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by D.P. Buse, P. Sun, Q.H. Wu, and J.



IEEE power & energy magazine

MOST CURRENT POWER SYSTEM CONTROL AND automation systems are based on the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) model. A central master station, located at the control center, gathers information from a number of remote terminal units (RTUs), which are based in the substations. While the SCADA model provides acceptable performance and reliability, it has a number of drawbacks, particularly in the areas of flexibility and open access to information. Recently, several manufacturers have introduced intelligent electronic devices (IEDs) that perform various functions such as protection, control, and monitoring. Recent years have also seen the introduction of Ethernet local area networks (LANs) in substations. These are used to connect various IEDs and control systems and allow access to data from other systems, such as databases and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, and

A multiagent system on an IP network provides autonomy to each of the constituent parts of an inherently distributed power system.
march/april 2003

1540-7977/03/$17.00©2003 IEEE

Each function or task of the system. can be encapsulated within a separate agent. which provides greater autonomy to each of the constituent parts than a traditional system. two types of agents have been used. ✔ Simple Java-based agents are used to perform simple tasks that do not require intelligence or. the architecture consists of a number of data sources. personal assistants. In a multiagent system. an agent-based system offers a number of advantages. Agents are capable of operating autonomously and in a goaldirected manner. Where a component of the substation is controlled by a device that has no network interface.An agent is a software entity that is situated in some environment and can sense and react to changes in that environment. These agents are also preferred for mobile agent implemarch/april 2003 DB Agent Online Intervention Decision Support Data Analysis Agent Database Control Agent IED SCS Substation Plant figure 1. System Architecture As shown in Figure 1. new functions can easily be added to an agent-based system by creating a new agent. the problem remains of providing a suitable framework for managing the large quantity of available information. such as protection relays. This article defines a generic architecture that applies the multiagent systems methodology to the field of substation automation. as shown in Figure 1. and proposes several possible applications. that interact with the substation plant. and data consumers. which can lead to a requirement for high network bandwidth. However. Compared with SCADA or client-server substation automation solutions. Many are also one-vendor solutions. typically communicating via messaging rather than by procedure calls (remote or local). ✔ mentation. A more detailed description of the architecture is given later. intelligent user interfaces. Many vendors have developed systems based on client-server and Web technology. with information management. It has a wide range of applications. Belief-desire-intention (BDI) agents are based on the concept of three mental states (beliefs. such as real-time control. describes the design of a system to be implemented based on this architecture. data storage and transportation mechanisms. which will then make its capabilities available to others. Agent technology is one of the most interesting recent developments in the field of distributed artificial intelligence (DAI). The architecture described in this article is made up of several types of agents along with the external systems with which they interact. IEEE power & energy magazine 51 . In experimental work so far on this architecture. and intentions) and are capable of responding to external events and performing actions in pursuit of a goal. from outside locations. online monitoring. Multiagent system architecture. The inherently distributed power system architecture is suited ideally to a multiagent system. which prevent the integration of equipment from multiple sources. Documents (in Files) User HMI Platform Web Browser Agent GUI Doc. such as the management of a single IED. it is possible to gather this information from the substation control system (SCS) over a network or serial link. and. using directory services. due to their small size. This flexibility makes them suitable for performing a wide range of tasks. However. tasks are carried out by interacting agents that can cooperate with each other. Agent Servlet User Agent Document Retrieval Agent Technology An agent is a software entity that is situated in some environment and can sense and react to changes in that environment. in the case of an agent that wraps an existing system. The primary source for monitoring information is the IEDs. these systems are sometimes inflexible and often centralize much of the system monitoring functionality. Information from these is gathered by control/monitoring agents over an Ethernet network. making the system highly modular. where the intelligent functionality is contained in the wrapped system. desires. and Internet commerce among the most popular. and alarm/event management. Agents are loosely coupled.

