5 new Chinese manufacturing sites join WEF lighthouse network

Huang Yixuan
Eleven new manufacturing sites have joined as lighthouses in the World Economic Forum's Global Lighthouse Network, including five from China, taking the total number to 114.
Huang Yixuan

Eleven new manufacturing sites have joined as lighthouses in the World Economic Forum's Global Lighthouse Network, of which five are from China, the WEF announced on Tuesday.

This takes the total number of manufacturing sites in the network to 114, 42 of them located in China, accounting for over 30 percent of the total which is the highest proportion among all countries in the world.

The five newly-included manufacturing sites in China are CATL's Yibin plant; Haier's Qingdao plant in east Shandong Province; Midea's factory in Shunde, south Guangdong Province; Sany's Changsha factory; and Western Digital's Shanghai plant.

Currently, China's "lighthouse factories" are mainly in the 3C (computer, communication and consumer electronics), home appliance, automotive, steel and new energy industries.

Among them, the home appliance industry has the largest number of "lighthouse factories", with Haier and Midea each having five plants in the network.

Pioneered in 2018, the Global Lighthouse Network is a community of leading manufacturing sites and value chains applying Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technologies to increase efficiency and productivity, along with environmental stewardship.

"Amid warnings of a global recession, energy price hikes and disrupted supply chains, the factories offer business leaders and policymakers examples of how the manufacturing sector can stay competitive and continue to create jobs," the WEF said.

For instance, CATL's plant in Yibin, southwest Sichuan Province, further deployed in-depth artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and flexible automation on top of the lighthouse digital initiatives by CATL's headquarters in Ningde, southeast Fujian Province, and has achieved 17 percent increased line speed, 14 percent reduced yield loss, and zero carbon emission.

Meanwhile, Sany Changsha, in central Hunan Province, leveraged flexible automation, AI and Industrial IoT at scale to build a digital and flexible heavy equipment manufacturing system. As a result, the site expanded capacity by 123 percent, improved labor productivity by 98 percent, and reduced unit manufacturing cost by 29 percent, according to the WEF.

Also, to address a 250 percent annual growth rate, short technology transition pace of 18 months and workforce challenges, Western Digital semiconductor backend factory in Shanghai implemented diverse 4IR use cases such as automated product design system, machine learning based virtual wafer test and intelligent planning system. The site reduced time to market by 40 percent, product cost by 62 percent and improved productivity by 221 percent.

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