Michael Cromheecke

Michael Cromheecke © MKE Tech

SteamChain.io is fundamentally changing the way that equipment manufacturers and end-users collaborate with one another. Their new “Machine-as-a-Service” solutions not only improve machine productivity and performance, but allow businesses to accelerate toward mutual desired outcomes.

Co-Founder Michael Cromheecke jumps on the show to dissect this new business model and illustrate where it’s already seeing success in the manufacturing sector. He shares the story of his own corporate-turned-entrepreneurial journey before taking a technical deep-dive as to how Steamchain is leveraging blockchain to ensure secure agreements and transactions between OEMs and end-users. After hearing the financial, technological, and relationship impacts outlined in this episode, every manufacturing executive will want to start exploring this as-a-service business model.


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3 Quick Things from this Episode

  1. While the Machine-as-a-Service business model is new for the manufacturing industry, it’s similar to time-tested as-a-service models such as software-as-a-service and the office printing market.
  2. Internet of Things technology is enabling OEMs and end-users to share performance data and accelerate toward mutually profitable desired outcomes.
  3. Blockchain is not just about cryptocurrency. Shared ledger technology is allowing Steamchain to help their customers in the industrial manufacturing sector as well.

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Tweetable Quotes

  • “We don’t want to get everyone involved with technology deployment until everyone agrees there’s a business model that’s helpful to their customers.” –Michael Cromheecke
  • “Our entire goal in life at Steamchain is to help facilitate investments in cutting edge manufacturing technology to improve performance of end-users and machine builders.” –Michael Cromheecke

Please Scroll Down for Full Show Notes and Recommended Resources from this Episode

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What We Discuss with Michael

  • We met up at Cream City Labs in Milwaukee’s brand-new Northwestern Mutual Building for this interview. Cream City Labs is a venture group associated with Northwestern Mutual that provides capital and office space to help startup companies grow their business.
  • “Machine-as-a-Service” is a model where the performance of an asset at an end-user manufacturing facility is used to calculate the payments for that asset to the OEM; this turns what would have previously been a CapEx project into an ongoing operating expense. Michael walks us through this business model, comparing it to the office printing model and more recently IT.
  • We learn about Michael’s background from his 18-year career at Rockwell Automation, starting as a field service engineer before moving through various business unit leadership roles.
  • Michael shares some of the unique challenges of an as-a-service model in a manufacturing environment, including how to collect shared, trusted data, as well as the number of different machines from different vendors found on a typical factory floor.
  • Thanks to the Connected Enterprise and Industry 4.0 technologies, Steamchain can go beyond the de facto standard of “capital going one way and the machine going the other way.” Connected technologies are enabling equipment manufacturers and end-users to work with one another in a new way that more collaborative and profitable for everyone.
  • We talk about Michael’s entrepreneurial tendencies, and how he’d been exposed to so many new facets of business since starting Steamchain.
  • Round 2 starts off with the case study of Pearson Packaging, one of Steamchain’s first clients.
  • Michael Describes Steamchain as a “financial technology company” that services the manufacturing industry. When they approach a new client, Michael and his team always start by reviewing their financial models before talking about technology to see if there’s a fit.
  • Steamchain uses a shared ledger (i.e. blockchain) technology for their secured transactions between the end-user and OEM…but make no mistake, they are not a cryptocurrency company! We have some fun with this part of the conversation…
  • As we wrap up the interview, Michael provides clarity to Steamchain’s revenue model and the reference architectures that they have for their customers.
  • The next time Michael is on the show, we’re grabbing a beer! Michael is a connoisseur of the Milwaukee beer scene, and we name a few of our favorites in the area (found in the “Recommended Resources” right below this).

Recommended Resources

  • SteamChain.io, a financial technology company serving the manufacturing sector through their “Machine-as-a-Service” solutions
  • Pearson Packaging, an OEM and Steamchain customer that specializes in the design, production, integration and service of secondary packaging automation solutions
  • Rockwell Automation, the largest company in the world dedicated to industrial automation, and the place where Michael cut his teeth in the manufacturing industry
  • Cream City Labs, a Milwaukee-based innovation lab dedicated to new ideas that drive business and collaboration with the startup community for Northwestern Mutual
  • Lakefront Brewery, one of Milwaukee’s original – and best – craft breweries
  • Black Husky Brewing, a relative newcomer to the Milwaukee beer scene that opened in the Riverwest neighborhood in 2016

Connect with Michael

LinkedIn | SteamChain.io