Skip to Content

Author Archives: Laura Weglinski

  1. ECUs Explained

    Leave a Comment

    APAGCoSyst has emerged as a global pioneer and a well-trusted electronic service provider in many industries since 1954. We are driven to deliver superior electronic products, and we have three specialized solutions: electronic control unit (ECU), lighting, and electronic manufacturing services & automation (EMS). All of which are customized to meet the needs of our diverse client base.

    APAGCoSyst designs and manufactures custom electronic control units (ECU) for automotive applications customized to serve various unique requirements of our customers.

    What Is an ECU?

    An electronic control unit (ECU) is a small device in the body of a vehicle that controls a specific function. Each ECU is typically equipped with a specialized chip that runs its software or firmware and requires power and data connections to function.

    Simply put, an ECU is a device that controls a vehicle’s electronic features. This device can include everything from fuel injection to ensuring a constant operating temperature to adjusting interior airflow or controlling sensor lights. Vehicles have multiple ECUs that contain different features.

    How Does An ECU Work?

    An ECU stores base numbers and metrics in its memory. With various sensors around a vehicle supplying data to the ECU, it can quickly and effectively control and regulate the electronic systems by carrying out orders to optimize their output.

    As previously stated, the ECU receives input from various parts of the vehicle, depending on its specific function. For instance, an airbag on/off indicator ECU would receive input from sensors that detect when a passenger or child is seated in a particular seat. Similarly, an ECU for change lane assist would acknowledge input from forward-facing radar systems that sense when the vehicle is approaching an obstruction. Another example would be a vehicle’s door lock ECU which would receive input when a passenger pressed the lock button on a car door or a wireless key fob.

    ECU’s Four Distinct Areas of Activity

    When you think about it, an ECU is a computer, a switching system, and a power management system all rolled into one. Therefore, for it to function even at a basic level, it must integrate these four distinct areas of activity:

    1. Input
    The input is how the ECU obtains the necessary data to make decisions. It frequently includes pressure and temperature sensors, on and off signals, and data from other control modules within the vehicle. Example inputs may include the following:

    • temperature sensor
    • position sensor
    • light sensor

    2. Processing
    Once the ECU has acquired the data, the processor must discern output response, such as a light illumination or a motor movement, as instructed by the software stored within the unit. The processor not only reads the program to determine the required output, but it may also track its data, such as function usage frequency.

    3. Output
    After completing the processor’s task, the ECU can act accordingly, providing the power to regulate actuators precisely. Some examples include precise drag reduction, system timing, activating a warning indicator, and activating a fan.

    4. Power Management
    The ECU necessitates a significant amount of internal power for the hundreds of individual components to operate effectively. Moreover, it must supply the required voltage to components throughout the vehicle for various sensors and actuators to function. The power management could be as low as five volts for sensors or as high as 200 volts for fuel injector circuits. Not only must the voltage be adjusted, but some outputs must also draw more than 30 amps, generating significant heat.

    Common Types of ECU

    Vehicles with multiple ECUs are segmented in terms of what specific functions they perform. The following are some examples of these types.

    BodyControl Modules

    Driver experience functions such as warning systems, interior lighting, driving assistance systems (e.g. lane assists) require sensors, data processing and output responses

    Brake Control Module

    The brake control module (BCM) is commonly found in vehicles equipped with anti-lock braking systems (ABS). This control module guarantees that the wheels are not skidding and determines when to initiate braking or when to release the brake to prevent the wheels from locking up.

    Engine Control Module

    The engine control module (ECM) ensures sufficient fuel and ignition to get the engine’s optimum power.

    Suspension Control Modules

    The suspension control module (SCM) is found in vehicles with active suspension systems and functions to ensure proper ride height and optimal suspension changes based on driving conditions. Sports cars may also require static height adjustment functions for which an ECU is required.

