The Challenge


It’s common knowledge that using a CNC machine as a computer to write or modify CAM programmes lowers the machine’s efficiency since the machine isn’t doing its main function of cutting metal. Our customer was aware that operators would sometimes make on-machine changes to CAM files, but the extent of their machine downtime this was largely unknown.  

Although the FourJaw customer was aware that on-machine programming was not best practice, the production team was finding it difficult to make a business case for hiring a CAM team. A manual investigation into the scope of the issue would have been too time-consuming for the production team to make a compelling case for the hires.


The Solution

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The customer began by installing FourJaw Pro to monitor three machines, each of which was equipped with MachineMode, an optional hardware add-on that allows operators to record downtime as it occurs.

The customer then added a custom downtime reason named “Program: Manual Entry” to MachineMode, which allowed operators to quickly record each time the machine was not being utilised due to an operator performing on-machine CAM programming.

Each day, it seemed that small chunks of time were spent for each occurrence of “Manual Entry” downtime. However, the customer realised the full extent of time spent programming for the first time while utilising FourJaw’s KPI Overview to analyse downtime causes over the course of a month; they found that 3.49% of all downtime was caused by programming.


The Results


It turned out that downtime from on-machine programming cost more than £100,000 in machining time. This data was pulled from the FourJaw platform and used to make the business decision to hire two experienced CAM engineers who would work from the office rather than the machines.

Learn more about downtime monitoring.

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