What comes to mind when you think of Durham, North Carolina?  If you’re like most people, it’s probably one of three things: minor league baseball, Duke basketball, or tobacco.

The 1988 film Bull Durham cemented the town’s notoriety and the Durham Bulls as one of the most famous minor league franchises in sports. Coach Mike Krzyzewski took over the Duke basketball program in 1980 and turned the team into one of the elite programs in college sports. Tobacco, on the other hand—which was one of the city’s founding industries—is long gone (with the last tobacco operation leaving the city in 1999). Since then, the old industry factories have become chic urban lofts, breweries, and restaurants.

AWNC is the leading manufacturer of power transmissions.

However, the industrial sector is alive and well in Durham–and in many cases, is thriving right along with the region’s technology hubs. One example is the company AW North Carolina (AWNC), which is just nine miles from downtown Durham and boasts a 1.3-million-square-foot factory and more than 2,000 employees. It produces more than 600,000 transmissions a year for Toyota in the United States. It’s a highly complex operation with 700-800 parts incorporated into the final product and around 3,000 final products shipped out the door daily.

As the company grew, however, it realized that its outdated network was becoming a bottleneck to its complex operations. Data, process improvements, and reliable communications were critical in ensuring that the company could eliminate downtime and improve productivity on the factory floor.

“Over the past year, AWNC has made a huge technology leap. We got rid of our outdated communications and networking equipment and replaced everything with Cisco,” said John Peterson, General Manager of Information Technology at AWNC.”

AWNC has deployed a 450-line Cisco Business Edition 6000 Unified Communications system in its offices. It has installed an optimized Cisco Connected Factory network infrastructure with access points and controllers for seamless and secure Wi-Fi coverage to more than a million square feet of factory floor. A new FlexPod system provides integrated computing, networking, and storage to support new applications.

The result has been zero-network downtime since the installation and has allowed the company to build on a foundation for cloud computing, as well as implement new enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES).

“It’s already paying off with faster speeds, lower power consumption, and the ability to process data like never before. The best part is that with all of these improvements, we actually lowered our overall IT operating costs. We’ll save over $1 million in technology costs this year, and we have a reliable, secure platform to build on,” said Peterson.

AWNC’s remarkable transformation has gained notice in the industry and is featured in the following publications:

Find out more about how AWNC is changing its business here and learn more about how Cisco is uniting IT and OT here. 



Eric Ehlers

Marketing Manager

Manufacturing and Energy