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    How the Europeans do it? (50 Posts)

  • SpeyFitter SpeyFitter @ 12:57 AM
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    How the Europeans do it?

    Being in the hydronic heating industry, I always hear common themes such as "this is how they do it in Europe" and "They've had this in Europe for a long time" in reference to certain pieces of equipment or installation practices that they "finally" bring over here. I also asked a well versed sales rep from a wholesaler one time who had been to Europe what the differences were between Tradesman here and Tradesman there. He said "IN Europe" the Tradesmen are much more specialized; instead of having a plumber that does hydronic heating, gas, plumbing (water lines/drainage), new constructin, service, retrofits, etc, they have guys that pick one or two aspects and learn them inside and out. I confirmed this in one regard as we have a young German machinist at work and he said in Germany where he worked as a Machinist before he came here Machinists specialize in one or two areas of the trade, there as over here they do it all. So it's sort of like having very shallow knowledge over a huge breadth of trade as opposed to deep knowledge about a smaller breadth. Also, what I have been told is in Europe, they have fewer restrictions what you can and can not do as far as installation practices & codes, but they have tighter restrictions on products and product quality from an environmental and durability standpoint. The German fellow did say their education system in his opinion was noticeably better and he also says back home everyone works ALL the time.

    Without going to Europe myself and seeing for myself, and I seem to recall reading some of what they do over there in Dan's books and other resources, I'm curious if you have any other accolades of what they do better, in hydronic heating, in Europe (If you've seen it or have some first or second hand information) and even what you think they could do better compared to what we have? I'm not suggesting we have an inferiority complex, or that we are not as good, but it's just interesting to see how different people handle things. I ask this because I seem to find myself on this personal quest for as much knowledge in my trade as possible - I want to be the best. I'm reading books, manuals, & magazines on hydroniic heating & gas fitting daily to try and improve my knowledge and knowhow along with my experience to date in the trade. It certainly compliments my experience nicely when you have the technical side to it but hearing how other people do it is also something that interests me.
    Class 'A' Gas Fitter - Certified Hydronic Systems Designer - Journeyman Plumber
  • Henry Henry @ 10:05 AM
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    Europe

    Here is one of my acquaintances in Austria who designs and installs all over Europe:
    http://www.traussnigg.at/ It is in German but, you just need to look at the pictures to see the difference between here and there. I have some pictures somewhere of a boiler room at the chateau that I stayed in in Ravenna, three years ago. Just lovely the work they do there.

    Apprentices generally have to go to school and do "stages" working for a contractor, then go back to school. It is 4 to 6 years depending on the speciality. Even chimney sweepers need to go to school and have a 4 year apprentice program!
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 5:00 PM
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    In Germany,

    at the start of high school, they test the students to see if they are geared toward academics or not. If not, a student gets directed toward trade school and he or she is not allowed to attend college.
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    Hug your kids.
  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 9:39 PM
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    I wish WE were like that...

    Our educations system attempts to divert ALL students down the college path, whether they want to go there or not, and many don't and it ends up being a waste of time and money, all because of the ideals of someone who has no idea who they (the students) are dealing with.

    And due to this fact, they are creating a slow motion train wreck as it pertains to the construction/service trades.

    As a known fact, there are many more people (baby boomers) retiring from the trades (all of them() than there are people coming in. Most of these people (High school educators) don't think it will affect them, and when it does (can't get you any one out to unclog your main drain for 2 or 3 days) then they scream like a mashed cat... and want to know who is responsible. They are.

    I have a very good friend who went through the German pipe fitters trades school, and he is without a doubt one of the smartest people I know. In fact, I have trusted him with my life, and would do it again, and again. He did work during the day, and schooled at night.

    One BIG difference between our trades and their (German) trades is that their trades get respect. They are not seen as "butt crack plumbers, or Liquid plumbers". They are honored, respected and paid quite well for their services.

    We need to restructure our education system and do as the Germans are doing. If the student isn't cut out for college, then don't send them there. Send them to trade school.

    One ugly hidden truth is that most of the people on the other side of the plumbing counter all have college degrees, and the tradesmen, on the other side of the counter make a lot more money than they do...

    This country is severely broken in more ways than one, but the sooner we get involved, the sooner we can get it fixed.

