Saturday, February 23, 2019

OPC-UA@TSN, Profinet@TSN or CC-Link@TSN - and IEC 61850

Automation and industrial communication are buzzwords for decades. They mean something quite different when you look at the 80s, 90s, 00s, 10s, today ... Where are we today? Not really far away from the 80s.

In February 1985 I attended the first time the GM MAP Team in Detroit (MI) - it was a cold week:

This was my first trip to the USA. At that time I did not expect to come back to the US for more than 130 times ... almost all trips related to standardization: MAP, MMS, UCA, IEC, IEEE, ...
The MAP (Manufacturing Application Protocol) project and especially the MMS (Manufacturing Message Specification) standard where the first combined attempt to define a single set of  international standards for manufacturing automation systems. As you may know: they failed - because they were far too early.
MMS (ISO 9506) defines many services that have been smiled at. But if you read today (2019-02-23) what experts in the OPC/UA World are looking at - then you wonder how it was possible in the 80s to define most of the basic services the industry is looking for TODAY:
  • Client/Server
  • Selfdescription
  • Read/Write/Report
  • Two-Way-DataExchange (like RPC)
  • Standard Configuration
  • Semaphore
  • Event Management
  • Journaling (Logging)
  • ...
It really took 30+ years before the industry understood what is really needed besides the myriad of Fieldbusses!!

Since the MAP days we have learned some crucial lessons:
  • In addition to Client/Server we need Publisher/Subscriber (as defined some 15 years after the MAP project in IEC 61850; GOOSE and Sampled Values)
  • In addition to ISO/OSI Transport we need TCP/IP ... done in IEC 61850.
  • We need many semantic models ... as the many Hundred Logical Nodes in IEC 61850, e.g., for electrical measurements MMXU or Temperature Supervision STMP, ...
  • Standardized system configuration is key for any future automation system ... as defined in SCL (IEC 61850-6) for energy systems.
Fieldbusses are understood today as the "maximum credible accident". Heinrich Munz (Lead Architect Industry 4.0 at KUKA) says in the just published special issue ot the magazine "tsn & opc ua 2019" ( on page 12: "Jeder Gerätehersteller muss die Anschaltung und das Engineering jedes seiner Produkte an mehr als zehn unterschiedliche Feldbusse entwickeln und pflegen - ein betriebs- und volkswirtschaftlicher Super-GAU." [Each vendor has to develop and maintain hardware and engineering tools for each of his products to be compliant with more than 10 different fieldbusses - economically a maximum credible accident.]
My personal resume after reading through the special magazine is this:
  • The third fieldbus war started some years ago and is expected to go on for many years. 
  • The standard series IEC 61850, IEC 62351, IEC 61968/70 (CIM), IEC 61400-25, ... provide most of what OPC-UA and TSN are looking for.
  • It is likely that the providers of traditional and Ethernet-based Fieldbusses will migrate during the next years to OPC UA and TSN.
  • OPC UA and TSN will be implemented and used - why not?
  • In the meantime the energy domain is already using and extending the semantic models, applying the needed services and feeling happy with the standardized configuration language.
  • What else do you need?
The French novelist Andre Gide nailed it when he wrote, "Everything that can be said has been said, but we have to say it again because no one was listening."

According to my 50 years of experience as a technician, the most crucial challenge in automation is this: People of different application domains (control center, RTU, protection, PLC programming, robot controlling, communication, security, engineering, maintenance, ... telecomms, internet, web, ...) DO NOT LISTEN TO EACH OTHER!!! If one expert of a specific domain talks - no one from the other domains is listening!
Talk together and have a look at what people have said and done even decades ago! It may be better than what you were told. It may save you hours and days and weeks ... of struggling.

Workshop „IEC 61850 und CIM – Durchgängige Automatisierung im Netz der Zukunft“

Am 11. April 2019 findet in Frankfurt ein interessanter Workshop zu den Themen IEC 61850 und CIM (IEC 61968/70) statt:

Workshop „IEC 61850 und CIM – Durchgängige Automatisierung im Netz der Zukunft“

Die konkrete Anwendung von CIM mit aktuellen Praxisbeispielen, Fragen und Antworten sowie Diskussionsgrundlagen erwarten Sie auf dem diesjährigen Workshop.

