Functional safety is vital to every device and application in order to prevent risk for humans and the environment. At the same time the term is not really what one would call a “sexy” feature of a product. In addition the implementation of functional safety mechanisms and systems is expensive and needs a lot of expertise.
Companies in Europe and the US have to face very strict rules regarding product liability for the products and machinery they develop. In order to sell products manufacturers need to meet the demanding safety standards of the local or federal technical control boards which are responsible for certification. The implementation of the functional safety precautions into an application can take up a lot of time and resources extending the time to market and increasing the manufacturing costs. Many companies have therefore handled safety features with less attention then they should have.
In order to develop products that meet the requirements for safety standards like SIL 3 ( safety integrity level – defined as a relative level of risk-reduction provided by a safety function) all development and manufacturing steps have to be documented in a way that gives the certifier the ability to comprehend if all necessary functional safety features have been implemented.
The challenge with functional safety is that the necessary levels of safety cannot be reached by increasing the reliability and product functionality alone. It is necessary to add active systems which are able to detect potentially dangerous conditions and can activate an protective or corrective mechanism which prevents or minimises hazardous events in order to reduce the consequences of malfunctions.
A simple example for such a system is a smoke detector which activates a fire surprising system in case of emergency. For most applications functional safety systems will be more complex and therefore need advanced detection and reaction systems using high-tech electronics including sensors and communication technology.
Machinery for example in car production lines need sophisticated and certified safety mechanisms
NewTec, a specialist in consulting and development of safety-related systems, has created a functional safety development kit called SafeFlex which can simplify and support the design of applications meeting the required safety standards. SafeFlex is based on Altera FPGA technology and gives customers the ability to easily gather experience with the development process of functional safety systems and to speed up the certified design of new products.
Together with NewTec, Altera and Yogitech we will introduce the product and its features for free during a road show early May – the seminar is free and will provide a comprehensive overview on how to use the tool and how to start a functional safety design. For more information visit our event page here.