Functional Safety at PRECO Electronics

Even in today’s highly-connected world, humans still play a vital role in work environments, and most present-day heavy-duty mobile equipment operate in proximity to humans. Functional Safety was born to ensure equipment systems can detect, diagnose, and safely mitigate incidents to prevent harm to humans and machines. By proving, testing, and documenting the system design process, functional safety is now a critical element to any/all systems installed within heavy-duty mobile equipment, factory options, and aftermarket machines.

Thanks to these improved alternatives, turning to functionally safe technologies will soon become the precedent.

Safety is Your Competitive Advantage

By implementing key safety technologies, on and off-road heavy-duty mobile equipment can be uncaged, allowing them to work alongside humans, other vehicles, and vulnerable road users (VRU) safely and intelligently.

This collaborative approach allows heavy-duty mobile equipment to follow vital actions, leaving critical thinking and more complex decision-making elements to operators. However, safety is even more essential with man and machine working in such proximity. Systems must continuously monitor the mobile equipment’s integrity and react appropriately under hazardous conditions, driving functional safety to the forefront.

OEM machines have many sensors that can detect potential hazards — perhaps a human or a smaller vehicle is moving across the heavy-duty mobile equipment path, for example. In this situation, the machine should slow down or pivot to avoid the collision. However, if this particular machine’s sensors were to fail, it may continue along its path — resulting in a potential injury or expensive damages. 

This example highlights the need for systems designed with functional safety and cases such as this in mind, like PRECO’s PreView Radar systems. Doing so would not only help heavy-duty mobile equipment and OEMs reduce the associated risks. Additionally, it would ensure all systems are monitored, operating efficiently, and correctly diagnosing issues and reporting them as measurable data.

How Functionally Safe Systems Meet the Challenges Ahead

Highly interconnected systems realize today’s innovative Automated Driving Systems (ADS) functions via sensor fusion, based on existing Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). This fusion of sensors has continued to increase these systems’ complexity — offering heavy-duty mobile equipment and OEMs the information needed to successfully and safely operate within numerous environments.

For safety reasons, today’s heavy-duty mobile equipment and fleets utilize various ADAS functions.

With the addition of these new ADAS innovations, systems are becoming more complex than ever before in these two aspects:

  1. From a technical point of view— in the context of the introduction of new technologies for implementing the functions required
  2. From an organizational point of view— concerning the whole supply chain, including the suppliers involved for different kinds of services and products during the lifecycle of heavy-duty mobile equipment

With the introduction of safety technologies, systems reduced the number of fatal incidents. But, as time went on, incidents still occurred with some frequency — a byproduct of human and system errors. Thus, safety has become an important topic for many, namely the European Union (EU) at the moment — and with it, the need to reduce the number of human-caused incidents by introducing the next generation of sensor-rich solutions to heavy-duty and OEM industries.

So, as we develop better safety technologies, PRECO is pushing for functional safety compliance. Why? Because the purpose of functional safety is not only to design and manufacture Radar sensors with a low failure rate, but also to systematically discover and implement necessary safety mechanisms.

TIP: When a safety mechanism discovers a critical fault it reacts by putting the sensor into its safe state (usually “off”) with notification to the operator or system not to rely on that sensor. Thus decreasing the risk of harm to humans and equipment.

The Purpose of ISO 26262 and ISO 19014 Functional Safety Compliance

In adding ISO 26262 and ISO 19014 compliant functional safety systems, OEMs can tackle the complex issues of the different levels of autonomous systems and issues concerning availability and reliability, the importance of intellectual processes, and the role operators play.

  • ISO 26262 provides a structured and generic approach for an automotive system’s complete safety life cycle, including design, development, production, service processes, and more for on-road vehicles. 
  • While the ISO 19014 is used to assess off-road mobile machinery’s functional safety requirements and covers the hazards caused by the failure of a safety control system (excluding hazards caused by machines, like fires). 

