Just joined this community, specifically to get expert views on automation for electrical distribution networks. First of all, automation for distribution networks consists of logic schemes which process information collected from the network (currents, voltages, etc), send signals to generators/loads telling them to adjust their outputs accordingly to prevent overloading our equipment, and carry out safety measures if the generators/loads do not comply fast enough. These logic schemes will run on RTU (Remote Terminal Unit) processors located in substations.
At the moment, our RTU vendors develop the logic using whatever means is most suited to their RTUs. These could be IE61499, IEC61131, or C programming language, etc… Our strategy is to move away from vendor-proprietary equipment and software, towards more standard IT-industry equipment. So, we would like to develop substation “computers” with standard operating systems (e.g. Linux) onto which these logic schemes can be installed. With this in mind, there are two options we are considering for the logic schemes:
The first is that we use standard programming languages such as C to build the logic as there are more vendors worldwide who can develop applications using this, an application developed by one vendor can be understood by another (so we’re not tied down to one vendor), and the applications can be deployed more easily on the substation computers; this option seems to offer flexibility and opens the market to more vendors.
The second is that we standadise on IEC61499 as the industry-standard approach to logic design as it is widely used and will be supported by vendors in the long term, it provides a standard approach and fixed structure to logic design that can be understood by vendors in the automation sector, and it looks like it can be run on most standard OS such as Windows and Linux and so it can be deployed on our proposed substation computers.
Do you have any comments on the above and a view on which option makes most sense, particularly if we’re going to be installing these substation computers with Windows or Linux OS and want to move away from proprietary hardware and software? (This is all new to us and we’re not automation or software experts, so please keep that in mind!)