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nighthawk

ROCKWELL RANT!

74 posts in this topic

So, you bought a piece of software and have to have it to support a bunch of equipment, spending a lot of money along the way. It works great! You have lots of programs written for your equipment and they all run fantastic. Then one day, the computer that this software is on has a problem. You buy a new computer and go to put the software on it so you can continue to use this equipment and the programs you wrote for it, but guess what -- the software has problems running on the new computer. You contact the manufacturer and they will be happy to solve your problems by selling you a SERVICE CONTRACT, enabling you to download an update for the original software, without which you cannot use your software. You now see my current dilemma with Rockwell Automation and you may understand my being more than a little upset with them. This software was not cheap. It was legally purchased directly from them and is legally registered, but that amounts to zilch. They want us to have to keep paying for the software, now that we have made the commitment to their equipment and are depending on them for support. Let's see, there is a saying about how crack pipes are cheap... I am hoping that some great legislator comes along and passes a bill making it unlawful to require software developers to force people to have to continue paying for something years after they paid good money for it. No wonder so much software bootlegging happens on a huge scale when this is the norm. I am also hoping that industries start turning away from Rockwell Automation and going to some of their competition that is more customer oriented. Maybe when this starts happening and Rockwell starts laying off their tech support to keep afloat, there will be some change in the way these lumbering giants provide technical support for a price. Crash and burn, Rockwell!!! Jimmy Williams, Greensboro, NC PS - if you work for Rockwell, you should look for another job! Good luck!!! PPS - I will be installing my software on a PC running Win98.

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I am hoping that some great legislator comes along and passes a bill making it unlawful for mechanics to charge people to have to continue paying to fix their car years after they paid good money for it. No wonder so much car theft happens on a huge scale when this is the norm.

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I would contact the manufacturer of the computer that the software was originally installed on. I'm sure you'll be able to shame them into providing a free replacement using that arguement; it should be warrantied forever. Edited by jstolaruk

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Do any of the PLC manufacturers offer free software upgrades?? I for one enjoy knowing I have a full support contract with Rockwell... never needed it for anything but software upgrades but you never know. One product line down all day or week because you're stumped and don't have anyone to consult can get pretty expensive too.

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I went through nearly the same thing a few months ago. New computer with no real serial port, talking to 2 relatively newer PLCs (Mlogix 1100's). This end user plant has approx 20 old SLCs & lots of Reliance drives. The service contract option was WAY out of the ball park that I was used to paying as an OEM. I rarely ever used the TechSupport line as an OEM, so I wasn't inclined to pay for something I wouldn't use. So the plant bought a new license of RSLogix500 software and saved about $500. IF I had a second piece of software like RSView or RSLogix5000, the service contract would have been cheaper than buying new licences. I don't begrudge AB their TechSupport fees. It takes money to upgrade the software & keep those people available to answer phone questions. I just want to make sure I get my money's worth!

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When your car wears out, you either pay to have it repaired or you buy a new one. The dealer will try to sell you the extended warranty when you buy a new one. With software, the evolution of operating systems is the equivalent of a mechanical object wearing out. The software vendor's service contract is the equivalent of the extended warranty. At least with software, you have the option of continuing to use an old OS. There's nothing analogous to that for keeping an old car in service. Now if you really want something to rant about, how about a printer that costs $150 but a color cartridge with a couple ounces of ink in it can set you back $50.

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That gets me going too. You can buy the printer for $45. ( with ink)

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But if is said Rockwell on the side it would cost $450 and ink would need to be replaced once or twice a year @ $300 a pop! Sorry. I have had to use tech support a couple of time and it was well worth it. I just wish that the price for the support contract wasn't dictated by the number of processors you had. Who knows.

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I know what you mean Alaric. My transmission went out and there had been some updates to the design in the seven years since I bought it. Can you believe the transmission shop had the nerve to charge me for the updates

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Hope you realize that Windows 98, 98SE and Millenium no longer come with supporrt from Microsoft. No Updates and Security Patches why not rant at them also.