Folgende Themen sind u. a. geplant:

  • Kurzeinführung IEC 61850 und Smart Grid Architecture Model (SGAM)
  • Vertikale Integration und End2End-Nutzung auf Basis der IEC 61850 Datenmodelle
  • Anwendung von IEC 61850 für Kommunikation in der FNN Steuerbox und Abbildung in CIM
  • Anwendungsbeispiele Verteilnetze
  • IT-Security aus Sicht der Verteilnetzautomatisierung
  • Podiumsdiskussion „Wie sehen Standards der Zukunft aus?“

Klick hier für weitere Informationen.

Es ist ratsam, an diesem Workshop teilzunehmen und mit den Experten zu diskutieren, welcher Weg in der Zukunft zielführend sein wird (soll)! 

Sunday, February 10, 2019

IEC 61850 Series is Growing Very Fast: 50+ parts soon

The standard series IEC 61850 (Communication networks and systems for power utility automation) is growing faster than expected some years ago. Currently the series comprises 50+ parts published, under revision or new content:

Klick on picture to magnify.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Difference between IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850

There seems to be a growing interest to understand what the difference is between IEC 60870-5-104 and IEC 61850. There have been many discussions, complaints, and frustrations ... no wonder.Here is what I have answered to somebody this week:

Dear xxx,

I guess I got it ... you are analyzing the communication inside a station ... to the IEDs (protection, control, ...).

The IEC 60870-5-104 plus a lot of utility or project specific (signal) engineering will do the job – has done it for decades.

The engineering is the key issue when comparing the two standards … if you can compare them at all!!

IEC 61850 offers a lot more than 104 or DNP3 …

From a message overhead point of view, you can say, that both are more or less the same ... because they use both Ethernet and TCP/IP. There is no benefit to use one or the other.
It is likely that IED vendors will mainly focus on IEC 61850 ... and may get rid of 104 in the long run.
I have always said that utilities using 104 in all substations should continue to use it – until they build new substations or do major refurbishments. There is no need to replace a running 104 solution with IEC 61850 ...
Another issue is: To use GOOSE for interlocking … to get rid of copper … or use it for tripping … and use sampled values some time down the road.
Finally there is an issue with manpower: If the utility has senior experts in 104 close to retirement … they should wait until they have retired. Yes! I have seen many old engineers not willing to learn something completely new!!
Click HERE for a detailed comparison written by domain experts.
Hope that helps a bit more.
Best Regards,

IEC TC 57 Has Published New Work Proposal For IEC 61850-6-3

IEC TC 57 has just published a new work proposal for IEC 61850-6-3 proposed by the Chinese National Committee:

Communication networks and systems for power utility automation –
Part 6-3: Configuration description language for physical resource related to IEDs in substation network systems


"The international standard defines the emerging requirements from physical resource description side to facilitate the design, system integration, test, fault analysis and commission, etc. during different stages when IEC 61850 is applied. It described how the physical resource information, such as IED’s dimension, communication port and optical connection, is to be modelled using the System Configuration Language (SCL) which is incorporated under IEC 61850. The application scenarios include but are not limited these mentioned stages.

Furthermore, IEC 61850-6-X helps to fill a gap and establish a relationship between logic function and physical resource information according to the existing IEC 61850 communication structure and configuration description language. The initial focus on application within substations, includes following cases:

  • Physical information related to infrastructure in electrical substations, including cubicle, trench, optical, wire, etc.
  • Physical information related to devices in electrical substations, including device dimension, amount model, physical port, etc.

The proposed international standard specifies a file format for describing dimension, communication connection port, optical wire, cubicle, trench related to IEDs within substations, and the relations between them and logical functions."

The NP notes that "In China, by the end of 2016, nearly 3,000 substations of 110 kV or above based on IEC 61850 had been under operation."

The standard series IEC 61850 is really growing in 2019, see extra post.