Both are risk classifications that create parameters for achieving “tolerable risk levels”:

  • The safety-critical hazardous situation heavy-duty mobile equipment operate within; 
  • As well as the reduction of risk requirements for systems

Meeting these classifications can be a significant challenge, primarily because ISO 26262 and 19014 set requirements and recommendations but don’t explicitly define how they should be implemented efficiently for specific applications. PRECO has found that functional safety expert knowledge is the best answer to implementing these requirements and recommendations.

Functional Safety Plays an Integral Role in System Development — Beginning-to-End

At PRECO, the systems’ overall engineering covers all kinds of system properties such as reliability, availability, maintainability, security, and functional safety. With the addition of Till Seyfarth, PRECO’s Functional Safety professional, the company is now creating thoughtful processes to guide our engineering team toward future ISO 26262 and 19014 standard compliance. By improving our current and future sensor-rich safety solutions, Till Seyfarth guides the engineering team in the right direction by explaining the functional safety standards, building precise technical requirements, and introducing new tools.

This drive toward functional safety has made it easier than ever for PRECO to focus our engineering efforts on preserving life by designing more safety-critical solutions. Plus, this has allowed our team to keep cost, reliability, and the mitigation of system errors top-of-mind.

PRECO purpose-built systems already power a broad range of applications throughout the heavy-duty industries across various use-cases from single sensor systems to complex OEM mobile equipment and vision systems. Naturally, PRECO has been planning and implementing robust processes to ensure our products conform to other safety standards, including third-party assessments like the EU’s ADAC testing service. Working with safety standards and regulations has played a vital role in PRECO developing our award-winning PreView Side Defender®II, the first radar-based side blind spot solution with active VRU warning and visual-display with Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt (KBA) National Type Approval.

In the last year, PRECO’s taken significant steps in improving our functional safety by enhancing our processes to get closer to ISO 26262 (on-road), to inevitably bring us closer to ISO 19014 (off-road) compliance. It is only a matter of time until PRECO’s products begin meeting the ISO 19014 standard for industrial off-road use-cases.

Discover more about PRECO’s functional safety improvements and plans for its many sensor-rich solutions from PRECO’s safety tech team.

Blind Spots and the Solutions

Simply put, a blind spot is wherever a vehicle operator cannot see around his/her vehicle because there is no coverage through a window or mirror. Typically a driver’s blind spot will be towards the rear end of the automobile on both sides.

Blinds spots are a hazard that drivers must contend with every time they get behind the wheel. These visual impairments pose a threat to drivers, their passengers, and other motorists; they can also cause severe or fatal injuries to bicyclists, pedestrians, and other Vulnerable Road Users (VRU).

Where blind spot incidents occur

Blind spot incidents most often occur when vehicles traveling in adjacent lanes of the roadway fall into the blind spots – since they are not visible in the rear and side-view mirrors. Unfortunately, all blind spots cannot be eliminated by mirrors. We can use several techniques to eliminate these blind spots, yet it is often found that individuals will bypass these steps, which can, unfortunately, result in a collision.

Solving blind spots across industries

In the early 2000s, incident rates were incredibly high because drivers were making decisions due to blind spot errors.

When adjusting mirrors and turning heads didn’t do the trick for accurately checking blind spots, the automotive industry took the first step and turned to blind spot detection systems. In 2004, Volvo introduced the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) to the automotive industry, after realizing how dangerous it can be for drivers unable to identify objects in their blind spots.

As for the heavy-duty industries, blind spots continue to be the most significant cause of collisions. In a recent PRECO survey of waste management employers and employees, 93 percent found that downtime due to struck-by blind zone incidents significantly affects worksite productivity. In other significant industries, such as trucking, utilities, mining, and construction blind spots are just as prevalent and see identical impacts.

For the on and off-road industries operating heavy-duty mobile equipment, blind spots are a little more challenging to identify and monitor. The equipment often operates within rugged, harsh environments where machines move in and out, vibrating and moving at a much more intense rate and range than run-of-the-mill automobiles.

