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Automotive Safety Standard ISO 26262 and Why it Matters

Author: Anish Prabhu | August 6, 2021

The ISO 26262 standard is an international functional safety standard used by the automotive industry that ensures the safety of electrical and electronic systems in vehicles. When the standard was first introduced in 2011, it applied only to electrical and electronic systems installed in series production passenger cars. In 2018, the ISO 26262 standard was expanded to include all road vehicles (with the exception of mopeds) with additional requirements that address the more recent technological advancements.

The development and integration of newer and more involved functionalities require an increased focus on automotive functional safety. As technology grows in complexity, so do the risks of systematic and random hardware failures. The automotive safety standard ISO 26262 mitigates these risks through appropriate requirements and processes.

How the automotive safety standard ISO 26262 works:

Engineer examines automotive parts in a factory while holding a tablet

In essence, the automotive safety standard ISO 26262 is designed to ensure that the automotive components do what they’re supposed to do, when they’re supposed to do it. Specifically, these functional safety requirements are designed to:

  • Specify a vocabulary that will be used throughout the automotive safety lifecycle (e.g., fault vs. error vs. failure)
  • Apply standards across the automotive safety lifecycle, including management, development, production, operation, service, and decommissioning
  • Provide an automotive-specific risk-based approach for determining risk classes based on the Automotive Safety Integrity Levels (ASIL) and uses ASILs to specify items necessary to achieve safety requirements
  • Defines requirements for validation and confirmation
  • Measures to ensure sufficient and acceptable levels of safety

Why the automotive safety standard ISO 26262 is important?

Intended to ensure functional safety of automotive systems in road vehicles, the ISO 26262 standard accomplishes the following crucial objectives:

  • Ensures that safety is built into car components from the outset of product design and development
  • Offers clear guidance across the entire automotive safety lifecycle
  • Gives manufacturers a mechanism to more accurately assess their supply chain, thereby minimizing the risk of safety hazards that may crop up later in the production process
  • Facilitate concurrent development and testing of the Item while maintaining the automotive safety integrity levels.

Product lifecycle management (PLM) and ISO 26262:

Product lifecycle management continues to play a vital role in product development in the automotive industry. Facilitating the efficient use of resources and a well-managed process across each stage of the lifecycle, an automotive PLM solution, like Polarion ALM, makes it easy to closely follow functional safety requirements and automate mandatory checks—so you can comply with the automotive safety standard ISO 26262, boost productivity, and deliver superior quality.

How well you plan and control your entire production lifecycle can mean the difference between a long, costly process that prolongs the approval process and time to market —or fails to meet compliance requirements altogether—and one that flows smoothly and meets all requirements standards for quicker time-to-market.

At Sterling PLM, we bring decades of real-life engineering experience in highly regulated industries to help automotive engineering companies not only comply with the strict automotive safety standard ISO 26262, but also support your automotive product development process across the entire lifecycle.

For more information about the ISO 26262 standard or to learn more about our automotive PLM solutions contact us here.

About Sterling PLM

Sterling PLM is a NJ-based product development consulting firm that helps engineering companies implement proven processes that govern the design and development of their engineered products. Using Polarion ALM, Sterling offers a regulatory-compliant approach to engineering management that supports collaboration, innovation and visibility across the entire product development lifecycle.

Sterling’s engineering experts have intimate knowledge of project management and product development in highly regulated industries, including automotive, medical devices and embedded systems. Sterling PLM is a Siemens Digital Industries Software Smart Expert Partner.

For more information, visit, Twitter @SterlingPLM or LinkedIn.


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