Substation automation

Substation automation is a critical process that provides protection for valuable assets and reduced outages. To ensure that this process runs seamlessly, all devices must communicate with one another reliably and with low latency. Networking equipment plays an important role in substation automation: as active network components, they are required to keep communication flowing at times when the environmental conditions are at their worst. To enable reliable operation of mission-critical substation applications, Siemens RUGGEDCOM products offer comprehensive networking solutions that satisfy even the toughest requirements for high levels of electromagnetic immunity, shock and vibration and operating temperatures between minus 40 °C and plus 85 °C.

Ethernet Protocols

Ethernet is a manufacturer-agnostic international standard and ensures communications is enabled between all devices on the substation network. Redundancy schemes such as RSTP provide extremely fast recovery time from network faults to minimize downtime in the substation LAN. The use of the Parallel Redundancy Protocol (PRP) and the High-availability Seamless Redundancy Protocol (HSR) – standardized as IEC 62439-3 – provide network redundancy with no data loss. These high reliability Ethernet protocols guarantee no packets are lost for a single point of network failure. Duplicate packets on the network provide the redundancy with no requirement for active network reconfiguration and therefore no network recovery time.

Network based precision time protocol based on IEEE 1588 is becoming increasingly important in substation automation. Traditionally precision timing was based on IRIG-B, but this requires a separate network and cabling to provide time synchronization. Advances in technology have allowed the same or better timing accuracy to be achieved on the Ethernet LAN providing a convergence of data and timing networks and reducing installation and maintenance costs while increasing the reliability of the network and therefore the power system. IEC 61850-3 and IEEE 1613 certified networking equipment ensures that the communications gear meets the same stringent standards for electromagnetic immunity (EMI) and environmental performance as the protective relays on the power system.

The environmental conditions in electrical substations are very harsh. High voltage lines and switch gear generate above normal levels of electromagnetic interference; lighting strikes can cause power surges and rise in ground potential that disrupt the operation of electronic equipment. Substation networking gear is often located in outdoor equipment cabinets or substation control rooms without environment control leaving the electronic equipment exposed to high levels of humidity and extreme fluctuations in temperature. Siemens RUGGEDCOM products lead the market in comprehensive substation automation communications from initial inputs at the substation bay level right through to the utility control center.


  • IEC 62439 High Reliability networks

  • IEC 61850-3 and IEEE 1613 ratings for harsh environment conditions

  • IEEE 1588 precision time protocol