WHMA Wired-In July/Aug 2018

Wired In

By Jim Manke, CAE

WHMA Executive Director


The Wiring Harness Manufacturers Association (WHMA) has enjoyed a long and mutually beneficial relationship with Wiring Harness News (WHN). In fact, over ten years ago, the WHMA Board of Directors declared WHN as the “Official” publication of the association.

WHN has graciously granted WHMA a regular column in each edition to communicate to the wire harness and cable assembly industry which it represents, starting with this one.

First, a little background on WHMA for those not familiar with the association. WHMA was established in 1993. WHMA is the only organization exclusively serving manufacturers of wiring harnesses, electronic cable assemblies, along with their suppliers and distributors.

WHMA members have banded together as a not-for-profit association in the spirit of volunteerism and mutual benefit to provide the only industry forum through which member companies can aggressively solve both their specific problems and also address pressing industry issues.

WHMA is dedicated to providing our members the technical support, access to leading edge technologies, benchmarking and the ability to network with the leaders of the wire processing equipment, services and manufacturing.

WHMA connects members to resources that make them industry leaders. The organization is currently comprised of over 200 manufacturing companies (there are over 1,100 wire harness and cable assembly shops in North America) and over 55 supplier organizations in the industry.

Despite the name of the association, WHMA is not just about wire harnesses. It’s cables and any type of external electrical / electronic interconnection assembly that connects different pieces of equipment of assemblies.

Those in the industry know that these assemblies are often an “after thought”. They are typically the last thing to be considered in the design of the product being manufactured by an OEM.

The membership of WHMA is very diverse in the market segments served as well as various applications and requirements. This creates opportunities for multi billion dollars in sales. In fact, according to the latest Bishop Research World Cable Assembly Market report, worldwide sales of cables and harnesses reached $155 billion in 2017 (compared to 2017 worldwide sales of connectors at $61 billion). These numbers do not include OEM’s building their own harnesses.

Cable assembly and wire harness sales in North America alone are expected to reach over $35 billion this year and projected to approach $50 billion by 2023.

Even with some companies selling over $1 billion in revenues annually, the mean average revenues per company are $60 million. The median average company size is $5 million (see Figure #1).

One percent of the companies sell 68% of the revenues in North America.

The majority of these companies, 1100+, has remained constant for 25+ years even with consolidations and acquisitions.  There are new entrants continually getting into cables & harnesses.  This shows the large and diverse need and application requirements of this industry and the reason for so many specialized manufacturers.

Typically, smaller companies in North America produce assemblies which are low volume / high mix – meaning they produce many different assemblies but lower in volume.

The top five market segments in North America are (see Figure #2):

  1. Automotive
  2. Military/Aerospace
  3. Industrial
  4. Telecom / Datacom
  5. Transportation

These market segments are similar worldwide, but with Military/Aerospace moving to #5.

Also, of note, though 8 of 10 of the largest revenue companies in North America are in the automotive sector, there are still 314 additional companies serving that industry in multiple tiers and applications.

The Worldwide market grew 6.5% in 2018 and is projected to grow 6.5% CAGR from 2018 to 2023.  During that same period the North America projected CAGR is 5.8%

So, all told, the future looks bright for the wire harness and cable assembly industry and WHMA is proud to represent this growing industry.

If you have any questions regarding the industry or WHMA please contact our offices.  Also, we want to thank Bishop and Associates for information provided in this article.  Bishop reports on the Worldwide Market as well as North America are available from WHMA. Visit our website for more information