East West Manufacturing Blog

The Future of Manufacturing [TED talk]

Written by Patty Rasmussen | November 15, 2016

Seriously, who doesn't love a good TED talk? Last week I ran across a talk given in May 2016 by Olivier Scalabre, a senior partner and managing director with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in the organization's Paris office. Scalabre is a member of BCG's Industrial Goods; Global Advantage; Operations; People & Organization; Marketing, Sales & Pricing; and Technology, Media & Telecommunications practices.

"We failed at reinventing the manufacturing space, and large technological innovations have played away from it. But what if we could combine those forces?" Scalabre asks. "What if the existing manufacturing and large technological innovation came together to create the next big manufacturing reinvention?"

In the talk, Scalabre offers some of his thoughts on the next wave of manufacturing including:  

  • Where it will locate. 
  • How the supply chain will be affected.
  • Robotics in the workplace.

Give it a listen: 


Our founders Scott Ellyson and Jeff Sweeney also watched Scalabre's talk. Remember, these are guys who are actually engaged in the industry, not just talking about it. Here's what they had to say:

"I am on board with some of the concepts here, but I also think he is using some circular logic which may be an Achilles heel to his overall point. If Amazon had to rely on additive manufacturing for their robots, rather than on the existing high-volume model, the costs would be so high that the ROI would not be justified and they would never launch. So, ironically, the very Amazon robot that the speaker touts as an example of the new wave of manufacturing depends entirely on the old model to exist in the first place."  Jeff Sweeney, Co-founder & Chief Marketing Officer, East West Manufacturing

"I agree that a lot of manufacturing (not all) will become hemispheric and most of this will be around assemblies, i.e. product made in the Americas to support the Americas, product made in the East to support the East. However supply chains will still be global at the component level. You may put your tractor together in the Americas but the bits will still come from all over the world.

Regions will still have advantages regardless of what hemisphere you’re in. For example, we don’t have rubber in the Americas hemisphere, this will need to come from Southeast Asia regardless. There are also regions with incredibly strong supply chains – motors in Changzhou, shoes in Vietnam, etc. Deploying capital in other regions to compete with these established supply chains will be difficult, especially when they are also adding automation.  In my opinion this would only make sense if the product or assembly was entirely differentiated. For example, I don’t see us ever setting up a shop to make PSC motors in the U.S. unless we somehow reinvented the motor or its assembly that gave us a big advantage." Scott Ellyson, Co-found & CEO, East West Manufacturing

This conversation is just beginning. The results of the U.S. election and growing (and often alarming) populist movement spreading globally will have a direct impact the manufacturing sector. We hope you'll give the talk a listen, read what Scott and Jeff have to say, and maybe share your reactions in the comment section below.

If you're looking for a few more great TED talks, check out this earlier blog post of the 7 TED Talks Engineers and Manufacturers Should Listen To. 

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