CAN – Controller Area Network

Sorion has extensive experience in implementing assembly and test systems for CAN based products and assemblies.



CAN was originally developed for passenger car applications. Nowadays, the majority of European carmakers use CAN networks at least for the engine management. US carmakers have also decided to use CAN in power-engine applications, and the Far East companies have already started to develop CAN-based in-vehicle networks.
CAN networks used in engine management connect several ECUs (electronic control units). Daimler-Benz was the first manufacturer, who had implemented CAN. Most of the other European automobile manufacturers have also implemented a CAN high-speed network (e.g. 500k bit/s) in their power-train systems.

In addition, some passenger cars are equipped with CAN-based multiplex systems connecting body electronic ECUs. These networks run at lower data-rates, e.g. 125k bit/s. Most of them don’t use the high-speed transceivers compliant with ISO 11898-2, but fault-tolerant transceivers compliant with ISO 11898-3. These multiplex networks link door and roof control units as well as lighting control units and seat control units.

In some passenger cars a CAN-based diagnostic interface is implemented. This interface may be based on the ISO 15765 standard (Diagnostics on CAN) describing physical layer, transport layer, application layer, and how to use the Keyword 2000 services.

Another application of CAN-based networks in passenger cars is to connect entertainment devices. Beside some proprietary solution (e.g. MCnet from Bosch), the SAE has started the specification of the IDB-C, which is a CAN-based network using extended frame format.

The different CAN-based in-vehicle networks are connected via gateways. In many system designs, the gateway functionality is implemented in the dashboard. In the future, the dashboard itself may use a local CAN network to connect the different display and control units.

CAN networks are used in many different machines for internal control. One of the first users was the textile machine industry. Textile machine manufacturers have implemented CAN since the early 90’s. CAN networks are also used in printing, packaging and different special-purpose machines. Important applications include injection moulding machines, wood processing machines as well as vending and gambling machines. In these applications CAN is used as embedded network connecting programmable controller, I/O devices and motion controllers. CAN-based networks provide not only real-time capability but also flexibility, which is required if you like to optimize internal machine communication.

In the early days of CAN, many machine control manufacturers have developed proprietary CAN solutions. Nowadays, many of these companies migrate to CANopen, and for new designs CANopen is chosen not only in Europe. The German offset printing machine industry has decided to use CANopen as integration platform for third party sub-systems, and some of them use CANopen also for the internal machine communication.

For further information on CAN visit the CAN in Automation Website