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.