Lighthouses are prioritising workforce and skills development to protect jobs and build resiliency

Lighthouses are prioritising workforce and skills development to protect jobs and build resiliency

Factories of Future find growth, sustainability using 4IR

15 new manufacturing sites join WEF’s Global Lighthouse Network, using 4IR technologies to achieve profitable growth without increasing their environmental footprint

April 2021

The World Economic Forum (WEF) announced the addition of 15 new sites to its Global Lighthouse Network, a community of world-leading manufacturers using Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies to enable bottom-line growth.

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic’s unprecedented disruption, 93 per cent achieved an increase in product output and found new revenue streams.

Notably, these leading innovators created new revenue streams while driving environmental sustainability – 53 per cent are seeing measurable and marked environmental sustainability benefits. Some have seen almost a total reduction in CO2 emissions, double-digit increases in efficiency and reduction in material use. The new report, Reimagining Operations for Growth, outlines how manufacturers accomplished these results.

Leading manufacturers use digital capabilities to find new revenue streams

Leading manufacturers use digital capabilities to find new revenue streams

The Lighthouse Network and its 69 sites are a platform to develop, replicate and scale innovations, creating opportunities for cross-company learning and collaboration, while setting new benchmarks for the global manufacturing community, WEF statement added.

While 74 per cent of companies remained stuck in pilot purgatory in 2020, research based on learnings from the network reveals that scalable 4IR technologies are key to long-term growth. By fully embracing agile ways of working, these manufacturers have been able to respond to disruption and ongoing shifts in supply and demand along their production network and value chains. They also prioritised workforce development – reskilling and upskilling employees for advanced manufacturing jobs – at the same pace and scale. Below is a full list of the new Lighthouses and their achievements:



Bosch (Suzhou, China): As a role model of manufacturing excellence within the group, Bosch Suzhou deployed a digital transformation strategy in manufacturing and logistics, reducing manufacturing costs by 15 per cent while improving quality by 10 per cent.

Foxconn (Chengdu, China): Confronted with fast-growing demand and labour skill scarcity, Foxconn Chengdu adopted mixed reality, AI and IoT technologies to increase labour efficiency by 200 per cent and improve overall equipment effectiveness by 17 per cent.

HP (Singapore): Facing an increase in product complexity and labour shortages leading to quality and cost challenges, HP Singapore embarked on its 4IR journey to transform its factory from being manual, labour intensive and reactive to being highly digitised, automated and driven by AI, improving its manufacturing costs by 20 per cent, and its productivity and quality by 70 per cent.

Midea (Shunde, China): To expand its e-commerce presence and overseas market share, Midea invested in digital procurement, flexible automation, digital quality, smart logistics and digital sales to improve product cost by 6 per cent, order lead times by 56 per cent and CO2 emissions by 9.6 per cent.

ReNew Power (Hubli, India): Facing exponential asset growth and rising competitiveness from new entrants, ReNew Power, India’s largest renewables company, developed 4IR technologies, such as proprietary advanced analytics and machine learning solutions, to increase the yield of its wind and solar assets by 2.2 per cent, reduce downtime by 31 per cent without incurring any additional capital expenditure, and improve employee productivity by 31 per cent.

Tata Steel (Jamshedpur, India): Facing operational KPI stagnation and an impending loss of captive raw material advantage, Tata Steel Jamshedpur’s 110-year-old plant deployed multiple 4IR technologies, such as machine learning and advanced analytics in procurement to save 4 per cent on raw material costs, and prescriptive analytics in production and logistics planning to reduce the cost of serving customers by 21 per cent.

Tsingtao Brewery (Qingdao, China): Facing growing consumer expectations for differentiated and diverse beers, Tsingtao Brewery rethought its use of smart digital technologies along its value chain to enable its 118-year-old factory to meet consumer needs, reducing customised order and new product development lead times by 50 per cent. As a result, it increased its share of customised beers to 33 per cent and revenue by 14 per cent.

Wistron (Kunshan, China): Wistron leveraged AI, IoT and flexible automation technologies to improve labour, asset and energy productivity, not only in production and logistics but also in supplier management, improving manufacturing costs by 26 per cent while reducing energy consumption by 49 per cent.



Henkel (Montornès, Spain): To drive further improvements in productivity and boost the company’s sustainability, Henkel built on its digital backbone to scale 4IR technologies linking its cyber and physical systems across the Montornès plant, reducing costs by 15 per cent and accelerating its time to market by 30 per cent while improving its carbon footprint by 10 per cent.

J&J Consumer Health (Helsingborg, Sweden): J&J Consumer Health addressed customer needs through increased agility using digital twins, robotics and high-tech tracking to enable 7 per cent product volume growth, with 25 per cent accelerated time to market and 20 per cent cost of goods sold reduction. 

Procter & Gamble (Amiens, France): P&G Amiens, a plant with a steady history of transforming operations to manufacture new products, embraced 4IR technologies to accommodate a consistent volume increase of 30 per cent over three years through digital twin technology as well as digital operations management and warehouse optimisation. This led to 6 per cent lower inventory levels, a 10 per cent improvement in overall equipment effectiveness and a 40 per cent reduction in scrap waste.

Siemens (Amberg, Germany): To achieve its productivity goals, this site implemented a structured lean digital factory approach, deploying smart robotics, AI-powered process controls and predictive maintenance algorithms to achieve 140 per cent factory output at double product complexity.


Middle East

STAR Refinery (Izmir, Turkey): To maintain a competitive edge within the European refinery industry, Izmir Star Refinery was designed and built to be “the technologically most advanced refinery in the world”. Leveraging more than $70 million investments in advanced technologies (e.g., asset digital performance management, digital twin, machine learning) and organisational capabilities, Star was able to increase diesel and jet yield by 10 per cent while reducing maintenance costs by 20 per cent.


North America

Ericsson (Lewisville, USA): Faced with increasing demand for 5G radios, Ericsson built a US-based, 5G-enabled digital native factory to stay close to its customers. Leveraging agile ways of working and a robust IIoT architecture, the team was able to deploy 25 use cases in 12 months. As a result, it increased output per employee by 120 per cent, reduced lead time by 75 per cent and reduced inventory by 50 per cent.

Procter & Gamble (Lima, USA): A shift in consumer trends meant more complex packaging and an increased number of products that had to be outsourced. To reverse the tide, P&G Lima invested in supply chain flexibility, leveraging digital twins, advanced analytics and robotic automation. This resulted in an acceleration of speed to market for new products by a factor of 10, an increase in labour productivity by 5 per cent year on year, and plant performance that was two times better than competitors in avoiding stock-outs during the year.

“This is a time of unparalleled industry transformation. The future belongs to those companies willing to embrace disruption and capture new opportunities. Today’s disruptions, despite their challenges, are a powerful invitation to re-envision growth. The lighthouses are illuminating the future of manufacturing and the future of the industry,” said Francisco Betti, Head of Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Production, World Economic Forum.  

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