Functional Safety Assessments (FSA) focus on the relevant functional safety standards that are to be applied to a product in the appropriate industry. These are standards such as IEC 61511 in the process automation industry, or ISO 26262 in the automotive industry. And IEC 61508 is like an umbrella safety standard over all of them. But what about other specification and standards that a product has to meet? Most of these non-safety specific criteria come from the markets and industries served by the product. If you make a product that has to work in a harsh environment, you need to design and test for that environment. Your users want to know that the product will work in their operating conditions. SIS designers need to compare various products and choose safety equipment wisely. If your product specifications don’t meet your customer’s criteria, you just lost a customer.
Part of the exida FSA involves checking product specifications and reviewing test results that show the product works in that environment. This is certainly outside the scope of the relevant safety standards, but our Advisory Board, composed of process industry company representatives (both end-users and manufacturers of safety products) insist we include this in our assessment and certification scheme. This is a logical activity prior to product release and helps provide 3rd party assurance that important product design and performance specifications match the expected operating conditions.
It’s an unusual case, but we have discovered listed product specifications that were more harsh than the tested environment. So we make sure that the product performance specifications are no worse than the tested environment. Not all environmental conditions are considered for every product. For example, if a gas sensor was securely mounted in a place where it would not be hit by a person or forklift, maybe the shock parameter is not so important. Still, if it is not tested, it should not be listed in the product specifications.