TAIPEI, Taiwan, Dec. 14, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- ISO 26262 certification is now a prerequisite in many automakers' tenders. Automotive electronic components have also become increasingly complex, so functional safety systems have become increasingly important to the auto market as well. Automotive electronic device makers, system and component suppliers, as well as software and hardware component suppliers all now recognize the importance of functional safety, and have begun making the necessary preparations. TUV Rheinland is currently the largest issuer of functional safety certifications in the Greater China region. Packaging and testing service provider Greatek Electronics recently demonstrated its compliance with market requirements by strengthening its operating processes and successfully obtaining ISO 26262 management system certification.
To move beyond automotive electronics packaging, with its lower safety coefficient, into the more advanced field of safety IC packaging, Greatek applied for ISO 26262 automotive functional safety management system certification on its own initiative. Its production process was recompiled and reorganized to satisfy the functional safety requirements, raising its manufacturing standards to a whole new level. "The introduction of ISO 26262 has given Greatek a better idea of what the outcome of each process should be, and what the baseline should be for the next stage," says Boris Hsieh, CEO at Greatek. Founded in 1995, Greatek Electronics specializes in IC packaging and testing. Packaged and tested ICs are mainly used in network communications and consumer electronic products such as smart phones, wearable devices, smart appliances, set-top boxes, and automotive electronics.
The increasing number of electronic systems in vehicles means automakers are now paying more attention to electronic-product safety. One of the key safety considerations is functional safety. As the name suggests, normal function is essential safety. For products with strict safety requirements, problems can have devastating consequences. Examples include an airbag deploying at high speed, or speed being incorrectly displayed on a dashboard. Automakers, parts makers, and semiconductor companies are now making compliance with functional safety standards a requirement for their supply chain. This is also being introduced into the management system, development process, and product-safety technology.
"Reasonable quality is enough for ordinary products," says Ben Chang, Project Manager for Industrial Services at TUV Rheinland. "The introduction of ISO 26262, however, shows a business the risks involved in different applications. They then shift from being quality-oriented to safety-oriented." Take the power source of electric vehicles, for example -- a battery in poor condition is like a ticking time bomb. The battery's response to high temperature and low-temperature scenarios should thus be validated and tested against functional safety standards during the development process. Alternatively, over-charge/discharge protection can be incorporated in the battery management system to prevent accidents while driving. These all fall under functional safety. Clearly defined product usage environments and scenarios can not only be used for risk assessment, but also help the developer assess which parts of their product process will require further or more rigorous testing to improve product safety and reliability.
The development of automotive products, from initial specifications, design and development, and mass production to real-world trials, usually takes more than three years. TUV Rheinland is the first and only certification body to take part in the development of functional safety standards. It therefore possesses all the necessary experience, as well as the ability, to provide professional assessments and recommendations. A keen understanding of the ISO 26262 standard means that TUV Rheinland can not only assist the automotive industry in establishing its own functional safety management system, but also do the same for other industries that have strict safety requirements in special applications (e.g. nuclear energy, aerospace, industrial control, or home appliances) and assist them with risk management. In addition, the new version of IATF 16949:2016 imposes yet another obstacle to entering the automotive industry by requiring the assessment of embedded software. Vendors should note that compliance with Automotive SPICE (A-SPICE) is generally expected by automakers.
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