Quick Facts: Transcribed to 26 languages, ~13 minutes, Recorded in 2016

Key Takeaways from the Video

The key takeaways of Olivier Scalabre’s Ted talk, “The next manufacturing revolution is here”, are that economic growth is decreasing, and that historically, transformations that drove growth in the manufacturing sector also fueled overall economic growth.

He argues that we’re in the midst of the latest wave of manufacturing change: the fourth industrial revolution. By combining technological advances previously focused on internet tech and industrial tech, he predicts a wave of change that will impact the skills employees need, the way our society interacts with manufacturers, and globalization. Ultimately, he believes this transformation will drive global economic growth.

Why does growth matter?

Scalabre argues that growth matters. Right now the world is faced with declining growth. He notes that historically, growth was driven by increases in manufacturing productivity. These industrial shifts have happened every 50 to 60 years.

The first industrial revolution happened during the 19th century. During this period, “new machines, new power sources, and new ways of organizing work made existing industries more productive and efficient. New industries also arose, including, in the late 19th century, the automobile industry.”

During the second industrial revolution, the Ford production line and other assembly processes, expanded use of steel and rail transportation lines, and increased use of electricity helped drive another wave of innovation and growth.

Industrial automation entered the manufacturing scene during the 1970s. Innovations such as DCS, PLCs and SCADA  supported manufacturing growth via industrial automation.

Scalabre references each of these periods as notable periods of growth. He notes that the growth in these periods are tied to them as periods of increased production: more labor, more capital, or more productivity.

Looking to the Future

He argues that we’re on the verge of a new change, and that this change will once again come from manufacturing. He argues that this new period will also radically change globalization.

This period is the 4th Industrial Revolution. Previous attempts at revitalization focused on technology or other methods. These “lame” attempts at growth include offshoring. Another named failed attempt is the internet and social media, to which he attributes a decrease in productivity.

However, he believes innovation in the manufacturing sector will truly drive growth and productivity. He argues that a failure to reinvent the manufacturing space is causing contracting growth rates. Instead of focusing large technological innovation  on manufacturing, this innovation has happened away from it.


He believes that these should come together to mark the next manufacturing reinvention, Industry 4.0. Now, with major technologies entering the manufacturing space, he expects massive growth.

The technologies he discusses include: advanced robots, additive manufacturing, scale customization, and shares a visual that also lists horizontal/vertical integration, augmented reality, big data and analytics, industrial internet, simulation, and cloud/cyber security.

This video was released in 2016, and it’s the beginning of 2019. At the time he predicted significant reshoring to home markets, smaller and more flexible made to order factories, an adjustment from east to west trade flows to regional flows, massive reskilling and reputation re-branding, and a need to revisit the manufacturing economy.

We’re seeing a lot of these predictions trending in the manufacturing industry. Especially reskilling, rebranding, reshoring, and more made-to-order manufacturing. In hindsight, what trends did he miss and which of these didn’t hit fruition?

Watch the video in its entirety below:

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