The use of electrical or electronic safety systems to protect personnel, and the engineering tasks associated with the design, manufacture and maintenance of these systems are referred to using the term ‘functional safety’. In the past ten years, the use of such systems has transitioned from its traditional base, in oil and gas major hazard facilities, to being a part of most large mining and materials handling projects. In particular, functional safety is rapidly becoming a significant component of Australian iron ore projects, typically in the form of emergency stops, remote isolation, drive through interlock, robot cell entry or mobile machine anti-collision systems. While these types of systems have been in use in iron ore for a long time, functional safety standards (eg AS61508, AS62061, AS4024.1503) require more rigourous demonstration of the level of risk reduction provided by the systems.
The early engineering project development phases require a number of key decisions to be made around functional safety implementation. The decisions made at this point in a project will go on to dictate the required types of risk assessment and analysis, equipment selection, sizing of substations, and training and maintenance requirements for owners. For project teams that are unfamiliar with functional safety, or inexperienced in its application, an incorrect decision or failure to understand the requirements of the chosen standard can lead to a failure to meet contract requirements, as well as major cost and schedule overruns.
This paper examines the implications of functional safety on early engineering studies, focusing on the following questions: How does a designer or company determine what standard is best suited to their project? What key aspects of functional safety design need to be considered during project development? And finally, how can the impact of functional safety to the project be minimised?
Goode, M C, 2017. Functional safety impacts on study stages of major projects, in Proceedings Iron Ore 2017, pp 347–352 (The Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy: Melbourne).