Safety consultancy exida is claiming to be the first company of its kind to offer a holistic evaluation of what it deems the three most important attributes of an automation product, its functional safety, functional security and availability. Introduced at last month’s ISA Expo in Houston, Functional Integrity Certification is, according to the company, the only independent, third-party assessment that examines a product's functional safety, security and availability attributes by assessing its design, testing and manufacturing and scrutinizes how it performs under stress, in the field and over time.
Describing the new program as "a win-win for everyone," exida principal partner Dr. William Goble explained that "Functional Integrity Certification helps automation suppliers demonstrate the safety, security and reliability of their products. This also saves engineering time and money through a streamlined, single-source assessment process. In turn, prospective buyers are provided with objective information to help guide their purchasing decisions."
The functional safety aspect of the program involves evaluation of the product and its development process against the IEC 61508 safety standard to determine its Safety Integrity Level (SIL). Functional security is then assessed to determine its resilience in the face of intentional or accidental manipulation that could cause it to behave in a manner different from that intended. Based on the ISA Security Compliance Institute (ISCI) Embedded Controller Security Assurance (ECSA) test specification, the procedure involves a combination of network robustness testing, security feature assessment and software development process assessment in order to detect and avoid vulnerabilities and systematic design faults.
Finally, the availability assessment determines the dependability of the product in critical applications, using a combination of modelling and probabilistic methods and empirical data to predict its reliability. "This program follows our open assessment policy," said principal partner and exida GmbH CEO of Rainer Faller. "Technical assessment reports are openly available on the exida web site."