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Comparing best practices of safety related control system development - CompSoft

Overview

The objective of the project is to develop risk assessment and safety requirements specification phases of safety related control system design by combining well-tried methods, techniques and principles. The impact of the comparative approach of the study is intended to affect performance and safety culture in organisations. An approach for the study is executing a round robin test by each participating organisation. Round robin test is a test including measurement, analysis or conceptual assessment which is evaluated by multiple independent experts applying same methods for the case systems or products to compare the methods and the variance of the results.

Background

It has been detected that 40 % of faults contributing to programmable electronic systems related incidents emerge during the safety requirements specification phase of a system life cycle. Early life cycle phases of programmable electronic systems are sensitive to defects. One third of software related defects are made in the requirements specification phase. Therefore it is important to focus on the early life cycle phases of systems: safety requirements specification and risk assessment.

When analysts make risk assessment they typically get different results depending on the background of analysts. Risk assessment should result in specific PL or SIL demands in order to set requirements for control systems. Too strict requirements lead to expensive systems and too low requirements lead to unsafe systems.

Objectives

The objective of the project is to develop risk assessment and safety requirements specification phases of safety related control system design by combining well-tried methods, techniques and principles. The aim is to apply methods with good reputation, select a set of best methods and techniques and find ideas to improve or integrate them to support better each other. The impact of the comparative approach of the study is intended to affect performance and safety culture in organisations. Each participating institute and enterprise executes a round robin test according to a pre-determined plan. Round robin test is a test including measurement, analysis or conceptual assessment which is evaluated by multiple independent experts applying same methods for the case systems (or products) to compare the methods and the variance of the results (cp. analysis of variance). The objective for the round robin test is

  • to find the best practices for safety requirements specification and risk assessment,

  • to find the criteria for the selection of methods and techniques,

  • to find the strengths and weaknesses of methods used in the early safety life cycle phases of control system design using a comparative approach,

  • to find uniform principles, practices and methods used in different institutes.

Tasks

The results from enquiry, interviews, workshops and round robin test are compared to find most objective (less variation in results), effective (less work done) and feasible methods. The combination of the best features of examined methods is studied to create a demonstration tool for the process from risk assessment to safety requirements. The strategy is to arrange interviews and workshops to select methods for examination and apply round robin test and case studies to assess these methods. The selection criteria for methods, techniques and principles are made to support oil, machine, paper and steel industries and SMEs that design safety related control systems.

Results

The results will be disseminated as a form of workshops, open seminars, a report including guidelines and an article. The utilization of results is expected to decrease the number of incidents that may occur due to weaknesses in risk assessment and safety requirements specification phases of safety related control system design process. The results will assist to develop new or improved practices for safety management, and affect the safety culture on design activities for new products and facilities.

Cooperation

The research is carried out in cooperation with NTNU (Norway), SP (Sweden), SINTEF (Norway) and VTT (Finland). The project is financed by the Finnish Work Environment Fund, participating research organisations and enterprises.

Time Table

The results of the project will be available on December 2015.