In addition to the abilities shown. The use of a common ACL also permits agents that use different agent architectures to communicate with each other. based on those specified by FIPA. Having multiple modules within a substation allows either for agents providing different functions to be split into separate modules or for the provision of redundancy between modules to increase reliability. are situated at the control center and offices. However. The full set of agents is described in Table 1. should be provided. There are two main types of modules. allows them to collaborate and make use of each others’ unique abilities. the query broker and march/april 2003 . network. different types of agents may be appropriate to different tasks. Modular structure. For persistent storage and logging of historical data. Therefore. This system attempts to do this by making each substation as autonomous as possible. Each module consists of a number of standard components. Service = User Authentication Database Service DB = Database DB Agent Lookup Service Auth. including document and database information retrieval. such as messaging and agent management. There are a number of agents dedicated to performing various tasks. This. which acts as that user’s interface with the rest of the system. therefore. along with the brokering and directory services provided. integrated into a software package such as a human-machine interface (HMI). all agents are capable of communicating with other agents. or can provide a Web-based interface via servlets. while there are no such requirements on information retrieval and querying tasks other than that they should be completed as quickly as possible in order to return the results to the user. an information retrieval task will usually result in the transfer of a much greater quan52 IEEE power & energy magazine A typical power transmission system consists of a number of substations. Task-specific agents in the system include mobile information retrieval agents to perform document and database retrieval and mobile remote control agents to allow online intervention. as shown in Figure 2. This agent can be standalone. For example. and data analysis. control tasks often have strict timing requirements. for which purpose a commercial relational database may be used. along with facilities for displaying local information and transferring it over the WAN. decision support. The messaging service allows agents to send messages to those on other platforms. applets. This is managed by a database agent that provides access to other agents and collects information to be stored in the database. a substation database is required. These tasks have varying timing. All of the agents in this system are capable of communicating using the Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents (FIPA) Agent Communications Language (ACL) messages. online intervention. Service Services Module Ontology Database The WAN Mobile Agent Local Area AP AP Local Area AP AP IED Agent IED Agent User Agent DB Agent IED Agent IED Agent User Agent DB Agent tity of data. The multiagent system is divided into a number of modules. In addition to these. It is. Each user must have access to a user agent. DB along with the control center and offices. Agent platform services. Modules IEDs Plant HMI DB IEDs Plant figure 2. necessary to minimize the amount of traffic over these links. two broker agents. while the agent management service allows a system administrator to add and remove agents. Global (or WAN) modules. each responsible for a particular location. These are often connected via HMI slow dial-up links with speeds of 64 to 128 kb/s. Local (LAN) modules contain functionality relevant to a particular substation. or active server pages.DB Wide Area AP User Agent User Agent AP AP = Agent Platform Auth. containing mostly user interface and database functionality. and computing resource requirements.

that will actually carry out the task. If in different ways. querying and tory services ensure that modules and agents are able to locate retrieval. for example. such as online intervention and querying.. System these services are part of a services module. including. ✔ Querying is performed using the user agent. determine information relevance Move the system. work best with information that is machine-underand communicate with each other. Broker KB MT RB Applications Information Management Within the power system.Agent Type User Database Device table 1. respectively. Querying using query brokers..machine-understandable. march/april 2003 Inform (Expr. Two mechanisms. including both written to manage its execution using any appropriate agents. This falls into three main categories: ✔ Large quantities of numerical data. tion framework to be used in which an agent or user is able to the current status of plant: This is normally stored in request a service or submit a query and allow the broker agent databases. Broker Results) The modular structure can be UA Query MT = Message implemented by adding one or two GUI Transport computers to the substation LAN Input to hold the mobile agent system. ✔ Human-readable documentation. are compatible with the brokered method of interaction. These services can be linked in User Module a federation with the directory servGUI ices provided by the agent platInform Output KB = Knowledge (Expr. Results) Query (Expr. support initiate query Data transfer. = Query Expression Inform (Expr. IEEE power & energy magazine 53 .. a number of direc. which can be considered as a specialized WAN module. it is not possible for a comthe module is to accept mobile agents. Display querying. User RB = Request static agents. Types of agents in Tasks Abilities Intervention. such as fault and event records. a large amount of information is generated and stored. to database. are included. Results) Query (Expr. decision information. Add information data acquisition.) Failure KB MT RB UA = User Agent Query (Expr. In addition to WAN and LAN modules. For example. querying respond to queries Control intervention Retrieval Move. Most applications that do These different forms of information must be managed not use mobile agents. gathered from control and protection systems: This is normally stored in files or databases. a mobile agent server puter to understand and act upon the knowledge stored within an image. without documents and images: This is normally stored in files requiring the originating agent to have any knowledge of those such as word processor documents. whereas database information is easily must also be included. forms.) Agent LAN Module figure 3. Sensors GUI or other user interface Knowledge User model Database metadata Input from device Model of and system being controlled Locations of information Locations of devices Information retrieval Remote control Intervention request broker. and database server. The servers that provide standable and nonmachine-understandable. These permit a brokered interac✔ Knowledge about the system.) CA = Control Agent KB MT RB Expr.

