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Safety and reliability assessment of new technologies


Product reliability and safety assurance is vital for all machine manufacturers that provide goods for capital-intensive industry. VTT can help companies assessing safety and reliability risks of new technologies and provide assistance to improve solutions' overall performance and profitability throughout the whole product lifespan and even beyond it.

Successful introduction of new technologies, e.g. autonomous systems requires deep understanding of customer needs and systematic development of system performance, safety and reliability aspects. It is important to be able to convince the market on the safety and reliability of autonomous systems and first of a kind implementations. Companies aiming to global market need to evaluate the techno-economic feasibility of new concepts, to assure seamless deployment and ramp-up of novel technologies, to prove system safety and system availability, and to create traceable evidence for technology qualification and continuous improvement.

VTT is a specialist on identifying and analyzing uncertainties and risks in new technology and finding solutions to control them. VTT has long experience and international references on systematic risk, safety and reliability assessment processes and advanced methods to support the development of new technologies for automated machinery applications. VTT has supported customers to access market by ensuring compliance with safety requirements and by achieving customer satisfaction with reliable multi-technical solutions.

RAMS is an acronym consisting of the following factors:

Reliability; ability to perform as required, without failure, for a given time interval, under given conditions (IEC 60050-192:2015). Reliability is a property of e.g. a machine that is designed into it by engineering characteristics and component choices. Reliability can be analyzed and modelled in a various ways: the analysis can be conducted by e.g. failure analysis, where failure modes and their effects are identified and the risks of the built failure scenarios are assessed by expert judgement. Reliability level can also be assessed by reliability modelling, if there is reliability data available for calculations.

Availability; ability to be in a state to perform as required (IEC 60050-192:2015). Availability is often used as a key figure for dependability, in basic form it describes how much of the required time the system is available for production etc. compared to the total time available. Availability can be calculated and predicted in many ways and many other reliability-related key figures can be defined, if required data exists.

Maintainability; ability to be retained in, or restored to a state to perform as required, under given conditions of use and maintenance (IEC 60050-192:2015). Maintainability is often quite neglected property of a machine, even if it plays a significant role in the overall productivity of a machine. Maintainability characteristics refer to the machine properties that affect the recovery time from a failure incident and service easiness during the scheduled maintenance operations. VTT has developed an analysis method for assessing maintainability characteristics of a machine.

Safety; freedom from unacceptable risk of physical injury or of damage to the health of people, either directly, or indirectly as a result of damage to property or to the environment (IEC/TR 61508-0:2011). Safety is heavily guided by the legislation and standards, unlike the other elements of RAMS. VTT can help analyzing safety of new solutions and technologies and develop suitable methodology for systems that does not yet have established practices for analyzing and assessing safety levels.



The objectives of RAMS tasks related to Concept phase:

  • Taking RAMS elements comprehensively into consideration already during concept phase
  • Decision making point ('Go' / 'No-Go' –decision) for progressing (e.g. is the sufficient level of safety reachable)
  • Clarification of design objectives
  • The results will be used as an input to implementation and validation

Concept phase includes also the definition of the parties providing separate sub-systems (i.e. subcontractors).

Examples of applicable tools and methods in concept phase: Preliminary hazard analysis, potential problem analysis, Failure modes and effects analysis (FMEA) on system level, work safety analysis.


The objectives of RAMS tasks related to Development phase:

  • Taking RAMS requirements into account during design to achieve objectives and requirements of reliability, safety and cost-effectiveness
  • Producing the control of RAMS elements

Examples of applicable tools and methods in development phase: Failure mode, effect and criticality analysis (FMECA), Hazard and operability study (HazOp), Fault Tree Analysis (FTA), Reliability block diagram (RBD) Life cycle analysis (LCA), Reliability centred maintenance (RCM) for maintenance programme planning, recyclability planning.


