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How to Achieve Interoperable Products Based on Smart Grid Standards

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The Smart Grid industry has made great strides in establishing and maturing technology standards that facilitate interoperability of Smart Grid products. To achieve in-the-field interoperability, however, requires a standardized set of engineering test tools integrated with a robust certification program.

Engineering test tools are as essential to successful products based on interoperability standards as are the technical specifications themselves. Industry certification programs need to be part of a comprehensive set of test tools and a continuous development, test, and certification process. Benefits include accelerated interoperability, shorter development and certification schedules, and dramatically reduced engineering costs.

One Standard, One Set of Tests

The whole point of an industry standard is to have one agreed upon definition of what a technology does and how it communicates. For instance, a standard may have a single definition of “time.” Two systems that conform to the standard would understand what each means when it communicates a timestamp. While a standard may specify different representations of time for different contexts, it wouldn’t specify two different meanings of time.

By the same logic, why would you have two tests that expect different results for the same definition of time? You might have context-sensitive definitions of time but for any specific context, you’d want only one test result that proves that the product understands time in the context specified. Yet we find two glaring problems in the efforts to enforce “standards” for products claiming to conform to a standard through certification:

• competing test labs may develop their own sets of tests; and
• “certification” tests do not provide the richness, depth, and type of test coverage needed to ensure that “compliant” products will actually interoperate. The more exhaustive the test, the more expensive and time consuming it is….

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