How to get your vehicle data from the CAN bus

In this article, we’re going to look at CAN bus systems and the vital part they have to play in the fleet management process – specifically in gathering asset tracking and tachograph data for transmission to the central server.

What is a CAN bus system?

CAN stands for Controller Area Network. Essentially, it’s a vehicle’s ‘central nervous system’, allowing communication between its different parts. A vehicle’s CAN bus enables information sensed by one vehicle function to be shared with another – for example, between the engine and the gearbox.

Each device within a CAN bus system transmits its data serially. If more than one device transmits at the same time, the highest priority device continues at the expense of data from lower priority devices.

How does a CAN bus system work?

Almost every functioning part of a vehicle will have its own ECU (Electronic Control Unit). These are the ‘nodes’ that connect and transmit and receive data between themselves. Today’s modern vehicles can contain as many as 70 or more ECUs. Examples include the Engine Control Unit, airbags, ABS braking doors and the gearbox. Each of these may transmit or receive information to or from any other parts of the network.

All ECUs on the CAN network receive the data broadcast by each of the others. Each one is programmed as to which data to accept and which to ignore.

Applying CAN data to fleet management

Fleet managers are dependent on the CAN data that an effective CAN bus system will generate. Without them, they wouldn’t benefit from the reliable vehicle data that supports them in making informed decisions – decisions that enable them to:

  • remain compliant
  • predict and avoid breakdowns
  • reduce fuel and maintenance costs
  • monitor and improve driver performance.

These benefits apply to organisations that manage fleets of trucks or construction vehicles, as well as professional service companies making multiple deliveries each day.

What are the benefits to fleet management of an effective CAN bus system?

1. Low cost and ease of operation
ECUs can communicate with each other on a single CAN system. There’s no need for complex dedicated wiring. This reduces weight, maintenance, and costs.

2. Centralised
CAN bus systems enable central diagnostics, configuration and data logging from one point of entry through the CAN network.

3. Robust
CAN bus systems are not easily affected by electric disturb­ances or electro­mag­netic inter­ference. This means that they are well-suited to applications where safety is a critical element.

4. Efficient
Data is prioritised without causing interruption to other frames.

Your Go-to source vehicle telematics

AddSecure specialises in providing fleet telematics devices which are adaptable and easy to use. Flexible, adaptable and reliable, AddSecure fleet management systems are the ‘go-to’ platforms in our sector.

At AddSecure, we understand how to make the most of data to optimise performance. We offer solutions to read CAN bus data remotely to help you make your fleet management as productive and effective as it can be.

Find out more about staying connected to your fleet.

Get in touch today for a free demo of AddSecure Smart Transport Solutions.