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Press release

Steamchest Announces General Availability of the Steamchest Manufacturing Commons

Dec 31, 2023 at 8:00 PM EST

New shared technology platform connects small manufacturing companies with their data, industry experts, training resources and apps to reduce cost, increase shop floor productivity and enable sustainable operations.

LAFAYETTE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Dec 31, 2022--Today, Steamchest announces general availability of the Steamchest Manufacturing Commons, an open, digital platform, built specifically to help small manufacturing companies thrive. Inspired by the technology and work processes large industrial companies use to transform their industrial operations, the Steamchest team has ‘right sized’ these capabilities for the nearly 200,000 manufacturing firms in the US with less than 100 workers and little or no instrumentation on the plant floor. The Manufacturing Commons is a radical departure from traditional industrial data platforms because it is member-owned and members have absolute control over the ownership, use and monetization of their data. Steamchest exists to harness and scale the power of data in combination with decentralized industrial expertise and apps, solely for the benefit of manufacturing owner-operators and the communities they operate in.

Industry 4.0, that combination of cloud technology, analytics, inexpensive sensors and agile work and software development processes is effectively out of reach for small manufacturing companies. Not because the tech is unusable, but because it is being packaged and brought to market in ways that favor large industrial companies. Small manufacturing companies don’t have the IT capabilities required to purchase, deploy and maintain the Enterprise solutions suppliers like MSFT, AWS, C3.ai and others are selling. They don’t have the instrumented plant processes required to power fancy AI and ML based applications that promise to predict failure and reinvent their businesses. They don’t have time for the sales and marketing tactics deployed by traditional Enterprise Sales teams. They can’t afford vendor lock-in associated with picking ‘best of breed’ infrastructure. These owners are too laser focused on the day to day challenges associated with selling what they make, making what they’ve sold, and finding and keeping employees to figure out how to leverage the tools being used by the big industrials. The vendors who do focus down-market on these owners offer closed solutions that are limited in scope and flexibility. The result is that for most of the 200k small manufacturing companies in the US, Smart Manufacturing adoption lags far behind their large company peers.

The Steamchest Manufacturing Commons makes available an open, shared technology platform that unlocks Smart Manufacturing outcomes for small manufacturing firms by providing key capabilities ‘as a service’ within a radically new commercial framework that makes it easy for owners, engineers, operators and technicians to use what they need and pay as they go - without having to invest in and maintain their own software silos or source installation services and support. All of that is coordinated by Steamchest. The following capabilities are available with this initial Commons release: data historian as a service, power consumption monitoring of critical machinery and Industrial Guide advisory services. Future releases will include add-on capabilities such as water consumption monitoring, gas consumption monitoring, productivity apps, tool exchange and rental, plant floor knowledge capture, training, regional supply chain coordination and opportunities to test products and invest in technology start-ups that wish to bring solutions to market by collaborating with Steamchest members.

Getting started is as simple as ‘joining the club’ at steamchest.io. Membership for owner operators and their employees is free and unlocks access to tools and services that help businesses get started on their Smart Manufacturing journey. This launch release of the Steamchest Manufacturing Commons enables members to baseline plant power consumption using easy to install power monitoring kits that measure electricity usage in real time, automatically organizes that data into equipment power profiles, reports the daily, weekly and monthly cost of power for those machines and makes it easy to share that data with experts, if desired, to reduce energy consumption. Members have access to the open source hardware, software and installation instructions to install the system on their own or can source Steamchest qualified installers if necessary. Once connected to the Steamchest Manufacturing Commons, members control what happens to their data. With this initial release, members can browse the profiles of ‘Industrial Guides’ to work with, pick experts that best understand their business challenges and allow them to access their data to begin the back and forth collaboration needed to optimize equipment power consumption. Future platform releases will allow members to connect add-on sensor kits and equipment communication modules for health monitoring beyond power consumption. As more members join and share their machinery data, the more powerful the Manufacturing Commons becomes through the creation of a shared knowledge base backed by a massive library of machinery performance data.

Mike Yost is CEO and Founder of Industrial Guides by Your Side (IGBYS), a Steamchest Launch Partner. The IGBYS network of industrial experts provides the human powered, collaborative, knowledge base component of the Manufacturing Commons. In Mike’s words. “This initiative puts the business needs of the manufacturer first, solving Operational challenges as a priority and designing solutions with the big picture of the Commons in mind. Smart Manufacturing will remain inaccessible to small companies without a way to connect owners, engineers, mechanics and operators with trusted guides and expert knowledge..”

Ross McGowan, President & CEO of Empire Truck and Van in Modesto, CA, is a Steamchest charter member. Ross and his team were among the first manufacturing companies in the US to participate in the Steamchest lighthouse program to test and validate the power of the Manufacturing Commons and had this to say about his experience: “Our business is building truck bodies that delight our customers and keep them coming back. Of course we want to reduce production costs, especially related to key business inputs like power, water and gas - and we’re even more motivated to reduce environmental impact of our plants in the communities where we work - but there’s only so much we can do. We were an early participant in the Steamchest network, and I can tell you that the initial projects we’ve done using the technology and expertise available via the Commons have had a big impact on energy cost reduction at our largest plant. Without the Commons we would never have uncovered this opportunity, and we most certainly wouldn't have been able to purchase software the old fashioned way to do this. It’s the combo of Empire Truck data, Steamchest tech infrastructure and the amazing network of experts that makes the magic.”

For more information please visit steamchest.io, join the Steamchest on ClubHouse or connect directly with the Steamchest team at support@steamchest.io.