Trends in Automation for Wire Harness Systems

Industry 4.0 is driving the automation and digitization of factories all over the world. George Tilli has his finger on the pulse of all this. As Digital Product Manager at Komax, he is responsible for analyzing industry needs and trends to map strategies for the future. George will be giving a seminar titled Trends in Automation and Digital Solutions for Wire Harness and EDS Systems at the EWPT Expo. He will be discussing some of the trends happening in our industry and how they relate to digitization, data2wire, and the ways engineers communicate with the equipment and personnel on the shop floor. George was gracious enough to share some of his thoughts on the trends we face and the tools to address them.

In the past, developments towards automation and digitization were limited to the OEMs and large harness manufacturers. But as George noted, there are paradigm shifting trends that are bringing these changes to midsize and small manufacturers. “Companies are having a hard time bringing people on board and getting them trained and up to speed. More of our customers are moving towards digitalization where they can create a 3-D models that will produce cut sheets and everything they need to upload to a machine and begin processing. They are moving towards on-demand processing, versus batch processing.” This approach is allowing contract manufacturers to keep a minimal workforce while maintaining high efficiencies as digitization streamlines the steps in the process.

George pointed to an even higher level of scrutiny over consumables he sees with his customers as another trend. “Not just their wire, terminals, seals, etc., but also how the machines are running, the scrap rates and the overall equipment efficiencies (OEE).” Komax is introducing technology to give even small companies the ability to quickly ascertain OEE while maintaining minimal downtime.

Another trend George discussed concerning the overall workforce is the slow evaporation of knowledge. There have been limited changes to technologies and advancements when it comes to the crimping side or the actual processing side of harnesses” he noted. The pandemic certainly exacerbated the already existing workforce challenges. When coupled with diminishing tribal knowledge, it creates the perfect storm. George is emphatic that technology will have to pick up the slack.

As equipment becomes better suited to today’s manufacturing environment, operators can spend more time on other tasks, George contends. “Let’s say someone is running a large crimping machine. They would have to manually program the machine based on their cut sheets and populate the leadsets. Now, instead of doing all that, it’s all in an Excel spreadsheet and at the click of a button, the machine is loaded and ready to go. This is giving the operator a chance to do multiple things and possibly run multiple machines at the same time.”

George grew up in the business and knows this won’t be an easy transition. He spoke fondly of his late father George James Tilli, who was the proud president of Odyssey Tool. He laments the disappearance of these tribal experts and understands the importance of gleaning as much knowledge as possible from those still in our industry. “They are the ones who make this industry interesting.  I try to glean any and all information they may have because I would like to retain that knowledge. It will help me to help my customers, especially those who may be hesitant to embrace new technologies.”

There’s a lot more to the story. George will be providing a much deeper level of understanding of the problems we face in the industry and the solutions at our doorstep in his seminar at the EWPT Expo on Wednesday, May 17 at 3 PM. George’s presentation is far from a sales pitch. This is his passion, and he truly wants to share his years of expertise to raise the tide for the entire industry. Are You Ready?