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China’s “Lighthouse” factories indicate digital revolution is critical for sustainable industrial development

Nov. 1, 2022
In collaboration with UNIDO and the China Federation of Industrial Economics, the Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit gather experts to discuss best practices from China’s “Lighthouse” factories.

The Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit today held a virtual edition of its roadshow program—GMIS Connect– to highlight best practices from China’s “Lighthouse” factories and showcase the importance of digital transformation for the advancement of sustainable industrial development across the world. The roadshow was held in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the China Federation of Industrial Economics (CFIE).

China’s Lighthouse facilities account for one-third of the Global Lighthouse Network of advanced manufacturers using Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to transform factories, value chains, and business models to realize compelling financial and operational benefits, they say. The GMIS Connect China roadshow gathered experts who have constructed and operated Lighthouse factories on a panel titled “Lessons from the Lighthouses: How is China’s digital revolution impacting industrial development?

Some key insights from the discussion with industry leaders from SAIC Maxus, ROOTCLOUD TECHNOLOGY, and Siemens highlighted that a customer-centric and data-driven approach is the inevitable course for the manufacturing industry to enhance competitiveness and sustainability simultaneously. Discussions also formed around how digital transformation must go beyond the factory floor, expanding to the production ecosystem and across the value chain to advance sustainable industrial development. Speakers also touched on how advanced technology and digital platforms enable traditional manufacturers to transform into next-generation technology enterprises to support growth for SMEs’ and the resilience of the value chain.

Bernardo Calzadilla-Sarmiento, director of the division of fair production, sustainability standards and trade at UNIDO, said, “China has immense potential to achieve inclusive and sustainable industrialization as per goal 9 of the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The country strongly advocates people-centered and innovation-driven development. UNIDO commits to continue working with the country and with all member states in order to ensure that the digital transformation leads to a sustainable and prosperous future.”

Xiong Meng, executive vice president and secretary general of China Federation of Industrial Economics, added, “We are very pleased to co-host a series of China-themed webinars in collaboration with UNIDO under the GMIS framework to bring the practices, innovation as well as experiences and achievements of China's manufacturing sector in digital, green and intelligent transformation to a big global audience. We hope to make our share of contribution on behalf of China to help achieve inclusive and sustainable industrial development on a global scale.”

Moderator Xiaolei Zhao, head of UNIDO investment and technology-promotion office in Shanghai, invited panelists to share their perspectives on how Lighthouse factories boost international competitiveness, achieve digitalization at a low cost and high efficiency, and turn carbon reductions into business growth drivers. 

Dr. Zhu Xiaoxun, executive vice president of Siemens Ltd., China and general manager of Siemens Advanta China, noted that industry leaders are increasingly building their industrial-internet platforms to serve the needs of peripheral small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by incorporating SMEs’ production capacity into their own production systems.

The virtual panel discussion was the first of a three-part series of the GMIS Connect China Roadshow held by the Global Manufacturing and Industrialization Summit in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the China Federation of Industrial Economics (CFIE). The session is available to watch on-demand at https://bit.ly/3SW4HJH.