Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Footwear manufacturing gets a makeover

An EU-funded project has introduced process and technical innovations in shoe styling and manufacture. By incorporating such developments, European shoe companies will strengthen their competitiveness on a global scale.
Footwear manufacturing gets a makeover
During recent decades there has been intense global competition for low-cost shoes, gradually pushing the European footwear industry towards the classical and casual shoe sectors. Within these market segments, the industry needs to reduce the time-to-market and production costs to stay competitive.

Achieving this goal was the aim of the IDEA-FOOT project funded by the EU. Its objectives included improving shoe manufacturing in order to achieve small production runs operating rapidly and efficiently.

Based on the standardisation of shoe components, the IDEA-FOOT project developed computer-aided design modules to make the design phase easier and faster. The project also redefined the process for shoe design from a serial to a parallel model, saving up to 50 % of design time.

The project team also developed computer-aided manufacturing software to transfer the process parameters to the automated production machines. In this way, it was possible to reduce machine set-up time while increasing both the quality and consistency of the resulting products.

A final validation of the IDEA-FOOT integrated design and production process proved successful. The automated plant offers greater flexibility since different shoe styles can be produced in very small batches very quickly.

By combining traditional machines with innovative manipulation systems, the now completed IDEA-FOOT project has developed a new approach for producing shoes. This will enable European footwear companies to successfully differentiate themselves from the global competition on more than just the price.

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