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The Open Field Message Bus (OpenFMB) interoperability framework is a a North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) standard ratified in 2016. The OpenFMB Users Group was created in 2018 after a transition to UCAIug from a SGIP (now SEPA) Priority Action Plan.  The OpenFMB Users Group was created in 2018 after a transition to the Utility Communications Architecture International Users Group (UCAIug) from a Priority Action Plan organized by the Smart Grid interoperability Panel (SGIP) which is now part of the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA).

Open Field Message Bus (OpenFMB) is a framework enabling 
grid edge interoperability and distributed intelligence

The grid of the future will require treating data differently; leveraging metadata and performing analysis locally to process the mountain of new data available from new technologies. Traditional headend systems, illustrated on the left below, have relied on relatively few sources of field information. New asset classes on the grid (AMI, smart inverters, PMUs, etc.) have added large amounts of data that can quickly and accurately describe the state of the power system. Traditional headend systems were not designed to process this increased volume of information as quickly as is needed to react to current operational scenarios and fully realize the benefits of these new grid edge assets.

Information no longer needs to go to the central system to enable decision making. Federated local data can be made securely available between assets at the grid edge to complement and enhance operations. OpenFMB nodes, shown as blue hexagons on the right of the figure below, host applications that analyze information to develop a higher resolution of situational awareness, and provide the ability to affect local control in coordination with other operational decision making.


OpenFMB provides the ability to leverage new along with existing grid assets to ensure that the future power system is more resilient, reliable, safe, secure, and cost effective than traditional approaches.  OpenFMB offers best practices and a variety of solution options that a utility service provider can draw upon in defining its specific OpenFMB implementation. The business oriented framework approach support a utility service provider's procurement process.

A series of related foundational use cases center on Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Circuit Segment Management for the active coordination of power systems equipment to DER, including a microgrid as shown in the figure below.

In the diagram OpenFMB Nodes are located at the antenna symbols where there are adapters between OpenFMB and Modbus for the inverters and DNP3 for the other devices as well as communications and local intelligence. The arrangement of the diagram also indicates layered feeder and microgrid circuit segments which coordinate with devices within each layer as well as each other layers through OpenFMB communications.

This layered coordination in OpenFMB draws upon ideas of Jeffrey Taft at https://gridarchitecture.pnnl.gov/ and in Modern Distribution Grid Volume I starting with the discussion at the bottom of page 28 regarding Figure 5 (https://gridarchitecture.pnnl.gov/media/Modern-Distribution-Grid_Volume-I_v1_1.pdf).

This layered coordination approach can be generalized as shown in the diagram below which illustrated 3 layers from the feeder to feeder branches to microgrids. Within a circuit segment OpenFMB Nodes have peer-to-peer communications with each other Node in that circuit segment. These Nodes elect a coordination "Leader" which communicates with electrically higher and lower level circuit segment Leaders. This approach supports:

  • Scalability through distributed intelligence
  • Performance through local decision making
  • Security through segmentation of information flow
  • Resilience through potential self-sufficiency

The OpenFMB Business-Case Driven LIfecycle

The OpenFMB framework consists of a top-down approach moving from business case to use case, UML Modeling, Message Profiles, Development, Deployment, and Management.


Guiding Principles

Based on operational and functional requirements

  • Business-driven top-down approach to drive use cases and requirements
  • Requirements determine and refine scope and success parameters
  • Features added only when requirements demand them

Agile and evolving architecture
  • Allows for a flexible set of solutions to accommodate a utility service provider's asset mix
  • Compatible with multiple data models, communication protocols, and technologies as they evolve
  • Support multiple methods of telecommunication and integration
  • Leverage existing standards to federate data between field devices and harmonize them with centralized systems
  • Open, observable, and auditable interfaces at multiple scales for interoperability

No reinventing the wheel
  • Use existing standards, architecture patterns, and requirements where possible
  • Be consistent with other industry IoT solutions, such as Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC) activities
  • Faster time to market

Focus on business value and objectives
  • Add features with most impactful business value first
  • Scale operations independently, without a system-wide rollout
  • Accelerate ability to stack operational benefits
  • Foster innovative products and services

Collaborate with standards bodies
  • Coordinate with the NAESB, IEC, and other relevant SDOs as required
  • Minimize or eliminate duplication of effort and scope
  • Coordination takes time and effort but brings benefits

