Fourstar Connections Blog

Enhanced Wire Harness Assembly Testing

Posted by Don Glencross on Sep 4, 2015 9:48:00 AM

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Improved Success with a Proven Process

In the wire harness assembly and custom cable industry, there’s one requirement that probably is the most critical to the customer: that the cable assembly is delivered 100% electrically correct to the customer’s application. Unfortunately, errors often occur and drive frustrated customers from one harness supplier to the next, looking to end their mis-wires once and for all.  

wire_harness_assembly

As a customer, you want assurance that when a wire harness assembly is built, it meets your requirements every time in regards to:

Testing: Reliable testing is vital in establishing that your harness will be correct for every build.
Inspection: Proper verification ultimately reduces the inspection process, potentially eliminating it, and can protect other valuable equipment.  
Quality: Robust quality measures are a must and should be the natural consequences of testing and inspection—when done right.
Repeatability: All tests and set-ups need to be consistent, current, and proven; anything less can create unreliable results. Variability of set-ups can alter test parameters and outcomes, which exposes the wire harness assembly process to unreliable fluctuations.  
Documentation: You want documentation and tags—photos, even—on all fixtures to properly inform the manufacturing process, including specific test instructions and BOMs.

Good News!

We think you’ll like what we’ve done to meet these needs.

Testing: Through the use of specialized PC-based test software that is password protected, and a strategy to maintain repeatability of the testing process throughout a product’s life cycle, Fourstar is able to maximize its success and give customers the confidence that the product will be correct for every build and delivery.  

  • Fourstar provides 100% continuity testing using Cirris Easy Wire CR testers
    Cirris testers check for continuity as part of our process control and final inspection process. The testers are PC-based versus the less reliable “self-learn testers” used by many of our competitors. The advantage of these testers is that the programs are saved to a hard drive and can be used simultaneously at multiple workstations. In addition, the programming for these testers is done by qualified engineering or quality personnel, who understand the customer schematic and ensure that all test points are programmed and accounted for. Once the program is generated, the actual test programs are password protected and cannot be modified by the operators. Since the test programs are looking at all potential points for continuity, a failure will be detected in either the cable under test, or in the test fixturing itself. This ensures that no test points are missed and guarantees repeatability from lot to lot. Self-learn testers are more susceptible to missing test points or changes in the program that result in inconsistent testing over time. In addition to guaranteed repeatability, test data that is collected during manufacturing can easily be shared electronically. This capability allows Fourstar to provide serialization and formal test reports with each shipment as required by the customer.

Inspection: This approach accelerates the inspection process for both the customer and Fourstar. With customer confidence, inspection can be reduced or eliminated, knowing that the assembly is wired correctly and will not damage associated equipment. 

Quality: With the first two steps in place, quality naturally improves. Customers know that their outgoing product has been tested and their internal inspection process can focus on the workmanship of the assembly, rather than waste time with manual testing and verification against run list requirements. How is this done? The key for Fourstar was to develop a simplistic system of controlling the test programs, fixtures, and test instructions for all operators.  

Repeatability: Repeatability can present challenges if variables, well, vary: where setups are done, or if fixtures used to test an assembly during one build may not have the same as the setup done during the next build and test. Errors can easily occur when this happens. To achieve repeatability at Fourstar, and eliminate variability of setups, all automated continuity tests made available to manufacturing are limited to current password-protected test programs, which are tied electronically to the top-level cable configuration. This eliminates the possibility of selecting the wrong program for test.  

Documentation: The next part of the wire harness assembly process at Fourstar requires that fixtures be clearly tagged and documented for use by manufacturing. The fixture information can then be incorporated into BOMs, processes, and the specific test instructions linked to each test within the system. By documenting the fixtures, including photographs of each one, Fourstar is able to reverse engineer any misplaced, defective, or broken fixtures, rather than create a new program from scratch and risk any possible changes in how an assembly has been historically tested. 

Even More Testing!

Providing very clear set-up instructions for the test operator is another major component to the testing strategy at Fourstar. The set-up instructions are delivered by linking them to the selected test within the software. The set-up document explains:

  • Which fixtures to use
  • How to connect them to the harness tester
  • How to attach the assembly to the fixtures 

Additionally, pictures or drawings are included with the set-up instructions, to assist with connecting to fixturing or forming boards, which is always critical.

Reaping the Benefits

Taking these few steps ensures that we provide repeatability and the highest level of quality available to our customers. Having this system in place offers many benefits:

  • Increased speed of setting up for a new test
  • Identified and corrected mis-wires through test software, should they occur during manufacturing
  • Expedited troubleshooting in regards to colors, run numbers, and appropriate reference designators with connector graphics, allowing for quicker corrections to be made, further eliminating wasted time   

Once assemblies have been tested through this robust system, they are inspected for workmanship, where a review of electronic test records generated through this networked system, provide assurances that all intended connections are present and that a high degree of confidence in the end product will be achieved. A well-documented testing process is the key to avoiding a simple wiring error and sending a customer off in search of a new supplier. 

We would love to be your dependable supplier and would like to explore with you how Fourstar can provide solutions and create new capabilities for your next wire harness assembly job. Contact us for a Prelim Eval to see how we can work together.

Contact Us About a Prelim Eval

Topics: Wire Harness Assembly

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