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Functional Safety: How to Comply with ISO 26262
Thursday, January 17, 2013 | T‹V S‹D

Andreas Bärwald, Product Line Manager of Functional Safety at TÜV SÜD, one of the world’s leading providers of testing, certification, inspection, auditing and consulting services to the automotive sector, reveals how to comply with ISO 26262.

As many of you will know, in December 2011 a new international standard to govern functional safety in the automotive industry called ISO 26262 became fully operational which, although not mandated by government, is regarded by the industry as quasi-mandatory. The standard applies to electrical and electronic (E/E) systems installed in series production road vehicles, hardware and software components and development tools primarily used in the automotive sector.

Few automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers will dispute the importance of the standard, following a number of functional safety related issues that have put lives at risk and cost the industry dear. However, many will agree it is a challenging standard to interpret and implement due to its complexity and – broadly – a lack of functional safety expertise within the industry.

As a member  of the German standardisation committee that devised ISO 26262 I am in the fortunate position to have an intimate knowledge and understanding of the standard. The following seeks to clarify its benefits and help OEMs and suppliers understand the steps required to conform to its requirements in an effective and efficient manner.

Why conform to ISO 26262?

First and foremost, meeting ISO 26262 will help you improve the safety of your product, minimise risks of product liability and help you remain competitive. It will also enhance your reputation as a premium quality OEM or supplier with a commitment to safety and improve your attractiveness to consumer and corporate customers.

The Five Steps to Compliance

The following provides a brief overview of the five critical steps required to comply with ISO 26262. 

1. Competence is Key

It may sound obvious but the first step to compliance is competence – you must have the expertise required to understand how ISO 26262 relates to your products and how (if required) to make the changes for conformity. This can either be achieved through hiring functional safety specialists, training existing staff through an independent third party or outsourcing expertise from an independent third party.

At TÜV SÜD, for example, we work with some of the automotive industry’s leading firms to train their employees on ISO 26262. In particular, we focus on ensuring relevant staff understand its content, the required documentation and the key issues in each of its chapters, such as  Vocabulary, Management of Functional Safety, Product Development, Supporting Processes and ASIL (Automotive Safety Integrity Level)-oriented and Safety-oriented Analysis. We also provide workshops with customised content and defined case studies to close specific gaps in knowledge and offer Functional Safety people certification training, which certifies engineers as qualified functional safety experts.

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