    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • Chris Chris @ 7:49 PM
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    There's Another Aspect

    Most kids that don't go to college tend to be the unmotivated, undisciplined. No college, should have to spend a 2yr hitch within one of the branches of the armed forces whether reserves or full duty.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
  • TonyS TonyS @ 9:07 AM
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    Thats quite a statement Chris

    How were you going to enforce that rule? Beatings, jail time....LOL
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 1:02 PM
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    National Service

    in many countries is not limited to the military. And in some countries, such service is required whether you go to college or not.

    We had something like this during the Great Depression- the one that started in 1929, not 2008. But that ended with World War II, and was not revived afterwards.
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • TonyS TonyS @ 6:30 PM
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    Its called Conscription, Steamhead

    very popular in countries like North Kore and China. What they do to deserters is arrest their  family.
  • Steamhead Steamhead @ 9:41 PM
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    I am well aware of that

    but I was talking about something different, having read about it in the past. Not sure which countries but it wasn't those two. 
    "Reducing our country's energy consumption, one system at a time"

    Steam, Vapor & Hot-Water Heating Specialists

    Oil & Gas Burner Service

    Baltimore, MD (USA) and consulting anywhere.
  • TonyS TonyS @ 9:34 PM
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    Ugly hidden truth

    I don't know about that Mark. I don't feel college degrees are as important in our field as is natural intelligence.
    In many fields especially ones where facts and figures need to be repeated to the point of nausea , a college degree can be beneficial. Probably a photographic memory even better.  But in our situation where everyday brings new places with new situations the ability for critical thinking is more desirable.
    Personally I find the best apprentices(not always) have a n IQ of 120 or better( no higher than 140 or they detach) a mechanical aptitude of 95% or better with high scores in spacial relations.
    This criteria is much more desirable in our field than a run of the mill college degree.
    So why shouldn't someone with high natural intelligence make more money than a simple college degree? Many MENSA members are high school dropouts.
  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 11:17 PM
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    We agree Tony...

    I think I just stated it poorly.

    Mechanical skills and aptitude are extremely important in our trades. Too bad we've lost focus of that and no longer teach it in high school. Remember DECCA?.

    College degrees have their place in life, but its not as a mechanic in the field, although I know some people who have a college degree (one fellow is a Phd) that are excellent mechanics.

    Not wanting to short anyone who went to college and survived, just stating a known fact. Kudos to those who had the intestinal fortitude to stick it out and put their degree to use.

    Another little known fact is that most good mechanics are dislexic (SP)...

    I know how to talk backwards ;-) Use to drive my teachers in high school NUTS when me and my fellow students would talk to each other in what we called kcab klat :-)

    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • SWEI SWEI @ 11:33 PM
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    I think that makes you

    dylsexic!
  • Mark Eatherton Mark Eatherton @ 7:42 AM
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    Huh???

    :-)

    And DEAF ;-)

    ME
    It's not so much a case of "You got what you paid for", as it is a matter of "You DIDN'T get what you DIDN'T pay for, and you're NOT going to get what you thought you were in the way of comfort". Borrowed from Heatboy.
  • icesailor icesailor @ 6:40 AM
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    Not stated poorly:

