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Engineering Spotlight - Functional Safety at PRECO Electronics

Functional Safety

The goal of functional safety is to ensure that organizations provide dependable products to external customers.

As PRECO’s solutions have grown, our products have also begun the testing process with non-automotive applications. Increasingly collaborating with the automotive industry and developing products for fully autonomous automotive vehicle applications. A trend that further emphasizes the need for increased safety oversight described as Functional Safety[i]

Functional safety is part of the overall safety and depends on a system or equipment operating correctly (i.e., performing a function safely) in response to its inputs. Safety standards are critical in many industries, especially when it comes to safety technology. And these standards make functional safety about achieving the absence of unreasonable risk due to hazards (a potential source of harm) caused by the malfunctioning behavior of automotive electrical/electronic/programmable electronic (E/E/PE) systems. 

Functional safety involves the management of Safety[ii] and Risk[iii]:

  • Safety is defined as the freedom from unacceptable risk of physical injury or damage to the health of people, either directly or indirectly, as a result of damage to property or the environment. 
  • Risk is the combination of the probability of occurrence of harm and the severity of that harm. 

Functional safety requires an assessment of failures (the primary impairment to safety) which can be classified as either Systemic Failures or Random Failures

  • Systemic Failures occur in a deterministic way to a particular cause that can only be eliminated by a change of the design or of the manufacturing process, operational procedures, documentation, or other relevant factors.  
  • Random Failures occur unpredictably during the lifetime of a product and follow a probability distribution.

Standards & ISO 26262

Developing autonomous vehicle technologies necessitates the need for more safety oversight than is typical for other solutions. In working with developers of autonomous vehicles applications, PRECO has produced award-winning solutions for autonomous haul trucks, tractors, and even lawnmowers. One of which placed second in the 2004 Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Grand Challenge. 

Automotive functional safety is governed by ISO 26262 and ASPICE, under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), a multinational and cross-industry regulatory body; and Verband der Automobilindustrie e. V. (VDA), a professional automotive interest group based in Germany. 

Currently, PRECO is actively engaged in becoming compliant with the ISO 26262 and ASPICE functional safety standards. The ISO 26262 standard is an adaptation of the IEC 61508 functional safety for automotive electric/electronic systems.

There is some overlap between the requirements of these two functional safety standards and that of ISO/IATF 16949, which concerns the Quality Management Systems (QMS) for the automotive industry. Which requires the documentation of methods and procedures in engineering, supplier management, and processing.

Compliance to ISO 26262 and ASPICE allows PRECO to address the following functional safety aspects more formally:

  • Architectural and functional elements
  • Procedural aspects (including safety life cycle)
  • Faults avoidance and faults control
  • Systemic Faults
  • HW Random Faults
  • SW Random Faults

The goal of functional safety is the formal management of risk and reducing it to a tolerable level by applying a safety function [iv]. The safety function is assigned by the Safety Integrity Level (SIL), which is a measure of the risk reduction level for the applied safety function. These automotive functional safety standards require rigorous documentation, which serves as evidence that risks are being appropriately managed. 

We all want our products ready for use in new applications, and external customers of PRECO are also starting to demand products, solutions, methods, and procedures that comply with the ISO 26262 and ASPICE functional safety standards. 

Developed products with safety concepts intrinsic to them, PRECO actively engages in becoming compliant with the latest functional safety standards. Focusing on product safety, all PRECO solutions are manufactured and developed with every functional safety concept and standard in mind.

[i]  Functional Safety - the part of the overall safety of a system or piece of equipment that depends on automatic protection operating correctly in response to its inputs or failure in a predictable manner (fail-safe). The automatic protection system should be designed to properly handle likely human errors, hardware failures, and operational/environmental stress.

[ii] Safety - the condition of being protected from harm or other non-desirable outcomes

[iii] Risk - a measure of the probability and consequence of a specified hazardous event occurring

[iv] Safety function - a function implemented by a safety-related system or other risk reduction measures, that is intended to achieve or maintain a safe state for the equipment under control.

Topics: Insider, Safety Technology, PRECO Electronics, Engineering

Who We Are

PRECO Electronics is a global technology provider that improves safety for operators, worksites, and the public. The effectiveness of our object detection radar systems is unmatched in heavy duty vehicle industries.

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