The objectives of RAMS tasks related to Realization phase:

  • Executing the realization process by fulfilling previously settled RAMS requirements
  • Fulfilling RAMS requirements allocated to subcontractors
  • Producing the coherent quality and achieving the targeted performance level

Examples of applicable tools and methods in realization phase: Manufacturing plan/specifications, review of user and maintenance instructions, Inspections and tests, Updating the list of hazards, Preparation of training program, Reliability stress screening,  Environmental stress screening,  Implementation and application of FRACAS (Failure Reporting Analysis and Corrective Action System), Safety reviews


The objectives of RAMS tasks related to Utilization phase:

  • The realization of RAMS requirements in practice, safe use of the machine
  • Constant development of the operations

Examples of applicable tools and methods in utilization phase: Organizing maintenance (spare parts, personnel), Continuous gathering of RAMS information (wearing, vibrations, failure statistics, monitoring availability barometer, deviations etc.), analyzing and utilization, Simulations (operation life, diagnostics, condition monitoring, prognostics), Safety training


The objectives of RAMS tasks related to Enhancement phase:

  • Streamlining procedures in order to improve:
    • operational efficiency
    • obsolescence management

Examples of applicable tools and methods in enhancement phase: Identify new feature and enhancement requirements, Evaluate the need for change and resulting benefits, Conduct risk and value assessments, Analyze the impact on health, safety and environmental requirements, Implement enhancement efforts, Evaluate impact on dependability-related performance like stability and robustness due to changes with added new features


The objectives of RAMS tasks related to Retirement phase:

  • Confirming safety and environmental protection during retirement of the product
  • Apply chosen R-strategy (e.g. reuse, remanufacturing, recycle)

Examples of applicable tools and methods in retirement phase: Updating instructions on product retirement.


Some recent assignments

Svensk Kärnbränslehantering AB: Change impact analysis (2018)

Cargotec Finland Oy: A-Hooklift - Safety (2018)

SKS Mechatronics Oy: Safety Assessment of theatre technology (2018)

FIMA Forum for Intelligent Machines ry: Delivery Safety requirements for autonomous machinery (2018)

Jyväskylän Energia Oy: Cooperation in PISARA concept development (2017)

Cargotec Finland Oy: Impulse radar commercialization (2017)

Deltamarin Oy: FC-ship concept phase HAZID (2017)

Sandvik Mining and Construction Oy: Fire risk assessment of underground truck (2017)

AW Energy Oy: WaveRoller RAM Modelling (2015-2017)

Patria Aviation Oy: New business models enabled by 3D-printing (2015-2017)

Cargotec Finland Oy: Risk assessment of ELMA-system (2016)

Wärtsilä Projects Oy: WEDG FMECA-Support (2016)

Kone Oyj: Assessment of stopping function of a lift (2016) 

Sandvik Mining and Construction Oy: Fuel Cell App (2016)

MegaRoller - collaborative research and innovation project for capturing wave energy (2018-2020)

MegaRoller project aims to develop and demonstrate a next-generation Power Take-Off (PTO) solution for wave energy converters. The PTO is developed in conjunction with oscillating wave surge converters class of wave power technology that uses bottom-hinged plates oscillating in pitch following the surge movement of the water particles in the nearshore zone (10 m-25 m water depth). The project will generate extensive know-how in the area of PTO design and control systems, with the aim to decrease the levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of next generation OWSC devices. Further, the project will increase general knowledge of wave energy's applicability and inherent characteristics (such as grid support) in various business cases.

AAWA - Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications (2015-2018)

In AAWA project VTT conducted task and risk analysis of the autonomous applications with FinFerries and attended to the design of remote operation and monitoring together with Rolls-Royce and its subcontractors. VTT also developed a safety qualification process for autonomous ship concept demonstration and defined scenarios for autonomous ship simulator environment (proof-of-concept).

RelSteps - dependability management in design (2010-2012)

The objective of the project was to develop a toolbox for mechanical engineering which is especially considering the challenges related to mobile work machine industry. Therefore the aim was to define the dependability management process model which is applicable for product development projects of different sizes and which is possible to integrate as a part of a company’s operating and quality system.

Safety-Critical software in machinery (2009-2011)
The project was realised by VTT and Tampere University of Technology and it was funded by Tekes Safety & Security programme. Main topics were safety-conscious working process for software development and criteria for choosing methods for safety-related SW development.

