SCL File Evolution

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The principle engineering activity is defined in IEC 61850 Part 6. This is one of the key elements that sets IEC 61850 apart from "mere protocols"

IEC 61850 Part 6 describes six file types which are used to exchange information between engineering tools and ultimately load the particular configuration into a particular IED.

  1. The System Specification Tool is vital to the asset owners tool set.
  2. The System Configuration Tool needs to be usable generically and consistently across a multi-engineer, multi-department, multi-organisation engineering process for all of the utilities projects, producing appropriate documentation for all parties concerned throughout the entire substation life
  3. The IED Configuration Tools remain specific to the IEDs concerned but must use the IEC 61850 files from the previous two tools

It is essential to understand the role of each file and the role of the tools that use and create them:


Note that a full CID file contains several sections related to the complete configuration of the particular IED instance.

Whilst it is 'possible' to take an ICD or an IID file and directly create a CID file, the resulting n x CID files would not likely include all the necessary substation topology and bindings not the information regarding the other IEDs defined in the SSD/SCD process.
It may also be possible to 'combine' the CID files to create something that 'looks' like an SCD file, but this is not necessarily, even highly unlikely, going to be able to be used as Reusable Engineering as the basis of another substation, extension of the existing substation with an extra bay, or perhaps even in replacement of an IED in the existing bay
Simply put: "a.CID" + "b.CID" + "c.CID" < "abc.SCD"

The top-down engineering process can be described as six stages:

1. Where necessary for the IED type, using the vendor-specific IED Configuration Tool(s) create the ICD files for the generic IED types

2. Create SSD file using System Specification Tool

3. Using the System Configuration Tool,
    3-a import the SSD file as the start of the SCD
    3-b Import ICD files for each of the different IED types and create multiple instances in the SCD corresponding to each specific IED
    3-c complete the communication configuration

4. If the data model of the IED needs to be changed after instantiation in the SCD,
    4-a. use the respective vendor-specific  IED Configuration Tool to import the SCD,
    4-b make the changes to the specific instance of the selected IED's model. then export the IID file.
    4-c use the System Configuration Tool to import the IID file to update the selected IED's model in the SCD

5 Using the System Configuration tool export and import SED files as necessary to configure other systems that are in communication with this system

6. Using the IED specific IED Configuration Tool, import the SCD file and then extract the CID file (and any additional proprietary info) for each individual box to be loaded into the device (sometimes it is a proprietary download file so CID may not be necessary to be exported)

The individual files are used to exchange the information between different tools at each stage which can be represented by this table as a "time line'

IED Related Files
System Related Files


IED Capability Description

.Name = Template

Created by the IED-specific IED Configuration Tool or available
from the vendor.

Possibly used by the System Specification Tool

Used by the System Configuration Tool


System Specification Description

Binding SLD + Functions + Data Types

Created by the System Specification Tool

Used by the System Configuration Tool


System Configuration Description

SSD + IEDs + Communication + Data Types

Created by the System Configuration Tool

Used by each IED-specific IED Configuration Tools


Instantiated IED Description

.Name assigned per serial number

Used to update the Data model only of an existing instance of an IED in the SCD

Created by the IED-specific IED Configuration Tool from the SCD file.

Used by the System Configuration Tool


System Exchange Description

Information to be shared between two SCD

Created by the System Configuration Tool

Used by other System Configuration Tools


Configured IED Description

.Name assigned per serial number

Substation section

Own IED section

Communication section

Portion of other IEDs

Created by the IED-specific IED Configuration Tool from the SCD file

Loaded into the IEDs (along with other files to configure
non-IEC 61850 and proprietary elements as well as any
specific instance settings not defined in the SCD


Sounds confusing - well it can be!

Each of these files is created by the IED Configuration Tools associated with the particular vendor's product.

it is possible (but I would not recommend this approach) to convert one into another using the IED Configuration Tool, e.g. ICD to CID, or ICD to IID,
After all the fundamental difference between ICD and the others is just a small change in one field in the ICD file which you "could" easily modify in Notepad, Word or Excel ...

Which raises the question discussed in another page: Who is responsible for ICD versus CID? and what about IID?

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