20 years of diesel engine control design with Detroit Diesel

20 years of diesel engine control design with Detroit Diesel




In the early 90s Detroit Diesel decided that their previously successful engine controller, DDEC II, needed reinventing to cope with the increasing demands of  both more stringent emissions requirements and the increasingly diverse applications resulting from the continuing success of their flagship Series 60 engine.

The challenge was to work with a capable partner who would not only deliver a state-of-the-art DDEC III product but would also collaborate on the development of their in-house capability to develop subsequent products.


Pi Innovo collaborated with Motorola on the hardware design of what became the DDEC III controller, and took prime responsibility for the software development. This innovative ECU design is still in use and provides the optimum engine performance of a direct-injection fuel system, with comprehensive engine diagnostics and on-board data logging for truck fleet management. 

For several years after the 1994 product launch, Pi Innovo maintained the ECU software directly, before transferring the knowledge and responsibility to the newly formed DDC software team. Software design collaboration has continued for successive generations of DDC ECUs with Pi Innovo taking on major projects to migrate to newer hardware platforms, including test software and to develop factory programming systems . 


Collaboration extended to direct involvement in the design, implementation, test and deployment of DDECs popular and widely accepted diagnostic and fleet management tools. Products such as Diagnostic Link®, DDEC® Reports, Data Summaries and Pocket Diagnostic Link® enable DDC to offer cost-effective service and management for single vehicles, to complete fleets.

Over the years the emissions control requirements have become much more stringent, requiring complex exhaust aftertreatment control and closely coupled powertrain control ECUs. Pi Innovo continues to collaborate with our customer of more than 20 years to ensure compliance with the latest EPA2010 and Euro 5 emissions standards.

Results and Impact

Well over 500,000 units of the first, highly successful DDEC III product have shipped since it was launched in 1994 on the DDC Series 60 (class 8) truck engines. This ECU and successive generations have proved flexible enough to be used on heavy-duty trucks, stationary engines, locomotives, off-highway vehicles and marine applications, with a proven 1 million mile durability capability.

The Detroit Diesel Series 60 continues to be the top selling heavy-duty diesel engine, and in 2008, the company built its one millionth Series 60 engine. Over the lifetime of our collaboration up to one in four heavy duty trucks on the road in North America have relied on Pi Innovo ECU software running DDC’s ubiquitous engines.

The remarkable success has also led to DDEC controllers being licensed for use by companies, such as MTU (Motoren-Turbine Union), to control engines targeted at marine, off-highway and stationary energy systems. 

Project Features

Pi Innovo continues to provide highly skilled engineering services in:

  • ECU hardware design 
  • Safety-critical control platform software
  • Diesel engine management strategies
  • Model-based emission control strategies
  • Powertrain control strategies 


Detroit Diesel