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Software V&V for the Nuclear Power Industry

Software V&V can be viewed as an extension of systems engineering activities. Software V&V can identify objective data and conclusions and provide feedback about the quality of a digital system, as well as its performance and development process compliance throughout the system development life cycle. This feedback often consists of anomaly reports, performance improvements, and quality improvements regarding the expected operating conditions across the full spectrum of the system and its interfaces.

Software V&V is defined as determining whether the development products of an activity conform to the requirements of that activity, and whether the system performs according to its intended use and user needs.

This determination of suitability includes assessment, analysis, evaluation, review, inspection, and testing of systems, documents, and processes.

The two main IEEE standards that address Software V&V are:

  • IEEE Standard 1012—Software Verification and Validation
  • IEEE Standard 7-4.3.2—Standard Criteria for Digital Computers in Safety Systems of Nuclear Power Generating Stations

IEEE Standard 1012 defines software V&V in terms of processes, activities and tasks. Software V&V processes address computer hardware and software, integration of the digital system components, and the interaction of the resulting computer system with the nuclear power plant. The Software V&V activities and tasks include system testing of the final integrated hardware, software, firmware, and interfaces.

Furthermore, IEEE Standard 1012 defines a software integrity scheme which is used to determine the degree of risk the system poses with respect to the operation and safety of the nuclear plant. The specific Software V&V activities to be performed need to be based on the software integrity level for the system.

IEEE Standard 7-4.3.2 includes a discussion of the digital dedication process to address situations where digital systems are developed outside of a 10 CFR 50 Appendix B Quality System.

The dedication process for the computer system includes identification of the physical, performance, and development process requirements necessary to provide adequate confidence that the computer system can achieve the safety function. The dedication process is applied to the computer hardware, software, and firmware that are required to accomplish the safety function.

The dedication process for software and firmware includes an evaluation of the software design process whenever possible. There may be some instances in which a design process cannot be evaluated as part of the dedication process.

Understanding the essential principles of software V&V is critical for developing an integrated process that addresses verification, validation and safety in a timely and cost-effective manner.

I have over three decades of experience performing software V&V. During this time, I have helped dozens of device manufacturers successfully implement effective software V&V processes. Further, I am currently a member of the IEEE Standards working group for both IEEE Standard 1012 and IEEE Standard 7-4.3.2. As a result, I am constantly in touch with current requirements and techniques used within the industry.

Working collaboratively with your staff, we can develop cost-effective solutions that are fully compliant with applicable regulations and guidance documents and at the same time, help your company achieve critical business objectives.

arrow Click here for a brief summary of digital dedication projects.

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