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Thread: The low down on ALC?

  1. #1
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    The low down on ALC?

    Hi there,

    Young, talented, extremely driven controls tech aggressively trying to leave Siemens.
    I was contacted by a recruiter for a local controls dealer for ALC.

    I went in for an interview and...awkwardly not impressed.
    This also happened about a month ago when I met up with a dealer for Distech and Vykon (IIRC).

    Sort of off topic, but it seems that dealers/resellers do things a bit differently than an 'official branch' of an OEM.

    Both of these dealers (completely unrelated) build their panel enclosures and assemble their controllers on backplanes in-house, then deliver them to location to install as a unit.
    Both of them were almost identical: attach controller to backplane, use a ton of Panduit, terminal blocks, relays, etc.

    And I've seen pictures of this many times on various controls groups/forums. People love to boast pictures of these 'super clean' installs, but it's all so cookie-cutter. I'm not sure of the advantage vs. installing the controller on-site and landing the wires directly as you need. It looks less messy, but really you're just shoving the mess behind the panduit, which can make it more difficult to trace. It seems like all you're really doing is adding more components for the purpose of relocating the point at which you actually add the field wire.


    Anyway, moving onto ALC, it was just awkward. As much as I rip on Siemens sometimes, in both cases, the 'presenter' was tripping over themselves to show off the amazing features of their BAS.
    And, with both companies, it was stuff like "our system can automatically email alarms as they happen!"
    Or "check out these top tier graphics!"

    I didn't say it to them in person, but on nearly all fronts, it was stuff Siemens had come out with 20 years ago...

    And ALC's graphics were purely disgusting. A weird floating object on a black background. And then the guy was absolutely drooling to show me the feature that *put* Automated Logic ON.THE.MAP. the Thermographic floor plans. Which, while visually helpful, is something easily achieved in the 1980s.

    He then discussed the hardware/infrastructure with me. He said ALC uses ARCnet to run 156k baud. Kinda neat, I guess, but why...?
    Even the most modern controllers use rotary dials (NOT silly DIP switches, he was proud to point out) to set the controller address. And, again, why? Why would you use a physical address setting when you absolutely don't have to?

    Siemens stuff hasn't used physical switches for address or baud rate in at least 30 years.

    Otherwise, the AL controllers seem kinds clunky and disorganized from an aesthetic stand point.

    It's a 20% pay increase, so that's why I'm strongly considering it. But not sure if I'm unknowingly entering a world of B-tier headaches.
    Pros/cons to ALC? Any comments?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by stomachbuzz View Post

    1. The more you know about controls the more valuable you become. This includes learning more control lines.


    Hi there,

    Young, talented, extremely driven controls tech aggressively trying to leave Siemens.
    I was contacted by a recruiter for a local controls dealer for ALC.

    I went in for an interview and...awkwardly not impressed.
    This also happened about a month ago when I met up with a dealer for Distech and Vykon (IIRC).

    Sort of off topic, but it seems that dealers/resellers do things a bit differently than an 'official branch' of an OEM.

    2. There isn’t a lot of wiggle room at the big boys, round peg technician goes in round hole. Square peg engineer goes in square hole job.

    Both of these dealers (completely unrelated) build their panel enclosures and assemble their controllers on backplanes in-house, then deliver them to location to install as a unit.
    Both of them were almost identical: attach controller to backplane, use a ton of Panduit, terminal blocks, relays, etc.

    And I've seen pictures of this many times on various controls groups/forums. People love to boast pictures of these 'super clean' installs, but it's all so cookie-cutter. I'm not sure of the advantage vs. installing the controller on-site and landing the wires directly as you need. It looks less messy, but really you're just shoving the mess behind the panduit, which can make it more difficult to trace. It seems like all you're really doing is adding more components for the purpose of relocating the point at which you actually add the field wire.

    3. It’s easier, cheaper, and simpler to build panels on a workbench vs in the field. Spec might call for terminal blocks to land field wires on which is what it sounds like you’re describing.


    Anyway, moving onto ALC, it was just awkward. As much as I rip on Siemens sometimes, in both cases, the 'presenter' was tripping over themselves to show off the amazing features of their BAS.
    And, with both companies, it was stuff like "our system can automatically email alarms as they happen!"
    Or "check out these top tier graphics!"