The solution to heavy-duty mobile equipment blind spots:

According to a PRECO survey, professionals across the heavy-duty industries have indicated various safety technologies and measures to prevent blind spot incidents:

  • 91 percent of respondents use mirrors
  • 6 percent use forward-collision warning
  • 80 percent use cameras and monitors
  • 33 percent use object detection sensors
  • 64 percent use spotters

The key to blind spot detection systems is these are solutions are built to mitigate preventable incidents. And two of the most common standards — spotters and mirrors — are hindered by equipment blind spots.

The technology and solutions that fight blind spots and the integration of these solutions:

The best of class blind spot detection systems are built to be rugged and sturdy to withstand all-weather, terrains, and temperatures. Unlike other solutions, blind spot monitoring technology is operational day and night, thanks to audible and visual alerts (i.e., active and passive).

  • Active: A system that does not require the operator/driver to monitor the system – i.e., audible and LED warnings “actively” tell the operator objects are in the blind spot
  • Passive: Requires the operator/driver to monitor the system – i.e., drivers look to standard camera monitor systems for information, but if they aren’t looking at the monitor they won’t know if an object is in the blind spot

By integrating active and passive safety solutions, operators achieve the best of both worlds. To provide blind spot object detection solutions with both audible and visual alerts to actively notify operators of potential collisions in their path, look to radar and vision fusion. This integration of solutions means that regardless of where the operator’s attention is directed if an object or person is in the vehicle’s blind spot, the system will alert the operator and allow them time to react before any potential collision occurs.

Choose the active blind spot solution best suited for your fleet.

When choosing the most robust blind spot solution for a fleet, purpose-built is always better. For fleets, purpose-built solutions are making headway, because technologies not distinctly designed for them aren’t as reliable or accurate – which is because not all active technologies are created equal. When a solution is purpose-built, it tackles industry and user-specific issues, allowing fleets to mitigate incidents with the best proactive solution possible, personalized for them.

Take PreView Side Defender®II for example: 

  • Designed as a side blind spot assistance system for on-road fleets, Side Defender®II incorporates vehicle speed as a component to ignoring stationary objects by differentiating between moving and non-moving objects. Side Defender®II was purpose-built as an active blind spot solution for fleets operating in crowded urban environments. Alerting only when vulnerable road users (VRU) and other moving objects are detected in the driver’s side blind spot minimizes nuisance alerts and mitigates incidents.

Then there is the PreView Sentry

  • Engineered as a rear blind spot solution, Sentry alerts drivers of objects behind their mobile equipment (audibly and visually) within the predetermined detection zone(s). Sentry’s technology is rugged and advanced, built to protect and outlast.

Like some ultrasonic and other blind spot and safety systems brought over from the automotive space, other similar solutions have proven to alert the driver to objects far outside of the predetermined detection zone or to everything, causing quite a nuisance for the driver.  

When looking to adopt systems that minimize blind spots and mitigate incidents, an active solution that is accurate and reliable is essential. To make sure the right solution is chosen for your mobile equipment’s blind spot application needs, always seek professional guidance.

SWANA’s Continuous Efforts Toward Improving Refuse Collections Safety

Each morning fleets of garbage, recycling, and yard waste trucks travel the streets and alleyways of our communities. When it comes to these trucks, depending on the job, the driver is on the right or left side of the cab. Having to drive on both sides means drivers have to be ambidextrous in their understanding of their trucks’ operating from all angles.

Now, when the trucks are driving on the roads, and not engaged in pickups, the driver usually sits on the left side of the vehicle, as most drivers do. When the driver sits on the left side to drive, there is a significant blind spot in the lower right front of the truck, where incidents often occur when the refuse truck is turning right. These incidents happen because the driver can’t see a pedestrian, bicyclist, motorcyclist (Vulnerable Road Users – VRU), or other vehicles because of the blind spot created by the design, configuration, and operation of the trucks.

Collection Is a Risky Business

While recycling is good for the environment, OSHA has labeled it as dangerous for workers. “Collection is one of the most dangerous activities in the recycling industry. Tragically, workers have lost their lives due to being backed-over by trucks or struck by on-coming vehicles as they were exiting the trucks they were driving,” according to OSHA.

