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  1. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    150
    Absolutely, that was my point - it was understood that the controls guy has (should have) the appropriate training and education on the system he is installing, engineering, etc. The HVAC/operator side should be held to the same standard, too. All sides can benefit from comprehensive and up-to-date training & education, and there is no substitute for experience.

    Canned HVAC works and has been around quite awhile, but it still needs to be properly matched. Differentiation between controls knowledge and HVAC knowledge is often times fuzzy - major cause of misunderstandings and problems between controls, HVAC, operators, and owner/managers. Controls guys expected to know it all and apply - tough to do with neglected or POS equipment/systems. Ultimately, no matter how well designed or comprehensive the controls system - it is only as good as the equipment it controls and the operator.

  2. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Location
    New Mexico
    Posts
    5,463
    NormChris is right.What I see all the time is DDC techs that don't know systems and hvac techs that don't know ddc. The best ddc techs i've known were hvac techs first and often for quite awhile.
    Tracers work both ways.

  3. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Posts
    44
    Test and balance techs can make decent DDC techs as well (if they are good ones)

  4. #17
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    MA
    Posts
    150
    Absolutely - a good balancer is worth their weight in gold and would be an excellent candidate for the controls field. Not sure, but balancers may be better compensated - although their job is more physically demanding and dirty oftentimes.

  5. #18
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Minnesota
    Posts
    1,372
    Originally posted by hvacker
    NormChris is right.What I see all the time is DDC techs that don't know systems and hvac techs that don't know ddc. The best ddc techs i've known were hvac techs first and often for quite awhile.
    Sounds about right.

    A controls tech, to be any good, needs a broad and sound knowledge of both sides of the fence. And not all of them have it.

    And while I'll agree that that some of the best DDC controls types I know and have known were HVAC techs to start with. That is not to say that all HVAC techs will make good controls types. As most of us know, not all HVAC techs are equal. Some just know the minimum to do their jobs, and aren't much interested in putting forth the effort to do better than that.

    Where I work, we have several HVAC techs turned automation and controls techs. One thing they have all had in common. The desire to always be learning more, to be inquisitive, to not just do the job but to do it better. Etc. Most have earned additional licensing/certifications of one sort or another beyond what they "have to have".

    When I meet a HVAC tech of that sort wanting to get into DDC controls, I know he'll almost certainly succeed.

    Likewise, when I meet an electronics or computer type wanting to get into DDC. Who resists the idea of getting dirty when there is a need, who concentrates on the electronic/computer end of things and seems to hate studying up on the mechanical end, and seems a bit TOO glued to a chair in front of a computer screen and tries to do all his troubleshooting from there. As versus grabbing couple tools and a ladder or whatever is needed and going to verify, hands on, that valve is really cycling, damper travels fully without binding, pipes that're supposed to be hot are hot, and those that're supposed to be cold are cold, etc. Odds are, he isn't gonna make it. Not with me, anyway.

    When I get a trainee for automation tech who's not from a HVAC background, I tend to use a simple test, from time to time to verify whether or not he's making progress and is gonna make it. Guy will run across something that's not working, or not working right. Will call me and report problem. I'll ask, "What, specifically, isn't working right? And why isn't it?"

    If the answer is always, "Hell if I know. I just know MY end of it is working right." We're gonna have a talk. Where I'm gonna explain that's NOT an acceptable answer.

    I expect him to understand the basics about anything and everything he's controlling. And to have at a minimum, basic troubleshooting skills. ie I don't expect him to be able to properly charge a refrigerant system. But he better know, or learn how it works. And be able to know or at make an educated guess that it's low on charge. Or that a trap on a steam system appears to be clogged or not working. Etc. My philosophy on this is that if he doesn't understand what he's controlling, then HOW in the world is he so sure it's not HIS problem?

    As regards someone else who made a comment that more and more controls are "canned". Sysint mentioned it, I think. <Shrug> Maybe. But I'm not seeing it that way. Granted, that most of the business we do is with larger buildings and systems. Most often, in our case, the customer (or his hired engineering/architectural firm)has very specific specs and sequences of operation. Virtually every single job is different. And the required sequence of operation does not lend itself to using ASCs. Except in the case of VAV's, small self contained units serving very specific and limited purpose, etc. But that could just be the rule for our area, and the customers we get. I really have no way of judging the broader world. He could very well be right in the overall, big picture. As I'm fairly sure he gets around more than I do, and probably sees a broader spectrum of installations than I do.

    Other poster is quite correct about the owner operator thing. A heck of a lot of problems are caused by failure to maintain equipment in good operating condition. And by lack of operator training. Some in-house operator and maintenance people are VERY good. As good as anyone. But we get customers who seem to place little importance on the area. Pay their inhouse folks little, and don't seem to be inclined to pay what it takes to keep their equipment in good operating shape. Net result, any of their guys who is good at what he does, jumps ship. And the guys left behind often have minimal knowledge of how the equipment really works.

    Which causes us no end of problems. Such customers seem to also think that if they hire us to slap on automation controls on everything, that'll fix ALL of their problems. And that they can continue to get by using the lowest paid and trainned help, doing little repair and maintenance to the actual equipment being controlled.

    What we end up with, is a hell of lot of warranty service calls. Most of which end up being not the result of our stuff working incorrectly. Mostly it ends up being operator changed setting he shouldn't have, not understanding it. Or, "Hey, guy, yah know if you actually rplaced that worn and slipping belt, that air handler would work a lot better." Or "Hey, the damper motor is working find, but your linkage inside the unit is broken." Or, and my favorite "Hmmm, you do know that the computer controls DO NOT change filters for you, right?Now, take a look in here. See that? When the filter is so clogged that the fan sucks it right out of the frame and up against the coils, you just aren't gonna get a whole lot of air flow or use out of that coil."

    Generally speaking, with the above type customers, when we bill em for a regular service call, because it really wasn't a warranty problem, they're the types that drag their feet about paying the bill and challenge every line item.

    <Sigh> I keep telling the salesmen to drop some of these folks. As not being worthwhile customers. Unfortunately our salesmen don't always listen.

  6. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Posts
    1
    Originally posted by hvacker
    NormChris is right.What I see all the time is DDC techs that don't know systems and hvac techs that don't know ddc. The best ddc techs i've known were hvac techs first and often for quite awhile.
    hvacker,

    Could you e-mail me please? I have some questions about a Network 8000 system I'm working on.

    c.roland@comcast.net

    Thanks

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