    I didn't say it to them in person, but on nearly all fronts, it was stuff Siemens had come out with 20 years ago...

    And ALC's graphics were purely disgusting. A weird floating object on a black background. And then the guy was absolutely drooling to show me the feature that *put* Automated Logic ON.THE.MAP. the Thermographic floor plans. Which, while visually helpful, is something easily achieved in the 1980s.

    4. Agreed almost everyone can do temp color gradient on floor plans now.

    He then discussed the hardware/infrastructure with me. He said ALC uses ARCnet to run 156k baud. Kinda neat, I guess, but why...?

    5. Proprietary that’s why. Harder to take over the site. Their guys will probably tell you faster is better.


    Even the most modern controllers use rotary dials (NOT silly DIP switches, he was proud to point out) to set the controller address. And, again, why? Why would you use a physical address setting when you absolutely don't have to?

    6. Almost everyone besides seimens uses dipswitches or rotary dials. Why? More reliable to set the MAC that way IMO. I have seen FLN devices lose their MAC ID before. Twice. You can be sure that MAC ID 22 is the one you want to download the program telling it is a VAV with reheat and that it’s instance 5122 is correct.

    Siemens stuff hasn't used physical switches for address or baud rate in at least 30 years.

    7. Almost every manufacturer lets you chose a baud rate. Just brought in some ATEC VAVs that were BACnet they were at 76800 I believe, are you saying that is default and cannot be changed? I had to replace two of them with JCI VMAs easy peasy just changed baud rate, viola.

    Otherwise, the AL controllers seem kinds clunky and disorganized from an aesthetic stand point.

    8. Not sure what you mean by that? You don’t like the looks of them? Every controller can do what you want it to do, it really comes down to the programmer behind that controller.

    It's a 20% pay increase, so that's why I'm strongly considering it.

    9. Plus it will expand your horizons.

    But not sure if I'm unknowingly entering a world of B-tier headaches.

    10. Would not call ALC B tier at all.

    Pros/cons to ALC?

    11. Have not worked there myself.

    Any comments?

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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  4. #3
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    I think their stuff rocks from little experience I have ,and was seriously looking into it as a second line , but in the end put that on the shelf ( I am also involved in Chillers) But have been told from more experienced on this site the integration can be a nightmare stan
    Keep it simple to keep it cool!

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by stomachbuzz View Post
    Young, talented, extremely driven controls tech aggressively trying to leave Siemens.
    Why aggressively trying to leave? It does not seem to be the hardware at Siemens. If the hardware is not driving you away, why let the hardware be a hangup to leaving?
    It is HARD to find a decent BAS guy. Nearly impossible to find a good multivendor BAS guy. And great multivendor BAS guys with a strong mechanical background are unicorns.
    Going anywhere will increase your value, if you can make the jump and land successfully. You will then move from the BAS guy to Multivendor BAS guy category.
    IMHO you need to call the Distech/Vykon shop and see if they will take you. Tridium is where the industry is heading.
    Hmmmm....smells like numbatwo to me.

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  7. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by stomachbuzz View Post
    Hi there,

    Young, talented, extremely driven controls tech aggressively trying to leave Siemens.
    I was contacted by a recruiter for a local controls dealer for ALC.

    I went in for an interview and...awkwardly not impressed.
    This also happened about a month ago when I met up with a dealer for Distech and Vykon (IIRC).

    Sort of off topic, but it seems that dealers/resellers do things a bit differently than an 'official branch' of an OEM.

    Both of these dealers (completely unrelated) build their panel enclosures and assemble their controllers on backplanes in-house, then deliver them to location to install as a unit.
    Both of them were almost identical: attach controller to backplane, use a ton of Panduit, terminal blocks, relays, etc.

    And I've seen pictures of this many times on various controls groups/forums. People love to boast pictures of these 'super clean' installs, but it's all so cookie-cutter. I'm not sure of the advantage vs. installing the controller on-site and landing the wires directly as you need. It looks less messy, but really you're just shoving the mess behind the panduit, which can make it more difficult to trace. It seems like all you're really doing is adding more components for the purpose of relocating the point at which you actually add the field wire.


