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A Safety-centered Planning-time Framework for Automated Process Compliance Checking


Publication Type:

Doctoral Thesis


Safety-critical systems, whose failure could lead to catastrophic consequences, are everywhere. Not only environments with high-risk functions, e.g., nuclear power plants, are safety-critical systems. Our vehicles, medical devices that perform different kinds of treatments, airplanes, and industrial robots, are also safety-critical systems. The more harm the system can cause, the more careful the system has to be designed, implemented, and maintained. By following practices of reasonable care, typically collected within industry standards, manufacturers demonstrate that they aim at preventing safety-critical systems from failing or causing various types of damage. Thus, compliance with standards, especially safety standards, is a must-do for manufacturers of safety-critical systems.Industry standards often adopt a prescriptive approach, which focuses on process-related requirements. To comply with such standards, manufacturers have to carefully prepare process plans that properly address the applicable requirements. A compliant process plan should include the sequence of tasks mandated by applicable standards as well as the resources allocated to such tasks, e.g., personnel, work products, required tools, and methods, which are also framed with key properties. The planning task could be supported by checking that planned processes fulfill the properties set down by standards at given points.Compliance checking of process plans is rarely done for just one standard. In automotive, for instance, it is recommended that manufacturers follow at least standards for functional safety, cybersecurity, and software process improvements. Manufacturers also need to perform tailoring, i.e., select and modify requirements depending on the individual project. In safety standards, tailoring is often performed by taking into account existing safety criticality levels. Moreover, new versions of the standards, which are frequently released, demand recertification. In addition, compliance checking is not only done to one process plan. Companies commonly need to plan several processes simultaneously. Consequently, it is not easy to manually check that process plans comply with the requirements of standards.Automated compliance checking could help process engineers in such organizations to detect compliance violations and enforce compliance at planning time. Thus, the main goal of this dissertation is to facilitate automated compliance checking of the process plans used to engineer safety-critical systems against the standards mandated (or recommended) in the safety-critical context. To reach our goal, we adopt modern methods and tools, adapt them by mainly focusing on software and risk analysis process plans, and contribute to the state-of-the-art as follows:1. We identify aspects that make compliance checking of process plans demanding and formulate requirements for a technical solution to these problems.2. We introduce ACCEPT (Automated Compliance Checking of Engineering Process plans against sTandards), an iterative and comprehensible framework for supporting process engineers to check and enforce process plan compliance.3. We propose mechanisms for facilitating the creation and reuse of the specifications required to check process plan compliance.4. We investigate the significance of our proposed solutions by applying different validation mechanisms. As a result, our solutions show to be useful to support process engineers in the compliance checking tasks required during process planning.This dissertation's contributions aim at planting the seeds for the future development of tools that support process engineers moving towards automated compliance checking practices.


@phdthesis{Castellanos Ardila6320,
author = {Julieth Patricia Castellanos Ardila},
title = {A Safety-centered Planning-time Framework for Automated Process Compliance Checking},
month = {October},
year = {2021},
school = {M{\\"{a}}lardalen University},
url = {}