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Functional Safety

Navigating the complex technical and regulatory challenges of today’s business landscape and certifying the functional safety of products and systems to key standards and ratings.

Keypad control panel and LCD screen of metalworking machine.

Overview

Functional safety is the critical part of the overall safety of a system or product that depends on the correct execution of specific commands and functions. As more and more products and systems incorporate complex microelectronics and software, it is increasingly challenging to assess and implement safety-related functions. Additionally, products and systems are becoming interconnected in more ways as the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes a reality. A few examples of this include:

  • Energy sector smart grids
  • Automotive industry connected vehicles and autonomous driving
  • Healthcare industry shift toward eHealth
  • Manufacturing industry’s own Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), which includes robotics
  • Industrial control systems (ICS)
  • Consumer smart home products
  • Smart factories and supply chains

UL is dedicated to helping customers navigate the complex technical and regulatory challenges of today’s functional safety landscape. With our extensive certification expertise and holistic approach to safety engineering and assessment, we can help customers identify, specify and determine the functional safety of products and systems to key standards and ratings such as:

  • Safety Integrity Level (SIL) as defined by International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61508 and derived standards, such as IEC 62061, IEC 61511, IEC 61800-5-2 and IEC 61131-6
  • Performance Level (PL) as defined by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 13849
  • Automotive Safety Integrity Level (ASIL) as defined by ISO 26262
  • Class of control function as defined by IEC 60730-1

Functional safety for product manufacturers

UL’s functional safety certification services qualify products for market access.

Equipment and machinery used in the manufacturing process are becoming increasingly complex through innovative applications of technology and software. Producers of these modern products must adhere to international functional safety requirements, such as the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC of Europe and U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, to gain access to customers in the global marketplace.

Our functional safety assessments and certifications are consolidated with fire and shock testing to uniquely provide customers with a single-source service that can help maximize financial and time-to-market efficiencies.

We expertly assess the SILs or PLs of equipment and systems against a variety of functional safety standards, including but not limited to IEC 61508, ISO 26262 (Automotive) and ISO 13849 (Machinery).

UL’s functional safety assessment and certification services and our proven history of safety science expertise and engineering enable us to help manufacturers meet the needs of international regulations while attracting a competitive marketing advantage through use of the UL Mark. Functional safety services can also be employed when other marks, approvals and general concerns need to be addressed.

Backed by our independent, third-party assessment and as an accredited Notified Body (NB) for the European Union (EU) Machinery Directive, UL Marks are well-recognized global symbols of safety excellence. They can help build trust and confidence in the safety of a product, while also providing a point of differentiation against competitors. UL can also provide a market differentiator to show when products are designed to include functional safety in addition to traditional end products standards.

UL provides functional safety for the following manufacturing equipment and systems:

  • Automotive systems
  • Autonomous products, robotics and vehicles
  • Battery management systems
  • Burner management systems
  • Control equipment
  • Electrosensitive protective equipment
  • Elevator equipment
  • Factory automation
  • Industrial automation
  • Machinery
  • Microcontrollers
  • Motor drives
  • Motor generator sets
  • Power converters and inverters
  • Process equipment
  • Robotic equipment
  • Safety control systems
  • Safety sensors
  • Software libraries

Functional safety for system integrators

We can help system integrators ensure the safe and reliable operation of subsystem components and assemblies. As industrial components, equipment and machinery become smarter and more connected, system integrators need to ensure the safety integrity of all components within the overall assemblies to avoid production downtime and improve personnel safety.

With UL’s extensive technical expertise in machinery safety for industrial automation, industrial tools and robotics, we are able to assist system integrators in the safe and successful integration of equipment and software processes for unique manufacturing objectives.

Through our in-depth and independent machinery risk assessments, we are able to pinpoint system inconsistencies and weaknesses that pose unacceptable safety risks to personnel at any point along the production process.

Our Risk Assessment Program as well as technical advisory services and training can help system integrators achieve compliance with the national and international standards including American National Standards Institute (ANSI) B11, ISO 12100, ISO 13849, ISO 25119, ISO 26262, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 70, NFPA 70E or 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910 OSHA.

