What is Advanced Manufacturing in the Greater Charlotte Region?

"Advanced Manufacturing" companies produce high-tech products, employ technology in their operation as a means of production, and employ people with advanced skills that are specialized and highly productive. Typically these firms are involved in high value-added production, yield strong economic impact through high-paying jobs that cannot easily be lost by being relocated to low-wage counties.



In general, technology involves the practical application of knowledge in a particular area such as engineering, and/or the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor. "High Technology" is further defined as scientific technology involving the production or use of advanced or sophisticated devices especially in the fields of electronics and computers

Our basic supposition is "advanced manufacturing" is made up of industries utilizing technologies in as many ways as they can to increase their productivity, improve their products and gain competitive advantage in this global arena.

Outcomes to identify a technology:

  • Continuous improvement
  • May or may not be a product that is considered high-tech
  • Greater efficiency is gained through the use of the technology
  • Constantly evolves to the competitive marketplace to survive
  • Has high labor skill requirements – less constrained on a willingness to pay basis
  • Offers continual training
  • Research & development may or may not be a function of the technology in order to improve products / processes
  • Technology change may alter a product’s market position

Technologies Common to Advanced Manufacturing Companies in the Greater Charlotte Region

There are many technologies that are common to the highly ranked advanced manufacturing sectors present in the Greater Charlotte Region. These are sectors (5-Digit NAICS) that have advantages for being in the Greater Charlotte Region and are good targets for retention, expansion, and recruitment activities (See "Target Industry Analysis" report). These technologies include:

  • Lean Practices
  • Six Sigma
  • Advanced Robotics
  • Computer Control Systems
  • Computer Numerical Controlled Machines (CNC Machines)
  • Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and
  • Modeling (CAM) 2-D and 3-D
  • Virtual Product Testing
  • Clean Rooms
  • Machining
  • Microfabrication
  • Advanced Fuel Technologies

The study team interviewed over 60 high-level staff members of advanced manufacturing companies, economic development organizations, workforce boards and centers of education and found:

Strengths

  • 24/50 advanced manufacturing industries have a strong presence in the GCR
  • 25/50 advanced manufacturing industries have a productivity advantage in the GCR
  • 28/50 advanced manufacturing industries have a profitability advantage in the GCR
  • Transportation
  • Quality of Life
  • Market and Supply Chain Access
  • Labor Cost
  • Workforce Training Capacity
  • Utilities

Source: The Advanced Manufacturing Major Report Centralina Economic Development Commission, 2007, developed by CH2MHill.