Friday, March 28, 2014

Be Smart – See IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850 in Action at the Hannover Messe 2014

The Hannover Messe 2014 will continue to offer mature solutions for many needs in the power delivery system – generation, transmission, distribution, usage, … in the public grids as well as in production facilities, ships, harbors, transportation, … Energy is all over! Without energy I could not write this post … nobody would receive the crucial message for a meeting in Hannover.

What you could see there, is described by G√ľnther H. Oettinger, EU Commissioner for Energy in his welcome message of the brochure for the “Smart Grids Forum” :

“ … The critical importance of smart grids is reflected in the Smart Grids display area [Hall 13, stand C35] stand at HANNOVER MESSE’s Energy show. The display area presents technologies that can intelligently integrate and … The Smart Grids display area at HANNOVER MESSE facilitates this dialogue and knowledge-sharing with key input from noted experts from industry, the energy sector, science, research and government. It is my pleasure as EU Commissioner for Energy to take over the patronage of the Smart Grids 2014 and I wish all partners stimulating and profitable discussions at this important exhibition area of the HANNOVER MESSE.”

Some 50 speeches will open your eyes for the needs and solutions. Well known experts from all over will present and discuss the Smart Grid from different perspectives.

Click HERE for the Brochure on the Smart Grid Exclusive themed presentations.

There is also an integrated exhibition of companies that present the latest solutions for smart(er) grids. One of them is Beck IPC at booth C35/7 – just next to the Forum.

Beck IPC and NettedAutomation show the latest developments in using cloud computing, portal for energy applications, smart controller devices supporting Logic, Modbus, M-Bus, IEC 60870-5-104/101, DNP3, IEC61850, IEC 61400-25, … to build highly integrated and distributed applications including gateways between all solutions:


The easiest solution is to use a WEB-PLC and manage the signals to be communicated by the various appropriate communication protocols:


Click HERE for an introduction to the use of the WEB-PLC for the above protocols [pdf] with the title:

"The Beautiful Simplicity of the Integration of Modbus, DNP3, IEC 60870-5-104, and IEC 61850 into a powerful WEB-PLC operating on an Embedded Controller"

Click HERE for an overview on IEC 61850 supporting solutions.

I look forward to meeting you at the Hannover Messe Hall 13, Booth C35/7.

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Beautiful Simplicity of the Integration of IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850

The experience has shown that manufacturers are still shying away from the high costs and long time required for the development of new products based on standards like IEC 61850, IEC 60870-5-104, and IEC 61400-25 (Wind Turbines) because the implementations and applications are quite complex.

For these reasons, a team at NettedAutomation developed a web-based integration tool based on Beck IPC’s com.tom WEB-PLC that significantly streamlines the application of these and other standards and the implementation of simple logic functions that consume and generate data communicated with a variety of protocols. The solution can be used to build various kinds of IEDs for monitoring, control, data concentrators, data aggregators, and gateways.

An 18 page paper describes „The Beautiful Simplicity of the Integration of Modbus, DNP3, IEC 60870-5-104, and IEC 61850 into a powerful WEB-PLC operating on an Embedded Controller“

Click HERE to download the paper [pdf, 2.2 MB]

The com.tom with IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850 are available – see the following website:


These standards are available on most com.tom … DNP3 is available soon. The programming with CoDeSys (IEC 61131-3) and C/C++ is also available.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Bandwidth Usage – IEC 61850 Object References versus Indexes in Messages

Beck IPC and NettedAutomation conducted two workshops on the latest development of IEC 61850 and IEC 60870-5-104 monitoring and automation IEDs and gateways. Experts from 12 companies (users and vendors) attended the workshops. The attendees appreciated the inside view into the standards and how easy it is to implement standard conformant IEDs.

One attendee responded the day after:

“Dear Mr Schwarz, I had a safe return fortunately. Thanks again for your documents and your very interesting presentations yesterday. It is very likely that I contact you in the near future for some questions/help.”

