Steam is an integral part of the HVAC landscape, encompassing numerous industries from health care to manufacturing to education and beyond. Between maintenance, monitoring, pressure concerns, leaks, scale buildup, and more, these mission critical systems can become somewhat cumbersome for facility managers to manage. 

And, frankly, facility managers aren’t alone when it comes to the potential burden of steam. Steam providers themselves are facing their own challenges. An aging workforce is retiring at an alarming pace, and replacements are difficult to come by. 

So, what if a turnkey, packaged service existed that not only offered the complete installation, maintenance, and monitoring of a steam system but guaranteed its performance, alleviating any management or workforce concerns? Now there is. Introducing: Steam as a Service (SaaS).

What is Steam as a Service? 

SaaS is an all-in-one solution for on-site steam generation.  

The program is the brainchild of three highly recognizable steam companies: Miura America, a global boiler manufacturer; Armstrong International, a diversified steam plant design, installation, operation, and maintenance group; and Hartford Steam Boiler (HSB), an equipment insurance, boiler engineering, and inspection company.

Two years ago, Paul O’Donnell, vice president of strategic development at Miura America, identified the need for such a service in the North American market. After gaining the green light to proceed, the quest for the right partners began. 

“Miura already had a relationship with Armstrong, as we’ve completed some work with them on a project-by-project basis, so they were a natural fit for this concept,” O’Donnell said. “Armstrong’s president and CEO, Doug Bloss, said, ‘Hey, I think I have a perfect third party for this — have you ever heard of HSB?’ And, of course, we had. HSB is synonymous with steam; steam safety; and inspection, design, and engineering expertise.” 

The concept merges the strengths of each company — state-of-the-art equipment; next-gen IoT capabilities; and on-site management, maintenance, and administration under the guidance of industry experts — into an all-encompassing steam package.  

Miura will manufacture the boilers being used within the service. Opting for modular boilers allows users to produce only the steam they need and scales with customers’ needs as demands change over time.

“This is a big contrast to a lot of aging steam systems, which require a huge amount of redundancy,” O’Donnell said. “Think of it as having a truck idling at all times, just in case your other truck breaks down. SaaS eliminates that need, which can really lower a facility’s environmental footprint. And, because of the environmentally friendly design, the solution also helps lower emissions. Finally, Saas is not only good for the planet, it’s good for business — it allows customers to future-proof their enterprise in the face of changing regulations.” 

Armstrong International will lend its expertise in steam system assessments and energy audits, system design and project management, and operations and maintenance to the model. 

“This group of companies is truly world class,” said Bloss. “You couldn’t find another group of companies that would offer this much experience in steam.”

Additionally, Armstrong boasts a strong representative network and culture of its own contractors, which will be necessary to fulfill the installation and maintenance needs on a national scale. 

“Safety, reliability, and energy efficiency is in our DNA, providing our customers with many enjoyable experiences” said Kyle Lambright, president, Armstrong Service Group.

HSB will offer equipment and engineering insurance, fulfilling the performance and efficiency guarantees, inspections, design review, and consultation.
“Steam as a service is a 21st century business model outsourcing the complexity of managing equipment, maintaining it, and taking on the risk of it failing or not reaching the efficiencies that you’re counting on in business,” said Greg Barats, president and CEO, HSB. “Using technology, we now have a real-time view of how the equipment is operating. We can predict failures before something fails. This overall offering is supported by a guarantee that’s fed by real-time data through the IoT. And this guarantees efficiencies of the boiler and reliability and availability of the actual overall system.

Steam as a service is peace of mind for the customer. We provide the world-class expertise, so they can focus on their core business and not the steam operation.”


Operational Expense

SaaS is designed to include every aspect of a steam operation into one easy transaction. This agreement is conducted with no capital to invest or upfront costs, moving steam generation from a capital expenditure to an operational expenditure. Steam is provided for a single, predictable monthly fee. 

“Customers will receive a bill much like they receive a cable bill,” said Tatsuya Fujiwara, president, Miura America. “This statement will be very easy to read, very simple to understand, and very transparent. Customers will know exactly what they’re paying for at all times.”

Because the SaaS offering is delivered through a modular and scalable steam solution, the output can change quickly according to specific business needs and requirements.

“SaaS offers a multitude of advantages over traditional on-site steam generation,” O’Donnell said. “It allows customers to put their steam needs in the hands of experts, so they can focus on what they do best without worrying about steam. It’s cost-effective, because customers are only producing and paying for the steam they need. The boiler technology is extremely efficient and technologically advanced. The built-in IoT and performance and efficiency guarantees mean little to no downtime. And, in the unlikely event that performance does suffer, guarantees are in place to remedy the situation.” 

Numerous Applications

While the SaaS manufacturers insist the technology is appropriate for numerous applications, they’re focusing their initial attention on the health care industry. 

“Hospitals will likely be early adopters of this technology,” said Marc Goldleaf, marketing strategist, HSB. “Hospitals employ modular designs, have a culture that’s accepting of outsourcing, are growing exponentially, and have strict capital limitations. Additionally, hospitals need redundancy. Because of this, the load is calculated on the coldest day of the year under the greatest demand. A mid-size hospital might need 600 boiler horsepower [BHP], but may have to run two units because of the need for redundancy. The modular Miura design will come in not with a single 600-BHP unit but with three 200-BHP boilers, providing not only efficiency but cost savings as well.” 

While the SaaS offering is still in its infancy, those behind the project are confident the service will have a nationwide reach in the very near future. 

“The timing is right for a model like this,” O’Donnell said. “Steam as a Service is going to be a real game-changer in the steam industry.”
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Steam as a Service brings together three global steam companies: Miura America, Armstrong International, and Hartford Steam Boiler/Munich RE. 

With Steam as a Service, there is no capital to invest or upfront costs, moving steam generation from capital expenditures to operational expenditures. 

Steam as a Service merges the strengths of each company involved, melding state-of-the-art equipment; next-gen IoT capabilities; and on-site management, maintenance, and administration into an all-encompassing steam package.

Steam as a Service was first developed by Paul O’Donnell, vice president of strategic development, Miura America, about two years ago. Recognizing the model’s success overseas, O’Donnell felt the time was right to bring the strategy to the U.S.

The manufacturers behind Steam as a Service believe the health care market is an ample starting point for the concept, due to its need for redundancy and strict capital restrictions.  

“Customers will receive a bill much like they receive a cable bill,” said Tatsuya Fujiwara, president, Miura America. “This statement will be very easy to read, very simple to understand, and very transparent.”