    Anyway, moving onto ALC, it was just awkward. As much as I rip on Siemens sometimes, in both cases, the 'presenter' was tripping over themselves to show off the amazing features of their BAS.
    And, with both companies, it was stuff like "our system can automatically email alarms as they happen!"
    Or "check out these top tier graphics!"

    I didn't say it to them in person, but on nearly all fronts, it was stuff Siemens had come out with 20 years ago...

    And ALC's graphics were purely disgusting. A weird floating object on a black background. And then the guy was absolutely drooling to show me the feature that *put* Automated Logic ON.THE.MAP. the Thermographic floor plans. Which, while visually helpful, is something easily achieved in the 1980s.

    He then discussed the hardware/infrastructure with me. He said ALC uses ARCnet to run 156k baud. Kinda neat, I guess, but why...?
    Even the most modern controllers use rotary dials (NOT silly DIP switches, he was proud to point out) to set the controller address. And, again, why? Why would you use a physical address setting when you absolutely don't have to?

    Siemens stuff hasn't used physical switches for address or baud rate in at least 30 years.

    Otherwise, the AL controllers seem kinds clunky and disorganized from an aesthetic stand point.

    It's a 20% pay increase, so that's why I'm strongly considering it. But not sure if I'm unknowingly entering a world of B-tier headaches.
    Pros/cons to ALC? Any comments?
    If your in love Siemens...then stay with Siemens. With that attitude you'll fail anywhere else. And it is your attitude. Every control company has there own quirks, some good and bad.
    Controls, the cause of... and solution to... all your HVAC problems.

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  9. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by bigguy158 View Post
    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    Thanks for the reply. I agree with you on most points. I greatly want to learn other platforms. For my own diversity of perspective, but also to continue to make myself more valuable.

    It seems this has already happened since, even just after a quick introduction during an interview, I notice competing ideas and see how different companies do different things. I enjoy it.

    Quote Originally Posted by numbawunfela View Post
    Why aggressively trying to leave? It does not seem to be the hardware at Siemens. If the hardware is not driving you away, why let the hardware be a hangup to leaving?
    It is HARD to find a decent BAS guy. Nearly impossible to find a good multivendor BAS guy. And great multivendor BAS guys with a strong mechanical background are unicorns.
    Going anywhere will increase your value, if you can make the jump and land successfully. You will then move from the BAS guy to Multivendor BAS guy category.
    IMHO you need to call the Distech/Vykon shop and see if they will take you. Tridium is where the industry is heading.
    Siemens (both at the branch level and corporate) has committed too much disrespect in my opinion. There is such a large disconnect between corporate and the field technicians that it is disgusting. I'm noticing a long, and growing, track record of very poor decisions coming from corporate and I don't have confidence in their direction of leadership.
    Specifically, a pay increase and hiring freeze being 1 thing. Absolutely no excuse for a technician of my potential to have my time repeatedly squandered and to be deprived of a pay increase from a 'competitive' starter salary after 1 year of absolutely busting hump to go above and beyond and blow everyone away in any way possible.
    Disrespectful to issue merit raise freezes while simultaneously releasing earnings reports that are through the roof. While the white collar people are working from home, posting on Yammer about how scared they are of the virus, and the techs are on site every day as per usual.

    Following in this vein is their awful product line: Desigo and DXRs (que MPeterson21 to initiate Siemens praise monologue).
    Just a terrible software suite and field controller. Everything about them is just bad. 9 out of 10 people aggressively agree.
    It's sort of like selling a radio with no volume knob. And then it takes them 3 years to release the updated version with the knob.
    Again, the disconnect between whoever designed/approved those products and the end user (technician and BAS operator). Additionally aggravated by Siemens forcing their customers customers upgrade to these half baked products.
    As you stated, these are prime reasons why Siemens is absolutely losing their shirt to Tridium/Niagara.
    Siemens says to an Insight customer "we're forcing you to upgrade. So it's gonna cost a minimum of like $100k for a small site. And you're gonna HATE it afterwards"
    And they say "lol nty" and call up a mom and pop Tridium dealer, severing their ties with Siemens.

    A few weeks back, I even got put in touch with one of the lead designers for Desigo Optic in Georgia. We had a 2 hour phone conversation about critiques of Desigo CC and ABT Site. Most of the conversation was just him sighing and saying "I know..." The rest of the conversation was him trying to convince me how good DesigoCC really is, while simultaneously explaining that Desigo Optic is Siemens direct response to how bad DCC is... and how Optic is supposed to be a direct response to Tridium dominating the market.
    Eh, I'm not holding my breath.

