In a world that is gradually becoming denser with electronics, electronic devices, and systems, many of these located in public spaces could bring harm to human beings. The people that operate these technologies are the ones most at risk.
For those not familiar with the term, Functional Safety is part of the overall safety of a system or piece of equipment, and usually focuses on electronics and related software. It addresses certain aspects of safety that relate to the function of a device or system and makes sure that it responds to the commands that it receives.
The perpetual aim of Functional Safety is to ensure risk is brought down to a tolerable level and its negative impact is diminished. It deals with risk, which is measured by how likely it is that a given event will occur and how severe it can potentially be – simply put, how much harm it could cause.
At TÜV Rheinland, where a whole range of Functional Safety Services for the Process Industry is in place, we caught up with our resident Head of Functional Safety (Singapore) Mr Chen Zhenkang to best capture the essence of it.
Latest trends and key developments in the near future
Where Functional Safety is concerned, we can look forward to more rigid regulation for the process industry around the globe. Safety Instrumented Systems will be adopted globally due to the demand of both safety standards and safety regulation.
Some of the key challenges he envisions for companies are:
- Knowledge gap - The Safety System is often narrowly viewed as Hardware and Software, with human factors overlooked, such as auditing, assessment, and testing.
- Manpower Challenge - a lack of competent staff for plant operators.
- Mindset Challenge - a fear of applying and managing new safety systems.
In order to navigate the near future, he advises that plant owners in particular, start getting their teams ready for safety standards and compliance with regulations. What they can do right off the bat to future-proof their organizations, is study their respective markets/segments and analyze the knowledge gap which can be filled.
Mitigating the risks of change
By proactively analyzing the gaps in knowledge, manpower, and mindset (aforementioned), and working on effective transitions, companies can look forward to seizing the opportunities that come their way.
A piece of advice Mr Zhenkang has for companies at this stage:
“Study Functional Safety, and more importantly apply functional safety from today onwards, for a safer process industry.”
He does however throw caution at the most critical of the three challenges – the mindset challenge – for while companies can choose to view testing and certification as optional, it certainly helps bridge the suppliers and the end users by relying on the trustworthiness of a global technical authority, such as TÜV Rheinland.
The long term benefits a company can derive from investing in testing and certification lie in Functional Safety for Safety Instrumented Systems, and the vast potential in acquiring more users for suppliers.
The potential pitfalls of resisting change
Companies that choose to resist change and not work on the three main challenges, will stand to lose the advantage of time to their competitors, who may already be moving along. They may face difficulties in fulfilling the normative requirement in the field of functional safety.
With time being one of the critical factors in functional safety, end users and even the public can benefit from a well-tested, regulated, and certified process by TÜV Rheinland.
More importantly, companies/plant owners can look at a significant reduction in time for their procurement processes by relying on us. With our help, anyone with Functional Safety in their purview can improve their own safety and quality standards, thereby complying with international standards and local safety regulations.
The Safety Case Symposium
With such a challenging landscape and time to navigate, we can all appreciate a little guidance from a pool of talent that will be present at the Safety Case Symposium 2019, happening next week (26-27 March) in Singapore.
The key objective of the Symposium is to provide a platform where global stakeholders of safety cases can engage in sharing, learning, and discussion on Safety Case related topics like Functional Safety. As a bonus, the event provides the opportunity to establish the network of stakeholders in the industry for successful implementation.
This is the second edition of the Safety Case Symposium, themed: Technologies, Methodologies, and Regulations. The first edition in 2018 garnered a participation of over 230 participants from 15 countries around the world.
Here is a clip that captures what we can look forward to:
See you there!
To learn more about Functional Safety, please visit: https://insights.tuv.com/safety-case
Mr. Chen Zhenkang heads the department for Industrial Services at TÜV Rheinland based in Singapore and is focused on providing safety assurance for process industry in the Asia Pacific. This includes Functional Safety, Exposition Protection, Safety Case and Industrial Cybersecurity. Mr. Chen is also a Functional Safety Expert specializing in Safety Instrumented Systems, Safety Lifecycle Management and Functional Safety Management according to the IEC61511 and IEC61508 standards and had vast experience leading local and global projects in these arenas. Mr Chen is the key Functional Safety Assessor for Process Industry of TÜV Rheinland in the Asia Pacific region and is currently stationed in Singapore.