Making Cars Safer and More Secure – ROHM Acquires ISO 26262 Certification


In March, Kyoto-based semiconductor manufacturer ROHM received certification for the development process under the ISO 26262 Automotive Functional Safety Standard by third-party certification authority TUV Rheinland in Germany. This certification allows ROHM to develop automotive-grade devices that achieve the highest level of safety (ASIL-D).


Since joining ROHM in 1993, Takayuki Nakashima, Senior Engineer of the High-Quality Design Department at ROHM LSI Headquarters, has been involved in the development of production systems, infrared data communications, LCD drivers, system power supply ICs for the automotive sector, and more. His wealth of experience over 25 years made it possible for ROHM to acquire ISO 26262 certification. We asked Nakashima what this certification means for ROHM and what the company’s future might hold as a result.


“Contributing to the advancement and progress of our culture” has been a key theme for ROHM since it was founded in 1958. The company’s vertically integrated system, in which most processes, from development to production, are implemented within the company, is designed to achieve reliable traceability and an optimized supply chain. This allows ROHM to provide a consistent and stable supply of high-quality products in large volumes to the global market.

“In recent years the changes we have seen in the automotive industry have been so dramatic that one could say they only happen once in a century,” Nakashima explains. “Although electronic components have been used in automobiles for some time, the sheer number of components is increasing exponentially due to the advent of technological innovations such as ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems) and autonomous vehicles.”

ROHM has been providing products for the automotive industry – which has been undergoing rapid advancement – for more than 10 years. Power supply ICs, in particular, have led our push into the automotive sector. For example, our power supply ICs for car audio have enjoyed an excellent sales record, and we are developing system power supply ICs and DC/DC converters for automotive millimeter-wave modules along with automotive-grade LDO regulators that consume minimal current when the engine is stopped. Moreover, in response to the increased adoption of EVs (Electric Vehicles), we recently expanded our broad lineup to include SiC power devices that significantly improve power conversion efficiency.

With sales for the automobile market increasing at a steady pace, ROHM began research into ISO 26262 certification in spring 2014. This project proved to be well-timed: the global automotive market in the past few years has been trending towards increased digitization, resulting in greater demand for functional safety (measures that minimize risk by adding mechanisms such as monitoring equipment and protective functions).


As of March 31st, 2018, the automotive sector accounted for 32% of ROHM’s net sales. Within this steadily growing market, high growth is expected in the ADAS field.

Automatic operation in the automotive industry is classified based on level of autonomy. The current level is thought to be between Level 2 (driver support) and Level 3 (automated driving on highways, with the driver ultimately in control). However, industry experts believe Level 4 (completely automated driving) will be achieved by 2020 as a result of the continued digitization of automobiles. As the role of electronic parts in vehicles continues to grow, ROHM will be able to offer high-quality products that contribute to greater safety and reliability by acquiring ISO 26262 certification for the development process.

According to Nakashima, “the demand for ISO 26262-compliant products is rising, and there is a possibility that customers will select only products that conform to this standard in the future.”


Acquiring ISO 26262 certification proved to be more difficult than expected, however. In the beginning, there was no one within the company who was familiar with this certification. Nakashima, along with two others, therefore started attending seminars and study sessions to learn about ISO 26262. After investigating other companies and markets, they focused their efforts on obtaining certification. Over time, since the development process is not limited to any one product or technology, members were added to the team. The project has since grown to include more than 50 people across various departments.


ROHM participated in only six workshops to obtain the necessary know-how to receive certification. This is in stark contrast to the many companies that request outside consultation. In addition, various actions were taken, such as improving the business structure for acquiring certification and stressing the importance of the standard within the company. As a result of all the project members working together as one, we achieved our target of acquiring ISO 26262 development process certification at a reduced cost and in only two and a half years, much faster than the norm.


“Receiving certification from a third-party body ensures that our electronic components are compatible with functional safety in automotive applications, which leads to a sense of security for customers,” explained Nakashima. “It will be indispensable for expanding sales of our products to customers in the future.”

Received the ISO 26262 certification on March, 2018
From left side: Mr. Kazushi Arima, General Manager of Mobility at TÜV Rheinland Japan and Nobuhiro Kanai, Senior General Manager of LSI Development Headquarters at ROHM


“Certification is extremely important for our customers overseas, especially in Europe,” Nakashima continued. To communicate the importance of ISO 26262 certification to the entire ROHM Group, Japan-led briefing sessions were held for overseas sales staff and engineers. Doing so is expected to contribute to better sales in both the automotive and overseas markets targeted by ROHM.


To ensure the highest level of safety in vehicles, it is necessary to achieve high quality, even at the component level. ROHM’s ISO 26262-compliant development process should help us provide even higher quality. Going forward, we will apply this process to products such as power supply and timing controller ICs used in applications for functional safety.

The second edition of the ISO 26262 standard, which is scheduled to be issued in 2018, will expand its scope to include large vehicles such as buses and trucks along with motorcycles. Guidelines for semiconductors will also be added. In response, ROHM will prepare to ensure compliance with the updated standard while continuing to maintain product quality based on the current certification.



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