When I start working with new customers for IEC 61508 certification projects, it’s easy to understand why they might not have a compliant development process for functional safety:  they’ve never done it before!  They understand their market and their products, but they need help to understand the IEC 61508 standard and the requirements.  After a gap analysis review, they know what improvements they need in their process… that’s a tough first step.  Then I can start to look at the product-specific documents and review those to see if they comply.  As a result of a successful certification assessment, and after several rounds of “I need this” and “fix that,” processes are in pretty good shape to move on to future projects.  You might think that exida was in the driver’s seat to drive this success.  But that’s not really the case.  exida doesn’t sit in the R&D group every day while the project rolls along.  exida has no authority over people doing the work.  There has to be someone onsite who understands the organization’s culture and how things get done.  It may be a team member, project manager or leader, or an assigned individual to act as agency liaison, but it won’t be exida.  This drive comes from within the organization that accepts the need to change to comply with IEC 61508.  exida can show you the way, but the organization must walk the path.

In my experience, this journey is more efficient when there is an in-house safety liaison who understands both the organizational culture and the requirements of IEC 61508.  This liaison helps the development team improve their processes and helps the marketing group understand that functional safety certification takes work.

Processes, techniques, and measures required by IEC 61508 vary by the SIL to be achieved.  So it’s important to understand the market demands for your products.  Your development processes must align with the SIL your market wants.  Whoever has the power to put change into effect will be the one to understand how to influence people to get things done.  

Tagged as:     SIL     Safety Integrity Level     John Yozallinas     IEC 61508     Certification  

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