No stranded resources
  • Consider topology and needs of the existing environment
  • Use of existing resources and ability to add new functionality without "rip and replace" is a key success criteria
  • Support integration of renewables and storage with the existing grid
  • Flexibility, scalability, and backward-compatibility are critical
  • Modify solutions as necessary to address the existing environment

Security built-in from the beginning
  • Security is a functional and operational requirement
  • Resiliency is increased when portions of the grid are segmented
  • Applications run in the field autonomously and require secure, reliable operation
  • Solution must be reliable and trustworthy

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DOE:  Department of Energy
UML:  Unified Modeling Language
CIM: Common Information Model
UCAIug: Utility Communication Architecture International User's Group
NAESB: North American Energy Standards Board
RMQ: Retail Market Quadrant
ITCA:  Interoperability Testing & Certification Authority

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OpenFMB was ratified by the North American Energy Standards Board on March 7, 2016.

The North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) established a Retail Markets Quadrant Task Force, RMQ.26, to develop the OpenFMB framework and reference architecture document in parallel with SGIP's OpenFMB effort. SGIP appointed a liaison to the task force so that the framework and reference architecture reflects the experiences and lessons from the initial business case, use case, data modeling, implementation, and SGIP Annual Conference interoperability demonstration activities.

OpenFMB was ratified by the North American Energy Standards Board on March 7, 2016. The official release is NAESB RMQ.26 Open Field Message Bus (OpenFMB) Model Business Practices. It is part of the version 3.1 bundle of all their standards released at the end of March and of subsequent releases.

Obtaining a Copy

Utilities and other members of NAESB have access to NAESB RMQ.26 OpenFMB. The lower center of www.naesb.org has a link "NAESB Copyright Policy & Access & Use of NAESB Standards" which goes to a page with a link in the middle center "NAESB Copyright Policy and Companies with Access to NAESB Standards Under the Copyright Policy" that lists entities with access to RMQ.26 OpenFMB. Ask your entity's NAESB representative for access to RMQ.26 OpenFMB.  For non-members of NAESB the upper left of www.naesb.org has a link "Order Materials". In particular, fill-in the bottom line of the Retail section of the document by specifying RMQ.26 OpenFMB. 

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Reference Implementations

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History of OpenFMB - coming soon

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What is the role of UCAIug and NAESB with OpenFMB?

The UCAIug supports both the Users Group and the Interoperability Testing & Certification Authority (ITCA) functions for the OpenFMB community.   NAESB supports the development and standardization of the OpenFMB framework.  The OpenFMB user group role is to accelerate adoption of NAESB's OpenFMB framework standard by organizing outreach activities to share lessons learned and potential applications (or use-cases) when implementing the OpenFMB framework.  Additionally, the OpenFMB users group will coordinate with UCAIug's ITCA branch to ensure that the test plan, being validated by the Accredited Test Lab(s), conforms to the model business practices specified in NAESB's OpenFMB standard.


Which utilities and test beds are participating in OpenFMB pilots and/or demonstrations?

  • Avista
  • CPS Energy
  • Duke Energy
  • Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)
  • Entergy
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)

How does OpenFMB relate to the GridWise Architecture Council Interoperability Context-Setting Framework Diagram?

To facilitate utility procurement of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products OpenFMB addresses multiple levels of the GWAC stack necessary for peer-to-peer exchange of lightweight messages. These levels range from GWAC Stack Category 1 multi-industry standards such as wired and wireless communications through GWAC Stack Category 5 specific business process interactions. OpenFMB will address cross-cutting issues as well.

OpenFMB relate to GridWise Arch.png 

What are some OpenFMB benefits?

  • Scalable support for local intelligence with coordinated self-optimization where the volume of local data overwhelms the capability to transfer data using point to point communication
  • Fast response when centralized sites are too far away to respond promptly
  • Resiliency when portions of the grid are segmented
  • Open, observable, and auditable interfaces at multiple scales for interoperability
  • Unified semantics to enable advanced analytics
  • Integration of existing devices and systems via the use of adapters
  • Potential unified backhaul for reduced OPEX, simplified management, and enhanced security
  • Fostering products and services to meet new smart grid business goals

How can I participate in OpenFMB?

  • Join the UCAIug and Participate in OpenFMB users group.
  • Attend NAESB task forces to enhance and extend the development of the OpenFMB standard.
  • Consider implementing OpenFMB at your Test Bed or on future pilot programs.