    That's not stated poorly, just in a way that those of us with "learning Disabilities" intuitively understand.
    What's missed today in education as opposed to 50+ years ago is the opportunity to be exposed to other ways of thinking.
    So, here's one of my many learning disabilities. Detailed memory that can be instantly recalled. It's fragmentary. There are seven learning styles but today, there are only three taught. If you do not learn in those three styles, school was not designed for you. Back 50 +/1 years ago in the Los Angeles City School System, I think that most styles were accommodated. We had shops from Junior High through High School and the Junior College system was an extension of the trade school system. You could get a free college education in California and go to Junioe College and become a machinist, welder or draftsman. For free. Then, the great Ronald Reagan eliminated all those programs. Those programs taught me to learn and see where what was taught in basic math class had an application in the real world and shop classes. There was a connection. I am numerically challenged. Numbers have littler meaning to me. There are 10 symbols in the numerical alphabet (1 through 0) and symbols that make up the numerical alphabet making up an infinite combination of number words.. There are 26 symbols in the English word alphabet with symbols that make up the infinite number of words. In the English language alone. I learned that from watching TV. Watching PBS Nova, years ago. Shakespeare had a written word vocabulary of over 33,000 words, some of which he made up and are still in use today. There was a series on PBS by a man named James Burke called "Connections" where he started a show with a fact that everyone knows, and spent an hour showing how that fact was connected to another fact. At the end of the hour, he had come back to the first fact. Like James Watt and the Steam Engine was used to pump water from mines.
    When I started in my work life, I knew little. But much of what I learned in the LA City School System carried me along. I learned to brass braze in metal shop in the seventh grade. When I took my Journeyman's plumber exam, the practical part was to silver braze a wrought copper fitting to a piece of copper tube. Our instructor never covered that. When it came time to do it, no one in our group knew how to do it. We were dismissed. We would have to come back. I made an issue that I could do it, that I just never had the opportunity to silver braze copper. The regulators needed to be set at such which they were and if I could at least light the torch (Oxy-Acetylene), could I try it? I cracked a tad of Oxygen so not to get the black floaters and light it up. The inspector stated "I thought you didn't know how to do this". I told him that I told you that I did, I just never had the opportunity to do it with silver braze. I passed.
    Like I said, I'm numerically challenged. The "average" person can remember seven numbers ahead and three numbers back. "1,2,3,4,5,6,7, 7,6,5". The measurement if 124 3/8" has seven numbers If you can't remember a second set of numbers, you're normal. I'm lucky to remember three. But I never forget a formula. Because it is a word to me where a random number sequence means nothing. I find the metric system far easier to use because that is 315.4 mm. Four numbers. The metric number is easier to work. Divide 124 3/8" into 4 equal parts. Now try 315.4 mm.
    Schools should be teaching students how to learn. Then they can be learning their whole life.
  • BobC BobC @ 8:14 AM
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    Well said

    I had shop in Jr High and went to a 4 year technical school in Boston (Don Bosco) for electronics. We were taught to break any problem into it's component parts, start by working the ones you understood and solutions to the others would usually become apparent.

    A friends wife is fairly high up the chain in the HR chain of a large company. We have had discussions about her needing H1B's because there is nobody in the US who can meet her skill requirements. She is partially right, there is nobody who will do what she wants for the price she is willing to pay. It's all about the money.

    Back in the day I got called into the bosses office and told he had accepted a job to design and build lamp igniters for a commercial account. We had built cesium based igniters for the military that were extremely expensive ($12k in the 70's) and not very reliable. He told me the whole thing had to ship out the door for a grand and it had to be reliable. This was before the internet so went back to the office and read a few books, called a few friends, and spent the afternoon in the MIT library. A few weeks later I had a working prototype on the bench that used a spark plug instead of a cesium tube ($2 vs $400) and it produced a 12,000 volt pulse with no problem and was probably 100X more reliable. A decade later we made another igniter using an IGBT firing into a gapped flyback choke to do the same job. We just used new parts to do the same job, the result was lower cost and increased reliability.

    The key is that I took the pool of knowledge I had and used it to leverage the knowledge of others to solve a problem. The boss did not hire someone with a specific knowledge base, he told one of us to solve the damn problem. That company is has been gone since the mid 90's but all the engineers who worked there got jobs and did well for them selves because they could solve problems - that skill is getting very scarce these days.
    Smith G8-3 with EZ Gas @76,700 BTU, Single pipe steam


    Vaporstat with a 12oz cut-out and 4oz cut-in


    3PSI gauge
    This post was edited by an admin on June 13, 2013 8:15 AM.
  • SWEI SWEI @ 12:47 PM
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    Nicely put

    I also benefited from school shop classes in both junior high and HS -- wood shop, metal shop, and electronics.  SCROC tought me a lot of practical troubleshooting skills which I still use today.  Engineering school took that problem solving to another level, particularly with the math (though I still suck at differential equations.)
  • bill bill @ 4:25 PM
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    Just wondering

    Chris, where  here in LA did you attend school and when? I briefly attended the public system there. What I remember most was the court ordered busing to my school in Woodland Hills. What a different world!
  • icesailor icesailor @ 9:35 AM
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    LA city School System.

    Cheramoya Street School Elementary, 1st through 6th.
    Joseph LeConte, Junior High 7th through 9th,
    Hollywood High School,  10th through 12th.
    Graduated, Summer, 1962
    The only bussing I ever did was taking the MTA city bus with student bus passes from Franklin & Bronson Ave's to La Brea and Highland Ave's. That's after a 1.5 mile walk down the canyon to the public bus stop. I lived on the edge of Griffith Park.
  • SWEI SWEI @ 7:56 PM
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    Cheremoyas

    Yummmm....

    Beachwood Canyon kid?  I lived one gulley over (in Deep Dell) for awhile in the early '80s.
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 7:50 AM
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    Germany vs US

    Can you imagine American parents of 14 year olds being told their precious darlings aren't smart enough to attend a university and must go to trade school? Germany exports more than the USA with 1/50th the land mass,1/4th he population and a tiny fraction of the natural resources. But we top them in self esteem! :)
  • gennady gennady @ 11:18 PM
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    Market

    Is a leveling ground. When customers are settling for low grade cheap installation and service the heating field cannot compensate talented youths and offer them good career, then only uneducated school dropouts filling in positions. And circle of this mess gets completed.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
    www.AbsoluteMechanicalCoInc.com
  • Chris Chris @ 7:38 PM
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    Here's The Big Difference

    Contractors over there have a much better relationship with the Manufacture of the Products they install. There is no wholesaler. You want a Viessmann boiler, you buy it from Viessmann and have a Viessmann salesperson. Want a Wilo or Grundfos pump, same thing. The entire field from mfg to distribution is much different.

    Manufacturers tend to do much more technical training then they do here. There's less of the sales pitch more on the technical aspects of products. Like your German friend says, they tend to specialize and that goes all the way to the choice of the products they install.

    Was at Viessmann in March. At the Berlin Facility contractors were coming and going. Same in Allendorf. If you attended ISH and what was wondering what was going on at the booth upstairs it's simple. Sales, Sales, Sales. Was told they conduct 2 yrs worth of business at that event. I'm willing to bet they brought in thousands of contractors from all over the world. It was unbelievable.
    "The bitter taste of a poor installation remains much longer than the sweet taste of the lowest price."
    This post was edited by an admin on June 11, 2013 7:43 PM.
  • Dan Holohan Dan Holohan @ 8:30 PM
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    Yes.

    All true. "Wholesalers" sell pipe, valves and fittings. All else (including superb training and support) comes from the boiler/pump manufacturers. 
    Site Administrator
    dan@heatinghelp.com













    Hug your kids.
  • Sal Santamaura Sal Santamaura @ 2:41 PM
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    Do those German wholesalers sell...

    ...metallic pipe, valves and fittings made in China?  Or is there a domestic German supply base still manufacturing high quality versions?  :-)
  • JohnNY JohnNY @ 2:02 PM
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    Back to Europe...

    Some of these posts are far too long for my college-less, tradesman brain to read through right now, but I can speak to the Europe thing.

    I've also wondered about the validity of using Europe as an example of how things ought to be done in the US.

    I go to Western Europe every year, mostly Italy and Spain, and I have never once seen a piece of heating equipment, be it a boiler, water heater, radiator, whatever, installed like someone gave a crap about what it looked like or how to service it.

    Granted, I have no trouble believing Germany is different because they seem to be a more technically-savvy, or at least aware, society.
    So, while they may be putting up better efficiency numbers in Europe, *my experience* is that installs in the US tend to me more serviceable and longer-lasting.
    Perhaps the idea that every boiler is going to be replaced within 10 years over there makes everything a temporary installation.

    I think we install components and systems with an eye on the long term here.
    You may disagree with good reason.

    I could be wrong or biased because I'm mostly looking at commercial installations in hotels, restaurants and the like, but that's my frame of reference until some nice European families want to let me check out their boiler room while I'm on vacation.

