How to automate the wire harness assembly process?
Towards the end of the 20th century, most wire harnessing processes, including insertion of wires into the connectors and bundling of wires, were done manually. Due to the lack of wire harness assembly automation, the manufacturing process took longer than other cable assemblies. Depending on the complexity of the wire harness, production time spanned from a few days to several weeks.Although, complete automation cannot be done for insertion of terminated wires into connector housings, fully automated equipment and procedures are now available for cutting, stripping, and crimping of wire.
Complete Automation of Wire Harness Assembly
Recently, a system has been introduced that can automatically produce a complete custom wire harness from start to finish. It comprises a set of flexible machines, which can also take care of the insertion of terminated wires into assembly connectors.
This system can automatically cut, strip, and crimp wires of different gauges. It is equipped with sensors on the presses for quality control. Also, it can be fitted with a combination of stations, such as crimping presses and seal assembly stations.
Besides this, there are other innovations that can be used to simplify the wire insertion process. There are systems that use vision-guided lasers to command assemblers where to insert the wires. Also, certain procedures use computer-guided wire assembly and test systems to perform wire insertion. Such innovations have only further strengthened the efforts of automating cable assembly processes.
Beneficial Applications of Automating Cable Assembly Processes
Cable assembly automation can be helpful in various ways. Following are the major beneficial applications of automating cable assembly and wire harnessing processes:
Fitting of terminals onto wiresSoldering or tinning of the wire endsPlugging of wires into connector housingsTesting a wire harness for electrical functionalityCrimping terminals on one or both sides or the wiresSpecialized cutting machines for cutting and stripping the ends of individual wiresConsidering the potential benefits and the solutions being introduced to solve this problem, it is safe to say that the future of wire harness assembly automation looks bright.
What's the difference between cable assembly & wire harness?
Cable assemblies and wire harnesses are often confused for being the same thing.
The confusion is understandable since many professionals use the terms interchangeably and the products themselves have very similar basic functions. Yet these products are very different from each other, as is their purpose, which means definitions need to be made in order to help people get the products they need. This is a brief explanation of cable assembly vs. wire harness, and how each product is used out in the world.
Cable Assembly vs. Wire Harness
Before getting into the fighting differences of a cable assembly vs. wire harness, it’s important to note the difference between wire and cable, since these terms are also used interchangeably despite being very different products. Essentially, a wire is a strand of material that conducts electricity, such as aluminum or copper. A cable, by contrast, is two or more wires that run together. They’re often bonded or braided together, which is why you see cables that look like bunches of intertwined wires.
The Wire Harness
At their most basic, wire harneWire harnesssses are a simple exterior sheath that covers some wires or cables. It’s usually made of thermoplastic or thermoset material which helps protect the wires from their environment. For the most part, wire harnesses bundle up cables and wires that are already protected by their own exterior sheaths. That means you could open up a wire harness and see multiple cables with their own coverings, but they’re all in a single wire harness.
Wire harnesses are a low-cost electrical solution that’s best for keeping electrical systems organized. By bundling wires and cables together, engineers and electrical contractors can keep their wiring systems organized. Since wire harnesses are often a low cost organizational tool, they aren’t generally able to protect the wires inside from constant friction, temperature swings, or other factors that could cause damage to the wires inside the harness.
The Cable Assembly
Cable assemblies are a group of wires or cables covered by a much more intensive exterior product. In general, they are made from heavy-duty materials, including shrink-wrapped thermoplastic, thermoplastic rubber, or vinyl. These assemblies serve a similar function to wire harnesses, including keeping wires and cables organized, but are designed for entirely different environments.
Cable assemblies are designed for specific environmental factors, including the size of the area where it’s being used and the types of environmental factors it’s likely to encounter. For this reason, cable assemblies can come in many different shapes and sizes, and are built to shield the interior wires and cables from heat, friction, moisture, abrasion, compression, and other hazards.
So what’s the difference between wire harnesses and cable assemblies? Well, each is used in different environments. Wire harnesses offer a low-cost solution for keeping wires organized, while cable assemblies keep all of the products safe in the most extreme circumstances.
