Finding the Right Software Tools for Functional Safety Projects

Discover how to determine the software tool needed to reach a defined safety goal

Discover how to determine the software tool needed to reach a defined safety goal

Software Tools in Functional Safety Projects

When developing safety systems software, tools become more and more important. However, the software tool used in development needs to comply with predefined criteria. The requirements of software tool qualification in functional safety development projects are therefore of concern to many industry stakeholders.

In certification projects, this topic is often an area of risk and uncertainty as more and more certified tools become available, but it’s not always clear which tool would lead to the highest benefit in the development project.

This can lead to drawn-out discussions during a project lifecycle, causing costly delays.
Tool certification is used for development in safety-related environments such as in the automotive, automation, railway, medical or nuclear sector.

Safety goals

To reach a defined safety goal, it’s important to choose the right software tool right from the beginning of the safety-related development. Depending on the project needs, the required tools are planned based on the requirement from the functional safety standards and the related safety levels (ASIL, SIL, etc.). Only tools that can be trusted or which demonstrate that they do not create any undetected impact on the safety development can be used.

The level of trustiness required by the tool is named in different ways depending on the standard. The most well-known is the Tool Confidence Level (TCL) used in the automotive domain. The analysis and determination of the TCL needs to consider the impact the tool has on the development process and possible failures that could occur. To avoid failures in the project, a profound tool assessment is needed to avoid any safety errors in the final system.

The benefits of tool assessment and certification in functional safety projects:

  • Tool vendors can claim fulfillment of the safety-related requirements by independent certification
  • The certification process ensures that all the relevant standards are covered at once, including IEC 61508, ISO 26262, EN 50128, ISO 25119, IEC 62304 and IEC 60880
  • Avoid failures and loss of trust
  • The certification process can be tailored based on the complexity and individual requirements of the tool

Pre-Qualified/Certified Functional Safety Tools

While the standards include generic pre-qualification of tools, there is no requirement to select pre-qualified/certified tools. It is primarily assumed that appropriate qualification of tools is, and can be, done in a project. Tool qualification (e.g. validation) can however require significant effort. It may even require cooperation with the tool vendor.

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