Wireless partnership helps with utility fault restoration

By Control Engineering Staff June 28, 2006

ABB Distribution Automation introduced a GPRS-based Arctic IEC-104 Gateway to add efficiency to fault restoration and maintenance at utilities; the product has been used at a Finnish power company. The product is jointly specified with Viola Systems , a provider of industrial-grade wireless M2M (machine-to-machine) connectivity products.

Koillis-Satakunta Power Utility in Finland needed to remotely control a large number of disconnector stations scattered over a wide and challenging geographical area. GSM data delivered poor usability with high price tag, according to ABB. The Viola and ABB combination provided secure, always-on, and easy-to-use service, says Jari Hakala IT manager from Koillis-Satakunta.

Remote-controlled disconnector stations divide the network into smaller, more manageable sections. They disconnect faults, re-route power, and perform scheduled outages controlled by a network control system (ABB MicroSCADA Pro). In case of a network failure, the fault is located with ABB Open++ Opera DMS 600, a high-level distribution management software that runs on top of MicroSCADA-technology.

“Also a section subject to scheduled maintenance and repair can now be separated from the distribution network at minimum effort, thanks to the disconnector stations remotely controlled via the Arctic IEC-104 Gateway,” says Aimo Rinta-Opas, Koillis-Satakunta operations manager. The industrial-grade serial-to-GPRS gateway has IEC-101 to IEC-104 protocol conversion, built-in firewall, and VPN technology for secure communication. They can be delivered preconfigured to ease installation and deployment, ABB noted.

On-site installation at a disconnector station takes less than 30 minutes. “First, a SIM card is inserted into an appropriate SIM slot, then an external antenna is attached, and finally 12 V power cables are connected,” explains Hakala. ABB’s DTU Control Cubicle holds all equipment for retrofitting remote control capability to the installed disconnectors. This includes ABB’s REC523 Unit that controls and monitors the disconnectors. After the installation has been completed the gateway automatically creates a secure VPN tunnel to the Viola M2M Gateway located at the network control center. Wireless is favored in this application because the distribution network of Koillis-Satakunta Power Utility covers a large area, over 100 km dia., in a hilly terrain with numerous lakes and rivers. Substations, disconnectors, and transformers are scattered over the area and often are located in difficult to reach places.

–Edited by Mark T. Hoske , Control Engineering editor in chief