By Richard Ay
Vice President and Chief Technical Officer, Intergraph CADWorx & Analysis Solutions
Intergraph CADWorx & Analysis Solutions has always been focused on the quality of its software products. Going back in history, the first automated testing was implemented for CAESAR II in 1987 – long before automation became an industry buzzword. A good quality process is ever evolving, continuously striving to improve.
Since 1987, all ICAS products have continued to increase the suite of test and benchmark jobs. Each of the analysis products runs and evaluates the entire test suite of jobs in an automated fashion when any change is made to the software. This process continually ensures the numerical correctness of the software.
In addition, design and test plans are written before a new feature is implemented in the software. This not only provides a huge benefit to the development process, but also guides the manual testing of each feature that is added or modified. When completed, tests are submitted to a database where each test step is mapped to features and properties of the software. This Quality Assurance (QA) database provides a mechanism to systematically repeat the tests, as well as generate coverage statistics on not just the new features in a release, but the overall software product as well.
And the improvements continue. At the request of numerous clients, the CAESAR II QA process underwent a complete redesign in 2012 to comply with ASME NQA-1. The NQA-1 standard is a comprehensive quality specification that includes specific requirements for software development, configuration management, testing, recordkeeping, and auditing. Since implementing these revised development and QA procedures, the CAESAR II team has successfully hosted a number of NQA-1 audits.
Software Quality Processes
Clients always ask about our software quality processes. The two predominant questions concern ISO 9001 certification as well as US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) or nuclear certification.
ISO 9001 Certification
To meet the requirements of ISO 9001, an organization must have a quality process as well as documented evidence that this process is being followed. The organization then engages an auditor to evaluate its process and compliance. If the audit is successful, the auditor issues a certificate stating that the organization has been assessed and registered by an accredited registration authority in accordance with ISO 9001.
There is a general misconception in the industry regarding NRC or nuclear certification. In short, there is no such thing. The NRC does not certify or approve software.
The NRC has a set of published benchmark problems. It is up to software vendors to build and analyze these models.
During an audit, the results of these benchmark problems could be reviewed and compared to the published results. At the end of an audit, the auditing organization may recommend that the software vendor be added to their organization’s Approved Supplier List. This is not an approval - it is a recommendation.
Statements regarding “NRC Approval,” “NRC Certification,” or “Nuclear Certification” are misleading, confusing, and simply incorrect.
Connect with Richard: https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardayjr