Functional Safety & Certification Services UK

Functional Safety & Certification Services UK

Functional safety is, simply put, “Protecting a user from technology”

Functional safety is, simply put, “Protecting a user from technology”

WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL SAFETY?

Functional safety is, simply put, “protecting a user from technology”. It also protects technology from users. However, more technically the definition of functional safety is:

“Systems that lead to the freedom from unacceptable risk of injury or damage to the health of people by the proper implementation of one or more automatic protection functions (often called safety functions). A safety system consists of one or more safety functions.”

A simple example of a functional safety system could be a domestic coffee maker with a sensor that detects the coffee temperature or the volume of coffee in the flask. If the sensor detects the temperature has exceeded a threshold, it switches the heating element off, or if the volume is greater than anticipated, it halts the percolation process.

More complex examples may include a railway crossing barrier or an automated robot in an industrial setting. In the first example, the functional safety system would detect the approach of an oncoming train and lower the barrier. In the other example, the system registers the presence of a person the workspace and puts the robot into a safe state, ie stopping it or moving it to a safer position.

It’s important to note that a functional safety system is an active part of the system. It will react to predefined triggers and instruct the overall system to make an active change. Fire resistant doors or clothing are not considered a functional safety system as they perform their function passively. 

Functional safety has become a critically important issue across all areas of industry. With the expanding digitalisation and automation of life and industry, new challenges and requirements for functional safety technology arise. As a result, manufacturers and operators place top priority on the quality and safety of products and plants in order to protect people, property and the environment against technology-related risk. TÜV SÜD offers proven capabilities backed by international recognition and understands the complex requirements in the field of functional safety. We support you in various industries – from chip design to the entire assessment of a plant. 

 

FUNCTIONAL SAFETY SERVICES by industry:

 

FRQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

  • Why is Functional Safety Important?

    At its core, functional safety is important because its sole purpose is to protect users from harm. Complex technology is an integral part of our day to day activities, and we demand that they are safe to use. Functional safety is becoming more important in products of all types, industrial and consumer, as the types of controls being used are increasingly more complex and are safeguarding against many more instances.

    In manufacturing facilities for instance, functional safety is critical to safe operation. Functional safety systems can give operators far better operational metrics and control of the equipment under use. From a business standpoint – functional safety allows manufacturers to operate closer to their margins with confidence in a well-defined functional safety environment. This benefits them in terms of increased efficiencies, fewer downtimes, and the resulting cost savings.

  • Why is Functional Safety Certification Important?

    Simply, in many instances, certification is required regulatory authorities. Without certification a product cannot enter the marketplace. There may be local, national, or international requirements depending upon your product, it’s intended use, and where it is to be marketed. Even when there is no legislative requirement for a component or product to be functional safety certified, in many cases it is required by the end user.

    It is also important to remember that some insurance companies may require functional safety certification before they offer coverage.  In terms of product liability, compliance with standards serves as proof that product/application meets state-of-the-art safety requirements.

    An important point to remember is that some regulatory authorities and end users, may demand that certification be carried out by an independent, third-part qualified certifier. Demonstration of independent review is important to users’ acceptance of a product; a lack of may lead to questions of whether the product has been looked at with a fully critical eye.

     

  • When Should You Conduct a Functional Safety Assessment?

    Getting a product certified for functional safety is a process that should ideally involve your developers, your assembly teams, and your functional safety certifying organization, and should start in the early development stages. This allows you to build robust development plans in which the assessment process will follow through the product development lifecycle.

    Whilst discussing your development plan with the certification provider they will be able to provide advice – such as a safety system may require two channels rather than a single channel if you need a Safety Integrity Level (SIL) 3.  The plan should also include agreed milestones to verify and validate your product for functional safety as you are developing/building it.

    There are risks involved in leaving functional safety to the end of your product development as you may find out too late that your product does not meet functional safety criteria and you have to go back to the drawing board. Planning early can mitigate costly reworks or recalls.

     

  • How Do You Select a Functional Safety Expert

    When it comes to selecting a functional safety testing and certification organisation, there are many to choose from. Providers can vary in size, from small specialist companies offering niche services all the way to large companies offering integrated product development programs. So, with such a variety of options to choose from, what aspects should you evaluate when making this important decision?

    There are essential questions that you should ask of any provider:

    Is the provider certified to conduct the testing and certification that you need?
    Does the functional safety expert build quality into your product development program?
    Is the functional safety expert experienced in your product or industry?
    Does the provider have the capabilities your development program needs?
    Do they have a communication plan that works with your own organisation?
    Do they have a history of achieving the timelines that you are aiming for?

    Many regulatory authorities, end users, and insurance groups demand the use of independent, non-biased, third party certifying organisations. Some manufacturers prefer this approach too as it demonstrates transparency, giving their customers greater confidence in their products.

     

  • What is Functional Safety

    Functional safety is, simply put, “protecting a user from technology”. It also protects technology from users. However, more technically the definition of functional safety is: “Systems that lead to the freedom from unacceptable risk of injury or damage to the health of people by the proper implementation of one or more automatic protection functions (often called safety functions). A safety system consists of one or more safety functions.”
  • How Long Does Functional Safety Certification Take?

    All development plans, and certification processes are unique and as such there is no single answer. However, functional safety assessment usually follows your development plan, so there shouldn’t be any surprises. This means that the time taken for your assessment is not determined by the functional safety certifier but your own development process.

    It is best practice to put your development team and your certifying provider together very early in your design stages. This will allow your teams to develop robust plans that include functional safety milestones – catching any failings as they occur in real-time will save you time and money instead of retroactively addressing issues.

     

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