Manufacturing and Value Chains

Global Lighthouse Network: Transforming advanced manufacturing

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The Global Lighthouse Network is adopting advanced manufacturing technologies to boost performance and sustainability Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto


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  • The World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network is inspiring manufacturers to develop, replicate, and scale innovations in manufacturing by creating opportunities for cross-company learning and collaboration.
  • 21 new manufacturers joined the network in late 2023. They are defining the leading edge of manufacturing. This year, they have proven AI technologies are past pilots and are being implemented with both speed and scale
  • A total of 153 factories are now engaged in the network, implementing advanced manufacturing technologies and boosting productivity, sustainability and supply chain resiliency

The impact of scaling advanced manufacturing technologies.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network is a community of leading manufacturers applying advanced technologies to speed up and spread the adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to their industries worldwide.

Each chosen “lighthouse” represents an industrial site that uniquely integrates new technologies, from artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to cloud computing and big data. In doing so, all of them show others how to increase productivity, engage workforces, reduce environmental footprint and build supply chain resilience. 21 new manufacturers joined as lighthouses in 2023, bringing the total to 153 factories that are part of the Global Lighthouses Network. These new Lighthouses have realized significant impact, including, but not limited to:

  • A leading electronics manufacturer in China has set an ambitious target to become a zero-carbon pioneer while doubling its revenue over the next three years. They have implemented a comprehensive digital energy management system and integrated AI-driven automation capable of identifying and processing up to 16 categories of production waste. They have also incorporated eco-design principles to improve circularity and reduce the quantity of materials used. These changes have already yielded a significant reduction in energy consumption per unit by 24% and have cut production waste by nearly 50%.
  • A pharmaceutical equipment manufacturer in Germany has introduced a computer vision toolkit and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) technology for rapid simulation and prediction. By implementing these tools alongside 20 other innovative use cases, the company has achieved a 35% increase in product quality, a 44% boost in productivity, and a 48% rise in output. These advancements have significantly contributed to the company’s market share expansion, even in the face of industry disruptions.
  • A global beauty company in Korea is leveraging the power of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, including AI and 3D printing, to reduce the lead time for launching new product by 50% and decrease defects by 54%. This technological integration has also enabled the creation of a new “manufactured-in-store” business model, allowing for the on-demand production of over 800,000 customized cosmetic SKUs directly at retail locations, all initiated by a single click of a button.
  • An innovative renewable energy company in India has significantly enhanced productivity, enabling the in-house development of operations and maintenance (O&M) competencies. By scaling their proprietary AI models, the company has efficiently coordinated activities across 70 wind farms, 10 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and 22 unique wind turbine models. These strategic advancements have led to continuous improvements in energy yield by 1.7%, a 40% reduction in waste, and a 17% reduction in operating expenses.
  • A Korean water sanitation utility has addressed the challenges posed by the climate crisis on water supply (such as more volatile and turbid conditions due to heatwaves and heavy rains) by launching a next-generation AI operating system. This system is designed to reduce production costs, improve responsiveness times and minimize human error. The implementation of this technology has led to a 19% reduction in chemical usage, a 42% increase in labour efficiency, and a 10% decrease in power consumption at the plant. The company is now expanding this AI system to over 40 additional plants in the region.

They are not alone in their success. All 153 Lighthouses in the network have achieved significant impact from their implementations of advanced use cases.

advanced manufacturing technologies: Impact across operational performance indicators and environmental sustainability
Impact across operational performance indicators and environmental sustainability Image: World Economic Forum

What's the challenge to the widespread adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies?

The global manufacturing industry has been lagging in the adoption of advanced technologies. More than 70% of companies investing in advanced analytics, AI, or 3D printing fail to move beyond the pilot phase of development. Most companies struggle to scale up when upgrading technology given the costs and anticipated return on investment.

Despite recent industry innovations, only a select group of leading organizations can deploy advanced manufacturing at scale, generating new value and customer experiences within the factory or across value chains.

To close this gap and accelerate an inclusive adoption of advanced technologies in manufacturing, the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains identified the need for a learning network to showcase best practices to benefit companies around the world.

