New technologies typically involve innovative aspects that are not addressed by existing normative standards and hence are not assessable through common certification procedures. To ensure that new technologies can be implemented in a safe and reliable manner, a specific kind of assessment is performed, which in many industries, e.g. the energy sector, is known as Technology Qualification (TQ). TQ aims at demonstrating with an acceptable level of confidence that a new technology will function within specified limits. DNV is currently developing a new method with application to Technology Qualification, drawing on the concept of assurance cases, based on a combination of function analysis originating from Value Engineering and argumentation logic used in safety cases. The method enables improved definition of the technology and where to focus when building confidence in it.
The method uses ‘Function Analysis’ that is structured towards what the system does instead of what it is. The focus on the functions encourages exploration of alternative ways by which the functions can be provided. Focus on functions draws attention to the system as a whole rather than each part the system consists of. This helps avoiding interface problems and may prove vital in an innovation process.
When the functions have been identified, one can proceed with analysing how a technical solution provides those functions. Those elements of the technical solution that represent proven technology can be dealt with by the conventional engineering processes and need not be included in the technology qualification process. Those elements assessed as new (or novel) are taken forward in the technology qualification process. This assessment is based both on the novelty of the function itself, the technical solution implementing it and the intended use of the technology in its intended environment. Confidence is demonstrated by first stating the goal of the qualification effort. Such a claim can be formulated as “The […] technology is fit for […]”. Then this goal is broken down into sub-goals. This is repeated till the lowest level claims can be directly justified by hard evidence. As an aid to overview and simplicity, such an argument structure (assurance case) can be presented graphically. The graphical assurance case can be readily communicated, reviewed and updated to reflect the needs and concerns of all stakeholders.
An on-going joint industry project for certification requirements to Deepwater Deployment and Recovery Systems will benefit from this improved method for qualification assisted innovation.