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Higher efficiency during substation commissioning testing

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Thomas Schossig, product manager, business development power utility communication at OMICRON electronics, explains the benefits of the StationScout testing system.

The IEC 61850 substation automation system (SAS) has become an essential part of substations. As a critical infrastructure feature it requires a steady stream of security patches and updates. Testing then has to be carried out in order to ensure that all of the devices and the system itself are still functioning as required. 

The effort for testing a protection system compared to an automation and control system differs considerably, with the SAS losing by a long shot. Increasing complexity of the structure and the quantity of signals being transmitted are among the main causes here.

However, the IEC 61850 engineering process and the data available in the SCD (substation configuration description) files enable new test methods that make commissioning and factory acceptance tests faster and much more efficient.

OMICRON has developed the StationScout testing system specifically for this purpose. It dramatically simplifies and speeds up testing for automation and control technology in IEC 61850 automation systems and covers the whole lifecycle of a SAS. 

The software is easy to operate while the powerful MBX1 (mobile) or RBX1 (rack-mountable) hardware provides a cyber secure connection to the station network offering unrivaled insight into GOOSE and MMS Report communication. 

Because the SAS is often organised into several networks at once, MBX1 comes with four Ethernet interfaces for connection and analysis whereas the RBX1 provides eight Ethernet interfaces. Both additionally have separate interfaces for local or remote control of the test set.

The Smart Overview Package, released in 2018, enables signals to be tracked in the SAS, and detects any GOOSE publish or subscribe problems. It also allows interlocks to be tested manually and to simulate individual components or the whole SAS – a huge time saver when testing protocol gateway/RTU configurations.

Commissioning license accelerates testing

The new Commissioning package greatly simplifies the testing of an SAS. It automatically identifies the signals used within the SAS or communicated to the control centre and allows signal lists to be imported from spreadsheets. The tester can create a watch list to filter individual signals to focus on the information relevant for a test. This makes troubleshooting communication and logic errors much easier and faster.

Each test case can be described step by step to avoid accidental damage to equipment during the test. In addition, for each test case, it can be defined in advance which signals are required for assessing the result. For example, for the interlocking of a load switch, the switch must not be operated under load and the corresponding signals must therefore be traced.

Once created, test plans and test results can be printed and duplicated for reuse in other feeders. Therefore, any tests that have already been carried out can be repeated quickly and easily. This saves a lot of time, especially when tests have to be performed frequently as a result of the numerous security patches and firmware updates being released.

StationGuard also facilitates the documentation of all tests that were carried out, including test cases and test steps, and provides new overviews for this purpose. It works with any network topology and is the ideal tool for testing HMI and SCADA.



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