    Telematic Control Modules

    The telematic control module (TCM) helps ensure that the vehicle’s onboard services are operational. It controls the vehicle’s satellite navigation system, Internet, and phone connectivity.

    ECU Solutions by APAGCoSyst

    APAGCoSyst takes pride in providing a broad spectrum of ECU services, designs, and manufacturing operations. We are fully equipped to provide the following services for automotive, industrial, medical, agriculture, and other electronics due to our extensive experience, skilled and experienced staff, and cutting-edge equipment:

    • Analog and digital circuit architecture and development
    • CAD data of PCBAs for virtual mechanical integration
    • Computer-aided design (CAD) for assemblies and housings
    • Embedded software development, including the development of real-time-capable applications (RTOS)
    • Managing and ensuring AUTOSAR integration and compliance
    • Managing and ensuring functional safety-critical systems according to ISO26262 (up to ASIL B)
    • System design
    • Requirements engineering & generation of specifications
    • Validation, comprehensive testing (hardware in a loop – HIL, electro-magnetic compatibility – EMC), environmental qualification, and type approval

    APAGCoSyst’s Areas of Specialization

    Our team creates ECUs for automotive applications that are unique to each project. For OEMs, APAGCoSyst takes a customer-centric approach. Moreover, we specialize in the following five areas:

    Smart Actor Control

    APAGCoSyst specializes in smart actor control. Power stages are designed based on the customer’s applications, preferred functional requirements, fully customized handling switches, positioning sensors, thermal management, and signaling. Our ECUs are optimized for a vast scope of vehicle electronics applications, including electrically adjustable steering wheels for rake and reach, spoiler activation, chassis lift, and air register controllers. Furthermore, our development team is highly capable of directly integrating electronics into mechanical systems, and we consider space, packaging, mounting, and housing connector design constraints.

    Human Machine Interfaces

    Our designs are engineered with the user in mind. We manufacture vehicle electronics controlled by touch technology and replace mechanical switches for a more user-friendly approach. We can also integrate printed circuit boards (PCBs), foil, or mesh sensors and provide haptic feedback. Additionally, we use EMC optimization to create mechanisms such as guard channels, sample hopping, or required software filters to avoid operating errors.

    Smart Sensor Control

    APAGCoSyst supports single and multi-color lighting and changing the color of symbols and scales. Our experts have been trained in display control, stepper motors, and lighting elements. In addition, our lighting electronics technology helps us achieve homogeneous light distribution.

    We can also produce signal processing and filtering for parameters such as fuel level, situation-based symbol control, and complex interactive menus.

    Functional Gateways

    Our ECUs are constantly refined and enhanced to stay current with breakthroughs in vehicle electronics. Our smart sensors and actors are controlled by our functional gateways, including interior lighting, aerodynamic control units, advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) with visual or haptic feedback, augmented reality, and more.

    Software Stack Development

    APAGCoSyst can develop software stacks for any ECU. Our experts integrate our toolchains with our proprietary software stacks, resulting in lower costs. Furthermore, this enables us to manage data software, security, and configuration. Software stack development functionalities are also appropriate for businesses new to electronic production, companies looking for prototyping, or specialty car manufacturers who design their vehicles but do not have a large inventory.

    Partner With APAGCoSyst For Your ECU Needs And Requirements!

    APAGCoSyst credo, the 5Cs – consideration, commitment, creativity, cohesion, and character – have helped us become a well-trusted electronic service provider across multiple industries.

    APAGCoSyst is your top pick for a wide range of applications due to our extensive list of capabilities and certifications. We cater to various automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and tier-1 providers worldwide. You can find our products in big vehicle brands manufactured by Porsche, Audi, Volkswagen, Bugatti, Bentley, Lamborghini, Ducati, Mercedes-Benz, and others.

    Our team can significantly reduce development loops and overall project time with our full production capabilities, allowing us to produce early-stage and series samples on tight deadlines. Contact us today for more information on our ECU solutions, or submit a quote request!