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Geez, little harsh are we? Good thing MrPLC is a free speech forum... I think I pay $500 a year for a service contract, seems reasonable to me. I guess everyone has their own opinions, but I don't think I would wish that people would be layed off for it. I know some good tech guy that work for AB, I hate to see them go just so we don't have to pay for software upgrades.

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True, but they provided updates for free for a long time. I don't mind paying for upgrades. I don't like paying for bug fixes.

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And you really won't even own Vista... It's more of a "rent" type of arrangement, from what I understand. I sure do wish there were legitimate Linux options for PLC and SCADA options...

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Jimmy, You are obviously new to Allen Bradley Brand products. You're local distributor has a staff of product managers dedicated to helping customers with technical issues. Your local PLC or Automation Products Manager could have helped you. Now I'm not saying they won't eventually expect you to get a TechConnect contract but they can get you out of a jam in the short term. ESE Greensboro 1812 E Wendover Ave. Greensboro, NC 27405 (T) 336-272-4123 (T) 800-632-0268 (F) 336-274-4632 Hayden Ireland - PLC Product Manager

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Okay, so I stirred up the hornet's nest! It disturbs me that so many of you are going along with the idea that the cost of Rockwell's "support" is worth it. Just ponder this: if your company had not paid so much for technical support, software, etc. you might have gotten more of a raise. Or, that the cost might not have been passed onto the consumer. Everything is connected, so one wrong begets another (just look at the White House). I am not new to AB, Reliance, TI/Siemens, GE/Fanuc or the rest, as I have been repairing their equipment over the past 7 years. That's right, I am not an end user, I'm one of those good guys out there giving the equipment a new lease on life so that your company doesn't have to spend $100K to retool the plant. The business of industrial repair is insanely competitive because companies can't afford to spend that fortune, being that most of them are about to go out of business due to rising costs and overseas competition. We do everything possible to keep our costs down so we can keep a reasonable profit margin while giving the highest quality of repair possible - and free tech support to our customers. That's a very tiny tightrope to walk in this economy! So, when I complain about the cost of getting an update to a piece of software, I'm not doing so because I have a chip on my shoulder. BTW, I think all auto manufacturers have had to do numerous free upgrades to their systems - they are called recalls. And most recalls probably had to do with equipment manufacturing flaws that resulted from a problem on the production line when an AB PLC failed. Keep it coming, this is good! Jimmy

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One way to look at it......When it is costing your company thousands, or in some cases hundreds of thousands of dollars (probably a heck of a lot more in some cases) to be down and not making any product. The couple grand that was spent on tech support has more than paid for it self. I would bet that if one of our production lines were down and we did not have a support contract, and that help "could" have put us back on line 12 hours sooner, well I bet we would have some questions to answer. So this may be why it is a little easier to choke down for some of us.

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Jimmy, Do you give your services away for free? I think not. There are over 160 degreed engineers in the Rockwell Automation Support Call Center. Each one has a cube the size of most CEO's offices loaded with every imagineable drive/Servo/PLC setup you can think of just so they can attempt to duplicate your configuration. Do you think they don't get paid or that the equipment didn't cost anything.......I think not. If you truly are a business person you'll get this concept. Companies like Rockwell get their asking price.......if they didn't they would go out of business. Take a look at their stock price.......I don't think they're going anywhere.

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I dont have much to offer on the service contract issue but on the above quote.....AMEN brother.... Edited by David Nelson

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Jimmy, the thing you need to take into account is your time. I think you will find that the hours that it cost you figuring it out yourself times what you are worth per hour will be much less than the cost of Rockwell Support Also there are 3 levels of support. EConnect, DirectConnect, and PriorityConnect. You may find that EConnect is all you need http://www.rockwellautomation.com/services...echconnect.html

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I currently have an "econnect" support contract, very reasonable. I seldom need assistance and have the contract mostly for the software upgrades. Have you looked at the cost of the contract for the new TI software, SoftShop? Much more expensive than AB.

