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Malaysia’s First Lighthouse Spearheading the Nation’s Industry 4.0 Aspirations

· Western Digital is Malaysia’s first Lighthouse into the GLN

· A responsibility to the future of industry has never been more critical

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has recognized and awarded the Western Digital factory at Batu Kawan, Penang, Malaysia as the latest entrant to its Global Lighthouse Network (GLN). This is a community of world-leading companies that have succeeded in the adaptation of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) at scale.

The World Economic Forum Global Lighthouse Network recognizes production sites and value chains that are world leaders in the adoption and integration of the cutting-edge technologies of the 4IR. Of the 90 total sites within the network globally, Western Digital is the first company in Malaysia to receive this distinction. The Global Lighthouse Network is a World Economic Forum project in collaboration with McKinsey & Co; factories and value chains that join the Network are designated by an independent panel of experts.

Lighthouses apply 4IR technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D-printing and big data analytics to maximize efficiency and competitiveness at scale, transform business models and drive economic growth, while augmenting the workforce, protecting the environment and contributing to a learning journey for all-sized manufacturers across all geographies and industries.

In congratulating Western Digital, Batu Kawan on its achievement at the press conference held yesterday, Arham Abdul Rahman (pic), Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA), remarked, “Western Digital’s operations in Batu Kawan, Penang has brought significant benefits to local players by resetting the benchmark of operational, financial and sustainability levels.

“This project will be a precursor and example to the rest of the industry in addressing sustainability and growth in intense global competition. This revolution is in line with Malaysia’s National Investment Aspirations as well as the Twelfth Malaysian Plan (12MP) initiatives as Malaysia embarks on economic recovery and reinforces its key role in the global supply chain.”

Arham added, “Western Digital, Batu Kawan, as the first Lighthouse in the country, will serve as a beacon for local industry players to improve their operations by effectively implementing 4IR technologies. MIDA is confident that more multinationals and local conglomerates will follow Western Digital’s footsteps in transforming their operations, as well as their supply chain in Malaysia to effectively adopt new technologies.

“We welcome companies to participate in the national-level Lighthouse Programme to support local companies to integrate into the lighthouse network, embracing innovation and operational efficiency that will eventually benefit Malaysia’s economic ecosystem.”

The CEO of Western Digital, David Goeckeler (pic) affirmed that “Today’s recognition by the WEF Lighthouse Network is an honor and a testament of our leadership efforts in 4IR with both technology innovation and workforce engagement.”

He adds that Western Digital understands its responsibility to the future of industry has never been more critical, especially in a world that is increasingly technology-enabled and technology-dependent. “As the world’s leading data infrastructure provider, we are committed to enabling sustainable growth and transformation across our facilities around the world to deliver value to our customers, employees, and partners,” David stressed.

Spearheading by example is Malaysia’s Western Digital factory at Batu Kawan which has been recognized as part of the network. The company applied technology innovations such as artificial intelligence, robotics, automation, advanced analytics and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) – to achieve transformational change at its facility in Batu Kawan, Penang. This includes automating production and logistics to deliver 32 per cent factory cost improvement, reducing product inventory and order lead time by 50 per cent.

Beyond technology, workforce development is another key focus area for the Western Digital Batu Kawan factory. The site rolled out a comprehensive IIOT Academy program to educate and nurture its talents to cultivate a new way of thinking with the adoption of 4IR technologies. The IIOT Academy program includes strategic partnerships with local universities and international platforms to upskill employees at all levels.

Factory automation in the Western Digital Batu Kawan, Penang facility

The GLN also lists sustainability as one of its key criteria. Western Digital is committed to its sustainability efforts, and this presents a great opportunity to collaborate with WEF on this new frontier.

“Increased global concern for environmental impact has made sustainability a must-have to maintain business viability,” said Francisco Betti, Head of Shaping the Advanced Manufacturing and Value Chains, World Economic Forum.

“The selected Sustainability Lighthouses make it clear that by realizing the potential of 4IR technologies in manufacturing, companies can unlock new levels of sustainability in their operations and explore a win-win solution: greater operational competitiveness while simultaneously making commitments to environmental stewardship, leading in a cleaner, more sustainable future as a result,” he further added.

MIDA is committed to pursue the strategies outlined in the National Policy of Industry 4.0 (Industry4WRD), aimed to develop Malaysia as a high-tech nation. The 12MP highlights technology adoption and innovation are to catalyze growth across all sectors; while productivity growth is expected to be led by the manufacturing sector, growing at 4.3% per year over the next five years (2021 to 2025). The digitalization process will be accelerated and the adoption of advanced technology, particularly the 4IR technologies, will be promoted through various Government facilitations.


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