Journal of Power and Energy Engineering, 2015, 3, 92-96
Published Online April 2015 in SciRes. http://www.scirp.org/journal/jpee
How to cite this paper: Eslava, H., Rojas, L.A. and Pereira, R. (2015) Implementation of Machine-to-Machine Solutions Us-
ing MQTT Protocol in Internet of Things (IoT) Environment to Improve Automation Process for Electrical Distribution Sub-
stations in Colombia. Journal of Power and Energy Engineering, 3, 92-96. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/jpee.2015. 34014
Implementation of Machine-to-Machine
Solutions Using MQTT Protocol in Internet
of Things (IoT) Environment to Improve
Automation Process for Electrical
Distribution Substations in Colombia
Hermes Eslava1, Luis Alejandro Rojas1, Ramón Pereira2
1Universidad Distrital, Bogotá, Colombia
2ITELCA, Bogotá, Colombia
Email: hjeslavab@ud istrital.edu.co
Received January 2015
In order to incorporate smart elements into distribution networks at ITELCA laboratories in Bo-
gotá-Colombia, a Machine-to-Machine-based solution has been developed. This solution aids in the
process of low-cost electrical fault location, which contributes to improving quality of service, par-
ticularly by shortening interruption time spans in mid-voltage grids. The implementation makes
use of MQTT protocol with an intensive use of Internet of things (IoT) environment which guaran-
tees the following properties within the automation process: Advanced reports and statistics, re-
mote command execution on one or more units (groups of units), detailed monitoring of remote
units and custom alarm mechanism and firmware upgrade on one or more units (groups of units).
This kind of implementation is the first one in Colombia and it is able to automatically recover
from an N-1 fault.
Machine to Machine, Quality of Service, Distribution Grids, MQTT Protocol, Internet of Things (IoT)
Environment, Electrical Energy
Demographic trends and industrial growth have prompted an increase in electrical energy demand and also have
promoted the use of new technologies, which is accompanied by increased complexity in the type of solutions
that are to be implemented in high-power electrical systems. In most cases, companies have made particular ef-
forts trying to adopt standards and apply better practices. However, the increase in energy demand together with
the particular financial and social conditions of customers have forced companies to operate under safety-limit
H. Eslava et al.
conditions and also to reduce generation margins .
When facing various undesired situations (e.g. machines failing to start, transmission problems with complete
boiler-pump-motor subsystems) that lead to deficient energy production, it is absolutely necessary to take ac-
tions that allow identifying the point at which failure is occurring, thus guaranteeing better supply quality. Based
on this premise and also in an attempt to assist failure-location processes in electrical systems, implementation
of smart devices within distribution grids was proposed (supported by Itelca S.A.S) in order to develop a com-
plete machine-to-machine solution for failure detection that also incorporates the latest available technology.
This technology makes use of MQTT protocol in an Internet of things environment which it is able to guarantee
an immediate recovery from an N-1 fault. It helps to short interruption time spans in mid-voltage grids which
improve quality of service for residential, commercial and industrial customers.
2. Internet Protocols for the Smart Grid
One of the reasons why a machine to machine (M2M) implementation in an Internet of things (IoT) environment
is too difficult relies on the large number of communication protocols for the different devices within the auto-
mation process . According to this, it is proposed an open source implementation for protocols well adopted
in machine to machine solutions. One of these protocols is MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport
which is a protocol designed to connect physical devices with applications used in web development making it
the best option as connectivity protocol for IoT and M2M.
In Table 1 a comparison between different protocols is shown. MQTT protocol clearly is recommended for
automation in substations applications. In fact, CISCO and other partners are making efforts to develop a stan-
dardized version of the MQTT protocol.
3. Machine-to-Machine Solutions in Colombia
M2M technology is a whole concept that involves communication among machines, allowing process automa-
tion between mobile devices and machines (Mobile to Machine), and also between men and machines (Man to
Machine). These machines range from very small electronic devices (e.g. communication/entertainment per-
sonal equipment) to measurement/control equipment (e.g. sensors and smart meter or actuators); and also from
smart electronic labels, micro-processors embedded in household appliances, cars or offices, to personal com-
puters or complex servers located at large data processing centers.