During the first workshop there was a very crucial question on the long names that are used as references to signals (data attributes) like: “MyLogicalDevice/QE1XSWI5.Pos”: How do these long names impact bandwidth needs and consumption? It seems to be quite in-efficient to use IEC 61850 for low bandwidth communication channels! Or?

Here is the solution for Reporting (Meldungen) in IEC 61850: The Report Message uses DataSets to describe the semantic content of the message and the syntactical position of each member of the DataSet. The example below shows five members. The order of the members in the DataSet is important!


A single change in a one of the signals represented by a hierarchical reference, e.g., “MyLogicalDevice/QE1XSWI5.Pos” causes a spontaneous report message with the value of exactly this member (Boolean=True in our example). The POSITION of the member within the DataSet is marked in an inclusion bitstring (or Index) in the message. For the five members we need one octet for the bitstring. The message also carries the name of the DataSet “SwitchPositions”.

The Client can interpret the semantic of the single Boolean (=True) by just looking into the DataSet configuration. The member number 5 means: “MyLogicalDevice/QE1XSWI5.Pos” (of the server). The client needs to understand the syntax (position of the member in the DataSet) and the semantic of the received value(s). The client uses the Configured IED Description (.cid) to understand the shipped package (report).

Any question. Please keep in touch.

For GOOSE and Sampled Value messages it is even more efficient: by just sending the values of all members of a DataSet (in the order of the DataSet) there is no need to provide any identifier (name or index) in the messages. The semantic is determined by the order of the corresponding DataSet. So, subscribers need to receive in the GOOSE or SV the reference of the DataSet used. The efficiency much better than what many people expect – people that know the efficient encoding of IEC 60870-5-104 or DNP3.

That’s it. You want to learn more about IEC 61850 and related standards – and how to implement them, please check the program for the next hands-on training on 07-09 May 2014 in Frankfurt/Germany.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The number of the day: 110

The international fieldbus standard series IEC 61158 (Industrial communication networks –Fieldbus specifications ) and IEC 61784 (Industrial communication networks – Profiles) comprise 110 parts – as listed in the FDIS of part IEC 61158-1 (Fieldbus specifications – Part 1: Overview and guidance for the IEC 61158 and IEC 61784 series). IEC 61158 comprises 82 parts and IEC 61784 has 28 parts.

The part 1 of IEC 61158 states that “The IEC 61158-6 (application layer) series defines a number of distinct and non-interoperable fieldbus application protocols.” This is true for most of the specified solutions: they are not interoperable.

The fieldbus standard series defines 50 different (usually non-interoperable) profiles …

In contrast IEC 61850 defines:

  • ONE set of interoperable information models independent of protocols,
  • ONE configuration language mostly independent of protocols,
  • ONE set of abstract services,
  • THREE sets of protocols for three different applicationsONE for client/server, ONE for GOOSE, and ONE for Sampled Values.

Devices that implement IEC 61850 are usually interoperable – there are exceptions, of course. The standard is intended to reach a very high level of interoperability. Lesson learned from the Industrial communication networks: prevent the proliferation of standardized solutions. describes the purpose of international standards:

“ … Technical barriers arise when different groups come together, each with a large user base, doing some well established thing that between them is mutually incompatible. Establishing international standards is one way of preventing or overcoming this problem. …”

This is exactly what the experts that define IEC 61850 are doing for almost 20 years – to the benefit of the global energy delivery market! This objective is well received and appreciated all over.

Friday, March 7, 2014

IEC 61850 at the Hannover Messe 2014

The Hannover Messe will be open from 7-11 April 2014. You are invited to visit the Beck IPC Booth in Hall 13 Stand C35/7. One crucial display will be the wide range of small and efficient multi purpose devices (com.tom) with embedded controllers.

You will see IEC 60870-5-104, IEC 61860, Modbus, … with integrated security (openVPN, …) in action. The com.tom with a WEB-PLC will be presented by NettedAutomation to show the beautiful integration of standards-based automation and monitoring devices as well as gateways.

