Systems & Design

Shifting the Burden of Tool Safety Compliance from Users to Vendor

What safety-compliance strategies are used for tool classification and qualification in safety-critical hardware projects, focusing on ISO 26262, IEC 61508 and EN 50128.


The security, safety and performances of autonomous vehicles, railways, aerospace, nuclear power plants and medical devices rely on electronic systems and their hardware components. Engineers use advanced software tools to develop complex hardware. Tools may malfunction, generate erroneous output and ultimately introduce or fail to detect systematic hardware faults that could cause hazardous events in the field. Functional safety standards demand that this risk be assessed and adequately minimized through tool qualification and other processes. For engineering teams, this is a time-consuming task and, worryingly, one for which there are no mature solutions yet. Tool vendors may provide safety certificates or packages, in an attempt to support their customers with safety compliance. Strategies vary and so do the benefits to the user and project. In this paper, we review requirements on tool classification and qualification, present different safety compliance strategies, and explain their benefits to safety-critical hardware projects.

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