M2M assists communication between its own devices and information centers regardless of their location;
this technology also facilitates communication with other types of devices and with people in various places
through the use of personal communication devices instantly (in an organized fashion). Through M2M commu-
nication, it is possible to offer a wide variety of services in the fields of telemetry and tele-control (e.g. vehicle-
to-vehicle communication, remote monitoring of public utility consumption), telemedicine and tele-assistance,
security services and corporate/domestic remote-control applications. This represents the beginning of the so
called Internet of Things.
Table 1. Comparison of different IoT protocols. Source: cisco.
Protocol CoAP XMPP RESTful HTTP MQTT
Transport UDP TCP TCP TC P
Messaging Request/Response Publish/Subscribe
Request/Response Request/Response Publish/Subscribe
2G, 3G, 4G Suitability
(1000 s nodes) Excellent Excellent Excellent Excellent
(1000 s nodes) Excellent Fair Fair Fair
Compute Resources 10 Ks RAM/Flash 10 Ks RAM/Flash 10 Ks RAM/Flash 10 Ks RAM/Flash
Success Storied Utility Field Area
Networks Remote management of
consumer white goods
Smart Energy Profile
2 (premise energy
messaging into loT
H. Eslava et al.
Together with the development of internet-based connectivity as well as the development of smart energy
sensing and energy measurement devices, there have been significant advances in unconventional renewable
energy sources, particularly regarding solar energy, electrical grid operation controllers and storage batteries.
This will allow better energy management in the near future in every city through the use of Smart Grids, A
smart Grid is basically a system that integrates electricity transport and distribution with information technology,
allowing real-time communication between customers, distribution devices, transporters and generators by using
particular devices intended to guarantee more efficient, sustainable energy consumption. Thus it is possible to
facilitate operation for every party (customer, generator, transporter, etc.) within an electricity-exchange free
4. Design of a Machine-to-Machine Solution
The solution proposed herein was supported by the broad experience of ITELCA S.A.S. regarding the import
and commercialization of products associated to telecommunications systems as well as the development of in-
tegrated ICT solutions. This Colombian company was founded in March 1987 and is currently certified by Bu-
reau Veritas Quality International under standard ISO 9001 version 2008. The company participated in the pro-
posal and construction of the following solution and provided an added value to the service supply as well as to
the quality-of-service commitment to all its associated projects.
The system was implemented a using proprietary design developed in order to provide coverage to rural areas
whose lightning rates per year are significant; thus the system provides failure alerts for low-consumption areas
where traditional solutions that use equipment such as reclosers offer no financial competitiveness. The system
4.1. Direct Current Feeding Equipement
This equipment provides autonomous operation for customized periods of time according to the corresponding
needs of each area. The equipment deals with rectification and conversion into adequate voltage levels.
4.2. Solar-Power Backup Resource
Companies involved in development and management of renewable energy sources, locally and internationally,
have promoted the use of renewable energy that satisfies energy-supply needs and avoids massive emissions of
CO2 into the atmosphere (tons of CO2). Such is the case of Enel Group, which is world-class leading company
capable of providing up to 8700 MW (already installed) by gathering various types of sources such as eolic, so-
lar, hydro-electric, geo-thermal y biomass; involving at least 740 operational plants in 16 countries throughout
Europe and America .
In Colombia, the relative participation of alternative energy sources can be found in Alta Guajira, where EPM
(Empresas Públicas de Medellín) installed the very first Colombian wind farm, called Jepirachí, consisting of 15
air-based generators that feed 19.5 mega-watts into the National Interconnected System. In regions such as
Santanderes, the Eastern Plains and the Atlantic Coast, there are already various bio-mass-based generation pro-
jects. Potential solar-energy sources are to be explored in other areas like Magdalena, La Guajira, San Andrés y
Providencia; and according to UPME, there is an estimate of energy generation obtained from oceans that may
reach 30 GW, exploiting 3000 Km of coastal zones .
