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Conformance testing

Testing data communications system interoperability and standards compliance

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When developing or buying a system using a standard protocol, it is essential to be sure it complies with the standard. DNV GL has facilities for testing IEC protocol implementations. The testing involves a number of elements, including interoperability testing and conformance testing.

Interoperability testing for system integration
Interoperability testing entails establishing that data exchange is possible and evaluating application integration between systems from different vendors.

If systems are able to interoperate, the test result is positive. However, if two systems are able to interoperate, it does not follow that the exchange of data between them must comply with the specifications of the applicable standard.

Conformance test to ensure vendor protocol compliance
Conformance testing is therefore needed to establish whether a vendor’s implementation is compliant. To test compliance, the vendor’s system is connected to a reference system maintained by a test organization.

Procedures for conformance testing are integral to certain standards (IEC 60870-6, 61850 and DLMS). When testing compliance with these standards, a test organization follows these procedures.

DNV GL’s Protocol Competence and Test Center is the number one test organization for IEC protocols. DNV GL was the first independent (level A) test organization authorized by the UCA Users Group to perform the official IEC 61850 conformance tests and issue UCA certificates.

DNV GL Protocol Competence and Test Center for IEC protocols
In DNV GL’s experience, more than 90 percent of devices fail the first test. It has been proven that using certified products significantly reduces communication problems when a device enters service.

DNV GL is well equipped for conformance testing. First we draw up the test plan based on the test procedures and the customer-specific requirements. We use an advanced conformance test system in combination with a protocol analyzer to test whether a specific device meets the international standard.

The test will reveal any interpretation problems and bugs in the software at an early stage (before implementation on the customer’s site). Energy companies often require that a product passes a conformance test before they will proceed to purchase. Securing a DNV GL or UCA certificate also gives manufacturers a competitive advantage.