    While I'm at it, nearly every plumbing installation I've seen is absolute garbage. Why is it still ok over there to use toilet bowls that don't clean themselves? Is water really that scarce? Then come up with a grey water system or something. Geeez Louise.....
    This post was edited by an admin on June 13, 2013 2:04 PM.
  • TonyS TonyS @ 6:42 PM
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    Your right Johnny

    Here is a short clip on how most "Europeans" feel about Germany
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zvl9N9GdraQ
  • SWEI SWEI @ 11:48 PM
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    Back in the US of A

    You guys in big cities (and I used to be one) or mostly anywhere on the East Coast would truly not believe the execrable quality of work those of us in flyover country encounter on a day to day basis.  Most pre-1960 work here is old school solid, but you know those "What's wrong here?" columns you see in the trade mags?  Those are our people.
  • Charlie from wmass Charlie from wmass @ 4:53 PM
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    The Myth of European superiority

    I am sure I could start a fight in an empty room with what I am going to say, but here I go anyways. The way they do it across the pond is not always better, the trades people are not inherently better. I grew up in a time of people who could not get B's or better in school were sent to the trades and everyone else was sent to college. As an A student and scoring in the top 1 percent for the SAT exams I chose to go into the Plumbing trade. I never went to college, I should have and still may go, yet I do pretty well in my trade. 
    I have seen tradespeople come here from Europe who no nothing about doing a proper installation. My Father started his trade in 1953 in Glasgow, Scotland. He knew a handful of great tradesmen there and many more who could barely change a washer in a faucet. I would put our plumbing and heating systems when properly installed against anything they have to offer over there without hesitation. We need to realize quality not country of origin makes for great products.
    Reillo burners in the hands of the untrained are nightmares, but so are Carlins.
    The one thing I think we are short on here is not more time in school for tradespeople but less time wondering what they should do when they grow up. If people started the trade at 15 and were working for spending money the boss could afford for them to be less productive and focus more on training them. When a 30 or 40 year old with a family approaches me to start the trade I know he could not afford to live on what he is really worth to me. I also could not face my customers with the bills if I had to pay him what he would need for the work they received from him.
    If you want Superior trades people start them young, train them well, and give them room to grow.
    Cost is what you spend , value is what you get.
    cell # 413-841-6726
  • SWEI SWEI @ 11:51 PM
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    Start them young, train them well, and give them room to grow.

    Wise words, Charlie.

    --another one percenter who jumped ship for the real world.
  • JohnNY JohnNY @ 8:59 AM
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    Charlie,

    I just promoted two guys who have been with me for 10+ years to middle-management positions: Project Manager and Service Manager.
    Both have witnessed the revolving door of employees throughout the years and neither wastes an opportunity to let me know the best guys we have are the ones we took in as pups and trained from square one.

    Best to you and yours,
    John
  • fixitguy fixitguy @ 8:44 PM
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    They used to call it Industrial ARTS

    My graduate education and MFA were time well spent. I put myself through school working after classes as a apprentice Auto Mechanic. All fantastic experiences. The most useful classes I ever took were Shop & Latin. I am able to relate and communicate with customers in all professions and walks of life. That is a great asset for a independent businessman and tradesman. A lot of people can do what I do, but they are not me. When I sell a job I am selling me. My customers have me in their homes and their lives, and they trust me.
  • Gordy Gordy @ 5:43 AM
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    Minds

    Tend to be analytical, and linear. I think an Artisan is in the genetic code, and more of an analytical mind.

    Where we have gone into a tail spin in the school system is recognizing the talents of an artisan, and have taken away the path for them to grow. Society needs both types of minds to survive long term if it wants to grow. We as a country are seriously limiting ourselves long term.
    This post was edited by an admin on June 14, 2013 10:27 PM.
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 4:21 PM
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    Gordy

    This post was edited by an admin on June 15, 2013 7:53 AM.
  • Gordy Gordy @ 10:25 PM
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    Yes

    Robert twas early.
  • bill nye bill nye @ 8:46 AM
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    Euro-Smeuro

     I have never been to ISH, have never left North America, so the only thing I know about euro design is what I learn here on the wall, in trade seminars, TV (this old house, etc.) and trade magazines. I think many of the products and concepts are innovative and well designed.

    In the U.S. we have(or Had) many good ideas and designs also. From what I have seen and been told US companies tend to invest less into research and development than European companies. We probably spend even less on education and training. The bean counters and corporations need all of that money. The bottom line. A shortsighted look at the future.

    Back when we actually produced and made product here there was really no equal in the world. Just look at the American cars from the 50's and 60's. What about Henry Ford and his assembly line and the Empire state building. We were truly leaders and movers and shakers. American people could and should be able to take the lead again.

