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David RobertsonJan 21, 2021 1:36:00 PM3 min read

What manufacturers have in common with runners

I’m into running. Like, really into running.

I love everything from a weekly 5k at the local Park Run (pre-Covid 19 restrictions!), through to longer distances like half and full marathons.

There are many things I love about running. I love the positive feeling as the endorphins pump around the body. I love the healthy competition racing against other runners. I love striking up conversations with fellow runners in the knowledge that you’ve already got plenty in common, and developing lasting friendships as a result.

There is no beating the “runners high” you get from seeing your performance improve, when you break a previous personal record on a specific route, or when you run further and faster than you have before. But let me tell you something that may sound obvious…

You only know you’re improving if you’re measuring your performances.

A fitness tracker is the runners weapon of choice when it comes to measuring their performance. Modern trackers measure everything from where you’ve run, how far it was, how long it took, how many steps you took, your heart rate, and how your run compared against your previous performances, as well as the performance of other runners who have previously run the same route!

Using fitness tracker data, a runner can understand what they need to do to improve their performance, and can accurately track the improvement as it happens.

Fitness tracker watch

When people ask me to describe in a single line what FourJaw does, I tell them we provide fitness trackers for machine tools.

Machine tools are extremely important assets in manufacturing environments. As the old saying goes, “if it aint cutting metal, it aint making money”. Yet its not uncommon to see utilisation figures as low as 30-50%!

So what’s the reason for this?

Well, the performance of machine tools isn’t measured in enough detail to enable their effective management. While humans feed the machines with detailed information- the g-code that helps to controls feed rates, spindle speeds and position of the cutting tool- there is nothing that returns information about the machines’ day-to-day performance back to the humans.

This results in manufacturers inadvertently running at a sub-optimal pace when they could be using their data to help them strive for a personal best!

FourJaw offers manufacturers the same benefits that a fitness tracker offers a runner. We deliver detailed information on all aspects of the machine, such as; which program has been run and when, how long each run has taken, how long machine setups took, how much power was drawn from the spindle motors at any given time, and what the XYZ coordinates of the cutting tool were.

CNC Machine milling

Sounds great, but so what?

Because this information is passively and automatically collected directly from the machine tool controllers, it is guaranteed to be reliable. It, therefore, becomes the single source of knowledge for a production facility.

Immediate gains are found in the costing of jobs as you can easily find out the actual run times of similar jobs from the past. This also helps with more accurate scheduling of your shop floor, leading to improved productivity and also happier operators, as they aren’t given unrealistic shift quotas to hit.

Program runs can be compared side-by-side, even when they’ve been executed on different machines. This makes it easy to spot if one machine consistently performs better than another- which could point to a potential maintenance issue.

Longer term we will be developing machine learning algorithms (buzzword- sorry) which will automatically analyse the data and point out opportunities for you to improve without you having to run the analysis. This is when the power of our system gets really exciting!

So now you know what manufacturing has in common with running. As the fitness tracker revolutionised running performance, FourJaw’s Manufacturing Analytics are revolutionising manufacturing performance.

We hope you are as excited as we are! If so then join the revolution and get in touch.

Gotta run.


David Robertson

David is currently the Digital Marketing Manager at FourJaw. David has a background in marketing and data analytics having worked for a number of ISPs and technology companies during his career to date. At FourJaw David blends his analytics capabilities with his passion for creating and delivering engaging user-focused digital experiences.