How Hitachi’s IIoT router can support grid modernisation4 April 2023
Hitachi Energy’s TRO610 cellular router is purpose-built to support industrial internet of things (IIoT) applications such as grid modernisation and smart cities. Commercially available in March 2023, the new router is part of Hitachi Energy’s wireless communications portfolio, which aims to help “future-proof mission-critical utility operations.” Q&A with Mike Dulaney, Global Head of Wireless Sales, Hitachi Energy.
Why has Hitachi Energy developed this new router?
As modernisation continues across the electric distribution grid, more and more field assets are being leveraged to ensure grid resilience, reliability and availability. Wireless communication provides many of the needs of the utility at a significantly lower total cost of ownership. The TRO610 provides low cost connectivity for LTE use cases such as environmental monitoring, DA device monitoring etc, while narrow band IOT can be used for use cases such as residential metering.
The TRO610 provides operators with mission-critical connectivity and greater efficiency by enabling a wider variety of edge applications. With advanced capabilities like edge computing and multiple secure connectivity options, the TRO610 lays the foundation for grid modernisation and future modern grid applications.
What market need is it meeting?
The TRO610 is targeted at a host of distribution automation and smart city applications, including smart street cabinets, battery storage monitoring, circuit breakers, reclosers, voltage monitors, and secondary substation monitoring.
It is said to be “purpose-built to support IIoT applications for utilities.” What does this involve?
Hitachi Energy has designed communication solutions with the requirements of operations in mind rather than focusing on enterprise communications and then making adjustments to try and meet operational needs. The form factor of the TRO610 cellular router comes equipped with advanced communication and security technologies that one finds in the enterprise but it is designed to support Industrial Internet of Things use cases in sectors such as utilities and renewables.
The TRO610 is expected to be deployed in large numbers. The products can be managed remotely using Supros, Hitachi Energy’s network management platform. Common actions such as software or configuration changes don’t require repeated actions for each device. These functions are automated and can be executed with a single action which is then automatically repeated across the entire population, or a defined subset, of Hitachi Energy wireless communication devices.
How has the technology evolved from previous offerings? What innovations are incorporated?
The TRO610 series represents the low-cost end of the TRO600 product family. It is designed to provide cellular connection to one or two field area devices, eg, a capacitor bank, a voltage regulator, or a breaker, and for narrowband IoT use cases. The features that are unique to the TRO610 are its compact size and flexibility of installation while still supporting Edge Compute and having the latest cyber security protection.
What are the USPs of the new router, relative to other devices out there?
The USPs of the new router include:
- Centralised management: through the specialised Supros network management system, communication networks can be configured, monitored, and managed throughout the deployment and operations lifecycle.
- Edge compute platform for low latency, third-party applications supporting distributed compute requirements.
- Backward compatibility with connectivity to legacy field devices within an operational network through a range of serial and contact interfaces.
- Ability to cope with harsh environments: IP67, IEC61850/IEE1613 certified; corrosion- resistant ruggedised option; and an ATEX Zone 2 certification for explosive atmospheres.
- Security: a multi-layer, security architecture from the core to the edge; certificate-based, next-generation IIoT security using a public key infrastructure (PKI); and simple, scalable provisioning.
How will the new router contribute to improved grid stability?
Utility companies are accelerating the adoption of new technology solutions, whether it be on-premise or via the cloud, to digitise and improve operations in an environmentally sustainable manner. This makes advanced connectivity essential.
The TRO610 boosts field asset and application visibility for improved grid stability, enhanced customer services, and a lower total cost of network ownership. It provides always-on cellular connectivity to field area networks that support energy management applications and utilities’ distribution network operations. With robust, reliable connectivity, utilities and other power system managers gain clearer visibility into their field assets, no matter where they’re placed. This streamlines maintenance and repairs (reducing OPEX) and allows for better planning for future asset needs (optimising CAPEX).
The TRO610 router also supports smart city applications important to consider for the future of the grid. For electric utilities, the device complements solutions for battery storage monitoring, circuit breakers, reclosers, voltage monitors, and secondary substation monitoring, among others.
What benefits will the new router bring to grid management?
Power distribution networks are saturated with field devices. The TRO610 provides operators with mission-critical connectivity allowing them to be more efficient by giving them increased visibility into field assets and applications and access to a wide range of edge computing applications.
As field devices are deployed in large numbers and at large distances, the communication devices can be managed remotely using Supros.
The press release says the new router “increases field asset and application visibility.” Could you elaborate?
The TRO610 operates on both public and private 3G, 4G, and 5G cellular networks across multiple frequencies, as well as CBRS and Anterix. The device provides visibility into utility applications, especially power distribution networks, through its compliance and certification to IEEE 1613 and IEC 61850 standards.
By providing visibility into all operations, Supros streamlines and reduces deployment costs, as well as maintenance expenses. It also offers network-wide visibility to give insight into performance, usage, and RF environment.