    I think this Euro superiority thing is just sales hype. Of course your product is the best when you are selling something. I went to Viessmann School, I drank the Kool-Aid , I was brain washed. I also went to Buderus school. I like the products, they are really well made.

    I think the fact that their government dictates that you have to have efficient equipment drives a lot of their sales and training. If we wanted to save energy in our country we could do the same. But does big oil and big gas want us to save that much energy ? NO! There is too much easy money to lose.

    In any trade or business we have "better" mechanics. Educated, motivated , passionate. And we have less interested people who are just around for the paycheck. I am quite sure, because of human nature, that European tradesmen are no different. The only reason some of their mechanics are better than ours is the training and education offered. Education is available in the US but the common working man can't afford or cannot get time away from the job to get it.

    Just like Olympic athletes or the Green Beret or Navy Seals we are hearing about European elite, superior, super human tradesman. I am willing to bet they have their share of true Hacks and there are probably butchered up " wall of shame" installations in the basements of Europe also.

    We probably are more creative and innovative in the basement because we have to design and install our systems for each individual application. Pipe to suit the need, or play the ball where it lies type of thing. The prissy euro guys get a pre-packaged, pre-assembled pile of pipes and then they make the rest of the world fit around that. How creative can that be? No, the independent U.S. contractor has to design, sell, install, service, maintain, and warranty everything he does and has to be competitive (i.e. cheaper) with the other contractors. Not really an equal playing field.

    So, before pex, sharkbites, fernco couplings, Home Depot, when the trade was a trade we are or were in no way inferior to our ancestors across the pond. We could probably still kick their @#$
  • SpeyFitter SpeyFitter @ 10:31 AM
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    Keep an Open Mind

    Toyota studied Henry Ford's assembly line and found many inefficiencies with it. This lead to the creation of the Toyota Way, which is known to the world as "LEAN," or Lean Manufacturing. Lean Manufacturing and Lean Concepts are responsible for turning many companies around as these Toyota strategies are introduced into all sorts of work environments. Even Ford, GMC, and Chrysler to the best of my knowledge have adopted many Lean Manufacturing concepts to help them improve themselves.

    As far as the "Kool-aid" - I think the "hype" is more real than you give it credit for. Europeans have had to adapt quite quickly because they have significantly increased fuel costs and electrical costs. The Vitodens Heat exchanger is one of, it not the best heat exchanger in the world and on paper right now (since mod-cons haven't been around that long) it's the one in my view that will go the distance - this is critical for real payback. If you look at the actual construction and design features of this heat exchanger and compare it to the competition you will see the difference.

    Because we have low fuel prices and relatively low electrical cost there is very little requirement for people to change their ways in North America. Subsequently, there is no reason for people to give up their furnace or other forced air emitters. When fuel costs drastically go up (one day) then will people consider hydronics, and hydronic technology more and more to save money. At that point maybe we'll see the larger breadth of European technology make it over here where the increased cost of technology actually makes sense from a payback point of view as the reduction in fuel consumption can really be measured. We only have, in my opinion, a small sampling of what these European manufacturers have to offer and there is little incentive though low utility costs, or government regulation, to really drive change.

    Perhaps its fair to say their tradesman may not be better than ours on average, but they are probably (from what I've heard) more specialized in most cases. As above their knowledge is deeper but over a smaller breadth. But let me ask you this - if you could take your car to a guy with intimate knowledge of your car, or take your car to the guy who has limited knowledge but who works on all types of cars, which one would you take it too? Yeah sure, the guy with deep knowledge may not know every car, and if you had a Honda and a Ford in your driveway he might know the Honda well but not the Ford, but he'd sure as hell do a great job on your Honda right? He would probably do all the little things that contribute to a better repair in the end. It's the same reason I take my car to the dealership. In North America I am struck, at least in hydronics, by the number of contractors who just install whatever the wholesaler puts on the heat loss sheet and whatever boiler is cheapest. I personally can not understand this as I choose the equipment that I choose to represent my name very seriously - at the end of the day it's MY installation and how it performs and lasts represents me, so I want to do all the little things, combined with quality equipment, that lets the customer see a real payback and effectively take me and my equipment for granted. I build up a relationship with the manufacturer to learn the equipment intimately as well as for product technical and sales support, and I do all the little things, and then I build up a relationship with the client over the years after the installation, servicing, and maintaining their equipment to factory specs almost like a mobile dealership, effectively leading to a steady service revenue/work stream that builds up year over year as more installations. Better yet, better word of mouth advertising as well. Look at all the guys that just slap a boiler on the wall and leave without a care. And they have 18 different brand boilers on various walls and they don't service or maintain them. Look at what they are missing?
    Class 'A' Gas Fitter - Certified Hydronic Systems Designer - Journeyman Plumber
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 11:22 AM
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    Spey

