IEC 61850 Process Bus Solution Using GE Multilin HardFiber System


IEC 61850 Process Bus | Source: GE Grid Solutions

The Challenge of Copper Wiring

With the introduction and progression of microprocessor-based protection and control devices, there has been the continued integration of discrete functions into a single device. This integration has delivered cost savings in terms of materials, but the installation uses the same labor-intensive technology dating back to electromechanical relays.

Copper wiring is installed in a substation to integrate the protection and control devices by providing a set of signal paths to move raw information, in the form of analog currents and voltages, representing the status of and controlling the operation of the primary power system. These copper wires have an extremely low signal density, and the installation details are highly dependent on each specific application.

Figure 1. Copper Wiring in Substations

The process of designing, installing, and testing all of these copper connections is exceedingly labor-intensive, with most of the labor requirements being on-site labor. This labor is almost exclusively manual, with very little opportunity for automation or optimization. The end result is a very labor-intensive and error-prone process that adds significant time and cost to every project and makes long-term maintenance and changes difficult to implement.

Related Article: IEC 61850 Communication Networks and Systems In Substations: An Overview for Users

What is IEC 61850 Process Bus?

Process Bus is a term used to describe a protection and control system that uses a digital communications architecture to carry information between the switchyard and protection and control devices in the control building. This information consists of sampled values, equipment status, and output commands. IEC 61850 is the international standard that defines the specific communication protocol for Process Bus implementations used for protection and control applications.

Multilin HardFiber System

The Multilin HardFiber System is an IEC 61850 Process Bus Solution that allows the mapping of measurements made in the switchyard to protection relays located in the control house using secure communications. The HardFiber System addresses the key technical and logistic challenges affecting the labor required for substation design, construction, and maintenance. 

The HardFiber System is designed to reduce the overall labor associated with the tasks of designing, documenting, installing, and testing protection and control systems. By specifically targeting copper wiring and all of the labor it requires, the HardFiber System allows for greater utilization and optimization of resources with the ultimate goal of reducing the Total Life Cost (TLC) for protection & control.

Key Benefits 

  • Eliminates majority of copper wiring to better utilize resources for the design, building, commissioning and maintenance of power system protection and control
  • Robust and simple architecture for deploying IEC 61850 process bus
  • Extends the Universal Relay (UR) family of products, is available for a wide array of protection applications 
  • Limits exposure to cyber security threats to only physical interruption
  • Improves employee safety by limiting the number of high-energy signals in the control building 
  • Saves up to 50% in P&C labor costs 

Benefits of Using Process Bus


  • Retrofit and greenfield installations for power generation, transmission and distribution systems 
  • Generator, Transformer, Transmission Line, Bus, Feeder, Motor, Capacitor Bank, Wide Area Network protection
  • Distributed busbar protection and bay control, enabling centralized overcurrent backup protection 
  • Substation automation
  • Air-insulated and GIS stations 
  • Multi-terminal line differential where 2 or more terminal are less than 2 km away 
  • Remote protection and control rooms for medium voltage switchgear to mitigate exposure of operators to arc flash hazard.


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