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UL and Panasonic Automotive Put Functional Safety First

As part of their safety-first mindset, Panasonic Automotive utilized UL’s automotive functional safety services as the company worked toward certification to ISO 26262.

Woman in white shirt touches GPS screen on dashboard inside gray car.

June 23, 2022

As Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America (Panasonic Automotive) implements new solutions for safer vehicles and easier navigation for end-users, they’ve been utilizing UL’s automotive functional safety services. The company continues to advance its mission of creating a companywide safety-first mindset. As such, Panasonic Automotive asked UL to assess their automotive functional safety processes to the relevant requirements of ISO 26262. As vehicles increasingly rely on connected systems and offer more autonomous features, we look forward to building on this experience and helping the automotive industry with functional safety needs.

Automotive functional safety

Simply put, functional safety reduces risks in electronic and electrical components that could create a hazard if their system malfunctions. This engineering process verifies that a system is designed to prevent a malfunction that could cause harm to someone. The fundamental goal of functional safety is to help manufacturers design systems that will continue operating safely even if one or more components malfunction.

Automotive functional safety focuses on the electrical systems utilized in vehicles — anything from digital dash displays to tire and airbag sensors. Given the ever-increasing integration of technology in cars, automotive functional safety is more important than ever.

The ISO 26262 functional safety certification process with UL

As part of Panasonic Automotive’s prioritizing functional safety protocols, they reached out to UL for an automotive functional safety assessment. Panasonic Automotive’s goal was to achieve functional safety process certification to ISO 26262:2018, Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) D.

UL’s functional safety assessment and certification process (Functional Safety Certificate Program) examines compliance under this automotive standard while also helping customers implement an integrative strategy for improving functional processes. Essentially, UL assessed the overall functional safety management process to ISO 262626, which applies to the safety-related systems installed in passenger vehicles.

“With safety at the forefront of our work, we want to look at our processes and products from every angle to avoid potential risks,” said Padhu Kanagaraj, senior manager of Functional Safety for Panasonic Automotive. “Partnering with UL for an automotive functional safety assessment simply made sense. Not only do we have the peace of mind that our process has been assessed and certified by a leader in safety, but so do our customers and the end-users.”

A complete functional safety assessment leading to certification is an incredibly detailed process, and it often takes several years to complete. While not part of the certification process, companies may also need to certify functional safety engineers, enhance innovation or manufacturing processes and improve product development protocols, from the initial concept development and system architecture design through the final implementation of the system.

Benefits of a Functional Safety Certification to ISO 26262

The automotive industry is changing rapidly, particularly with the push for autonomous vehicles, advances in driver assistance systems (ADAS) and the integration of developing technology into vehicles. UL can help customers with the complex functional safety and technical challenges facing auto manufacturers and their partners.

“Technology is changing rapidly, but it is at the center of almost everything people use these days — including vehicles. It can be hard for regulations and standards to keep up with the pace of new developments,” said Jody Nelson, managing director, Energy and Industrial Automation group at UL. “By taking the initiative to go above what is required, the message is clear that safety is the bottom line.”

While safety protocols and certifications that advance quality exist within the automotive industry, engaging in this certification process with UL demonstrates a high level of commitment to safety. By taking the additional step of certifying the process of functional safety management utilized within the manufacturer’s product development life cycle through a third-party certification body, such as UL, Panasonic Automotive’s partners, customers and consumers can feel even more confident in the safety of their vehicles.

UL’s automotive functional safety services

UL offers comprehensive automotive functional safety services, from tool qualification to complete life cycle safety analysis and cybersecurity services. We can apply our expertise in offering you guidance related to functional safety within your product development processes through targeted assessments and training, including:

  • Automotive functional safety services, such as:
    • Assessment and implementation guidance for functional safety management systems
    • Increased environmental immunity design and testing (including audits and training)
    • Functional safety testing and advisory services, such as preliminary reviews, mock audits and risk assessments
    • Cybersecurity services, including threat assessments, testing and evaluations, as well as advisory services
  • Automotive functional safety assessments, including:
    • Organizational and project-based functional safety management audits
    • ISO 26262 compliance assessments for items, systems and Safety Elements out of Context (SEooC)
    • Assessment services for autonomous vehicles and related systems
  • Related automotive functional safety training and personnel certification programs, including:
    • UL Certified Functional Safety Professional (UL-CFSP)
    • UL Certified Functional Safety eXpert (UL-CFSX)
    • Customized training based on software, cybersecurity, risk assessment, etc.

For more information on the available services and how UL can help, visit our Automotive Functional Safety Services page.