Efficient description of digital substations according to IEC 61850-6

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Substation Configuration Tool in Engineering Base

Efficient description of digital substations according to IEC 61850-6

Overview of advantages

  • No redundant data entry and maintenance
  • More consistency, fewer errors
  • Only one system configuration tool
  • Transfer of SSD data into IEC 61850-compliant plant configuration at any time
  • Automated IID file creation, simpler configuration
  • Security of investment


Substations for the distribution of electrical power contain numerous devices such as control and protection systems. They must communicate with each other in order to coordinate the switching operations in the plants. The accompanying comprehensive IEC standard 61850 is the consequence of digitizing the industry with increasing intelligence and complexity in today's substations. In addition to the uniform description of the plant structure, the standard also determines the type of communication in order to increase plant availability. The decisive factor is the IEC specification for a manufacturer-neutral description of a plant. For example, according to IEC 61850-6, the description of the configuration and the structures of the protection and control technology in digital substations should be carried out in the SCL format (Substation Configuration Language). Thus, the standard introduces an effective and unique feature for the area of substation automation (SA).

However, conventional engineering tools are still having difficulty supporting the IEC properly and efficiently. This concerns both the structuring of the plants and the understanding of the neutral SCL. Currently, manufacturer-specific tools are used to engineer an SA system, each covering only a specific system level. As a result, designers have to "juggle" with a variety of tools and waste a lot of time on data entry and translation between the tools.

Substation Configuration Tool SSD file© AUCOTEC AG


The communication standard IEC 61850 promises to simplify this process. With its object-oriented data model and formal description language, it supports reusability, component interoperability, and a consistent engineering process.

The Substation Configuration Tool (SCT) from H&S is the consistent implementation of the IEC 61850 requirement for a manufacturer-neutral configuration tool based on SCL. From the graphical input of the primary technology to the modelling of abstract function nodes and data objects to the linking of plant model and system components, SCT generates the target system-independent configuration data for station control systems in compliance with the standard. This way, SCT enables integrated system engineering, and valuable data is archived securely for the future in standardized format.

In cooperation with H&S and AUCOTEC, SCT has been seamlessly integrated into the database-based platform Engineering Base (EB). The result: an optimal combination of electrotechnical planning and the standard-compliant description of the switchgear according to IEC 61850-6 in a user-friendly interface.

This makes it easy to create single-line diagrams in EB. The synchronous coupling enables EB to transfer the plant model to the SCT. This creates the SSD file in the further workflow, which is synchronously assigned to the respective object in EB in the same work step.                                       

In addition, EB recognizes Intelligent Electronic Devices (IEDs) and is able to automatically generate the associated IID files (IEC Capability Description).

The logical nodes of the individual devices are created in EB by simple graphical connection with the IEDs. By generating suitable instances of the data objects (e.g. XSWI, CSWI, CILO) the engineering platform can map the control and protection devices in the IEC 61850 range.

Since all device information is contained in EB's data model, the system is able to generate the IED's IID file. Thanks to the coupling, the information is also seamlessly available for further processing in the SCT tool. There basic communication settings (e.g. IP addresses) and system configurations can be made.


Substation Configuration Tool ICD File© AUCOTEC AG


Data for the description of digital substations required by IEC 61850-6 does not need to be entered and maintained redundantly. Consistent standardization means that system builders and operators only need one system configuration tool. This means much less training and maintenance input and easy interchangeability of the devices.

With SCT the data for the specification file (.SSD) can be retrieved from Engineering Base at any time and transferred to the IEC 61850-compliant engineering process for the plant configuration.

The ease of use and automated creation of the IID files shields the user from the complexity, simplifies the configuration and facilitates the concentration on the application itself.

The process chain thus becomes significantly more consistent, from the overview circuit diagram to the engineering details of the devices. Adjustment errors are avoided and users save both time and money.

Data and documentation are sustainable in the long term and thus ensure a high degree of security of investment.