Co-authored by Jose Peinado

Electric grids are being modernized to be “smarter” and more resilient, using cutting-edge technologies, equipment, and controls that communicate and work together to deliver electricity more reliably and efficiently. At the heart of this transformation is the digitization of the electrical grid, which includes grid management software that consumes streams of data from newly digitized power system endpoints.

As utilities become more operationally reliant on digital power systems to drive reliability, safety, and efficiency, they realize that the underlying digital infrastructure–in other words, the OT network–has become foundational to achieving their desired outcomes.

In response, two market leaders have joined forces to deliver grid modernization solutions:

  • Schneider Electric, a market leader in OT energy management and automation
  • Cisco, a market leader in IT networking and security

The Schneider Electric and Cisco collaboration includes the integration of the software, compute, networking, security, and IOT devices required for a successful modernization of the distribution grid, including Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and Distribution Automation (DA).

More specifically, by combining Schneider EcoStruxure architecture with Cisco purpose-built industrial networking, cybersecurity, and compute solutions, Schneider and Cisco together can help reduce the overall integration risk in digital grid projects while also improving system reliability and security.

Modernizing the grid through AMI

Since the evolution to AMI from Automated Meter Reading (AMR), the industry has been largely built using proprietary systems. Though those proprietary systems helped fuel the industry’s growth when the technology was new, they have now become limiting factors in the expansion and innovation of AMI networks. Therefore, Cisco and Schneider together brought to market an AMI platform built on standards, supporting a variety of meters. This approach helps to reduce costs, spur innovation, and prevent vendor lock-in.

Cisco provides a standards-based network to connect a variety of meters and endpoints, while Schneider EcoStruxure provides the head-end system used to manage various meters. Together, they help enable large-scale AMI deployments while delivering lower operational costs, improved end-customer services, and smarter, sustainable energy for any utility.

Part of the AMI solution includes the Cisco Field Area Network (FAN). The Cisco FAN enables grid modernization by providing a standards-based, end-to-end, IP-based reference architecture that includes the vendor agnostic Wi-SUN standard used by many meter platforms.  It provides a secure, highly scalable communication platform that can support not only AMI, but DA and renewable applications cases as well.

In turn, Schneider Electric’s EcoStruxure Advanced Metering Operation platform leverages their information management expertise to effectively roll out and manage a wide variety of meter vendors, including integration capabilities to maximize subsequent smart metering returns.

Modernizing the grid through DA

Through DA, the utility industry has improved monitoring, control, and management of the medium and low voltage grids–from the distribution substation to the meters.

Cisco and Schneider have partnered to create an integrated DA solution that combines the Schneider smart Ring Main Unit (RMU) platform with the Cisco DA Field Area Architecture, bringing to market solutions that can help utilities to:

  • Reduce outage time by detecting faults early and automatically reconfiguring the network afterward
  • Integrate intermittent and distributed generation smoothly to maintain energy quality and stability
  • Optimize asset management with advanced analytics to manage load shedding and peak shaving, while reducing technical and non-technical losses

Cisco DA field area networks monitor and control energy distribution networks via a multiservice FAN solution. This offering is built on a flexible two-tier architecture that generates IP network services and offers security, QoS, resilience, and management. The ability to converge many DA use cases across a single secure FAN architecture lowers the total cost of ownership due to reduced FAN assets, simplified outside plant infrastructure, spare and expertise commonality, and limited frequency costs.

Schneider’s smart RMU is integrated with the Cisco FAN gateways and security and with the Schneider Easergy T300 Remote Terminal Unit (RTU). This integrated RMU provides an easy to install, highly secure distribution grid automation platform that provides improved energy availability, advanced analytics, optimized asset management, managed load shedding and peak shaving, and reduced technical and non-technical losses.

The distribution grid is being digitally transformed

As the energy industry evolves, utilities are digitally transforming their power grids, deploying a variety of digital solutions that combine IT and OT functionality. Learn more about how market leaders Schneider Electric and Cisco, who have partnered for over 15 years to harness IT and OT convergence, can help you with the digitization of your distribution grid today.


Learn more about Schneider Electric and Cisco!


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Jeffrey Tufts

Global Energy Solutions Leader

Cisco Industries Solutions Group