Making the Right Connection for Automotive Energy Storage Solutions
When companies search out partners to help them with their design for manufacturing (DFM) initiative, it’s usually because they are having challenges with exiting products or for the following reasons:
- OEMs looking to reduce cost while increasing performance and reliability, which may be exacerbated by designs that are not conducive to manufacturing or are susceptible to quality problems
- Problems may exist with programs that are designed for low volume that need to be redesigned due to increased volume or changing price points
- Older products may not be RoHS compliant or use content that is not conducive to automated manufacturing processes
- Shifting regulatory requirements that affect the bill of material (BOM); (Fourstar can recommend alternative BOM content)
- Supply chain resources are not conducive to quick-turn production, so OEMs need new production sourcing
DFM is a core capability of Fourstar, and is familiar with the many challenges that existing products present. We’d like to tell you about a recent DFM project we completed that involved automotive electric connectors.
XL Hybrids contacted Fourstar to help build high-voltage AC and DC cable kits for an automotive aftermarket hybrid-electric conversion kit. Fourstar engineered the solutions, bought new tooling to configure the connecting assemblies correctly, and completed the kits with generous lead times for the customer.
Fourstar was asked to help build connecting assemblies for XL Hybrids’ conversion kits. The customer uses energy storage solutions in its aftermarket hybrid-electric conversion kits for the automotive industry. This converts gasoline-dependent vehicles to hybrid gas/electric vehicles. The XL Hybrids system improves the gas mileage for large fleets, and it also saves on vehicle brake maintenance costs thanks to the system’s regenerative braking.
Prior to Fourstar acquiring the termination tooling, XL Hybrids purchased a standard cable with long flying leads and then cut down the cables to allow them to work in their application. This was more expensive and required them to purchase long lead time cables that were being built overseas. This type of supply chain has proven to be challenging for companies in North America. Competitors have long lead time and are not as flexible and responsive to the quick-turn needs of customers.
The final assembly required 12 components.
The high-voltage wiring for XL Hybrids includes two heavy AWG cables: a two conductor for the DC output from the battery to the inverter, and a three conductor for the AC current flowing from the inverter to drive the electric motor. These cables are orange in color for the safety of emergency personnel responding to an accident. They also have a 360-degree shield to prevent electrical interference from the high-voltage cables to any other wiring inside the vehicle.
Terminating these cables into the DC connectors that interface with the battery box requires specialized tooling. The wire processing also requires machinery that can handle the large wire AWG. As part of working with the customer to support these requirements, Fourstar has acquired the specialized tooling necessary to terminate the DC connector, and has employed our large AWG wire processing equipment to prepare the wire for connectorization.
Fourstar helped our customer address their DFM and assembly challenges with cost-effective solutions that reduced labor while increasing quality and performance. Now with all the tooling in place in Hudson MA, XL Hybrids can buy automotive electric connectors with cables made exactly to their specialized application, at a lower cost and with significantly less lead time. (If you are looking for this same capability, look up these connector housing part numbers: 9-2141154-1 and 1-2141154-1 2POS, 8MM HV, REC HSG, 90DEG, ASSY, SEALE.) In addition, Fourstar is able to support XL Hybrids in customizing each new application, by building working prototypes, with those same shortened lead times.
In short, Fourstar provided U.S. access to automated manufacturing processes and delivered a final product solution at a very competitive price point. Fourstar partners with leading companies to “find a better way” for time to market, new product introduction, and design for manufacturing (DFM) initiatives. How can we find a better way for you? Take a closer look at all the solutions we provided for XL Hybrids in this full case study of our collaboration with them. You might see your solutions right in front of you. Read it now.