Productive manufacturing tech: FourJaw secures grant funding
Dubbed as the ‘Fitbit for UK manufacturing’, tech spin-out from - - has secured grant funding to further advance its technology device for increasing manufacturing productivity. Those in the industrial industry that have adopted FourJaw’s technology have reported five-fold increases in productivity.
“It’s great to see the region backing two very talented and enterprising engineers who have taken their experience at the AMRC to spin out a company that will help UK manufacturers – large and small – to capture and deploy the power of data and digitalisation to improve productivity,” Steve Foxley, CEO, AMRC.
Receiving its grant funding from the Business Productivity Programme, FourJaw will begin a £4.7mn collaborative venture alongside Barnsley and Sheffield councils, the Sheffield City Region Combined Mayoral Authority and the England European Regional Development Fund.
The programme forms part of Sheffield’s wider approach to create an ecosystem that fosters individual and economic innovation to increase productivity.
“What we are looking at here is a potential game changer for UK manufacturing and the Business Productivity Programme grant is just the financial catalyst we need to make a swift transition from a rather labour intensive installation to a quick-to-deploy device that will give production managers deep insights that enable huge gains in output and productivity,” said Chris Iveson, Co-Founder and CEO at FourJaw.
“In Yorkshire there is a saying that if it ain’t cutting metal, it ain’t making money. In the high-value manufacturing sector, which is key to the northern economy, the average utilisation of a machine is typically less than 30 per cent. Just a 10 per cent increase in productivity would be revolutionary; but our device delves deep into the brains of shop floor machines, decoding data to drive productivity gains well in excess of this,” added Robin Hartley, Co-Founder and CTO.
Who are FourJaw?
Founded in 2020, by Iveson and Hartley the two were research engineers at the AMRC - part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult. The two developed the idea of an affordable device that harnesses production data to empower technically excellent manufacturers with world-class productivity levels.
Whilst their technology is yielding strong results, both Iveson and Hartley are on a mission to make installing their output-boosting technology even simpler for manufacturers to deploy.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.