in terms of the amount of time taken. ✔ users input queries. The user agent then creates a FIPA ACL query-ref or query-if message and transmits it to the query broker agent. to transmit a mobile agent to a substation and have it perform a number of interactions locally rather than performing them over the dial-up network. When the system is fully implemented. Template User Agent Request User Template Mobile Wrapper Agent Document(s) Agent ments and determines their locations. which benefit from the reduction in network transmission.figure 5. This has been shown in a number of previous works. which can benefit from moving the computational load onto more powerful servers. Therefore.. The user agent can then either retrieve these documents by sending requests to their document agents or dispatch a mobile agent. User Module The broker parses the query and. “What is the current temperature of transformer X?” (Figure 3). KB MT RB KB MT RB KB = Knowledge Broker MT = Message Transport User RB = Request Broker UA = User Agent CA = Control Agent 54 IEEE power & energy magazine march/april 2003 . as shown in Figure 5. The broker matches the request with information it has regarding the capabilities of various agents and forwards it to an appropriate agent. for example. as shown in Figure 4. Using the query broker. the information retrieval agent will have the ability to retrieve both documents and database data matching a specific query. to travel to the location of the documents and bring them back. If the request broker is unable to satisfy the figure 4. MA Moves 3. Retrieve the Document Document Files/ Database Server Name. deterUA mines which will be capable of Request answering it. requesting that the specified action is performed.1. The user agent then sends a message to the request broker. Online intervention. which will in turn notify the user agent. or systems with slow or intermittent network connections. the operator may wish to operate one or more circuit breakers. Return to User Mobile Agent Document User Agent Document User Online Intervention It is possible to use the multiagent system to allow a human operator to intervene remotely in the activity of an automatic control system. Search for the Document Template Directory Results Mobile Agent Mobile Agent Moves 2. The query broker Request (Action) Inform then assembles these replies and (Done (Action)) sends them to the user agent. This Control Module query brokering mechanism is derived from that described in a 1997 Request (Action) paper by Martin et al. For example. the user agent locates relevant docu. which was CA part of SRI International’s Open Command to Agent Architecture project. An intervention is initiated through the graphical interface provided by the user agent. Device Retrieval is initiated when a user Device Device inputs a set of search criteria into the user agent. GUI Inform using registration information proInput (Done (Action)) vided to it by other agents. this agent must notify the request broker. many National Grid substations are connected to the corporate network only by 64 kb/s dial-up links. The query is then for(Action) warded to these agents. Information retrieval using a mobile agent. For example. who reply to the query broker. it is much cheaper. When the action is complete. The advantages of mobile agents are greatest for lowpowered client devices.

