IEC 61850 - The Life Cycle of a Standard

Author: Christoph Brunner, UTInnovation, Switzerland

An international standard is the result of the efforts of many experts in the problem domain that it addresses. The IEC standardization process is briefly described below. It follows steps that ensure the coverage of different aspects and the points of view of participating countries around the world.

In the last column I addressed a specific technical topic related to IEC 61850 - the modelling of functional hierarchies as it is currently under discussion for Edition 2 of the standard. This time, I will focus on an update of major activities related to IEC 61850. But in order to understand the terminology, it might be a good idea to explain the life cycle of IEC documents.

An IEC standard is initiated by an approved new work item. Note that in IEC, the votes are done by the national committees that are member of a technical committee (TC) - in the case of IEC 61850, the technical committee is TC 57. Every national committee has one vote.

Once a work is approved, it is assigned to an existing working group, or a new working group is created to prepare the standard. The drafts are first circulated internal to the working group and when a certain level of maturity is reached, a committee draft for comment (CD) is circulated to the national committees.

A CD is not necessarily yet the complete and final document. The purpose of the CD is to show the direction of the future standard and to get feedback from a broader range of experts.

The next step is the CDV - Committee Draft for Voting. That is already a mature draft, the countries have to give a vote within five month, and the vote can include comments. If the CDV is approved, only changes requested in the comments are allowed and the next step is the FDIS (Final Draft International Standard). Here no technical changes are possible anymore unless the FDIS is refused and the document is sent back to the CDV stage. Shortly after the approval of the FDIS, the standard will be published.

Every standard has a maintenance date. At that time, the standard can be reconfirmed as is, withdrawn or a new Edition can be prepared.Most of the parts that have been published in IEC 61850 will be issued as Edition 2. With the Edition 2 we will solve technical issues (TISSUES) identified during the first implementations of IEC 61850, but we will address as well requirements concerning the use of IEC 61850 in domains other than substation automation. Edition 2 of part 6 has already been circulated as CDV, we are currently finalizing the part 7 (7-1 to 7-4). Part 5, 8-1 and 9-2 shall follow as CDV a few weeks later. For the other parts we will prepare CDs.

There will as well some new parts be added to IEC 61850. I will report on that in a later issue. For this time, I would like to point your attention to the CIGRE conference hold every second year in Paris. This summer, the study committee B5 has selected as preferential topic 1 "Impact of process-bus (IEC61850-9-2) on protection and substation automation systems".

Six interesting papers have been submitted that are discussing different approaches for system architectures when using IEC 61850-9-2 as serial connection between bay level devices and current and voltage sensors. If you plan to visit the CIGRE conference, this session on Wednesday, August 27, will certainly include many interesting discussions. And if you attend the CIGRE conference, do not forget to visit in the exhibition the booth of the UCA International users' group - the users group for IEC 61850, CIM and open AMI.

I look forward to seeing you there!

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