https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/17145120/Robin-Hartley-left-with-Chris-Iverson-and-the-FourJaw-system-at-CBE-640x360.jpg
    Machining

    Jaw dropping productivity gains

    • By MTDCNC
    • May 18, 2021
    • 8 minute read

    Lindsay Atkins is looking puzzled. The data displayed on the new FourJaw tablet shows that one CNC machine is stopping alarmingly often. When she asks the operator why, he explains that a probe on the machine is faulty, but not to worry. He has developed a fix. The operators fix has been used for a couple of years – it required pausing the machine to make an adjustment one minute, every five minutes. MTDCNC digs a little deeper into this new technology that has recently been highlighted in MTD Magazine.

    To Lindsay, Group Operations Director at Chesterfield based CBE+, what the tablet flagged up was a 20% loss of machine time on a critical piece of equipment. “It’s like seeing the factory floor for the first time,” says Lindsay. “We know that we always look busy, but FourJaw proves that looks really can be deceiving. It shows that we can sometimes be busy doing the wrong things.” In the case of the faulty probe, all that was required was a replacement part. Job done.

    As a subcontractor, innovating and improving productivity while maintaining quality standards are priorities for CBE+, a firm that traces its roots back to the early 1900s. Like many small businesses that are the backbone of UK manufacturing, they know that ‘digitalisation’ is something they have to explore, but Industry 4.0 can seem confusing, complex and costly.
    Although CBE+ operates from a modern facility, the machines are a blend of vintages, from a variety of suppliers. “This is at the heart of the digitalisation dilemma for UK manufacturers,” says Bart Simpson, non-executive Chairman of FourJaw Manufacturing Analytics, a tech spin out from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), whose cloud based analytics platform, powered by their MachineLink devices, is being rolled out across the 100,000sq/ft CBE+ facility.

    “The big machine suppliers will tell you to standardise on their technology, but that is rarely practical or affordable for subcontractors whose equipment ranges from cutting edge machines to more mature technologies,” adds Simpson, who was Commercial Director of AIM Listed Delcam, before it was acquired by Autodesk. “The FourJaw MachineLink gets round this problem by using simple sensors and smart algorithms, so that no matter how old or new the capital equipment is – its data can be extracted, stored securely in the cloud and relayed in real time to the shopfloor and the top floor.”

    Lindsay agrees. “We’ve invested in a multi-loading robotic machine that we had never fully exploited. Fitted with FourJaw, we were able to assess its capabilities to maximise performance. This clearly showed our shop floor teams that for every three parts produced in Job One, another was produced in Job Two as we were able to machine a part during the changeover between cycles. We did this on a live job for a key customer who needed it quickly. We got it to them three days ahead of a tight schedule because of the efficiencies we unlocked.”
    There was another unforeseen benefit as Lindsay says: “Having the hard data shows just how fast the machine could work. It enabled us to show our operators that this is a better way of working – it is now accepted best practice. The aim is to get the machines to work hard, not our people. A great thing about the data read-outs is that they are clear and easy to understand. The facts speak for themselves and are an important part of how we improve our business performance together.”

    Chris Iveson, co-founder and CEO of FourJaw Manufacturing Analytics, said the company is on a mission to provide Industry 4.0 productivity gains to every CNC machine in the UK. “We are doing this by launching an inexpensive, plug-and-play device suitable for any CNC machine shop. Our smart software is as easy to use and affordable as signing up to Netflix.”
    So why now? “This plug and play system could not have been developed five years ago,” says Robin Hartley, co-founder and CTO at FourJaw. “The advent of cloud computing and big reductions in the cost of high-performance hardware are changing the game, providing the tools for productivity boosting tech that we are able to exploit to the full.”
    Without this synergy of changes, Robin says: “Speaking to machines in their native language is challenging because each different control type will have a slightly different way of doing it. Some machine tool manufacturers make their own controls, but even they have multiple communication protocols. Other firms, use control systems from Siemens or Fanuc. But these controllers, depending on their age and set up, have different data options enabled and some disabled.”

    “On top of that, with firms like Heidenhain, you have to buy a £4,000 software kit just to speak to their machines; and what you find is that all the software inside the machine is in German. So, trying to dig into its software to extract the spindle speed for instance, requires an understanding of German tech slang – it is just a massive pain. That’s before you get to the wider problems of whether the factory floor has good networking, whether the machines are plugged into the network, and whether they need an ethernet cable run need and an IP address.”

    “In reality, very few manufacturers will have any of this. This is why our competitors are so expensive. They need to go into the factory and figure all that out, set up half of it for the customer and then install and support their software on top. Our IoT sensor based technology is both non-invasive but often also more reliable and accurate than existing controllers.”
    Assisted by The Curve, a self-described ‘elite group of engineers’ who previously designed, built and ran a successful Global Telematics Platform, FourJaw have created a ‘black box’ for manufacturers packed with IoT cleverness that elegantly bypasses the need to talk to controllers in their native tongues.

