How and Why Wire Harnessing Is Done
Wire harnesses—sometimes called cable harnesses—are custom-designed for each particular application. The harness could be designed for a small electrical enclosure, a large piece of construction equipment, or an aircraft. The wire harness can save a lot of time in the manufacturing of products by pre-cutting, terminating with the proper connectors, and bundling them in a neat and compact package.
Benefits of Wire Harnesses
When wire harnesses are used, it eliminates many variable that can otherwise create obstacles to efficiency and safety. Wire harnesses eliminate the need to:
- Measure, cut, and secure numerous wires repeatedly
- Worry about loose wires dangling and in the way, where they may get damaged
All you need to do is carefully lay a harness in place, secure it, and complete the required electrical connections. The harnesses will be consistent, so they can be installed in the same manner time and time again.
The How of Harnessing
The wire harness is designed to fit a predetermined area following various paths to designated termination points. There are 6 main steps to creating a wire harness.
- Forming board: When a harness is to be produced many times, a forming board is used. Forming boards are usually made from a 4X8 sheet of plywood, or in some cases, several sheets of plywood.
- Silhouette: On the forming board, a silhouette is drawn on a covering, to full scale, showing the wire paths, connector, and even an unterminated wire location.
- Bends: Bends in the wire harness are done by driving a specially designed nail into the forming board at the desired point of that bend.
- Listing runs: The wire lengths and types for all the runs are noted. The list is submitted to the wire processing area.
- Wire processing area: In the wire processing area, the wiring is pre-cut, labeled, and kitted for production.
- Final fitting: The wires are then placed in position and the final fitting and termination (if required) can be performed; here, any additional labeling or markings are added.
The forming board can also be “back wired” for ease of testing. This is accomplished by pre-wiring mating connectors for the cable to connectors for the test device and affixing them in the proper location on the board. When the harness wiring has been completed, just connect the test device and the harness and begin testing.
Environmental Factors and Harnessing Methods
The environment in which the wire harness is to be used dictates the method used to bundle it.
Enclosures: If the intended use is in an enclosure, simple tie wraps or lacing may be all that is needed.
Harsh environments: These may require other means that will also afford the wiring some protection.
Electrical risks: The bundled wires may be bound in a flame retardant sleeving to reduce the risk of electrical fires.
EMI shielding: If in an area where EMI could be a problem, a shielded sleeving to prevent radiating or absorbing EMI would be more appropriate.
Vibration: Proper sleeving is necessary to help prevent the effects of vibration, which could cause wire damage, leading to short circuits or wire breakage.
From simple to complex assemblies with discrete, and/or multi jacketed cable and wire, Fourstar provides wire harness design, complete wire harnessing and wire harness assembly. We manufacture to customer-supplied documentation or provide consultative design services for manufacturability to assist with the component material specifications and design layout. Fourstar can support your product life cycle from product development to volume production.
Wondering about the manufacturability of your next project or need to create a more efficient production cycle with harnessing? Contact us now to get the conversation started.