    So that's the corporate side, and then my branch is just sloppy. Zero interest in efficiency, competency, or accountability. Which just makes everything worse.

    So I'd rather turn my time and skills to somewhere I can be more effective.

    As far as the shop that does Tridium, they did make me an offer, but it was only 10% more than my current pay, and they seemed to be somewhat of a sketchy bottom bidder sort of operation after asking around, so I decided to pass.

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  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by control$ View Post
    If your in love Siemens...then stay with Siemens. With that attitude you'll fail anywhere else. And it is your attitude. Every control company has there own quirks, some good and bad.
    I have a great attitude and have bent over backwards in every way I can to accommodate and be available to my branch. They squandered it.

    Every day I stay until it's done, not when the click says. I do whatever it takes to make sure it's done as properly as possible. Double checking wiring arrangements, safety interlocks, matching up to SOO, remotely logging in nights and weekends to check on my code, answering my phone at all hours for customers, etc.

    I'm also a successful entrepreneur from my past life.

    Anyway, whatever. If every company has its own flaws, that's fine. Might as well take my 20% more for the same abuse.

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    Quote Originally Posted by stomachbuzz View Post

    Anyway, whatever. If every company has its own flaws, that's fine. Might as well take my 20% more for the same abuse.
    I have found the grass on the other side of the fence features the same BS and that money sways my decisions.

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    One tiny little thing about building panels in a shop, they can be UL listed. I haven't dealt with much other than ALC and I think it's a cohesive system that's mostly friendly to work with. Sounds like you talked to a sales guy, go talk to one of the service people. Yes, the dealers are pretty free to do whatever they want to, including selling other lines other than ALC. Branches are a bit more restrictive. If it sounds like it's a good shop and you are doing 20% sounds like a good move .

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    Quote Originally Posted by stomachbuzz View Post
    So that's the corporate side, and then my branch is just sloppy. Zero interest in efficiency, competency, or accountability. Which just makes everything worse.
    It sounds a lot like Johnson.
    I will say that 80% of the initial post focused on things that are not really important when it comes to your move. Panels, DIPs, knobs, addressing.... these things are not anywhere near as important as culture and leadership.
    You are leaving Siemens for a variety of reasons that boil down to culture and leadership, and getting hung up on trivialities at other places.
    Either you need to take a minute to center yourself and determine what is really important and pursue that. Or. You need to de-crankify a little as it is clouding your perspective. Control$ alluded to it. It is easy to get put out by the comment, instead take it as though people are seeing something you are missing and be grateful for it.
    You might not mean to, but you are coming across a little on the grumpy side.
    Hmmmm....smells like numbatwo to me.

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  17. #11
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    I will say to you what I say to building owners. It's not the equipment. It's not the company. It's the local business unit and it's culture and its implementation of control systems. In the good old days you could make valid comparisons between hardware but those days are long gone. That is not to say that everyone's stuff is the same but it's all pretty full featured. If you think that all corporate branch offices are alike, you're wrong. Local management either corporate or individual representative sets the tone and your job satisfaction. Are employees valued? Rather than cool graphics and baud rates does the potential employer invest in its employees? What is their commitment to training employees? Do customers get the service they deserve? Is providing the customer a quality system a priority? Is the office in it for the long haul or the quick buck? Is all their business bid and chase, low bidder wins or is it negotiated work with customers who appreciate value? Do the people that work there feel that they're on the customers team?

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    Siemens graphics and programming is now done overseas, engineering to follow and when they work out how to use VR goggles onsite bodies will be just eyes and ears for remote techs.

    I have worked with all three (latest being 18+ months as a senior engineer at Siemens) and would take ALC any day over Siemens. Better software, better hardware and better support.

    kontrol out

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    Quote Originally Posted by stomachbuzz View Post
    I have a great attitude and have bent over backwards in every way I can to accommodate and be available to my branch. They squandered it.

    Every day I stay until it's done, not when the click says. I do whatever it takes to make sure it's done as properly as possible. Double checking wiring arrangements, safety interlocks, matching up to SOO, remotely logging in nights and weekends to check on my code, answering my phone at all hours for customers, etc.

