Automobiles are among the most complex products in the market and have equally complex supply chains. Each of the thousands of components that make up an automobile poses risks to suppliers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Although the automotive industry has been experiencing rapid changes due to significant social and environmental factors, as well as the swift advancement of new technologies that cater to both consumers and auto-makers throughout the automotive supply chain, Quality and Functional Safety standards help auto-makers improve and become more agile. Implementing relevant automotive supply chain standards within the organization brings out the potential to facilitate the dissemination of knowledge throughout your entire automotive supply chain, ensuring quality of suppliers.

Essentials of an automotive product release

The automotive supply chain standards are a ‘unified guidelines’- and this statement is truly understated. Each layer of the automotive supply chain should be able to perceive and consume the standards that are suitable to their product development lifecycle. For instance, it is evident that automotive semiconductors are already one of the fastest growing segments in the global semiconductor industry and Safety Elements out of Context (SEooCs), or vehicle components not originally designed for that specific project, are at the foundation of the automotive supply chain. Safety Elements out of Context are developed independently by different entities belonging to the automotive supply chain purely based on assumptions that are best fit to develop the safety requirements allocated to the component with high level design requirements to self and external application of the component. 

The integration of the SEooC into the SoC, followed  by delivery to the  supplier and ultimately the OEM are like pieces of puzzle that requires utmost focus and attention to detail at every step of the product development process (Figure 1). This can ultimately be achieved by implementing stringent checks and balances in the product life cycle through compliance with the automotive safety and quality standards.

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Figure 1: Automotive supply chain representation

Functional safety and quality are two critical aspects in the automotive industry that play a major role in ensuring the safe and reliable operation of vehicles. Automotive functional safety refers to the measures taken to reduce the risk of harm to vehicle occupants and other road users in the event of a system failure. Quality is a broad concept that encompasses the overall performance, reliability, and durability of a vehicle.

Achieving the perfect blend of quality and safety in an automotive product release

With various stakeholders in the automotive industry contributing to the sole purpose of producing a safe and secure vehicle for the humankind, the journey begins with responsible implementation of the Product Development Process based on the following standards, as shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Integral processes for an integrated premium quality automotive product release

The foundation begins with embracing a quality management system (QMS) based on the ISO 9001 standard, to ensure that all products and projects meet the highest quality standards, from conception to delivery.

The key elements of the QMS as per requirements of the ISO 9001 standard are:   

  • Managing organization and systems
  • Efficient product and project lifecycle
  • Effective delivery of products to customers 
  • Supplier selection processes 
  • Support system for the development and customer delivery processes

Next is functional safety development process based on ISO 26262 standard the crux of an automotive product release and is incomplete without implementing all the essentials of the global safety standard as applicable to various stakeholders in the automotive supply chain. This methodology should be designed to embed and integrate with the customer’s automotive application and the product development lifecycle.

Ultimately, a robust R&D product development methodology applies all the checks and balances required that is directly applied to the customer release by implementing the following, as shown in Figure 3.

  • The entire product development process from the early stages of planning, requirements capture and design to the final stages of testing, verification, and release
  • A structured and systematic approach to the development of automotive systems and components, which helps to ensure the efficient and effective development of high-quality products
  • A clear and precise representation of the system requirements and architecture, which helps to minimize the risk of errors and ensure the development of high-quality products that meet the needs of the stakeholders.

Figure 3: Phases of R&D Product Development Methodology

A strong safety and quality culture contributes to successful cross-functional collaboration between independent parties involved in the product lifecycle that result in delivering a premium quality product release. 

Requirement management to integrate multi-phase development

The products at the bottom of the automotive supply chain can cater to various applications with diversified goals. In this case it is important to align the nominal/ functional requirements of the product with the safety requirements. A centralized requirement management tool will help achieve traceability throughout the product development lifecycle. The requirements shall be designed to conceptually best fit to the product that eventually is validated and verified using suitable test cases (Figure 4). 

Figure 4: Integration of the requirement traceability for nominal (left) and safety (right) of an automotive product

Requirement management starts with the requirements elicitation process where the customer’s stakeholder requirements are received, analyzed, implemented, and verified as required. Using the customer’s stakeholder requirements as a foundation, the system requirements are created and continuously refined throughout the requirements analysis process that provides requirements traceability and gives an opportunity for continuous improvement.

Functional safety + Quality solutions from Synopsys

Synopsys products are at the leading edge of delivering essential innovative solutions to the automotive industry and relevant applications. Synopsys ARC® Processors and Security IP have united pillars of quality, functional safety, and product development methodology to ensure that the products comply with the standards and there is a consistent improvement in product safety, quality, and customer satisfaction. 

Learn how Synopsys integrates functional safety processes with quality management systems to deliver high-quality, safety-compliant IP to our customers: A Perfect Blend of Quality in Functional Safety to Accelerate an Automotive IP.  

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