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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Lakewood, CO
    Posts
    71

    School district HVAC control techs

    Hey out there!

    I'd like to see if there are any other Controls guys out there in a similar circumstance...

    I work for a school district that maintains 162 schools with more being built.
    In our HVAC shop, we have 4 control guys...that means 2 with lots of DDC experience, one in training (doing very well) and one pneumatic expert who's trying to learn DDC. The rest of our shop consists of 2 boiler guys, 2 refrig guys and the balance is pipefitters with primarily construction backgrounds.

    About 70 or more schools are strictly old pneumatic, waiting on DDC someday. The rest of the schools have every conceivable mix of DDC and DDC over pneumatic you can think of! We seem to have every generation of JCI controllers and lots of NCM's, FX-JACEs and NAE's. We also have 15 schools with ALC, couple with KMC, couple with Siemens and one with DELTA. We have many schools with a mix of systems too!

    I've heard of other school districts zoning there people into quadrants of their district. We don't, we take care of any of our schools, everywhere and we're very spread out.

    I personally love my job 'cause I'm never bored! But it seems that we could use a couple more control guys...

    Looking forward to hearing back!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Just North of Hellhole Swamp
    Posts
    50
    [QUOTE=basparky;14654061]Hey out there!

    I'd like to see if there are any other Controls guys out there in a similar circumstance...
    [QUOTE]

    Sounds like you've got your hands full.

    I am the only control guy at my school district. We have 21 campuses (k-12), 3000+ modules and all ALC propriatary. I am also the energy manager which is actually wearing 2 hats now - energy management and building automation.

    We used to have JC, Honeywell, Circon and even some name I've never heard of but we put in the capital projects several years back to prioritize everything to ALC.

    Just my opinion. We tried zoning hvac work due to physical size (45-60 min trip from one end to the other). Some pro's about it were reduced travel time and they would be required to stay and be responsible in that one area. Some cons about it were when other techs went behind them they would talk smack if they did shoddy work. That sort of helped "police" each other plus since there is different equipment they could be cross trained.

    Is the reason you have so many different control systems because age and low bid?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Lakewood, CO
    Posts
    71
    Thanks for the response!
    Yep, its both age and low bid.... can't seem to get it across to the Project Managers, etc how important it would be to spec one manufacturer. I think we are slowly getting to that, but in the meantime...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Near Philly
    Posts
    511
    Quote Originally Posted by basparky View Post
    Hey out there!

    I'd like to see if there are any other Controls guys out there in a similar circumstance...

    I work for a school district that maintains 162 schools with more being built.
    In our HVAC shop, we have 4 control guys...that means 2 with lots of DDC experience, one in training (doing very well) and one pneumatic expert who's trying to learn DDC. The rest of our shop consists of 2 boiler guys, 2 refrig guys and the balance is pipefitters with primarily construction backgrounds.

    About 70 or more schools are strictly old pneumatic, waiting on DDC someday. The rest of the schools have every conceivable mix of DDC and DDC over pneumatic you can think of! We seem to have every generation of JCI controllers and lots of NCM's, FX-JACEs and NAE's. We also have 15 schools with ALC, couple with KMC, couple with Siemens and one with DELTA. We have many schools with a mix of systems too!

    I've heard of other school districts zoning there people into quadrants of their district. We don't, we take care of any of our schools, everywhere and we're very spread out.

    I personally love my job 'cause I'm never bored! But it seems that we could use a couple more control guys...

    Looking forward to hearing back!
    A 162 schools in one district, now that's a school district! Good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    Lakewood, CO
    Posts
    71
    Thanks for all the great input from everyone!

    And yeh Kelly, it's Brian.
    I work for Denver Public Schools so everyone knows.
    Personally, I'd like to become up to date on FX and NAE supervisory engineering. I did take a week of AX classes when I was first learning techin' and FX seems friendly enough... just so much more to learn and do with.
    Most of our stuff is some generation of JCI product.
    That being said, the Delta stuff is super easy and intuitive. The KMC could just have a JACE for a front end, the ALC is simple enough unless we'd have to reprogram a controller, the Siemens, ehhhhh, we don't have that much of it and I haven't yet had to work with it (still under warranty), I use to install a ton of it in years past... Would love extra training in DX9100 'cause we have so damn many, the JCI ASC controllers seem pretty easy and intuitive. Now we're getting a bunch of FEC's and PCT's which seem friendly enough...

