market leaders are doing right now.”
Andrew Hayward, who studies Intelligent Systems, left the factory feeling confident about his future career path.
He said: “It was really interesting to hear that two years ago, it took 90 days from ordering a product to delivery, and now thanks to automation, it takes just 30 days.
“Although this might mean job losses in some areas, we’re a very long way away from ever replacing designers with machines. Automation also creates lots of jobs for engineers because machines need programming, maintaining and developing.”
As a big fan of the brand, Biomedical Science student Olivia Scotton was apprehensive about the visit.
“Adidas is one of my favourite brands so although I wanted to know how things are made, I was worried about whether I would still want to support it because you hear a lot about working conditions in factories in developing countries.
“I was actually really surprised to see how light, bright and clean spaces are and pleased to hear how the wellbeing of workers is considered. I was also surprised by the high levels of automation.”
The 26 students are visiting Vietnam as part of a week-long trip to give them an insight into the working world in Asia. It’s organised by DMU Works, the university’s careers programme, and DMU Global, the university’s international experience programme, in partnership with Pagoda Projects.
Posted on Thursday 7th November 2019