    I agree,the average plumber has no capability to service boilers,most have problems piping them correctly! I await the above average plumbers wrath! :)
  • SpeyFitter SpeyFitter @ 1:32 PM
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    Like Any Certification or Ticket

    It's just another ticket to learn. How much you learn or if you even want to continue learning and better yourself as a tradesman and person is really up to you. My problem is I saw and installed my first wall mount boiler, conveniently forgot any real interest in the plumbing side of things that I had (hot & cold water lines, drainage), got my hydronic systems design certification, and my industrial gas ticket, and I've been almost exclusively doing boiler/burner installations & service work ever since - from small wall mounts to a 47,000,000 BTUH Nebraska Steam Boiler with Natcom Burner, and everything in between.
    I've invested some moolah in manuals, texts, books, etc (many from this site) to better myself along with training. I consider myself a true student but definately still have much learn but sometimes you forget how much you've learned as well. No matter what I won't attach my name to sh*t and if you create enough doubt in my mind....
    Class 'A' Gas Fitter - Certified Hydronic Systems Designer - Journeyman Plumber
  • JohnNY JohnNY @ 10:42 AM
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  • Paul Pollets Paul Pollets @ 11:46 AM
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    The difference

    Bill, when you do get a chance to visit ISH, you will immediately see the difference. The US lost its manufacturing and engineering pre-eminence 30-40 years ago (with few exceptions, i.e. computer technology, aeronautics, weapon design) The difference is more than "The only reason some of their mechanics are better than ours is the training and education offered. Education is available in the US but the common working man can't afford or cannot get time away from the job to get it"... If we don't have time for comprehensive training and education, it won't happen by osmosis. It's very unlikely N. America will ever catch up with the Germans in boiler technology or mechanical skill requirements. There's simply very little incentive.
    Euro bashing is not a good idea. When the largest boiler company in Europe employs over 400 R&D engineers and the largest American company has 15, what are the chances for innovation?
  • SpeyFitter SpeyFitter @ 10:39 AM
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    Chimney Sweeps

    I read an old "DAN" article about Chimney sweeps in Germany that have (or now had) the right to just show up unannounced to a house, walk in, and put an analyzer on your boiler and make sure it's burning cleanly, as well as show up and clean your chimney (if you have one). They would do this a couple times a year, and should you refuse entry, the police will show up and force entry. You had to pay something like 60-80 Euros per year for this service, and if your boiler is dirty, you have 2 weeks to repair it, and if you don't, your boiler is taken away. The 8000 Chimney sweeps in Germany perform this task. And they apparently have 0 carbon monoxide deaths per year because this from heating equipment compared to something like 300 per year in Belgium.

    Apparently as of Janaury of this year they no longer have a monopoly and you can rely on 3rd party sources to do your chimney sweep functions. But it's almost like they've kicked themselves in the foot because now you have to pay a company to do this, which drives up costs.

    If you were wondering what the chimney sweep button (manual on) was on your Viessmann boiler, now you know.

    Apparently chimney sweeps and their monopoly were brought in in 1935 by Hitler as he could use them as spies for the government while they performed their task cleaning chimney's in exchange for their set wages and job security.

    It's too bad we don't take clean air, or safety, as seriously as they do.
    Class 'A' Gas Fitter - Certified Hydronic Systems Designer - Journeyman Plumber
  • Robert O'Brien Robert O'Brien @ 11:19 AM
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    Thank God we don't!

    "Apparently chimney sweeps and their monopoly were brought in in 1935 by Hitler as he could use them as spies for the government while they performed their task cleaning chimney's in exchange for their set wages and job security.

