SOFTEMA: a tool for safety-related application programming on machines

Project No. IFA 5137


completed 01/2018


More and more often, machine and plant manufacturers are programming machine safety functions themselves on safe control systems. The functional safety of these machines is therefore increasingly dependent upon application software developed and tested to high standards. An essential requirement of the relevant standards (such as ISO 13849-1) is that this software must be developed within a structured work process and employ measures for fault avoidance. In a project funded by the DGUV (FF-FP 0319, Norm compliant development and documentation of safety related application software in manufacturing system engineering, 2011-2013), a development method suitable for practical application was drawn up by the Bonn-Rhine-Sieg University of Applied Sciences. This "IFA matrix method" has been presented at numerous events for accident insurance institutions and industrial companies, at which it has been discussed and deemed suitable. IFA Report 2/2016 has already been published on this subject in the preceding project IFA-5133.

The IFA matrix method is used to specify, validate and test safety-related application software. It requires several tables to be completed for different development phases. The aim of the present project was to develop a machine control software application (SOFTEMA) for automated application of the tables used in the IFA matrix method. The purpose of SOFTEMA is to assist both machine manufacturers during development of these programs, and external bodies during their inspection and testing. The functions of SOFTEMA are intended to assist in reducing and detecting input errors and to generate documentation of programming and tests. Efficient and error-free modification of specifications and application software is a key aspect of SOFTEMA. It is intended to raise awareness of the IFA matrix method in the machinery and plant construction sector, and to assist new users in the method's use.


In the first phase, the requirements to be met by the SOFTEMA software application were agreed with the various user groups, and documented. This resulted in changes to the data formats of the IFA matrix method originally defined in the DGUV project. The sample files were modified accordingly, to enable them to be opened in SOFTEMA. The development environment and the necessary software components were selected. The software code was written in appropriate steps in accordance with the specification. A test environment was created at the same time. The prototypes were trialled in an external pilot project. The pilot project gave rise to improvements and additional useful functions that were implemented for the first beta version. User documentation for SOFTEMA was then produced and a website with download facility designed, following the example set by SISTEMA.


An initial beta version of the SOFTEMA software application was developed for subsequent trialling for a year in machine and plant construction. Bug reports and constructive suggestions resulting from practical use of SOFTEMA are to be collected and evaluated. The beta version can then be updated and extended at regular intervals. The release version is to appear following this beta phase.

Last Update:

11 Sep 2018


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:

mechanical hazards, electrical hazards, questions beyond hazard-related issues


machine safety, safety technology (engineering)

Description, key words:

machine safety, ISO 13849, safety-related controls, programmable electronics, SRASW, application programming, IFA matrix method, software, tool, user support, evaluation, development, documentation