Grant for Sheffield tech start-up's 'fit-bit for manufacturing'

A tech spin-out from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre has secured a grant to accelerate development of what has been dubbed the ‘fit bit for UK manufacturing.’

Friday, 29th January 2021, 3:46 pm

Early adopters of FourJaw Manufacturing Analytics’ technology are reporting five-fold increases in productivity.

The firm makes devices that are fitted to machines and produce data on their efficiency and use.

The firm’s founders, CEO Chris Iveson and CTO Robin Hartley, are on a mission to make installing them even simpler.

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Four Jaw’s founders, Robin Hartley, left, and Chris Iveson.

The pair were research engineers at the AMRC, part of the University of Sheffield, when they came up with the idea of an affordable device that would harness production data.

“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,” Iveson said.

Hartley, a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow, added: “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 a 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. Our device delves deep into the brains of shop floor machines, decoding data to drive productivity gains well in excess of this.”

The Business Productivity Programme is a £4.7m venture involving Barnsley and Sheffield councils, the Sheffield City Region Combined Mayoral Authority and the England European Regional Development Fund.

AMRC CEO, Steve Foxley, said: “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.”

Sheffield City Council Cabinet member for Business and Investment, Mazher Iqbal, said improving productivity was a crucial challenge for the region and the UK.

He added: “Even before the pandemic, the UK was in the midst of a productivity crisis. Support for innovative start-ups and spin-outs like FourJaw, that bring Sheffield’s strengths in digital tech and manufacturing together, point the way towards a more productive and prosperous future.”

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