Cable Assemblies InformationCable assemblies are collections of wires or cables banded into a single unit with connectors on at least one end. Cable assemblies are used to connect various types of equipment and instrumentation. The connectors and wire configuration are very specific depending on the application. When selecting cable assemblies, application and type specifications are important to consider. Other relevant specifications include gender, shielding and approvals / certifications. A cable assembly is identified by the plugs and receptacles that are attached to the ends. The featured connectors are determined by the application for which the cable assembly was manufactured. The application may also determines the cable's dimensional and electrical specifications, as well as approvals and certifications. Suppliers offer cable assemblies for audio / video (A/V), automotive, imaging, radio frequency (RF), and telecommunications applications. There are also cable assemblies for personal computers (PCs), local area network (LAN) applications, and industrial control and instrumentation systems. Cordage, patch cords and cable extenders are types of cable assembly which may suit a variety of applications.Types The various types of cable assembly may be grouped by application. Audio / visual (A/V) cables are used to connect audio and video equipment to a computer or display. DVI, RGB and VGA cables are examples of A/V cables. Battery cables are used to connect batteries. Computer cables connect hard drives, printers, monitors and other peripheral devices to a computer. Computer cables include ATA / SATA, IEEE 1394 (FireWire?), IDE / EIDE, KVM, monitor, printer, USB and VGA cables. General communication cables provide data transmission and networking between computers, controllers and other devices. ATM, CANopen, CC-LINK, fibre channel, Fieldbus, parallel, SCSI, and serial cables are all suitable communication links. Patch cables (or patch cords) are electrical or optical cables used to connect two or more devices. Patch cables are available in various lengths and can be used for many different applications, such as panel connection, Ethernet and telecommunications. Telecommunications cables are used to extend or replace cables for telephones and handsets. Specifications In addition to application and type, other important cable assembly specifications include connector type, gender, and shielding. Examples of Connector Types BNC connectors are bayonet-style locking connectors. They are typically used for A/V applications, as well as older devices and third party monitors.A BNC connector. Image credit: CONEC Centronics connectors are used with Centronics brand as well as third party peripherals.A Centronics connector. Image credit: Electro Standards Laboratories DB connectors are used to connect computer peripherals. They are available with a variety of pin arrangements. DB9 (9 pin) connectors. Image credit: APC by Schneider Electric DIN connectors are designed to adhere to standards from Deutsches Institut fur Normung (DIN), a German national standards body. DVI connectors are able to transmit analog (DVI-A), digital (DVI-D) or analog / digital (DVI-I) data. The DVI-D is the most common connector. DVI connectors. Image credit: Digi-Key CorporationFireWire connectors are available in 4-, 6- or 9-pin configurations. High-speed serial data connection (HSSDC) connectors facilitate high-speed data transmissions.Small computer systems interface (SCSI) connectors are intelligent connectors used with computer peripherals. RJ connectors are modular connectors used for telecommunications and serial applications.An RJ-11 connector. Image credit: Newark / element14USB connectors are available in a various sizes and configurations. A USB connector. Image credit: Samtec, Inc.ShieldingCable assemblies may feature a type of electromagnetic shielding material, which is wrapped around the cable assembly underneath the outer jacket. Shielding serves to prevent electrical noise from affecting the transmitted signal, and to reduce electromagnetic radiation emission from the cable itself. Shielding is typically comprised of metal braiding, metal tape or foil braiding. A shielded cable assembly may also feature a special grounding wire known as a drain wire. Cutaway image of a shielded cable. Image credit: Tkgd2007Gender Cable assembly connectors are available in multiple gender configurations. Male connectors, sometimes called plugs, consist of a protrusion which fits into the female connector, sometimes known as a receptacleA male (left) and female (right) connector. Image credit: Amphenol Alden Products CompanyCommon cable assembly configurations include:Male-Male: both ends of the cable assembly terminate in a male connector.Male-Female: the cable assembly features a male connector on one end and a female on the other.Female-Female: both ends of the cable assembly terminate in a female connector.
Different types of wir straps
There are different types of the assemblies, depending mostly on the device and application on which it is used. They include the standard wiring, reverse wiring, stereo relocation, amplifier integration, amplifier bypass, premium, and speaker adapter harness.
In the mainstream production of a painless wiring cords and cable harness assembly, several key factors must not be toyed with. These are considerations which must be attended to, and they include:
For a custom process, the peculiarities of the machine and device on which the group will work are absolutely necessary.The cut and stripping requirements of the equipment kit ought to be determined and known.Methods of testing the quality of the electrical items produced have to be standardized and reliable.
The main details of producing these products are as follows:
STEP 1First, a circuit diagram is produced showing the various parts of the device requiring transport of electric signal, ready for the preparation and assembly. The wires are then cut to size using a special machine. After this is done, the wires are stripped to expose the core of the wire, usually metallic in nature. These will be fitted into the connector housings, also known as crimping.
STEP 2Clamping of the wires is the next thing to be done, and this is done on a special workbench or pin board, according to the dictates of the specifications of the shackle. When this is done, the collection can be fastened with tapes, cable ties or clamps according to the specification. The cable components are then fitted with suitable protective sleeves, conduit, protective yarn or any form of insulation. The production process for the assembly is now complete, and it can be fitted directly into the device of use or packaged to be shipped.
STEP 3The next stage would be the testing of the efficiency and functionality of the painless wire bands. This is done with the aid of a test board. The circuit diagram data have been previously programmed into the test board, and each of the primary wires can subsequently be tested individually or as a collection.
POINT TO NOTEDespite the efforts at automating the process of harnessing, the most cost effective processes have been the manual ones. It is also possible to automate some parts like the cutting of wires, the crimping, and the soldering of wire ends, as well as partial plugging of wires into the connector housings.
Where is a wire harness needed?
Within the closed system of machinery and equipment, for example, an automobile, there is always need to transmit electric power and signals from one point or the other. This is where cable harnesses are thus needed.
