Fitbit for manufacturing industry wins funding

A tech spin-out from the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) has secured grant funding to accelerate the development of what has been dubbed the Fitbit for UK manufacturing.

Early industrial adopters of FourJaw Manufacturing Analytics’ technology are reporting five-fold increases in productivity, but the firm’s founders, CEO Chris Iveson and CTO Robin Hartley, are on a mission to make installing the output-boosting technology even simpler for manufacturers to deploy.

The two founders were research engineers at the AMRC, part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, when they came up with the idea of an affordable device that would harness production data to empower technically excellent manufacturers with world-class productivity levels, enabling them to thrive in the global marketplace.

Mr Iveson added: “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.”

His business partner, and Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow, Mr Hartley added: “In the high-value manufacturing sector, which is key to the northern economy, the average utilisation of a machine is typically less than 30%. Just a 10% increase in productivity would be revolutionary; but our device delves deep into the brains of shopfloor machines, decoding data to drive productivity gains well in excess of this.”

FourJaw have received the grant funding from the Business Productivity Programme, a £4.7 million collaborative venture involving Barnsley and Sheffield councils along with the Sheffield City Region Combined Mayoral Authority and the England European Regional Development Fund. The programme is part of wider approach in Sheffield and the region to creating an eco-system that fosters industrial and economic innovation to boost productivity.

AMRC CEO, Steve Foxley, commented: “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.”



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