WHMA Wired-In Jan Feb 2019
By Christine Siebert
As many Wire and Cable Harness Manufacturers know, no matter which market segment you are currently in, each company faces many of the same challenges. They need to provide their customers and OEM’s high-quality, low-cost wire harnesses to meet today’s demand while also maximizing efficiency. This a very tall order in an industry that has incredibly low margins. To be able to meet these demands, it becomes crucial for their Suppliersto deliver high-quality products that are not only affordable but contain cutting-edge, innovative solutions to increase productivity, quality, and functionality. In this edition of Wired In, we will discuss three areas to take into consideration when building your next wire harness.
- Connectors vs. Hardwiring – This is an ongoing debate when designing industrial machines but there are many advantages to using connectors over hardwiring in these machines. Connectors have come a long way and can be designed with many different options and are easily configurable. They can resist vibrations and extreme temperatures, withstand harsh weather, prevent ingress, etc. Using connectors gives the machines added flexibility to be pre-built and modular with a plug and play approach which makes it more appealing from a price point. It also eliminates the risk of wiring errors on site by the local electrician.
Another cost-savings point is that this is a repeatable process that can be done on the shop floor. These wiring harnesses can be assembled by current staff prior to shipping the product. Using the same wire lengths and be tested before being shipped. With the flexibility of the multitude of connectors that are available on the market today, range of sizes, coated or uncoated metals, different voltages, different transmission media, quick-lock termination, electrical noise variations, slim models for tight spaces, etc., there will be a connector to match every project. The connector debate has come a long way but we feel that connectors gives design flexibility and savings for those Industrial projects.
- Crimping – There are many challenges to crimping wires for your harnesses and if you have the right frame of reference when choosing your tools, they can lead to cost savings for your company.
So, how do you choose the right tools? This is not a one answer fits all question but some areas to review are volume, wire gauge and crimp profile. First, determine what is the volume of your operation. Are you high-volume? Then you most likely, will need automatic tooling such as a crimping press. Does your company handle lower-volume crimping? Then you will have simpler needs such as hand crimping tools. Also, top factors are wire gauge and terminal profile. Each tool will be specific with a data sheet according to the American Wire Gauge (AWG) and recommended terminal crimp size. Knowing the answers to these questions will assist you in choosing the right crimping tools for your organization and help choose the right supplier.
- Harness Design Software – When designing your harnesses, there are many areas to think about such as wire length, bending, radius and routing. Wiring harnesses have become more complex and there has become more of a need to be custom made. The engineers designing these harnesses need to reduce design time while improving their designs and reducing costs and turnaround time. It’s very easy to make mistakes ranging from mismatching wire capabilities such as bend radius, length calculations, wiring data, and bundle sizes, to name a few.
With today’s Harness Design Software, automation has been able to solve many of these issues for engineers by rapidly creating drawings, calculations, automate documentation and even able to quote. By automating your designs, you can meet the challenges of the industry and stay ahead of the market while keeping your costs low.
There are many challenges in the Wire Harness Industry and many suppliers to choose from and WHMA has partnered with the best in the Industry! If you have questions, please join us in Dallas, TX at our upcoming 2019 WHMA Annual Wire Harness Conference on February 19th-22ndand you’ll meet many of these Suppliers! Many of them will be showcasing their automation wire processing technology products for you to see, in person, so be sure to register today at http://annualconference.whma.org/. If you can’t make the conference, visit our website at https://whma.org/members/supplier-profiles/to find the right WHMA Supplier Member that can be your partner with our market’s ever-changing challenges.