"By integrating Fourth Industrial Revolution technology, lighthouses demonstrate how to scale advanced technology across entire manufacturing networks, going beyond suppliers and customers to include procurement, logistics, research and development."

Francisco Betti, Head of Global Industries, World Economic Forum

Our approach to driving innovation and scaling advanced manufacturing technologies.

The Global Lighthouse Network is inspiring manufacturers to develop, replicate, and scale innovations in manufacturing by creating opportunities for cross-company learning and collaboration.

Launched in 2018, the network has steadily grown from 16 Lighthouses to 153 today. These Lighthouses are providing a roadmap for manufacturers across the globe looking to ‘escape pilot purgatory,’ with a library of over 700 proven use cases for the implementation of 4IR technologies.

Today, the newest members of the Global Lighthouse Network are adopting AI rapidly and extensively. Each one of the 21 latest Lighthouses has an advanced AI implementation programme, up from just 10% in 2019. Moreover, 82% are prioritizing ‘scalability’ for their new advanced use cases. As the network progresses, it is shaping playbooks that will enable many more organizations to amplify the impacts of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on a larger scale.


The Lighthouse Network today

Today, 153 lighthouses span almost 100 regions and a diverse range of industries, including pharmaceuticals, steel products, electronics, and cosmetics.

The following companies have one or ore more industrial sites that are part of the Network: ACG Capsules, AGCO, Agilent, Alibaba, Amorepacific, Aramco, Arçelik, Advanced Semiconductor Engineering, AU Optronics, Baosteel, Bayer, BMW, BOE Technology, CATL, CEAT, Cipla, CITIC Dicastal, CITIC Pacific Special Steel, China Resources Building Materials Technology, Contemporary Amperex Technology, Cummins, Danfoss, Danone, DCP Midstream, De’ Longhi, DHL Supply Chain, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories, Ericsson, Fast Radius, Flex, Ford Otosan, Foxconn Industrial Internet, GAC AION New Energy, GE Healthcare, Groupe Renault, GSK, Haier, Hengtong Alpha Optic-Electric, Henkel, Hitachi, HP, Huayi New Material, Infineon, Ingrasys (a Foxconn Industrial Internet company), Innolux, Johnson & Johnson, Kenvue, K-water, Lenovo, LG Electronics, LONGi Solar Technology, LS ELECTRIC, MantaMESH, Micron, Midea, MODEC, Mondelēz, Nokia, Novo Nordisk, Petrosea, Phoenix Contact, POSCO, Procter & Gamble, Protolabs, Robert Bosch, ReNew Power, Rold, SAIC Maxus, Sandvik Coromant, Sanofi, SANY Group, Schneider Electric, Siemens, SOCAR (Petkim and STAR Refineries), Tata Steel, Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, The Coca-Cola Company, Tsingtao Brewery, Unilever, VitrA Karo, Weichai, Western Digital, Wistron, and Zymergen.

Over the years, the initiative has collected more than 700 technology use cases, supported by an equivalent number of best practices and enablers. Most of these learnings are summarized in the Global Lighthouse Network: Adopting AI with Speed and Scale report, which includes tangible learnings on both capabilities and AI use cases to inspire other organizations striving to unlock the full potential of 4IR technologies.

Recognizing factories leading by example in their commitment to environmental sustainability, 17 of these lighthouses have earned the extra distinction as Sustainability Lighthouses for outstanding reductions in their environmental footprint. You can explore the full list of lighthouses here – including both 4IR and Sustainability Lighthouses.

Image: Global Lighthouse Network: Adopting AI at Speed and Scale

How can you get involved?

The goal of the Global Lighthouse Network is to share and learn from best practices, support new partnerships and help other manufacturers to deploy advanced technology, adopt sustainable solutions, and transform their workforces at pace and scale.

The Global Lighthouse Network is an initiative let by the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Advanced Manufacturing and Supply Chains, co-founded with McKinsey & Company, and counselled by an advisory board of industry leaders working together to shape the future of global manufacturing. Factories and value chains that join the network are designated by an independent panel of experts. To learn about the application process and how to become a lighthouse, visit our webpage or contact us.

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Marco Aguilar
Marketing Communications Lead, World Economic Forum
Related topics:
Manufacturing and Value ChainsFourth Industrial RevolutionForum Institutional
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