I have been working with JCI hardware/software for around 25 years now and am not satisfied overall with the quality and support of the newer products, starting with the FX control line. By the time we finally developed enough expertise using the FX products to do almost anything with them, JCI announced that they would be moving away from them. We are slowly moving to the FX-PCG line, but mainly on VAV applications only, still relying on the FX controllers for AHUs, Heat Exchangers and more complex control. We have been researching other manufacturers' products, but I am looking for real opinions by people that really use the controls. The FXs work well, but have so many little finicky issues, it takes us 3 times as long to program and commission them as compared to the older DX-9100. Is there anything out there that would be worth the time to learn and program going forward. I am trying to make a decision between looking at Honeywell, Alerton, Easy IO, etc.. Since everything is now BACnet, at least we don't have to re-learn the Network side, sticking with Niagara on the network. I am also not sure if any of these manufacturers will sell hardware and software to any contractor or if they need some type of agreement. We are so embedded with JCI, that it is hard to make a switch, but I'm curious what your real world opinions are of other control lines. Any suggestions or opinions would be appreciated.
I rep a competing co's product, and naturally gravitate that direction, but I will say that everyone's controls are pretty similar today. The real value is in the local support and quality/training level of the techs. Go with the line that has the best local presence, its worth a lot imo.
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In our marketplace, there is everything from JCI to Siemens, to Andover, to Automated Logic, etc., etc. Most of the larger manufacturers, like Siemens and JCI keep things real close to home. Honeywell doesn't have a large presence here anymore, except through some distributors. But I am more concerned about moving in a direction where the quality and ease of use of the hardware/software is stable and able to be learned. I do agree on the support side, because in a lot of cases, I don't have direct support, but have to go through another party to get it. Real field support when we are at a customer's site would be nice, but I almost always have to wait a day or two, which sometimes doesn't help. I really would like to use hardware and software that is consistent and that just works, without a song and a dance. I have FX programs where we will use the same strategies, for an AHU, an HX, etc. It will work fine on 4 out of 5 devices. Then I will get one which will have some strange issue, where the PID works backwards, where the logic just doesn't work or whatever. We always find a way out, but not before going through hell. Sometimes, it just doesn't make sense. I know that this is part of the business, but I have never had so many issues as we do with the newer equipment.
I'm not sure you have to pick one line of controls. We use a hand full of different manufactures. We prefer certain manufactures for certain applications or equipment. But we are lucky to have some great distributors to deal with.
You from South or North Jersey?
I am in Northern NJ, but all of our work is in NYC and Brooklyn.
Also, a company that will give you ALL of the passwords!
Originally Posted by DDC_Dan
"It's not that I'm smart, it's that I stay with the problem longer
You should look at Loytec.
All configuration tools are free, they only use open protocols and now they have a full line of freely programmable controllers (lon IP, lon ft10, bacnet IP)
Small investment for initial training but after that no surprises or annual fees.
I've just started using a LINX automation server with the connected I/O and it is very slick and powerful.
I've been using the LINX 101 and LIP routers for several years now and they are a rock solid product.
Well worth a look.
Distech wouldn't be bad to look at. Easy graphical programming to learn, which can be done either on a JACE via Distech Wizards, or done completely stand alone with the same tool, just not passing through a JACE.
The prices are great for what your getting, and in my personal opinion/history with them, just like Tridium, they are WAY ahead of the competition.
Do engineers ever spec Distech? I'm not knocking the product, I've just never seen it. I do like the graphics you have access to with them, and the graphical programming tool looks intuitive and interesting.
We currently use JCI products, but I arrived here around the same time they started fazing out the FX line. I know about the issues the OP is dealing with, and I'm not really pleased with the performance of that product either.
I will say that the PC line is an OK product. I do have a few issues with it, but, for the most part, you can do what you need to do with it. I do wish the FX supervisors had some better standard graphics and didn't lag a version behind with the Niagara release, but being able to bring in the points with the PCT resource files for populating standard graphics is handy. The "trunk utilities" feature in PCT is quite useful and productive once you get the hang of it too.