These are packs of wires or cables collected together by way of a bundle, for specific applications. The cables are bound together in their numbers by cable straps or ties, cable lacing, sleeves, tapes of electrical conduit.
The material that binds them together constitutes the stringed combination, which organizes the assembly of cables and wires and makes their focus single in transmitting the signals from one point to another.
Functional application in machinery and automotiveThere are a number of reasons a defined circuit finds better application in such a system, as regards complex machinery with different organs that must have some charge of an electric signal or the other to function as a unit. Whereas some wires can be used in a scattered manner to join two points together, providing a potential difference necessary for current and signal flow, this piece provides the advantage of economy of space.
By binding the wires together with a suitable material such as electrical weave of extruded string, a lot of precious space is saved up in the device. This does not only save space but makes for a more organized and aesthetic outlook of the interior of the machine. It makes the job of the Maintenance Engineer or Technician simple and straight to the point since he just has to look for an assembly of wires performing a specific purpose and do the needful.
How is wiring harness used in different industry sectors?
This assembly comes in various options today as per their different areas of application. Read on to know more about them as well as how to use them in your area of operation for optimal benefit.
Wiring harness as the name indicates is a string of cables and wires that are used to tie down the informational signals or operating currents to transmit it to their destination. They are nowadays used in the electrical, electronics as well as the automotive industries. In this article, we would deal with them individually.
AUTOMOTIVE WIRING HARNESSAutomotive wiring parts have made the use of electrical components in automobiles a breeze today. And the technology has reached amazing strides in the last few years.
In fact, the wiring in automobiles industry has become a lucrative industry in itself. This feature is used in different types of electrical wires and components for producing, storing and distributing electrical current to other parts of the vehicle. Among its different functions are starting the engine; providing electrical energy for operating lights; for running air conditioners, dashboard clusters, fuel tank collection pieces wire connections to horns, music systems, and other devices. Apart from these standard uses, there are also varieties of customized solutions of these as well as power supply cord that offer other functions
ELECTRONICS HARNESSThis variety is used extensively in all types of electronic gadgets. There are those that are made for computers as computer cables and data for effective data transfer. Then there are harness solutions for a flip flop and toggle applications. Control cable assemblies are used widely in the home appliances industry as well. Audio and television wiring assembly is also one of its many uses today.
ELECTRICAL HARNESSThe harness itself, is used most highly in the electrical industry. They are used in wiring in residential as well as commercial buildings. Then there are those that are made to supply electrical energy to control panels in various kinds of pumps, telecom components, and textile machines. Power joints connect cables of higher current rating from one machine part to the other. XLPE, HR cables are used for high current applications. Among the many other varieties of electrical components available are an electrical fuse, switches, fuse holders, wiring connectors, switch panels, and relay connectors.
How to choose the right custom cable assembly?
Almost everyone in the United States will come into contact with a cable assembly, whether they realize it or not. Many of those same people will then find themselves having to purchase a customized assembly. If you are a first-time purchaser, then you may be uncertain as to the process. There are numerous great tips out there to aid you in your search for a company that assembles cables:
Communication skills matter.This may surprise some customers, but engineering and manufacturing skills are not the only facets of cable production. A company’s customer service department matters greatly in the field of customized cable assembly. Every industry is different, and every household is unique. The success and efficiency of a cable assembly is necessarily dependent upon whether the manufacturer heard and understood what you had to say. So request a representative to meet with you personally to determine your plan.
Ask to see a client list.Experience is key, as faulty cable systems could cause immeasurable damage and potentially raise an issue of safety. Additionally, to ensure efficiency, you will want to know whether the company has worked with similarly situated clients. To gauge a company’s experience, look to past clients. Not all companies have this available, due to privacy issues. But it never hurts to ask.
Have sketches ready.Along the same lines of the theme of communication, it is best for you to come prepared. You should know where you want to install your cables, why, and what function they will serve. Bring any kind of paperwork you have that may help you communicate your needs to your representative. Remember to put down any questions you may have beforehand.
Do not ignore the certifications of a company.In many industries, certifications do not hold much significance. This is not the case in the electronic world. Certifications like the CSA International and the UL Registration indicate an ability to maintain industry regulation standards and comply with updated training processes. This is crucial, as it means a company is more likely to be efficient and safe.
Be familiar with the environment in which you will place your cable assembly.The environment in which you will connect your cables determines the construction and materials involved in your customized assembly. Hotter climates and exposure to sunlight demand that wires be encased in heat-resistant insulation. Other potential problems include contact with saltwater, the risk of water damage and vibration and shock exposure. Sometimes you will have multiple environmental factors present. It is important that you be able to share this with the company.
Tour the facilities.When searching for a company to manufacture your cable assembly, you should ensure that the company maintains facilities that are large enough to accommodate the process of cable production. Ask about outsourcing, as this can be a way for the company to save money by producing standard pieces elsewhere while saving customized parts for in-house.
View the product list.Finally, ask to see a list of the types of products the company manufacturers. This is a simple but important tip. Often you can gain a feel for a company’s proficiency in a product just by reviewing items they have made in the past.