Engine Management System, Engine doesn't

Engine Management System (EMS): Components And Working Explained

Engine Management System (EMS) -

EMS stands for Engine Management System which consists of a wide range of electronic and electrical components such as sensors, relays, actuators and an Engine Control Unit. Furthermore, they work together to provide the Engine Management System with vital data parameters that are essential for governing various engine functions effectively. The Engine Management system is incorporated in the modern day engine technologies, such as MPFi & GDi systems in Petrol engines and CRDi system in diesel engines for improved performance.

What is ECU/ECM?

ECU stands for Engine Control Unit and ECM for Engine Control Module, both are the same. ECU/ECM is also a generic term for any Electronic Control Unit/Module respectively.

ECU, Engine Management System
ECU (Photo: Courtesy Bosch)

Engine Control Unit -

The Engine Control Unit is a central part of the Engine Management System which is virtually the 'Brain' of an engine. It plays an important role in collecting, analyzing, processing and executing the data it receives from various sub-systems. Furthermore, an ECU comprises a computer which uses a microchip to process the inputs from various engine sensors in real-time.

ECU & Engine Management System
Input & Output of an ECU, Engine Management System

The Electronic Control Unit contains hardware and software. The printed circuit board (PCB) of the ECU consists of a micro-controller chip or the CPU (Central Processing Unit). The software is stored on the micro-controller or chips on the PCB. It is possible to re-program the ECU by updating the software or by replacing chips. All the engine sensors send data inputs by the way of electrical signals to the ECU. The ECU, in turn, controls various actuators, ignition timing, variable valve timing etc.

How an ECU Works?

Based on this data input, the ECU precisely calculates and delivers the ideal air-fuel mixture. It also regulates the idle speed of the engine and limits the top speed of a vehicle. This system is also widely referred to as an ‘Electronic Engine Management System’ or the EMS. Furthermore, it is possible to customize the modern day ECUs to suit different vehicular applications and varying customer demands. In addition, some cars have an individual ‘Control Module’ for all major systems. A modern car has following individual Control Modules which control the respective systems.

Control Modules, Engine Management System
Various Control Modules in a car

An Engine Control Unit connects to all the individual Electronic Control Modules (ECMs). A modern-day car consists of more than one Control Modules, each exclusive for every major system which improves the performance. The manufacturers seldom refer to these systems as car's computers since these are multiple computers as opposed to single one.

Engine Management System
A diagram showing various control modules in a modern day car

Bosch, Delphi, and Hitachi are world's leading Engine Management System manufacturers.

Read more: Which are different engine sensors and how they work? >>

About Shirish

Shirish is a technical consultant & blogger with experience of over 20 years in the automobile field. He regularly publishes specific technical articles on automotive technology. When not writing a blog, he wanders in nature or goes on long-distance motorcycle rides.

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