CAN in Automation (CiA), a not-for-profit group, was founded in 1992 to support users and manufacturers of CAN devices. CAN (Controller Area Network) is a serial communication system launched in 1986. Fifteen years later more than 1.5 billion CAN controller chips have been sold. For the first two years, the CiA office was a one-man show: Holger Zeltwanger, the initiator of the group, lead all its affairs. Now the international users' and manufacturers' group boasts more than 450 member companies and is staffed by twelve employees (including five engineers) plus two apprentices.
CiA also develops and maintains the CANopen specifications. This CAN-based higher-layer protocol is mainly used in embedded control systems. Major application areas include machine controls, medical device control, special purpose and rail vehicles, lifts, building doors, maritime vessels and vending machines. It is also used in a multitude of special purpose applications such as coffee brewing machines, underground vehicles, satellites and laboratory devices.
CiA has run the international CAN Conference (iCC) since 1994 and since 1992 has taught CAN and CANopen topics in seminars and workshops and published the CAN Newsletter – first as a photocopy and since 1995 as a bound special interest magazine. The magazine is published four times a year and is available for free. Product Guides (CAN, CANopen and J1939) are published yearly as CD-ROM and on the company's web site.
At the CiA stand on the "embedded world 2007" the group is going to show some historical documents and exhibits, such as the first CAN specification, some of the ancestral fathers of the CAN controller chips and some CAN devices from the early stages of CAN history. The lineup of the first CANopen specification with the to-date 3.000 DIN-A-4-pages profile specifications will show visitors of the CAN museum how rapidly standardization has progressed in the last twelve years.
"CANopen is especially successful because there is no dominating manufacturer," says Holger Zeltwanger. "The CANopen profiles are often developed by users and mid-sized suppliers. Thus CANopen is a truly manufacturer-independent communication system."