Software that sees the forest and the trees

Seeing the big picture while keeping an eye on the detail means substation automation can really do its job

Utilities are focused on delivering their product, be it electricity, gas or something else, over a distribution network. Hidden from view is a second network that monitors, manages and safeguards this delivery, ensuring the product reliably reaches customers.

The brain of this second network is comprised of digital systems carrying rivers of data and commands from machines and mechanisms through fiber optic bundles, Ethernet switches and protection relays. Utility engineers must process, assimilate and convert this complex flow into useful information, as quickly as possible.

The situation requires data management systems that provide at-a-glance status reports and highlight important events without losing crucial details needed to make correct decisions – which is what the SDM600 software package does.

This solution automates the management of service and cyber security data, gathering information on disturbances in operating conditions and logging them for future reference. The software also notes cyber security events and keeps an eye out for unauthorized users trying to gain access. It even keeps track of equipment maintenance records to make sure there are no surprise breakdowns in the substation.

User-friendly presentation in customized dashboards enables tasks to be carried out with ease, while automatic data collection and presentation allows faster, error-free processes. As disturbances are logged, if an event happens for a second time an operator has access to a detailed account of both the event and the consequences, helping them make better-informed decisions.

SDM600 has a flexible, vendor-independent and remotely accessible system architecture which means that data can be managed efficiently from a central point and perform a multitude of tasks essential for the smooth operation of a substation automation system.

Such software provides the whole-network view while retaining the ability to home in on specific components as needed. It enables operators to see both the forest and the trees.

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About the author

Michael Obrist

I am Product Manager for Software tools within Substation Automation. I’ve spent nearly 20 years at ABB working across R&D and Product Management within Substation Automation. I’m passionate about developing simple-to-understand software tools and technologies that help our customers see the unseen from a new perspective.
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