    It's too bad we don't take clean air, or safety, as seriously as they do."
  • SpeyFitter SpeyFitter @ 1:12 PM
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    Just want to make it clear

    I should have distinguished a bit better between the idea that in Germany they have people who can enter your house unannounced to check your heating equipment and the fact that they take clean air and safety seriously as far as checking whether your appliance is burning correctly. There are other ways to do it as far as not stepping on toes from a legal issue (i.e. privacy, amendment rights, etc.), but the fact their heating equipment must be checked 2 or more times per year by a certified individual to ensure it is burning correctly to me strongly reflects a commitment to safety and clean air. Who does it or how it is done if something like that were ever done in North America is another issue.
    Class 'A' Gas Fitter - Certified Hydronic Systems Designer - Journeyman Plumber
  • bill nye bill nye @ 2:31 PM
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    How the Europeans do it?

    Speyfitter, My comment about Henry Ford was because he did this in 1913, and in 1914 he paid $5 a day , more than double any salary of that time, so his employees would be able to afford to buy a model T.  The Empire State building because it was built in 13 months in the 20's or 30's.

    I live in New England so I work in homes that were built anywhere from the late 1600's until now, no really. The pre-1950's houses were not insulated for the most part, if they were it was minimal. Most of the homes I work in are terribly inefficient. We as a nation should and could fix that. We do not spend our discretionary income on stuff like that. We need cars and boats and jet skis and big screen home theater and vacations and ocean cruises on boats that are not maintained.

    You are correct about Viessmann, their products are very high quality. It is a niche market. By and large the American consumer is uneducated and not aware of the difference in quality. If I try to sell top shelf and my competition is selling brand X all the consumer knows is that brand X is $ xxxx. oo cheaper than me. Who gets the job.?

    How do we change the way America thinks? The only reason some high efficiency equipment gets sold is because of the tax credit. It should be sold because it saves energy and it is the right thing to do.

    We cut maintenance from school and town budgets, church budgets, company budgets. We cut education and training from everything. How we doing now? Falling behind the rest of the world from what I read. Our fore - fathers new better and took care of that stuff. Now it costs too much so we Kick the can down the road. The government can't even agree on a budget so we gotta let air traffic controllers go. I do not have an answer. All I can do is do the best job I can in every basement I am in and hope to make the world a better safer place for some one.
  • gennady gennady @ 2:36 PM
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    American market

    A week ago I had dinner with group of people associated with well known manufacturer. I did some installations of their excellent, innovative and well ahead of time equipment. They invited me to let me know they are stopping offering their equipment in US market.
    2 reasons:
    1. They could not find qualified contractors to install and service their product
    2. Complete lack of interest of American public in their product.

    They increased their sales in Europe, Asia and Japan.

    I felt humiliated.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
    www.AbsoluteMechanicalCoInc.com
  • Gordy Gordy @ 2:44 PM
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    Interesting gennady

    So instead of offering training to unqualified contractors, and increased marketing strategy to lure interest in the product. They just throw in the towel on the U.S. market all together.  Sounds like they are doing well, and do not need our business.
    This post was edited by an admin on June 16, 2013 2:46 PM.
  • gennady gennady @ 3:20 PM
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    Training

    You can bring horse to the water, but you cannot make this horse to drink water. Contractors are unqualified not because they are stupid, but because they do not need to be qualified.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
    www.AbsoluteMechanicalCoInc.com
    This post was edited by an admin on June 16, 2013 3:25 PM.
  • gennady gennady @ 3:03 PM
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    Training

    They started production of 3rd generation and us certification would cost a few millions. With 2 reasons I mention in my post they did not feel it was financially sound to continue. The point I'm trying to make is: the root of our industry problems is in low cost of energy to American consumers, it makes efficient but more expensive equipment non competitive. All other issues are just consequences. Just my 2 cents.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
    www.AbsoluteMechanicalCoInc.com
  • JohnNY JohnNY @ 10:45 AM
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  • gennady gennady @ 3:29 PM
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    name

    John, I do not want to bring in the names. It is confidential. And it is not really important.
    Gennady Tsakh

    Absolute Mechanical Co. Inc.
    www.AbsoluteMechanicalCoInc.com
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