Volvo on challenges and opportunities of agility and functional safety
Automotive IQ sat down with Ms. Farber, functional safety manager at Volvo Construction Equipment, and discussed the main challenges and possible solutions when it comes to agility and functional safety.
Your topic at the conference will be: Agility and functional safety. From what I understand, initially these two topics are difficult to combine due to the nature of processes. What, in your opinion, are the main challenges?
Planning and executing the work can be difficult in working with scrum (sprints) because when you work with agility you must be able to deliver on time and in small increments and if people are late with their deliverables due to higher priorities then safety documentation can be put on hold in order to focus on delivering the functionality - I’m not saying that it I always the case but these challenges can occur... Also, when mentioning the processes; usually every company has processes, but they can tend to be a bit generic because they are built upon maybe from the past or from a standard point of view, and when you get into the real world of working there are so many things that come up and you have to be able to adapt very quickly and maybe not be able to “tailor” the existing processes and procedures.
How is it possible to overcome these challenges?
That’s a big question. People just need to work and try to reach a common goal. Don’t wait for the silver bullet because that doesn’t usually help. Re-use what you have, because a lot of it can be carry-over and you don’t have to re-invent the wheel. And communication is very important.
Could you talk about the advantages and opportunity in using agile methods in functional safety?
I have quite a few positive things to say: Cross-functional work and communication is very important. You can red-flag issues and show the milestones, as well as the improvements on a weekly basis (if you work in sprints) .Visualisation boards are very important - people like visual. Colour codes; I say a colour code for management: green, yellow, red. You can visualize all your artefacts and decide every sprint what deliverables to work with and what to push to the next sprint.
Since you work in a construction equipment area where you have other safety standards, could you explain how do these standards influence ISO and what can automotive functional safety engineers and managers learn from them?
We work with several standards, not specifically just one and are obliged to follow e.g. the EN 474 series and ISO 15998 (for earth-moving machinery). I think most heavy machine companies can still use parts of the ISO 26262 (even though it’s more automotive) and since there’s not a 26262 for heavy machinery yet, I feel the IEC 61508 also is still a relative standard. The ISO 13849 is a very good standard to help you set the PFH, for the allocations and the meantime between failures calculation, which is a similar approach in the ISO 26262.
The ISO 26262 is very good for showing good documentation structure and deliverables throughout the life cycle and is a very good standard for holding risk assessments and, of course, management of functional safety. I'm not obliged to say how much (or if any) of these standards VCE uses, but I can add that all of these standards complement each other and are all basically good standards, depending on whether you use them for a construction machines, buses, trucks or vehicles.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Within the last 7 years of working with functional safety, the culture has really grown and people have a much more understanding of what they need to do. Safety documentation is not something you do on the side, it is a part your daily work, and these safety engineers take pride in what they're doing and want to show they’re thinking of safety. I have seen such an improvement and I think IQPC and the ISO 26262 committee has really put it out there and tried to build a safety culture between suppliers and companies. It’s getting better, it’s growing, and it’s a very positive time right now.