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March, 2020


www.us-tech.com


Page 47 Simplifying Distribution Automation in Substations Continued from previous page


nance. Over the years, the utility has installed more than 500 Orion units to improve the opera- tions of both old and new substations to date. According to Fanning, the distribution au-


tomation system he installed at the time specifical- ly involved 30 Orion units, using NovaTech’s unique distribution algorithm designed to auto- mated the switching of substation breakers and pole-top devices to restore power and to avoid power outages and equipment damage. The challenge at the time was having to work


around ways to retrieve the data from the IEDs and other devices. Multiple protocols are often used for distribution automation, including propri- etary protocols with custom communication links. “In a typical substation setup at the time,


there was often different software in each device and I would have to manipulate the data just to be able to share it,” says Fanning. “For one system I worked on, I needed a proprietary protocol and software just to communicate with the device.” In most modern substations, mi- croprocessor-based relays involve a proprietary protocol, so the communi- cations processors must be able to re- trieve real-time fault event data and records by speaking to the relays in their native protocol. Another standard protocol is


DNP (Distributed Network Protocol), which is often used by SCADA mas- ter stations, RTUs, IEDs, and also for relays. To promote interoperation of IEDs from different vendors, the IEC 61850 is an international standard defining communication protocols for IEDs. Older IEDs may still use Mod- bus or other legacy protocols. “The Orion product is an essen-


tial hub for all this data collection, both in collecting and, perhaps, inter- preting or actually taking action. The system could send that off to the con- trol center to change settings, trip a breaker or switch a feeder,” says Fan- ning.


“There is a wealth of information


that is being created inside newer IEDs, microprocessor-based relays and meters that, until recently, has been left behind because it was too challeng- ing to collect and distribute it,” he adds. “Today you can drill down into those IEDs from a remote location using a secure connection.”


Saving Time Reducing the driving time to re-


mote sites was one of the most impor- tant factors in automating the sub- stations, as well. The utility head- quarters, and Fanning’s home, were a two- to three-hour drive from some substations. “With the Orion, I could access


the IEDs in the substation and get a clear picture of what was happening,” says Fanning. “Knowing what the sit- uation was, I could drive there know- ing what I had to do or I could delegate that work to someone in the area.” Today, open-source, web-based


SCADA and HMI solutions eliminate the need for a substation PC and its inherent software and cybersecurity concerns, at a fraction of the cost. In this approach, engineers can


build interactive screens accessible from standard web browsers. For ex- ample, a browser can be used to view data from connected IEDs and RTUs. The software comes with preconfig- ured pages for data archiving, se- quence of events recording, alarms, trending, and communications diag- nostics. Customized screens could easily be built for diagrams, IED faceplates and control screens.


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       


Orion substation automation platform. As for HMIs, web-based systems provide a di-


rect-to-touchscreen connection out of the box, with- out a PC as an intermediary. Information can also be accessed by smartphone, which will bring up a substation and graphically show the faceplate of each device with pushbuttons, as if the technician


was physically present. “The HMI is served up through web pages


that are easily constructed with graphic software,” says Fanning. “It’s all integrated into a single package, so building an HMI is much simpler than it used to be.” If there is a physical manifestation of the re-


duction complexity, Fanning points to the substa- tion. In many substations he worked there would be racks or cabinets of devices with hundreds of wires and blinking lights. “Today, substation layout is much cleaner.


You can probably eliminate entire writing racks and cabinets, or at least make it much smaller, de- pending on how you are handling your I/Os to the IEDs,” concludes Fanning. Contact: NovaTech, LLC, 1720 Molasses Way,


Quakertown, PA 18951 % 484-812-6000 Web: www.novatechweb.com r


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