Following and supporting this global (and recently local) initiative, a backup solar source was implemented in
order to guarantee permanent monitoring activity, even under extended-failure conditions, in failure indicators
due to over-current in medium voltage circuits.
4.3. Geneko Router
GWR-HS high speed cellular router series “Figure 1” represents a group of industrial graded cellular routers
specially designed for expansion of existing industrial networks, remote telemetry and data acquisition in harsh
environments. These routers now feature new LCD display enabling user-fiendly monitoring and network con-
trol. There are several models with 1, 2 or 5 ethernet ports or one with ADSL2+ feature bundled with Wi-Fi.
Figure 1 shows a Geneko GWR-HS high speed cellular router series. Geneko and its partner in the router
manufacturing Huawei make part of M2M alliance, the largest association for the machine to machine sector.
H. Eslava et al.
Figure 1. Geneko GWR-HS High speed cellular router series.
This router is a pure machine to machine connectivity solution. Easy to install, reliable and high performance
router models from GWR-HS cellular router series introduce a completely new dimension into industrial net-
working area. Many useful features make GWR-HS cellular routers a perfect solution for wide variety of indus-
trial applications :
• Dual SIM card support increases the reliability of the router and provides a solution for those applications
where failure of one mobile network must not result in system downtime. Automatic failover feature will
detect the failure of primary connection and automatically switch to alternative connection. When the con-
nectivity over primary connection is restored GWR industrial router will perform switchover to primary
• Successfully tested in real world applications. It can be used to replace wired solutions using 4G cellular
network. Without using heavy machinery for digging and bringing the cable to the site, the total project’s
cost is much lower when using a fast 4G network.
• The whole set of advanced WAN settings allow a user to specify desired parameters in order to meet the re-
quirements of specific cellular network. GWR-HS routers proved themselves to be reliable and high per-
formance devices in so many countries around the world. All advanced parameters included represent the
result of detailed analysis of large number of different cellular networks. In few simple steps it is possible to
optimize the performance of the industrial router on almost any cellular network.
• VPN (GRE, IPsec and OpenVPN) tunnel support provides powerful options for network expansion and se-
cure data transfer over the cellular network.
• With Serial-to-IP feature it is possible to connect, control and perform data acquisition from almost any de-
vice with serial RS232 port. In addition to this feature, GWR-HS industrial cellular router series implements
Modbus RTU-to-Modbus TCP functionality designed to support expansion of Modbus SCADA networks
over the cellular networks.
• Easy to use web interface, extended CLI (Command Line Interface), detailed log, SMS control feature, par-
tial and full configuration Export/Import and remote management and monitoring software provide wide
range of management functionalities. All those features and tools empower a user with full control over
GWR-HS industrial routers.
The system development presented herein allows electrical energy companies to increase their failure detection
capacity with low-cost procedures, because the system can be repaired by itself and in an automatic way even
when facing faults as N-1 type. It helps to maintain the service in difficult conditions shortening interruption
H. Eslava et al.
time spans. In Colombia a massive use in the electrical sector of M2M solutions in IoT environment has begun
with more than 400 devices in real operation. This work is a pioneer in Colombian electrical sector paving the
way to adopt new strategies of MQTT protocol applications in IoT environments. The field of research in
MQTT protocols in IoT environments is the future of smart grids in the electrical sector worldwide.
In the long term, massive adoption of new concepts regarding energy supply assisted by Machine-to-machine
solutions will continue, which should contribute to reducing potential problems associated to apparent lack of
safety and reliability of electrical systems. This should also promote a more efficient use of energy resources,
thus lowering overall cost and having a positive impact on international markets. Likewise, these new ideas
suggest that energy production should rely on renewable sources as well as on efficient use of the generated en-
ergy, perhaps achieving significant reductions in Green House Effect gases and also prompting greater social
The authors would like to thank ITELCA S.A.S for its permanent support in developing the present system im-
plementation. This company made it possible to materialize the proposed solution by offering experienced as-
sistance (over 28 years of experience) in solutions related to M2M implementations on IoT environment; also
promoting innovative solutions and contributing to optimizing industrial development with economic growth.
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