2011 was a good year in many ways for Functional Safety and Cyber Security. Several instrumentation products achieved IEC 61508 certification. exida Certification alone issued 64 product certifications (http://www.sael-onine.com). With most certification projects, improvements to the design and quality are made. Some manufacturers are now quite focused on significant improvements to future products that should improve safety and reliability. Innovation in automatic self-diagnostics also occurred in 2011. The statistical analysis packages introduced last year in pressure transmitters are currently used to detect plugged impulse lines. The technique is finding new diagnostic applications finding other failures. I have seen more compliance voltage monitoring in transmitters, new methods for detecting sensor failures in transmitters, better partial valve stroke monitoring, and better methods for testing solenoid valves in final element assemblies. The new designs are impressive.
Two safety PLCs have passed the ISASecure cyber security certification program. Many other products are currently being tested, with manufacturers having made nice design improvements to their products.
I have seen packaged process units start the functional safety certification process with initial audits in 2011. Some end-user customers of these skid mount units now require safety certification. I have to smile when I think of the issues that were uncovered and the improvements that will be made to the safety design of these systems. Given the ready availability of safety certified products, most system designs are specifying only such products.
The other big thing I see is the expansion of functional safety concepts into new industries/areas. Several subsea projects are now using SIL selection and SIL design verification techniques. Of course the issue of proof testing and proof test coverage is even more important in these remote devices. So I see a lot of thought going into better semi-automated proof testing techniques.
Overall, 2011 was a good year for safety and cyber-security, and I look forward to even more improvements in 2012.