    “We have always said the heart of our business is combining manufacturing with tech. Paul and James, who set up The Curve, have both done global scale IoT data analysis and presented it on a web app successfully, so the great thing for us is that they know our challenges and the technologies that will solve them.” The two firms now share the same office space near Kelham Island, in Sheffield.

    “One of our key principles is to give the production manager a single, uniform view of the shopfloor, regardless of the make, model or age of the machine from which the data has been extracted. The very first step is to abstract data away from the way we got it. This means that all the data we store, sort, convert and display on the tablet becomes utilisation or timing data, rather than 3-axis mill from a HAAS or FANUC timing data. This provides a standardised view of when each machine is machining, how long it is machining for, what the cycle times are and the gaps between,” says Iveson.

    For Hartley, too many tech firms and research institutions talk down to manufacturers rather than listen to them; they begin with a technology, say AI or Augmented Reality, and then go looking for a manufacturing problem to solve.

    “That approach doesn’t work,” Hartley says. “Your production manager has 100% operational focus and in-depth experience of the challenges but lacks the resources or time to solve them. An academic operating in the virtual world is just the opposite, he has lots of time and resource, but very limited understanding of the pressures and complexity of the shopfloor. We have turned that on its head by evolving a technology that meets manufacturers’ needs.”

    Companies like CBE+ are very different to volume manufacturing. Hartley adds: “This is much more stop and start, the product and the volumes change, the capital equipment, materials and nature of contracts all change. At the heart of this is the CNC machine that is programmed to do an infinite number of tasks. This gives rise to the complexity and challenge of measuring and managing activity on the shop floor.”

    “Manufacturers want to improve, they are brilliant innovators. What we are providing is visibility of what is happening on the shop floor, and that makes going from understanding the tech to making improvements, a natural and easy process that they can drive, because it’s what they want to do.”

    One of the early adopters of the tech, reported a five-fold increase in shopfloor productivity. Lindsay at CBE+ is already seeing the benefits: “It’s an absolutely fabulous tool to use and has become an essential aspect of our production planning processes. We are also using it for pricing. Sometimes, especially with a new job, we estimate production time based on similar components, but now we can see instantly how long the job actually takes. The simplicity of using FourJaw has convinced us to roll it out across the entire shop floor. It’s literally opening our eyes to see things for the first time.”

    https://cdn.mtdcnc.global/cnc/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/17145120/Robin-Hartley-left-with-Chris-Iverson-and-the-FourJaw-system-at-CBE-640x360.jpg

    Jaw dropping productivity gains

    Lindsay Atkins is looking puzzled. The data displayed on the new FourJaw tablet shows that one CNC machine is stopping alarmingly often. When she asks the operator why, he explains that a probe on the machine is faulty, but not to worry. He has developed a fix. The operators fix has been used for a couple of years – it required pausing the machine to make an adjustment one minute, every five minutes. MTDCNC digs a little deeper into this new technology that has recently been highlighted in MTD Magazine.

    To Lindsay, Group Operations Director at Chesterfield based CBE+, what the tablet flagged up was a 20% loss of machine time on a critical piece of equipment. “It’s like seeing the factory floor for the first time,” says Lindsay. “We know that we always look busy, but FourJaw proves that looks really can be deceiving. It shows that we can sometimes be busy doing the wrong things.” In the case of the faulty probe, all that was required was a replacement part. Job done.

    As a subcontractor, innovating and improving productivity while maintaining quality standards are priorities for CBE+, a firm that traces its roots back to the early 1900s. Like many small businesses that are the backbone of UK manufacturing, they know that ‘digitalisation’ is something they have to explore, but Industry 4.0 can seem confusing, complex and costly.
    Although CBE+ operates from a modern facility, the machines are a blend of vintages, from a variety of suppliers. “This is at the heart of the digitalisation dilemma for UK manufacturers,” says Bart Simpson, non-executive Chairman of FourJaw Manufacturing Analytics, a tech spin out from the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), whose cloud based analytics platform, powered by their MachineLink devices, is being rolled out across the 100,000sq/ft CBE+ facility.

    “The big machine suppliers will tell you to standardise on their technology, but that is rarely practical or affordable for subcontractors whose equipment ranges from cutting edge machines to more mature technologies,” adds Simpson, who was Commercial Director of AIM Listed Delcam, before it was acquired by Autodesk. “The FourJaw MachineLink gets round this problem by using simple sensors and smart algorithms, so that no matter how old or new the capital equipment is – its data can be extracted, stored securely in the cloud and relayed in real time to the shopfloor and the top floor.”

