SIL (Safety Integrity Level) certificate is the Functional safety certification according to IEC 61508 Parts 1-7.
What is the SIL Certificate?
The SIL certificate is a functional safety certificate that demonstrates the conformity of a product or process with the IEC 61508 international standards. The certificate is issued by a third party to ensure compliance with the requirements for independence imposed by IEC 61508-1 in order to reach the highest SIL 3 and 4 levels, for which the intervention of a division or an independent body is required.
Regarding SIL 1 and SIL 2 levels, except when requirements are too binding, the third party certificate is a stronger recognition proving the quality and safety of the certified product.
Further, very often SIL requirements are mandatory, i.e. required in many tenders.
The SIL certificate is self-supporting, contains all the information necessary for integration into a safety system, and, in reference to the safety manual of the certified object, the instructions for correct use, so as to ensure that the declared SIL level is maintained.
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The certificate contains the technical data on implementable safety functions, Systematic Capability (hardware and software), hardware safety integrity, and failure rates necessary for the system integrator to calculate PFD/PFH. The certificate also contains a registered trademark with the identification ID of the certified product that must be affixed to the product to allow traceability and clear differentiation between SIL and non-SIL products.
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Types of Certificates
Any object intended to be integrated into one or more safety functions is potentially suitable for SIL certification; for example, sensors, mechanical valves, firmware or embedded software logic solvers, complex measurement, and control systems.
From the minimum SIL 1 level to the maximum SIL 4 level, the certificate can be issued in one of the following 3 types:
- SIL type certificate: valid for a whole type of product, the certification process is developed starting from the analysis of a prototype which, once certified, will be suitable to be mass-produced. The certificate is therefore valid for an unlimited number of products identical in every aspect to the validated prototype. The SIL type certificate has a duration that is defined by the certification body based on the complexity of the object
- Single product SIL certificate: limited to the device expressly covered by the certificate, this type is frequent for non-series production, custom, and project assemblies. The certificate expressly states the serial number or unique identifier of the product in question
- Process SIL certificate: it consists of the compliance with the international standard IEC 61508 of the implementation process of one or more phases of the Safety Lifecycle, certifying for example the Functional Safety Management System (FSMS), checking the compliance of processes and procedures with regulatory requirements.
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Advantages of SIL certification
Design with a view to SIL of an industrial component involves the technical and manufacturing elements of the product to be certified, improving their every aspect.
The SIL certificate is valid at the international level and represents a direct means of demonstrating the greater reliability of the product to its user.
Product upgrade and competitiveness
SIL certification represents a powerful means of differentiation from similar non-certified competing products, and therefore allows one to reach new customers and open new markets.
How to obtain SIL certification
The certification process starts with the definition of the objectives in terms of functional safety and continues by following the steps reported in the certification scheme.
The certification process is customized according to the complexity of the product or process under consideration.