A comprehensive video clip with an Introduction to IEC 61850, Models, Configuration, Application of a real power quality monitoring with a Janitza PQ Monitor connected with Modbus, WEB-PLC, and Remote access to a com.tom has been posted yesterday. This video helps to get a clue what the standard is all about and how easy it is to get a “non-IEC 61850 device “wrapped” in a nice sugary coating of IEC 61850”.

You will see this and many other applications in action at the Hannover Fair.

Format: mp4 with a resolution of 1180 x 884

- Complete Video (110 MB and 37 Minutes)

I have split this long video into three parts with the same content:

- Part 1 (of 3) Start, IEC 61850 Information Models, and Demo setup (40 MB and 10 Minutes)

- Part 2 (of 3) How to use the Configuration Language SCL (33 MB and 11 Minutes)

- Part 3 (of 3) Implementation with com.tom WEB-PLC (47 MB and 17 Minutes)

A video on building a gateway from IEC 61850 to IEC 60870-5-104 will be presented soon.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Brief EPRI Report on Standards of DistribuTech 2014

EPRI has published a Brief Report of DistribuTECH 2014.

It seems that a hot topic was “DATA” … data from everywhere of everything! Sure there is a need to share the pool of “Big Data”. I have heard about a SCADA project that receives Terra Bytes of “big Data” from a huge wind power park trough IEC 61400-25. This seems to be “Big Data” and “little information” … good for hardware manufacturers.

The EPRI Brief reports from the DistribuTech 2014:

“This was also another good year for standards. The vendor community has heard loud and clear that standards are a preference of electric utilities and the vendors have done a good job of promoting where they are using standards including DNP3, IEC 61850, IEC 61968/61970 (the CIM), MultiSpeak, and more. One relatively new standard that had a strong presence was OpenADR (Open Automatic Demand Response).”

Click HERE for the complete report.

I hope that they are looking at useful information rather than bunches of Data – that just may tell the receiver: nothing has changed, nothing has changed, nothing has changed, … stop here and make it smarter:


This is one aspect of the philosophy of IEC 61850 – which needs to be understood by more people … it will take some time to understand this.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Have you heard about Fuzz Testing of Protocols?

We have to learn new terms every day. One new term is now used quite often: Fuzz testing.

What is it? In Wikipedia you can read:

Fuzz testing” or fuzzing is a software testing technique, often automated or semi-automated, that involves providing invalid, unexpected, or random data to the inputs of a computer program. The program is then monitored for exceptions such as crashes, or failing built-in code assertions or for finding potential memory leaks. Fuzzing is commonly used to test for security problems in software or computer systems.”

So, it is no surprise to read about fuzz testing and protocols used in the power industry. One discussion is about the fuzz testing and DNP3.

Click HERE to read what experts discuss [Post on Digitalbond website on DNP3].

I have discussed quite often the issue of security and improving the quality of protocol implementations and applications, e.g.,

Is Security really a big Issue in the Power Industry?
Security Measures in Power Grids – often ignored

There is another (related issue): Who is in charge to define the detailed test-cases for conformance testing IEDs?

  • Is it a users group? Maybe.
  • Is it a test lab accredited by a users group? Hopefully not!
  • Is it the vendor of IEDs? This would cause some issues in the future.

The organization that has published a specification and that is responsible for the maintenance MUST define the details of test cases and decide what should be tested.

In the case of DNP3 it is IEEE, because DNP3 is now published as IEEE standard 1815. In case of IEC 61850 it is the IEC TC 57 and especially the working groups 10, 15, 17, 18, and 19.

This means: Users have to get more involved in the standardization work and in the testing activities to make sure that the testing follows the standards – and not vice versa. Sure: issues found during testing have to be fed back to the standardization groups.

What does Self-Description in IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 mean?

The other day I was asked to explain the self-description to a larger group of SCADA and Asset management experts. The requirement was, to do it in some 3 minutes. I have many ways to explain it: slides, live presentation, or just a white-board.

I decided to produce a short video clip – because I have the right equipment on my desk and convenient tools to produce a video.

The result is now online and can be viewed.

Click HERE to view the 4 minutes clip.

I have planned to provide more video clips showing benefits of IEC 61850 and IEC 61400-25 and IEC 6070-5-104, …