    I'm also a successful entrepreneur from my past life.
    I recommend you start your own business/company again, so you can form it to your own values/ideas.

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  21. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by numbawunfela View Post
    It sounds a lot like Johnson.
    I will say that 80% of the initial post focused on things that are not really important when it comes to your move. Panels, DIPs, knobs, addressing.... these things are not anywhere near as important as culture and leadership.
    You are leaving Siemens for a variety of reasons that boil down to culture and leadership, and getting hung up on trivialities at other places.
    Either you need to take a minute to center yourself and determine what is really important and pursue that. Or. You need to de-crankify a little as it is clouding your perspective. Control$ alluded to it. It is easy to get put out by the comment, instead take it as though people are seeing something you are missing and be grateful for it.
    You might not mean to, but you are coming across a little on the grumpy side.
    It does.

    But.

    I was grumpy about putting in long hours studying and not get rewarded when at JCI. I don’t blame him.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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    Quote Originally Posted by bigguy158 View Post
    I was grumpy about putting in long hours studying and not get rewarded when at JCI. I don’t blame him.
    Yeah, that is a good point. I was kinda grumpy at JCI for the same reason. To be fair, I was even grumpier when I got 50% more to work for another shop doing Alerton/Distech when I did not know their products at all.... it was objective validation of my suspicions that I was getting paid peanuts.
    The encouragement to not be grumpy was more because of its effects on the decision making process. Not that he has no reason to be. People may act rashly when overly emotional.... by, for example, getting bent out of shape because a prospective controller line uses DIPs to address controllers when what he is looking for is a decent culture. Or the overly grumpy person may come across in a way that alienates people whose help he needs.
    But I don't do very much to validate the perspective. That is true. I do not know of anyone who really likes working at Siemens.
    Hang in there StomachBuzz
    Hmmmm....smells like numbatwo to me.

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    Seeing as this isn't about the technology and more about where you are thinking about working it would help to know where that is. I'd probably start hitting up employees there on linkedin. Might even be some people here.

  24. #17
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    Got a long time friend who's been at Siemens for 22 years. He is the bigger hitter for all things complex in the controls service department. He most likely will retire there, and has good things to say overall. The management over the years from his perspective is the biggest issue, but his compensation is at the high end of the local market I would say. We are siemens dealer as well, and have a former branch guy working for us. His experience sounded more like what the OP's was and is happy to be out of there. I also know another contractor in town has absorbed several branch guys and is doing large volumes of siemens work. It's one of 4 lines we do, and I have zero experience with any of it. It does appear there is some restrictions on what contractors can do versus the branch regarding software? That being said our company loves JCI branch and other branches that fail to deliver to their customer base. It's dollars in our pockets. Sounds like the OP needs to move on, and like stated not get hung up in the hardware stuff. It all can work, and have advantages over another. I would classify myself as the multi-vendor former mechanical tech guy. NOT a unicorn for sure!! But willingness to take on any vendor line over the years has served me well IMO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Norriski Tech View Post
    That being said our company loves JCI branch and other branches that fail to deliver to their customer base. It's dollars in our pockets.
    So true!
    Hmmmm....smells like numbatwo to me.

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    I think hvac69 is on the money, if you feel like you're gonna deal with BS no matter, go to the job that pays more. As to original question of why anyone uses rotary dials, ALC, Carrier and Trane still do. For one thing it is helpful for a service tech (or controls) to look at those dials in a rooftop and know they have the right unit.

    IMO the way to go is a multi-vendor place. Great to know more than one line, and there will likely be plentiful work for you. When you work for an OEM, you rely on the sales department to get their stuff spec'd on bids. Working for a smaller outfit that does multiple brands, gives you a shot at lots of work. Every control line has its strengths and weaknesses, I wouldn't get caught up on the software end of things. At the end of the day, isn't whatever line your company sold a customer the best on the planet anyway?

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    Quote Originally Posted by controls21 View Post
    As to original question of why anyone uses rotary dials, ALC, Carrier and Trane still do.
    The new IP based controllers don't have physical addressing. The ARCnet/MS/TP version of them might but that isn't released yet.

    https://www.automatedlogic.com/en/pr...rs/of683xt-e2/

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