In the footwear industry automation is beset by tremendous difficulties. The materials are flexible, stretchable, often thin and easily damaged. Natural materials, like leather, have structural faults or blemishes which must be found and eliminated. Manufacturing processes are intricate and complex, as in the case of sewing, or variable and unpredictable, like adhesive bonding. Many disparate operations are required to produce any one item of footwear. Feet are awkward shapes and come in graded sizes. They are sensitive to poor fits and pressure points. Customers have fickle tastes and are slaves to fashion. They are critical of finish and general appearance.
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