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Unveiled: The Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Climate Change - Sustainability Lighthouse

The global manufacturing community is lagging behind in its adoption of Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies.

More than 70% of companies are still stuck in “pilot purgatory”, while only a select group of leading manufacturers are able to deploy advanced manufacturing at scale, generating new value and customer experiences within the factory or across value chains


To close this gap and accelerate a more comprehensive and inclusive adoption of advanced technologies in manufacturing, the World Economic Forum’s Shaping the Future of Advanced Manufacturing and Value Chains platform has set up the Global Lighthouse Network. This community of manufacturers shows leadership in using Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to transform factories, value chains, and business models, for compelling financial and operational returns. To date, 103 manufacturing Lighthouses have been identified from different industry sectors, including 6 Sustainability Lighthouses.

Benifits Of The Program

They have embarked on a joint learning journey, partnering on collaborative projects, developing insights, and incubating new potential partnerships. The new designation of "Sustainability Lighthouses" was introduced in September 2021 to recognize environmental responsibility leaders. Part of what makes the Global Lighthouse Network unique is that it is not centered on any one type of manufacturing. Lighthouses are proving that their digital journeys bring unprecedented efficiency and effectiveness. The lessons leading to this Lighthouse Playbook were already materializing before the pandemic.

Second, Lighthouses revealed six core enablers as key to the successful Fourth Industrial Revolution transformation: an agile approach, agile digital studio, industrial internet of things stack, IIoT academy, technology ecosystem, and transformation office. Lighthouses have a proven set of commonalities manufacturers can look to as they chart their courses; indeed, the trends of Lighthouses today will become the standards of tomorrow.

Some Lighthouse companies scale up across their production networks, implementing four-wall transformations at multiple sites. Sometimes scaling up across the value chain includes expanding the Lighthouse across adjacent functions, such as procurement. Agile methods let companies scale up quickly while boosting workforce engagement leadership is vital because it's hard for companies to undertake any substantial change, let alone one as comprehensive as the Fourth Industrial Revolution digital transformation.

The transformation office defines roles and responsibilities, positioning people for success and ensuring the necessary talents, skills and abilities are in place through assignment, hiring, and skills development. Ultimately, the transformation office ensures that the company captures the potential value derived from targets and objectives, keeping tabs on measurable, granular KPIs.

Undoubtedly, the world has changed drastically in the past two years. Lighthouses have shown that to grow responsibly, companies must scale their transformation with these priorities front and center. Accordingly, the Lighthouse Playbook is focused not merely on successful transformation but also on responsible transformation.

Fourth Industrial Revolution

Lighthouses are harnessing Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies that enable them to use strong transformation governance to accelerate scaling, ensure eco- sustainability and increase workforce management. Now, with more Lighthouses, more use cases, and more data points than before, the network's insights are more compelling than ever, providing the keys to environmentally sustainable growth. This new Global Lighthouse Network Playbook, informed by these front-runner organizations, shows how manufacturing and the supply chain will evolve in the next five years.

The September 2021 impact paper entitled Global Lighthouse Network: Unlocking Sustainability through Fourth Industrial Revolution Technologies explored how the climate crisis has pushed environmental responsibility higher than ever on the list of industrial priorities. It illustrates how Lighthouse organizations are setting the bar for environmental stewardship through pragmatic, effective, and future-focused sustainability efforts.

Lighthouses are defying the conventional wisdom that environmental responsibility is inherently at odds with productivity and, by extension, profitability. In the past two years, the workforce engagement that Lighthouses have achieved has been a critical element of their success. There are nearly double the number of open jobs in US manufacturing compared with a year ago, with unfilled roles in factories jumping 6% in October 2021.

As the labor force has left jobs in record numbers in the turmoil of the pandemic, front-runners are distinguishing themselves with the resilience gained from a concerted focus on their people - on the social element of ESG. Companies that put effort into learning and development, empowerment and ownership, collaboration and connections, recognizing impact, and listening to the worker's voice realize the rewards of an engaged workforce.

The Lighthouse Playbook calls for embracing a new understanding of the very nature of work itself and, accordingly, realizing new structures and approaches. Leading companies do not consider their workers static; rather, they facilitate their growth and development, empowering them to learn new skills and ways of working to reach their potential in a changing manufacturing landscape.


Lighthouse companies engage their workforces by recognizing and celebrating the impact of the people and products they create, reinforcing the organization's culture and values. Finally, Lighthouses show that by prioritizing the worker's voice, companies who listen to their people, including through digital channels and using big data, can better understand their employees' needs, even those that aren't immediately apparent.

This is the kind of true workforce engagement seen at Lighthouses: people want to come to a company, and once there, they have a strong desire to stay, learn and contribute. Lighthouses have shown that when people are engaged, they work together to grow, change and adapt, thus seeing their companies through the toughest of times.

The Lighthouse Playbook, even as it continues to evolve with more data, more evidence, and more valuable insights to share, makes a compelling case for how to embark on a successful Fourth Industrial Revolution transformation journey and, in particular, how to maintain a steady course even in the face of the most turbulent storms. Now, in light of all the changes the world has experienced over the past two years, the Global Lighthouse Network has, even more, to offer to help manufacturing organizations and their ecosystems accelerate the responsible transformation and scaling.


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