Today, even the best operators need help if they are to navigate collection equipment safely. Exposure to powerful machinery with moving parts and the dangers out on collections with tight turns, narrow alleys, crowded parking lots, pedestrians, and other vulnerable road users (VRU) begs the need for improved all-around blind spot visibility to protect operators against potential collisions.

Each year 20 percent of backing accidents occur when pedestrians, cars, or bicycles move into the refuse truck’s path while backing up. Wrecks of this kind have the most potential for severe injuries or even death. While there is no substitute for drivers knowing their environment, rear-vision cameras and collision mitigation systems can help prevent backing incidents.

As new technologies continue to develop and shift the recycling industry’s progression, enhancing the well-being of the world’s populations is essential to achieving sustainable development. While recycling continues to be one of the focal points to the ‘green economy’ movement – social equity and human well-being must also be enhanced.

David Biderman, SWANA’s Executive Director, and CEO, commented in an interview: “SWANA is a big proponent of using telematics, radar, and other systems to protect workers. Some drivers consider in-cab cameras to be ‘big brother’ watching them, and we need to do a better job of explaining that these systems are being added to protect drivers and the public.”

SWANA advises drivers to assume other vehicles or individuals do not see them coming. Utilizing technology can allow you to maneuver safely. These warning devices are designed to alert others of your presence and can make drivers and pedestrians aware of your intentions. According to OSHA, the waste and recycling sector has a rate of fatal injuries 16 times the average across all industries.

It has become clear in numerous studies of incidents within the waste and recycling industry that more than half of the backing accidents result from drivers reversing into VRUs, and objects that should have been visible to drivers when they first arrived.

These findings indicate that drivers aren’t doing a thorough initial scan of the collection environment. When drivers first arrive at a site and are still facing forward, drivers have the best view of potential backing hazards where they can see through their windshields and side windows. 

SWANA’s David Biderman believes that it’s likely that moving from manual collection to automated collection will help reduce the rate of struck-by incidents and other accidents. However, those drivers will still not be immune to being involved in fatal events. 

“We will continue to rally together to make this industry and its workers safer,” Dennis Batts, SWANA’s Safety Committee vice-chair said. Efforts such as:

  • At WasteExpo’s 2019 show, the National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) introduced Collection for Life, a pledge program designed to generate regional and national public awareness campaigns to help protect the lives of drivers and helpers on the road in the waste industry. Until the public understands that they are risking the lives of those working in the waste industry by driving distracted, collection employees’ lives will continue to be at risk.
  • In late 2019, SWANA’s Hauler Safety Outreach Program and the National Alliance signed an agreement between OSHA, NWRA, and SWANA that that year they would all help to focus their efforts on the risks that pose the greatest dangers to solid waste employees and the public they serve.

Waste Collection Incidents

Accidents by nature are unplanned events, but in creating strategic plans that include the integration of safety training, education, and technologies, significant strides can be made to mitigate or altogether avoid future incidents and collisions.

“SWANA had observed a notable decrease in fatal incidents in the first two months of 2020 compared to the past two years,” Biderman said. “But starting in mid-March, we have seen a rapid increase in the frequency of these tragic events. This coincides with the COVID-19 pandemic. Although solid waste workers are legitimately concerned about their health and the health of their families, they need to be safety-focused on the route and in post-collection operations.”

However, in March 2020, SWANA shared in a press release stating that fatal incidents involving solid waste collection vehicles and personnel have occurred in Arizona, California, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

“The industry needs to recognize that we have a serious safety problem and work together, collectively, to address it,” Biderman continued. “It affects our ability to attract and retain drivers. Every fatality is a stain on this great industry, and distracted driving is a factor in only a small percentage of these tragic events. Nothing we do at SWANA is more important than safety, and we look forward to developing new safety initiatives and programs that help get the industry off the list of most dangerous jobs in the United States.”

According to SWANA’s data, incidents such as these come at a cost:

  • Backing accidents involving only property damage have cost a minimum of $7,400 on average
  •  Accidents involving injuries require a minimum of $27,558 on average
  • Incidents resulting in a fatality require a minimum of $500,000 in the unfortunate event of one

Recent events have shown there is a real need for better safety training and implementation. Thankfully, many organizations have excellent programs worth emulating, which is why PRECO will be announcing its top three nominees for the 2019 Excellence in Safety Award in July 2020.