China. Schwehm. “An architecture for real-time reasoning and system control.S.D. degree. electronic design automation. His research interests include signal and image processing. U. information querying using the query broker. 34-44. 1996. multiagent systems. He is a U.R. P. This provides greater efficiency when the network between the user and the substation is slow and a large number of interactions must be performed. vol. 2000 [Online]. Since 1995. This task can be performed using publish-subscribe interactions between the database agent and control agent. U. possibly using the directory facilitator. he has worked in a number of areas. M.D. he has held the chair of Electrical Engineering in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics. including directly across the network.. part of National Grid Transco. Ingrand. Laresgoiti.Eng. in a basic fashion. from the University of Liverpool. which then locates the correct control agent and subscribes to the required information on behalf of the database agent. China with a B. U. utility representative on the BSI PEL57 and Cigré p&e Working Group 36-16. 11. Jennings. A prototype system has been constructed to evaluate these applications. His research interests include adaptive control. student in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics at the University of Liverpool. and using a user agent and the request broker system. It would also be possible to perform this interaction via an information broker. and N.S. U. He received a first class honors degree in electrical and electronic engineering from Surrey University and is member of the IEE. he worked as a research engineer in the EDA R&D Centre at the Faculty of Information Technology. march/april 2003 55 . 6. 7 no. Shenzhen University (SZU). Buse obtained his B.” IEEE Expert. IEEE power & energy magazine Data Acquisition and Transfer It is often necessary to acquire monitoring information from a device and store it in a database. and A. He works as a postdoctoral research assistant in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics. For Further Reading F.D. multiagent systems.K. His particular interests are substation automation. 1992. degree in computer science from the University of Liverpool. vol.K. and send a subscribe message specifying the information required. Loughborough University. Corera. “FIPA Agent Management Specification. the database agent sends the subscription message to the broker. In this case. they locate the agent responsible for that device.Having multiple modules within a substation allows for agents providing different functions to be split into separate modules or for redundancy between modules to increase reliability. PDPTA’97. Biographies D. SZU. It is now hoped to perform a more detailed analysis using an improved prototype in order to fully evaluate the performance of the system. pp.K.F. J. Part 2: Electricity Transportation Management. Wu obtained an M. and power system control and operation. For each device for which the control agent requires information.P.. P. 6. and their industrial applications. as well as providing strategic direction and application policy. it has been possible to demonstrate. Rao. functional integration. which can then be entered into the database using SQL commands. From 1994 to 1998.K.” IEEE Expert. from 1991 to 1995. The control agent must then notify the database agent of any new information as it becomes available. From 1981 to 1984. computational intelligence. using a mobile agent. Fitch is the substation policy application team leader within National Grid Asset Strategy. Georgeff. and power system and industrial automation. (Eng) degree in electrical engineering from Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST). “A performance model for mobile agent systems. The University of Liverpool. Strasser and E.” in Proc. He is a Chartered Engineer. R. request. no.fipa. 1132-1140. including substation control and automation and demanning and new substation build projects. Aug.S. 2. J. His research interests include mobile agents. Currently he is a Ph. Sun graduated from the Department of Electronics and Precision Machinery. He obtained his Ph. Q. pp. and retrieval of documents and database information using mobile agents. mathematical morphology. online intervention to control an OLE for process control (OPC) based relay using several methods. a sequence of interventions may be performed by a mobile agent. Fellow of IEE. and telecontrol protocols. “Using Archon. M. acting as the head of the Intelligence Engineering and Automation group. 1997. it must reply to the user agent with a failure message. With National Grid. His team is responsible for both the technical specification and assessment of all substation HV and LV equipment. Available: www. He worked as a postdoctoral research fellow and senior research fellow in QUB from 1987 to 1991 and lecturer and senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematical Sciences.H. and Senior Member of IEEE.K. learning systems. Dec. He obtained a Ph.” Foundation for Intelligent Physical Agents.P. As an alternative to the brokered interaction method. degree from The Queen’s University of Belfast (QUB). pp. vol. he was a lecturer in electrical engineering at the university. Using this system. I.