Flex (NASDAQ:FLEX) factory site in Sorocaba, Brazil has been admitted into the World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network (GLN).
The Global Lighthouse Network is an organization of like-minded companies applying advanced technologies to increase resilience in their supply chains, while being mindful of the environment and boosting workforce engagement. This recognition is a consequence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) technology adoption that Flex started in 2017 that put emphasis on sustainability, people and economic growth.
“The Flex factory site in Sorocaba, Brazil is leading the way for the future of manufacturing by leveraging 4IR technologies to achieve not only efficiency and quality, but also prioritizing sustainability and employee care, which are critical elements for Global Lighthouse factories. Being part of the Lighthouse network, manufacturers can collaborate and share insights with like-minded peers, to unlock new levels of sustainability in their operations and to lead towards a cleaner future,” said Francisco Betti, head of shaping the advanced manufacturing and production platform of the World Economic Forum.
Flex helps a diverse customer base design and build products. It has a workforce that spans 30 countries. It delivers technology, innovation, supply chain requirements, and manufacturing solutions to industries and markets. The GLN is a community of manufacturers that use 4IR technologies to optimize efficiency and competitiveness at scale.
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Global Lighthouse Network and the fourth industrial revolution
The fourth industrial revolution involves rapid change in technology, industries or social patterns and processes in the 21st century. These changes come courtesy of increasing interconnectivity and smart automation. The term originates from scientific literature, but Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum popularized it in 2015. Schwab said the changes are more than simple changes to efficiency, but represent a significant shift in industrial capitalism.
According to the World Economic Forum, the shift is a consequence of technologies like artificial intelligence, gene editing and advanced robotics blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological worlds.
The nomination of the Sorocaba site showcased the following innovation areas:
- Implemented a real time, industrial internet-of-things (IioT) enabled digital factory performance system attached to 44 production lines. This provides feedback in real time, and meant a material loss reduction of 81 per cent and overall efficiency increase of 23 per cent.
- Developed a circular economy ecosystem, including reverse logistics of electronic waste leveraging IoT and cloud for real time tracking. The consequence was a 94 per cent reduction of material waste and a 38 per cent reduction of plastic material costs.
- Created an end-to-end ergonomics digital thread with real time monitoring of operators who are alerted when a job rotation or workstation ergonomics improvement needs to be made to ensure employee health and safety.
- Upskilled over 200 employees on developing and using low and no code digital tools and implemented Robotic Process Automation (RPA) solutions. This eliminated repetitive tasks for humans, resulting in a 38 per cent reduction in nonvalue added work, and an increase of both employee and customer satisfaction.
- Implemented an advanced real time supply chain solution to accelerate product flow, creating on-demand transparency and enabling supply chain resiliency.
The GLN admitted one other of Flex’s factories into the GLN, and the Sorocaba site is the second. The site has embedded sustainability into its operations with a circular economy ecosystem. Meanwhile, people remain a focus, improving engagement by educating employees through innovative digital health and safety measures. This has translated into increased customer satisfaction by providing transparency and quality.
“Flex is focused on delivering manufacturing excellence for its customers and the site in Sorocaba is a shining example. We are honored to be recognized as one of the first Global Lighthouse Network factories in Brazil. We look forward to our continued participation in the World Economic Forum’s Global Lighthouse Network, sharing our experiences and best practices in developing sustainable, advanced manufacturing capabilities at scale and collaborating with others in the industry to proliferate the adoption of Industry 4.0 technologies for advanced manufacturing,” said Hooi Tan, president of global operations and supply chain for Flex.