As a global leader in safety science and engineering, we provide system integrators with a comprehensive and independent third-party for the most complex manufacturing safety challenges.

UL provides functional safety for the following subsystem components and assemblies:

  • Automotive vehicles and tier 1 suppliers
  • Autonomous products, robotics and vehicles
  • Control equipment
  • Elevator equipment
  • Equipment guards
  • Factory automation
  • Industrial tools
  • Light curtains
  • Machinery
  • Process equipment
  • Safety equipment

Functional safety and the IoT

We are a global leader for evolving safety needs related to the IIoT, or Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0. This wave of innovation enables suppliers and manufacturers to optimize and automate processes and assets through the use of sensors, robotics, advanced analytics and intelligent networks.

Interconnected machinery, smart equipment and supply chain digitization is transforming production life cycle management practices around the world.

More and more manufacturers are seeking to integrate IIoT technology into production processes. We are an experienced leader that can help test and certify any equipment or software destined for working environments.

Our team of software and engineering experts assist customers with complex industrial control system safety challenges, helping to ensure safe and smooth interoperability of equipment by avoiding misinformation or missing data that could affect the acceptable safety levels and performance of an asset or product.

With extensive cross-industry experience in IIoT functionality, we can help all types of manufacturing customers mitigate the risk of production downtime resulting from personnel injury or offline machinery.

UL provides functional safety for the following smart equipment and systems:
  • Automotive systems
  • Factory automation
  • Human machine interfaces (HMIs)
  • Input/Output (I/O) and output devices
  • Industrial and fieldbus protocols
  • Industrial automation
  • Industrial sensors
  • Microcontrollers
  • Motion control equipment
  • Programmable logic controllers
  • Robotic equipment
  • Safety sensors
  • Sensor fusion

Benefits

Building on our safety science and engineering expertise in many different functional safety domains — including automation and machinery, signaling and alarm systems, medical devices, automotive, autonomous vehicles, lighting and appliances — we provide customers with a single global partner for all safety challenges and specific market needs.

Manufacturers, system integrators and suppliers around the world are able to take advantage of the full depth of our services, bundling traditional UL product safety investigations with our functional safety assessments for greater project efficiencies and speed to market.

Whatever the need or challenge, we can help determine the best assessment process for specific products, based on the reasons for conducting a functional safety assessment and/or a product’s intended use.

Some European directives require a functional safety evaluation of specific products. Trade unions and regulatory bodies such as the U.S. OSHA require or encourage a functional safety evaluation in addition to a traditional safety evaluation. Insurers also may require a functional safety evaluation before a customer installs equipment in a workplace and may provide discounted premiums to customers who use products that have been evaluated for functional safety. We are expertly qualified to help customers address these unique requirements and can help reinforce a point of differentiation in the marketplace through the use of the UL Mark, one of the most recognized symbols in the world.

UL Marks for functional safety are available as a global, U.S., Canadian and European designation. We are United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) accredited and a Notified Body (NB) for the (EU) Machinery Directive. Our functional safety Marks puts the safety rating — such as the SIL or PL  — directly with our Marks, making it easier for users and interested parties to understand exactly what and how the product and/or function has been certified.

In addition, UL provides personnel certification programs in functional safety.

  • The UL Certified Functional Safety Certification Program is designed to provide individuals an opportunity to set themselves apart with a credential focused on the critical knowledge and skills in the area of Functional Safety. Individuals certified in this area possess demonstrated knowledge of industry practices as evidenced by the completion of several competencies. Certifications levels are:

    Current certifications exist within general automotive, semiconductor, autonomous vehicles, machinery, industrial automation, cybersecurity, and high tech. These include coverage for ISO 26262, ISO 21448, IEC 61508, ISO 13849, UL/IEC 60730, UL 1998, UL 991, SAE 3061, ISO 21434, IEC 62443, SAE 3016 and UL 4600.

    We also offer tailored and customized training based on software safety, cybersecurity, risk assessment, Failure Modes Effects and Diagnostics Analysis (FMEDA) calculations, and other related subjects. Our training and personnel certification programs can be found on our Knowledge Solutions training center. See also our training partner: kVA by UL

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