“Lighthouse Factories” Shine an Exciting Light on Industry 4.0 and China


A driving force behind Industry 4.0 efficiency, and in essence the sustainable and operational evolution overtaking industrial manufacturing, are so-called “lighthouse factories”. The World Economic Forum recently identified 18 more Industry 4.0 lighthouse factories, bringing the total to 132 manufacturing sites across various industries and regions. In these advanced manufacturing hubs, mindset and strategy are the primary focus; China provides the location for eight of the 18 new lighthouse factories, with another five located in Southern and Southeast Asia. The lone entrant for the U.S. is an LG Electronics factory in Clarksville, TN, marking the first home appliance plant in the U.S. to join the WEF’s global network.

Why is receiving the WEF’s lighthouse factory designation such a big deal? These factories are acting as leaders on the global stage in terms of leveraging connected technologies and cutting-edge IoT to improve layers of resiliency across manufacturing’s value chain. At the same time, these factories are proving that efficiency and sustainability don’t have to be mutually-exclusive goals in the Industry 4.0 era. As McKinsey & Company’s Enno De Boer explained during last year’s lighthouse factory announcement, “sustainability and resilience have often come at the cost of efficiency, but that is no longer true. Companies now have a digital playbook and tech tools… to make their operations more flexible… and sustainable… They can amplify human capability, achieve sustainability breakthroughs, and accelerate technological innovation – the recipe for smart manufacturing.”

Currently, China is leading the way, with the rest of Asia and Europe following the path. The U.S. still needs to play catch up to stay competitive in future-focused manufacturing process improvements. Regardless, Paul Doherty, President and CEO of The Digit Group, Inc., sees many positives in this latest crop of lighthouse factories, no matter who is leading the charge.

Paul’s Thoughts

“So, here’s the thing: the World Economic Form has this program called the “lighthouse factories.” They’ve just invited 18 new factories into the program. And what I like about it is that they are exchanging information between success factors of different ways of improving to an industry 4.0 standard, things like IoT, machine learning, AI, etc.

A couple of points also showed that eight of the 18 factories would be in mainland China. I usually don’t care about geopolitics, especially regarding improving the human condition, as this program does. But when I start to see that groups like Foxconn, Haier and other types of state-known enterprises, type of companies is involved, I feel okay with that.

This isn’t like money’s being given to the government, and they’re going to spend it or not provide the right information during a lighthouse program. So, I actually feel pretty good about that. I also like that they are starting to reconsider the mindset of many of these different lighthouse factories.

And instead of looking at the scarcity model, which is competition, they’re looking at the abundance mindset model, which is something that we do as a company, and I thoroughly endorse it. As we start to see how the World Economic Forum is doing some factual, real things instead of pontificating, I’m all for it.”

Article written by James Kent.

Follow us on social media for the latest updates in B2B!


Rugged Edge Computing
Rugged Edge Computing for Tough Environments Follows Shift Away from the Cloud
March 31, 2023

At ISC West 2023, Premio showcases how Rugged Edge Computing can easily stand up to the toughest industrial workloads in the harshest environments without missing a beat. Many trends are shaping the modern security market with a strong focus on rugged hardware such as smart sensors. There is a shift away from the cloud […]

Read More
DTC brands
DTC Brands Struggle to Adapt With 2023 Consumers: Brand Trust and Flexibility is Necessary
March 31, 2023

Selling directly to the consumer buying your products can be incredibly profitable for a business, so why don’t all businesses sell directly to consumers? The simple answer is that there are many risks and challenges that come with running a direct-to-consumer (DTC) business, and the risks do not always pay off. The success […]

Read More
Voice AI
Voice AI: Changing the Sound of Restaurants and Transforming the Ordering Experience
March 31, 2023

Takeout and delivery are as much the fabric of restaurants today as a room full of diners. During the pandemic, many restaurants may not have made it out the other side without takeout and delivery services. Still, staffing shortages are a significant issue for most restaurants after the pandemic. Finding the balance between handling orders […]

Read More