    All in all, points is points. I think concentrating on supervisory systems may be the smart thing to do.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Posts
    1,113
    It always amazes me how simple it is to pick and prove the savings and forethought of choosing to simplify HVAC systems by using the same equipment over and over again and how stupid our civic offices are that they cannot see the long view of this. Then they try to preach looking to the future and what laws or choices they make now will be to our benefit in the future.

    I use to work at DFW International Airport and it had multiple system in the same terminal let alone in different terminals. So yes, it is very common.
    If you're too "open" minded, your brains will fall out.
    Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Several Miles from Sane
    Posts
    1,458
    Basparky,
    You realize you are no longer anonymous and will fall prey to interweb groupies don't you.

    We work on and with numerous School Districts. The single most common complaint I hear is that the Operating Personnel cannot get service/answers/assistance when stuff hits the fan. Second most common complaint is that a Controls Contractor installed a certain brand of controls and then restricts access to it so that "Only the Contractor" can access or service said system and the enduser is held hostage to that contractor. That is just wrong on many levels and, if it's not already, it should be illegal. (a little venting there)

    I know that your School District has intelegent people, in key positions, that are working to inprove both the HVAC systems and the Controls Systems throughout the District. I think you will agree it took a long time for all that stuff to get to it's present condition and it will take a while to get it all straightened out.

    You have my number, I know you'll can when you need help (dang it) !
    If sense were so common everyone would have it !

    All opinions expressed are my own. Any advice provided is based on personal experience, generally accepted fact or publicly available information. As such, it is worth exactly what you paid for it, not a penny more not a penny less !!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    378
    From what I know in the late 90's Jefferson County took low bid regardless of brand and tried to do a large quantity of projects over the summer. So many at some times that I wondered how they could physically be commissioned properly given the limited resources and overtime being worked just to get the install completed. After that they are turned over to a short handed staff at the school district who I never thought would have the time to properly tune a new system or find issues that were undiscovered at startup much less become knowledgeable enough in the various brands to be comfortable troubleshooting them. Zoning may help with travel time but probably means more bodies are needed which generally are not approved for hire in these economic times.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    conocrd ca
    Posts
    5
    I also work for a large school dist. here we do do HVAC and control i see your frustration we used to have many different kind of EMS and havc units we asked
    our management to put in inspect of put only one or two EMS system also the same
    for A/C units we have along way. i used to go around one roof top i would fine
    many different kind of units, communicating with higher management paid off
    for us.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Several Miles from Sane
    Posts
    1,458
    Brian ? Is that you ?

    controlgeek, did you just assume because he lists lakewood he works for Jeffco ? I suspect he works for a different School District.
    If sense were so common everyone would have it !

    All opinions expressed are my own. Any advice provided is based on personal experience, generally accepted fact or publicly available information. As such, it is worth exactly what you paid for it, not a penny more not a penny less !!

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    378
    Oh I have no idea what district was being referenced. I was just relating my experience at Jeffco in the late 90's. I had a similar experience at DPS & Littleton districts.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Northeast
    Posts
    342
    The problem with the sole source of control product is the non competitive bidding that results. Control prices will go through the roof if you do not have a competitive bidding environment. I have seen it happen.

    Bill

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Just North of Hellhole Swamp
    Posts
    50
    Quote Originally Posted by billcontrols View Post
    The problem with the sole source of control product is the non competitive bidding that results. Control prices will go through the roof if you do not have a competitive bidding environment. I have seen it happen.

    Bill
    You're right on that one. You have to definately weigh out your options. Sometimes we would do "best value bids" instead of low bid or propriatary where we scored options (cost, specifications, shipping, availability, vender references, service, roi, reliability, etc). Each category was given a score and the highest score won. That's oversimplified of course but we got what we needed w/o bid protests. That could be an option to propriatary or low bid.

    Anyway you look at it 162 schools is a big ship to change course. What do you see as your prefered controls if you had the option of changing them all out?

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