Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Schneider smart meter tackles cybersecurity threats

Steve Rogerson
June 30, 2015
 
An intelligent meter for US-based electrical utilities has been introduced by Schneider Electric. The PowerLogic Ion 8650 v4.20 socket meter has upgrades targeted at reducing cybersecurity threats resulting in greater support for the latest NERC CIP cybersecurity standard.
 
An under-glass cellular modem option for remote data communications is also available. Additional enhancements include meter programing updates making setup faster, easier and more flexible. The third generation meter is in use by hundreds of utilities throughout the USA.
 
The v4.20 meter provides more cybersecurity protection to help both utilities and their end-users safeguard critical infrastructure systems. With added port hardening, secure network addressing and a more robust password management utility, it defends against security threats and attacks to help maintain a reliable and safe smart grid infrastructure.
 
Additionally, the under-glass cellular modem feature lets utilities address the growing issue of obtaining communications links to allow for remote data acquisition of critical system information, such as billing data and power quality related events for reporting and notification.
 
The French company’s patented Ion technology enables user programmability of the meters with a modular, flexible architecture, and therefore has the ability to transition easily and cost effectively to meet new requirements and adapt to changing industry needs.
 
There are three levels of functionality, A, B and C, which allow users to maintain a single metering platform with multi-level feature sets, ensuring a customisable, cost-effective meter. The v4.20 update also lets users upgrade their meters remotely from C to A feature set with a field upgrade kit that adds power quality and high-speed waveform capture analysis functionality.
 
A meter programme overhaul developed for US utility companies in v4.20 makes setup faster, easier and more flexible by enabling a more intuitive workflow. Users can save and load complete DNP and Modbus maps, build a library of load profile configurations, and implement framelets to customise meter programming even further. This template can also be pre-loaded from the factory at time of order.
 
“The grid is evolving right in front of us and, with smart meters and grid infrastructure communications becoming more pervasive, the risk of hardware and software cyberattacks will only continue to grow for utilities and energy providers,” said Mark Feasel, vice president at Schneider Electric. “With the latest enhancements to the Ion 8650 meter, Schneider Electric is providing utilities with the most advanced and comprehensive metering that is proactively designed to thwart cyber-attacks and protect the grid today and in the future.”
 
The meter lets utilities comply with the latest NERC CIP standard version five, which is designed to protect the bulk power system against cybersecurity compromises that could lead to mis-operation or instability. Utility compliance represents significant progress in mitigating cyber risks to the grid.
 
A suite of utility focused hardware and software extends from the control centre to the customer. The meter is part of that suite and can be deployed as a complete approach or integrated with third party products.
 
• The company has also released StruxureWare ClearScada, an open software platform enabling efficient management and optimisation of remote assets.
 
“We continue to improve on the user experience and provide functionality based on our customers’ needs,” said Brad Shaw, ClearScada software product manager at Schneider Electric. “Template expressions save engineers time during implementation; alarm summaries help pinpoint maintenance issues faster; and the seamless integration with a tier-two historian facilitates data accessibility across the entire enterprise.”
 
These functionalities are part of a software platform that is designed to lower the overall operating costs of remote assets while providing a complete, comprehensive overview of site operations.
 
Other features include the enhanced WebX user interface to make process information available anytime, anywhere through any device with HTML5 cross-browser support for trends, alarm lists, event lists and queries.
 
Enhanced integration with the Realflo software, a flow measurement application, now includes support for Realflo Liquids 6.91, plus native support for well-known third party flow computers via an O&G EFM driver suite.
 
Theincrease in security features includes enhanced user account security, auditing of the system security through a dedicated security event list and dedicated security logging queries.
 
By providing remote configuration capabilities and collecting data from multiple ClearScada systems into a central enterprise repository, the software helps reduce costs while providing, business-relevant data across all operational levels.
 
The combination of template configuration and object-based architecture simplifies scalability for O&G and W&WW installations while establishing a relevant system for the entire lifecycle. With the increasing regulatory compliance, the software helps provide continued operations and uses integrated tools that maintain the integrity of data records, even in the event of interrupted field communications.