Trucker Fatalities Continue to Be On the Rise – Find the Safety Solution Right for Your Fleet

Many people who drive for work are continuing to leave their homes to ensure that essential supplies and services reach those in need during this difficult time. Unfortunately, trucker fatalities have been on the rise for a number of years, and with a higher demand being put on fleets during the current crisis we are facing globally, the use-case for safety suites has continued to spread. Now customers are demanding OEMs offer safety systems, or they may take their business elsewhere.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) traffic death report, they found fatalities involving large trucks have increased for the fourth consecutive year, and pedestrians killed in crashes involving large trucks increased by 13 percent last year. Overall deaths involving crashes with large trucks also continue to rise NHTSA data found:

  • In 2018, 885 large truck occupants died, the highest in more than 30 years.
  • In 2017, 4,369 people died in collisions with large trucks, and in 2018 the numbers went up more than 1% to 4,678 fatalities.

Of those on our roads today, pedestrians and cyclists are the most difficult to detect, both visually by the driver and via sensor technology. Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety noted, “We remain concerned but the increases in truck deaths, pedestrian deaths, and cyclists’ fatalities, (Trucks.com).” But oddly enough, medium to heavy-duty trucks are only just beginning to adopt blind spot monitoring systems.

“The numbers are even more reason that we shouldn’t head in the direction of loosening safety rules proven to work to make trucking safer, and that help reduce the risks for people who share the road with trucks,” said Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the Trucking Fatalities report.

Radar: Heavy-Duty vs. Automotive Solutions

In search of a solution, research says looking to the automotive industry and its new safety solutions may not be a viable option for OEMs, leading truck manufacturers, and fleets looking to adopt integrative proximity detection solutions to prevent collisions with VRUs.

According to a 2019 AAA study, the advanced technologies automakers have been putting into new cars to help avoid collisions are “ineffective.” Not only are these new automotive sensor systems unable to automatically brake for pedestrians crossing the road, they are also unable to actually detect pedestrians, resulting in a collision 60 percent of the time. When AAA tested the systems with child-sized “dummies,” a crash occurred 89 percent of the time. *All tests were conducted during daylight hours at speeds of 20 mph. At night, none of the model 2019 cars AAA tested were able to detect an adult pedestrian.

At the moment, AAA says automakers are equipping new vehicles with safety features, which can still alert drivers in some scenarios, reducing some types of incidents by up to 50 percent, while other features such as, rear-view cameras and blind spot alerts significantly reduce traffic deaths as well, according to the IIIHS (The Verge).

Not All Radar Detection Systems Are Alike

It is no wonder then that for a sensor to work for medium and heavy-duty trucks, the technology must be both reliable and accurate, while the system itself must be sturdy, all-weather, and all-terrain. No false-readings or non-detections like the automotive sensor systems display in the 2019 AAA study. The right radar system has no room for error; the right detector must be built for the industry, and flexible to meet the needs of your fleet – think PRECO’s PreView Radar.

PreView’s radar technology is engineered explicitly for large, heavy-duty mobile equipment. Unlike the sensor technology used in many systems on the market today, which are adopted and adapted from automotive. This difference is an important factor for those searching for proximity detection and blind spot systems to consider. With the everyday environment, terrain, and levels of activity encountered during the operation of such massive mobile equipment in mind; our radar systems are built for maximum reliability. 

Leading truck manufacturers such as DAF, and truck equipment manufacturers like MEKRA Lang, as well as Daimler, Scania, and others have been equipping fleets with safety features, blind spot radars, and proximity detection systems to reduce traffic deaths and protect VRUs. Coupled with other solutions, specific, multi-sensory, integrated systems are possible with PRECO’s PreView Radar technology.

As sensor technology continues to innovate, solutions like Side Defender®II serve as an example of the direction medium to heavy-duty trucking, autonomy, ADAS, and safety systems are headed in the future.

To learn more about our integrative solutions, connect with us today!