WHMA Wired-In May/June 2019

Wired In

By Christine Siebert

IPC and WHMA Standards Support the Automotive and Wire Harness Industries

One of the most valuable, educational and packed presentations at this year’s WHMA Annual Wire Harness Conference, “IPC and WHMA Standards Supporting the Automotive and Wire Harness Industries” was presented by Constantino Gonzalez, Chairman of the IPC Acceptability Standards Committee and President of ACME Training and Consulting. Gonzalez is also an IPC master instructor for IPC-A-610, J-STD-001, IPC-7711/7721, IPC-A-600, and IPC-WHMA-A-620. He is a member of dozens of IPC standards committees and currently is the vice chair of the 7-31BV IPC-A-610 Automotive Addendum Task Group.

With Gonzalez’s expertise and delightful personality, there was no one better to discuss the basics of standards, reasons why standards/training are vital for the automotive industry and cable and wire harness company’s success and how company staff can be involved in the development of these standards within IPC.

Gonzalez started his presentation by explaining why the IPC/WHMA standards are important.

  • Developed and approved by industry peers
  • Supports design and layout of products for manufacturing, reliability and excellence
  • Provides universally accepted criteria and language for the entire supply chain
  • Improves reliability and quality of products, manufacturing to a common specification
  • Drives manufacturing efficiencies, reduces cost, minimizes rework and waste

The only industry-consensus standard for cable and wire harness assemblies, IPC/WHMA-A-620, Requirements and Acceptance for Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies describes acceptability criteria for producing crimped, mechanically secured, or soldered interconnections and the associated lacing/restraining criteria associated with cable and harness assemblies.IPC/WHMA-A-620 can be used as a stand-alone document for purchasing products; however, it does not specify frequency of in-process or end product inspections. Also, there is NOlimit placed on the number of process indicators or the number of allowable repair/rework of defects. Such information should be developed with a statistical process control plan.

This brought up the need for developing a standard for design for manufacturing (DFM), repair and rework for the cable and harness industries. By having an addendum to the A-620 to set guidelines and criteria for repair and rework standards, would give the manufacturers a document that their customers can reference when rework is warranted. Such as “Is this Splice Acceptable?” or “What kind of Crimp/Soldering is Acceptable?”  This will save money, time and scrap. (Since this presentation, content development has started on “Rework Criteria for Cable & Harness” and “Design for Manufacturing for Cable & Harness.”)

The process for creating a project such as an addendum or a new standard is a simple process. First a working group needs to be created.  Typically, IPC looks to have a minimum of five companies to launch a new project. A project scope would be approved and IPC follows standard development rules approved and audited by the American National Standard Institute. During the development cycle, interested parties are added to the committee.  Staff works to ensure that there is a balance between Users, Customers and General Interest. The process goes as quickly as the volunteer reach consensus.  Sometimes it is quick, sometimes not.  If a company is willing to place a draft on the table that they are already working on as a starting point, this can significantly accelerate the process. There is no requirement to be a member of any group such as IPC or WHMA. To learn more about the process, reach out to IPC (www.ipc.org). IPC will also be holding a meeting at the upcoming Electrical Wire Processing Technology Expo in Milwaukee, WI on May 8 to formally discuss the format.

The final topic that was discussed in Gonzalez’s presentation was the importance of training and certification. Gonzalez stated, “People who are well trained provide better products.” He went on to say, “Training should be a constant job every day. Don’t give the answers to the operator. If they come to you and ask, ‘Is this acceptable?’ Ask them, ‘You were trained on that. What does the standard say? Where does it say that? Why is it a defect?’”

The main point is the operator will know the standards inside and out. If you create the environment where your staff go to the standard, then they will always be training, and they will know the standard.  Gonzalez’s advice is, “Don’t listen to “I think, I feel, I believe it’s a defect, Show me where’s it’s a defect.” Great advice!

Last but not least, I’ll leave you with “99% of the time when you stick to the standard, it will protect you!”

If you are a WHMA member, this presentation is available in the “2019 Annual Conference Area” of the WHMA member’s only area. If you’re not a member, join now at www.whma.org.

To learn more about IPC, go to www.ipc.org.

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