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I concur, eConnect ruleZZZ. I have the type that covers the "Automation" Umbrella, being an OEM, which includes software updates for all PLCs and Panel Builder 32 sofware. Even the really old, old stuff like A.I. DOS is covered. It's very reasonable. If I need tech support for an AB issue, I just call my distrubtor, they should be your first line of defense, but your rant is about software updates, so I suggest you sign up for an eConnect contract, works great for us and covers alot of software for a small yearly fee. I think you'll find most in here support the idea of software contracts. Do you charge your customer when they want you to make a change to the PLC program? Or do you continue to give your customer free PLC and ladder logic upgrades and enhancements to that machine you built five years ago just because you want too? Same issue, in my point of view. we charge for any additions to any software on any machine for an enchancement or a period of time, but certain not for a year free of bugs.

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So, how many of you guys work for Rockwell? Now I know how Micheal Moore felt at the Republican Convention! That's fine, I can put up or shut up. Something that I see in common with many of you in favor of paying for support contracts is that you are working for larger companies. I agree with the above point and cannot dispute the value of that support when your production is stopped and operating losses soar - in that case, support is priceless. If you consider my position, though, you might better understand my reason for feeling the way I do. I work for a very small repair shop with less than 10 employees. We don't do programming, only repairs. As I stated previously, competition for repairs is astoundingly complex and the profit margins aren't nearly as lucrative as you might think. The first PLC shop I worked for had bootlegged nearly all of their software. My current employer has purchased liscensed software. This expense is very large for such a small business, but not such a concern to larger corperations that employ hundreds. My time is valuable and I wish I could pick up the phone and ask someone how to program some of this stuff, but I also know that it would be a bigger waste of time for me to ask my employer to consider a support contract. It would never happen. Those of you who have always had that sort of support should consider yourselves very fortunate. I had a lot more hair before I started working on PLCs! I appreciate having learned other peoples opinions about this issue, and have learned a few things about some of the folks I am repairing this stuff for. You folks in maintenance have tough jobs and need the support Rockwell offers, no doubt! Maybe knowing a little more about my environment gives you folks a different perspective on my position. Jimmy PS - now would be a good time for some other techs working for Mom & Pops to give their 2 cents!

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I don't work for Rockwell, if I did, this post would have been deleted two days ago

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I am the only member of this Forum I know of who works for Rockwell Automation. That support contract that you think so little of is what puts food on my table. And I work very hard for my customers. I read your little rant at 1 AM on Monday morning after working all Sunday setting up a test system to solve a telemetry problem for a utility customer. I'm a salaryman; I didn't make a dime for that day and night. The end customer didn't have a support contract; in fact, they hadn't paid for one since they originally bought their software in 1999. But the guy who had called me for help on this project is a one-man consultancy that works exclusively on troubleshooting and enhancing installed equipment. He doesn't buy much hardware or new software from me; all the profit from the hardware in those systems is long gone. The installed equipment in question was MicroLogix 1000 controllers; the money we made on them was spent keeping the lights on. The difference between him and you ? He pays for his support contract. It's not a 24x7 contract either; that was due to the urgency of the project, not the paid level of support. He's a one-man operation, and works on dozens of different kinds of controllers, so it's not like this is the only expense on his books. What galls me the most is that the argument I usually see here is that "we pay for the hardware, we should get software and support for free". You don't even buy hardware ! And you seem to want a pat on the back for actually buying your software instead of pirating it. I know I'm not going to change your opinion by telling you this. This will be my only comment on this thread. I have paying customers to attend to.

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I also don't work for Rockwell and do work for a family owned OEM. They do understand the neccessity of a support contract and didn't question the purchase requisition I made out and its amount (DirectConnect).

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