CompSoft - comparing best practices of safety-related control system development (2014-2015)

A nordic cooperation between several research institutes, aiming to clarify differences that exist between different working fields and which parts of the methods and standards that are hard to interpret and needs clarification.

Malm, T. & Ahonen, T. 2018. Safety concepts for autonomous and semi-autonomous mobile work machines. in 9th International Conference on Safety of Industrial Automated Systems, SIAS 2018: Proceedings. inrs, pp. 103-108, 9th International Conference on Safety of Industrial Automated Systems, SIAS 2018, Nancy, France, 10/10/18.

Malm, T., Ahonen, T. & Välisalo, T. 2018. Risk assessment of machinery system with respect to safety and cyber-security. Research Report, no. VTT-R-01428-18. VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Heikkilä, E.; Tuominen, R.; Tiusanen, R.; Montewka, J.; Kujala, P. 2017. Safety Qualification Process for an Autonomous Ship Prototype – a Goal-based Safety Case Approach. Marine Navigation: Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Marine Navigation and Safety of Sea Transportation (TransNav 2017), June 21-23, 2017, Gdynia, Poland.

Malm, T., Salmi, T., Marstio, I. & Montonen, J. 2017. Safe collaboration of operators and industrial robots. Paper presented at Automaatiopäivät22, Vaasa, Finland, 23/03/17 - 24/03/17.

Malm, T. 2017. Guidelines to make safe industrial robot systems. Research Report: VTT-R-01109-17, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Heikkilä, E.; 2016. Safety qualification process for autonomous ship concept demonstration, Master’s Thesis, Aalto, 2016

Salmi, T., Marstio, I., Malm, T. & Montonen, J. 2016, Advanced safety solutions for human-robot-cooperation. In: Proceedings of ISR 2016. Mechanical Engineering Industry Association (VDMA)Information Technology Society (ITG) within VDE, pp. 610-615. 47th International Symposium on Robotics, ISR 2016, Münich, Germany, 21/06/16.

Ronkainen, A., Tiusanen, R., Malm, T. & Pietikäinen, S. 2015. Development model for distributed safety function in mobile work machinery site. In: 8th International Conference Safety of Industrial Automated Systems: SIAS 2015 . Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung DGUV, pp. 88-91, 8th International Conference Safety of Industrial Automated Systems, SIAS 2015, Königswinter, Germany, 18/11/15.

Tiusanen, R. 2014. An approach for the assessment of safety risks in automated mobile workmachine systems: Dissertation, Doctor Degree. Tampere University of Technology.

Malm, T. & Hietikko, M. 2013. Safety requirements for machine software. In: Research highlights in safety and security. Veikko Rouhiainen (ed.). VTT Research Highlights, vol. 10, VTT, Espoo, pp. 70 - 71.

Tiusanen, R., Jännes, J. & Liyanage, J.P. 2012. RAMSI management model and evaluation criteria for Nordic offshore wind assets. VTT Technology, vol. 47. VTT, Espoo.

Tiusanen, R., Malm, T. & Ronkainen, A. 2012, Adaptive safety concepts for automated mobile work machine systems: simulator assisted research approach. In: Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Safety of Industrial Automated Systems (SIAS 2012). IRSST, Montreal, Safety of Industrial Automated Systems. Montreal, 11 - 12 October 2012, 1/01/12.

Valkokari, P., Ahonen, T., Ellman, A., Jännes, J. & Välisalo, T. 2012, Reliability management in conceptual design: experiences from two practical cases. In: Proceedings of the 11th International Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management Conference & The Annual European Safety and Reliability Conference. The International Association for Probabilistic Safety Assessment and Management (IAPSAM)The European Safety and Reliability Association (ESRA), Helsinki, pp. 02-Fr 3-4, PSAM11 & ESREL 2012. Helsinki, 25 - 29 June 2012, 1/01/12.

Tiusanen, R., Hietikko, M., Alanen, J., Pátkai, N. & Venho, O. 2008. System Safety Concept for Machinery Systems. VTT Tiedotteita - Research Notes, vol. 2437, VTT, Espoo.