    Lindsay agrees. “We’ve invested in a multi-loading robotic machine that we had never fully exploited. Fitted with FourJaw, we were able to assess its capabilities to maximise performance. This clearly showed our shop floor teams that for every three parts produced in Job One, another was produced in Job Two as we were able to machine a part during the changeover between cycles. We did this on a live job for a key customer who needed it quickly. We got it to them three days ahead of a tight schedule because of the efficiencies we unlocked.”
    There was another unforeseen benefit as Lindsay says: “Having the hard data shows just how fast the machine could work. It enabled us to show our operators that this is a better way of working – it is now accepted best practice. The aim is to get the machines to work hard, not our people. A great thing about the data read-outs is that they are clear and easy to understand. The facts speak for themselves and are an important part of how we improve our business performance together.”

    Chris Iveson, co-founder and CEO of FourJaw Manufacturing Analytics, said the company is on a mission to provide Industry 4.0 productivity gains to every CNC machine in the UK. “We are doing this by launching an inexpensive, plug-and-play device suitable for any CNC machine shop. Our smart software is as easy to use and affordable as signing up to Netflix.”
    So why now? “This plug and play system could not have been developed five years ago,” says Robin Hartley, co-founder and CTO at FourJaw. “The advent of cloud computing and big reductions in the cost of high-performance hardware are changing the game, providing the tools for productivity boosting tech that we are able to exploit to the full.”
    Without this synergy of changes, Robin says: “Speaking to machines in their native language is challenging because each different control type will have a slightly different way of doing it. Some machine tool manufacturers make their own controls, but even they have multiple communication protocols. Other firms, use control systems from Siemens or Fanuc. But these controllers, depending on their age and set up, have different data options enabled and some disabled.”

    “On top of that, with firms like Heidenhain, you have to buy a £4,000 software kit just to speak to their machines; and what you find is that all the software inside the machine is in German. So, trying to dig into its software to extract the spindle speed for instance, requires an understanding of German tech slang – it is just a massive pain. That’s before you get to the wider problems of whether the factory floor has good networking, whether the machines are plugged into the network, and whether they need an ethernet cable run need and an IP address.”

    “In reality, very few manufacturers will have any of this. This is why our competitors are so expensive. They need to go into the factory and figure all that out, set up half of it for the customer and then install and support their software on top. Our IoT sensor based technology is both non-invasive but often also more reliable and accurate than existing controllers.”
    Assisted by The Curve, a self-described ‘elite group of engineers’ who previously designed, built and ran a successful Global Telematics Platform, FourJaw have created a ‘black box’ for manufacturers packed with IoT cleverness that elegantly bypasses the need to talk to controllers in their native tongues.

    “We have always said the heart of our business is combining manufacturing with tech. Paul and James, who set up The Curve, have both done global scale IoT data analysis and presented it on a web app successfully, so the great thing for us is that they know our challenges and the technologies that will solve them.” The two firms now share the same office space near Kelham Island, in Sheffield.

    “One of our key principles is to give the production manager a single, uniform view of the shopfloor, regardless of the make, model or age of the machine from which the data has been extracted. The very first step is to abstract data away from the way we got it. This means that all the data we store, sort, convert and display on the tablet becomes utilisation or timing data, rather than 3-axis mill from a HAAS or FANUC timing data. This provides a standardised view of when each machine is machining, how long it is machining for, what the cycle times are and the gaps between,” says Iveson.

    For Hartley, too many tech firms and research institutions talk down to manufacturers rather than listen to them; they begin with a technology, say AI or Augmented Reality, and then go looking for a manufacturing problem to solve.

    “That approach doesn’t work,” Hartley says. “Your production manager has 100% operational focus and in-depth experience of the challenges but lacks the resources or time to solve them. An academic operating in the virtual world is just the opposite, he has lots of time and resource, but very limited understanding of the pressures and complexity of the shopfloor. We have turned that on its head by evolving a technology that meets manufacturers’ needs.”

    Companies like CBE+ are very different to volume manufacturing. Hartley adds: “This is much more stop and start, the product and the volumes change, the capital equipment, materials and nature of contracts all change. At the heart of this is the CNC machine that is programmed to do an infinite number of tasks. This gives rise to the complexity and challenge of measuring and managing activity on the shop floor.”

    “Manufacturers want to improve, they are brilliant innovators. What we are providing is visibility of what is happening on the shop floor, and that makes going from understanding the tech to making improvements, a natural and easy process that they can drive, because it’s what they want to do.”

    One of the early adopters of the tech, reported a five-fold increase in shopfloor productivity. Lindsay at CBE+ is already seeing the benefits: “It’s an absolutely fabulous tool to use and has become an essential aspect of our production planning processes. We are also using it for pricing. Sometimes, especially with a new job, we estimate production time based on similar components, but now we can see instantly how long the job actually takes. The simplicity of using FourJaw has convinced us to roll it out across the entire shop floor. It’s literally opening our eyes to see things for the first time.”