Vendor Independent Engineering Tool - Specification, Configuration

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The most significant impact to asset owners in adopting IEC 61850 is the ability to generate Reusable Engineering - this is configuration of the signalling between one function and another that remains constant regardless of the replacement of the actual IEDs at any time (provided of course they support the function and communications necessary)

In order to achieve the Reusable Engineering solution, suitable tools must be used which provide a higher level engineering process than device-proprietary engineering.

The “end-to-end engineering” is going to be undertaken by

  • multiple engineers,
  • in multiple departments,
  • in multiple organisations,
  • in multiple concurrent and sequential phases.

IEC 61850 Part 6 Edition 2 defines six SCL files and a specific process of how these files exchange information between the various tools used through out the engineering process refer SCL File Evolution

According to the various surveys we have done, there are indeed very few top line tools on the market for asset owner use although of course all the tools continue to evolve. Certainly there is a lot of funding for IED Configuration Tools in support of selling boxes but there is a clear need for utilities investing in integrating the IEC 61850 utility focused tools with their general engineering processes.

There are very few truly vendor-independent IEC 61850 System Specification and System Configuration tools (both defined in IEC 61850-6). 
Most tools are vendor-specific and related to the old tool philosophy and methodology of configuring individual devices independently of the System Integration process, which of course leads to much scope for errors and considerable difficulty in adapting designs for the use of alternative devices.

Helinks is a vendor-independent tool created specifically to provide the IEC 61850-6 top-down engineering process. 
Version 1 attracted much interest but Version 2 released in July 2012 provides many advances in regards to catering for vendor-specifics and documentation of the system.

  1. SSD files can now be easily created at the Specification stage
  2. The SCD file can then build from the SSD during the Configuration stage.

Of course system engineering is no simple feat in conventional systems, and there is clearly skill levels associated with using the highly advanced capabilities of the Helinks tool.  Consequently whilst many may wish to simply play with it for a while to learn how to use it, the reality is training courses are necessary to work through each of the steps.  This can be achieved in a few days intensive training supplied along with the licences.

Coordination and control of access to the IEC 61850-6 SCL files must be managed in order to maintain coherency of implementation.  The engineering team in any organisation must have direct and certainty of access to the up-to-date SCL files at any instant.

Helinks STS has four different licensing models  and pricing is described in their web site (subject to change without notice):

  • Helinks STS Single User License
    one user at a time of the licenced organisation (e.g. the Systems Integrator organisation) to use the software for a non-limited number of projects.

  • HELINKS STS Project Licence
    Used by the Systems Integrator and then transferred to the end customer as part of the project hand over

  • HELINKS STS Global License
    Used by end customers/asset owners (utilities, industrial/mining organisations with multiple sites and multiple systems)

  • HELINKS STS Source Code License
    This is for Vendors or Software companies who which to integrate Helinsk STS into their own software

More information:

The engineering process using Helinks STS is described here:

Video introduction:

Video demonstration: 

Video training: 

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