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These innovations from China are improving resiliency and sustainability 

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In Greater China, leading companies are harnessing intelligent manufacturing technologies to transform their business models in a responsible way. High-rise buildings seen during the night.

In Greater China, leading companies are harnessing intelligent manufacturing technologies to transform their business models in a responsible way. Image: Unsplash/Jerry Wang

Felipe Bezamat
Head of Advanced Manufacturing Industry, World Economic Forum Geneva
Tony Wu
Community Lead, China, World Economic Forum
This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting

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  • Factories are evolving exponentially, opening new possibilities for companies to boost productivity, develop a competitive advantage, and become a new engine of economic growth.
  • The manufacturers of the Global Lighthouse Network (GLN) have been identified at the forefront of the journey towards sustainability.
  • They came together to form the intelligent manufacturing community, fostering knowledge exchange globally and placing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) on the top of their agenda.

In Greater China, a country that represents almost 30% of global manufacturing output, leading companies are harnessing intelligent manufacturing technologies - from the internet of things to 3D printing - to transform their operations and business models in a responsible way, showing great promises across industries. The manufacturers of the Global Lighthouse Network (GLN) have been identified at the forefront of this journey, by deploying these technologies at scale and generating new value and customer experiences within the factory and across value chains. Till now, there are 103 leading factory plants in this community – 37 of which are in Greater China. They came together to form the intelligent manufacturing community, fostering knowledge exchange globally and placing environmental, social, and governance (ESG) on the top of their agenda, with a strong focus on sustainability priorities and workforce engagement.


How is the World Economic Forum contributing to build resilient supply chains?

Ahead of the Annual Meeting in Davos, we asked leaders in advanced manufacturing to share concrete actions and examples of how they are addressing current global challenges, and what needs to be done to meet the full potential of factories and intelligent manufacturing technologies.

Have you read?

'The world’s first certified zero-carbon factory'

Robin Zeng, Founder and Chairman, CATL

Climate change is imposing pressing demands on the sustainability and resiliency of the new energy industry. Extreme green manufacturing and modular battery swapping are our latest achievements to address these challenges.

Our Ningde plant was recognized as a lighthouse factory in 2021 for our achievements in extreme manufacturing, which we have upgraded to extreme green manufacturing this year. In CATL’s Yibin plant, the world’s first certified zero-carbon factory, about 80% of energy consumption comes from hydropower, reducing 400,000 tons of carbon emissions every year. Supported by a smart plant management system that features real-time data monitoring of equipment operation and an advanced algorithm, we are able to calculate each equipment’s operating parameters for the lowest total energy consumption of the system.

Besides innovation in manufacturing, CATL continues to promote sustainability through business model innovation. Based on the idea of battery-vehicle separation, CATL launched the modular battery swapping solution EVOGO this January, allowing the consumer to choose one to three blocks to meet different range requirements. With its high compatibility and the standardization of Choco-SEB batteries, battery swap stations become shared infrastructure, preventing repeated investment of social resources such as land and electricity, which helps promote e-mobility and global sustainability.

'Applying intelligent manufacturing to empower sustainable development'

Wu Hanqi, President of CITIC Dicastal

In the wheel-hub industry, digital technology applications have transformed the way of traditional design and manufacturing processes. CITIC Dicastal has deployed an AI+ platform to process massive manufacturing data into the know-how that is applicable to its factories globally. Therefore, scattered data could be transformed into a shared root-cause countermeasure database that factories around the world can easily facilitate collaboration with. Traditional manufacturing enterprises can reduce resource consumption and environmental impact by applying digital transformation and intelligent manufacturing. Through industrial interconnection and agile manufacturing, factories are able to increase efficiency and reduce energy consumption to pursue a more sustainable path of low-carbon manufacturing. CITIC’s first global lighthouse in the aluminum wheel industry in Qinhuangdao enjoys a 21.4% increase in comprehensive efficiency of equipment, 37.9% decrease in delivery time, and 39% increase in energy efficiency.

'Embracing the digital transformation in manufacturing'

Brand Cheng, CEO, Fii

Digital transformation in manufacturing has been becoming an irreversible trend globally. In the past 40 years, Foxconn Industrial Internet has built a solid foundation of manufacturing capabilities based on lean production culture, information system, automation system and connected machines. We take this industrial transformation trend as a new opportunity to further enhance our manufacturing capabilities and facilitate a series of moves including upgrading our factories compliant to WEF Lighthouse Network standard, establishing Fii Cloud to provide service for our factories and value chain partners, and improving the resilience and sustainability of supply chain through sharing information intelligence.

Furthermore, Fii has announced an ambitious goal of carbon reduction to achieve net-zero emission no later than 2050. We believe digital technologies will play a vital role in forms of energy management, waste recycling, renewable energy replacement and carbon credit resolve.

Afterwards all we can work together digitally to maintain a green and beautiful world.

'Building an industrial internet ecosystem to lead sustainable development'

Chen Lucheng, Chairman of the Board, Haier COSMOPlat IoT Ecosystem Technology Co, Ltd

The increasing demands for reconstructing the global economic structure expedite the digital transition of manufacturing, and the industrial internet is naturally becoming an innovation path for sustainable development.

Adhering to its philosophy of multilateral interaction and value-added sharing, COSMOPlat enables its customers to participate in the whole manufacturing process and its enterprises to dynamically perceive the demands of customers based on its mass production-focused BaaS engine operating system. It establishes a new three-dimensional, digital economy-oriented, ecosystem-based paradigm across industries, regions, and cultures, to empower the enterprises with enhanced productivity, improved quality and cost-effective capacities. This also assists the enterprises in breaking through barriers to access more resources for production. For example, creating and delivering additional value upon a two-way value circular flow system can foster the iterations of customer experience and accelerate the value-added sharing among all actors in the ecosystem.

'Resorting to digital and smart technologies'

Fang Hongbo, Chairman, Midea

We have seen increasingly growing demands for product personalization and customization in the home appliance market and it poses a great challenge for traditional manufacturers like Midea to meet such demands effectively. Under such circumstances, we resorted to digital and smart technologies and built an E2E order management platform, which helps shorten the order delivery time greatly by monitoring each step of the delivery process and pushing predictive alerts if necessary. We also introduced the technologies to production lines in our factories. Together with robotic automation capabilities, they have helped improve our production flexibility significantly.

'Sustainable enterprise through electrification'

Mr. Xiang Wenbo, Chairman, Sany Heavy Industry Co, Ltd

Under the influence of various factors such as the increasing global climate change and the proposal of the national "dual carbon" policy, the construction machinery industry is facing the challenges of electrification and new energy transformation, while ushering in new opportunities. Sany vigorously promotes technologies such as 5G, IIoT, AI, big data, and advanced manufacturing, which increase the production capacity by 59%, shorten the manufacturing cycle by 49%, and reduce the energy consumption by 11.3%.

We have actively deployed the new energy reform of construction machinery and equipment, launched the development strategy of electrification, and have become the first brand in the field of electrification in the industry. These efforts aim to contribute to the new energy development of construction machinery, the improvement of the global environment, social responsibility, as well as building a sustainable enterprise.

Related topics:
Forum InstitutionalBusiness
'The world’s first certified zero-carbon factory''Applying intelligent manufacturing to empower sustainable development''Embracing the digital transformation in manufacturing''Building an industrial internet ecosystem to lead sustainable development''Resorting to digital and smart technologies''Sustainable enterprise through electrification'

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