3500 Hasselt, Belgium




FW-5, FW-50


IEC 61850, IEC 69870-5-104, Modbus

Within its supply region, Belgian distribution network operator Infrax provides the infrastructure for electricity, gas and waste water, as well as cable television. With around 1,400 employees, Infrax ensures supply and disposal for 126 local authorities in the Flemish region of Belgium.


Infrax runs a Network Manager central control station from ABB which collects information from all media within the supply region. The company’s own copper cabling (on which ADSL is realised) as well as fibre optic cabling and GPRS services from Vodafone, are used as the communication infrastructure. ABB telecontrol interfaces are interconnected when fibre optic or ADSL is used for the connection; GPRS couplings on the other hand connect the substations to the control centre over the Vodafone network via routers and fi rewalls. Telecontrol protocol IEC 60870-5-104 is used throughout for telecontrol component communication. The new IEC 61850 protocol is used for connecting up the ABB protective equipment. In terms of the new challenges in the fi eld of IT security, Infrax uses SAE series5+ components and safeguards its links with end-to-end VPN encryption.

Electricity – Renewable energy

Many decentralised energy producers as well as wind energy, biogas, PV and CHP plants are located within the Infrax region. Given there are about 50 renewable energy plants having a nominal capacity exceeding 2 MW, feed-in capacity is monitored and reduced as required. Unlike the regulation levels typical in Germany (0, 30, 60 and 100%), 0, 50 and 100% as well as 0, 33 and 100% are common in Belgium. Set points are used for reactive power regulation. SAE provides for feed-in management ready-to-connect telemetry boxes based on the net-line FW-5.

Electricity – Local network stations

SAE technology is also deployed by Infrax in the fi eld of local network automation. Driescher switching stations with circuit-breakers and motor drive are used for the new construction of larger local network stations with multiple feeders. SAE telecontrol equipment is fi tted directly into the switching station by Driescher. SAE was requested to develop a “remote I/O” module so that a separate FW-5 need not be used for every switching station. We addressed this requirement with the fl exible TBus TBUS-T and TBUS-R extensions. The modules enable distributed I/O expansion modules from the separate switching stations to be coupled to only one FW-5. Confi guration is carried out autonomously on site by Infrax workers. There are also Driescher local network stations at Infrax that are fi tted with circuit breakers; the associated protective relays are connected to the SAE telecontrol equipment in line with IEC 61850.

Natural gas

In the gas sector, the modular net-line FW- 50 systems are used for monitoring pressure reduction systems (from 65 to 15 bar) and in odorising systems. The differential pressures and flow-through speeds of the gas are recorded by checking the input and output pressures at the pressure plates. These values can in turn be used to monitor for fault-free function of the Fiorentini flow computer connected over the Modbus.

Waste water

The rain and waste water of private households within the supply region of Infrax is routed to underground reservoirs via pipes. Two pumps in a redundant confi guration are typically installed in these reservoirs, and relay water to the corresponding waste water plants provided the fi ll levels permit it. SAE technology is used to monitor the fi ll levels and to control the pumps. Infrax has in excess of 200 pumps, each with a power rating of 1 to 3 kW.

Benefi ts of SAE technology

The intention of Infrax for the broad deployment of SAE technology was to implement a standardized system for all application areas. Contributing towards this was in particular the extensive yet simple to use configuration options with the setIT software tool. As a result of setIT training in Cologne, workers from a specialist Infrax department are able to set up fully autonomously their projects for different application areas, and configure the telecontrol systems accordingly. Overall, praise was given to the high degree of flexibility shown by SAE, the obvious willingness to participate in creative discussion and tackle new project defi nitions, and exemplary levels of support.

“Whenever I ask an accurate question in an email, I generally have a good solution for my problem within the hour”
Johan Vanzurpele from Infrax