Innovations drive CAN in Automation

March 10, 2021
CiA managing director talks new technologies

The CAN in Automation (CiA) users’ and manufacturers’ association will hold its annual general assembly in 2021 again as online meeting, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The members re-elected the board of directors, as well as the members of the CiA business committee and the CiA technical committee. Holger Zeltwanger is furthermore the CiA managing director. The nonprofit organization with about 700 members develops currently the CAN XL specifications, the third generation of CAN data link layer protocols. It also maintains the classic CANopen and CANopen FD specifications. There is also a CAN FD Light specification under development.

What are three key things that a machine builder, system integrator or manufacturer should know about your organization?

Holger Zeltwanger, managing director, CiA: CiA is the nonprofit association offering support for CAN users and manufacturers. The group develops and maintains the CANopen specifications including more than 20,000 pages of profile descriptions enabling the design of interoperable communication interfaces from multiple sources. Additionally, the organization specifies currently the third generation of the CAN technology, called CAN XL.

What new technologies are driving product development and why?

Holger Zeltwanger, managing director, CiA: “Classical” CAN, first generation, and CAN FD, second generation, are intended for embedded and deeply embedded networking applications. CAN XL with embedded OSI layer management information supports also backbone network applications running different higher-layer protocols on the same cable. This provides the similar functionality as known in Ethernet-based networks. It is even possible to run efficiently TCP/IP on CAN XL with the benefit of very reliable —data link—and very robust—physical—lower OSI layers.

As engineering and IT continue their convergence, which one is and/or will be leading the direction of future automation and technology?

Holger Zeltwanger, managing director, CiA: IoT is since more than 20 years on our agenda. The CiA 309 set of documents specifies the access to CANopen networks from other networks including RESTful HTTP and WebSocket. There are also specifications how to integrate CANopen networks into TCP/IP environments. CiA will continue to provide XML-based device and network description methods in order to support the development of sophisticated CANopen tools.

Looking into the future, how will technology change your organization or other organizations over the next five years?

Holger Zeltwanger, managing director, CiA: CiA will provide increasingly online services including webinars and other education options. We will provide many of our webinars on social media and improve continuously our website and electronic publications, such as the CAN newsletter. But, to be serious, one of the most important will be still technology independent: individual and personal networking of CiA members. This is in times of the COVID-19 pandemic a huge challenge. Even social media does not substitute the coffee in the meeting break or the beer after a meeting.

About the author: Mike Bacidore
About the Author

Mike Bacidore | Editor in Chief

Mike Bacidore is chief editor of Control Design and has been an integral part of the Endeavor Business Media editorial team since 2007. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning multiple regional and national awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at [email protected] 

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