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HomeTips & GuidesAuto Wire Harness Management: Importance of Effective Design, Manufacturing, Inspection, etc.

Auto Wire Harness Management: Importance of Effective Design, Manufacturing, Inspection, etc.

Auto wire harness management is a broad topic that covers the entire journey from design to manufacturing, assembly, storage, organization, routing, inspection, testing, etc.

Therefore, learning the best wire harness management practices is critical to optimizing the processes above and thinking about future improvements.

Here’s all you need to know about automobile wire harness management.

Table of Contents

Benefits of Effective Wire Harness Management

Better Wire Harness Organization and Accessibility

From a visual perspective, effective wire harness management makes the cables appear neat, a critical factor for branding and customer perception.

But this cable management benefit goes beyond aesthetics. Streamlined wire routing makes the harness easy to reach for repairs, maintenance, or upgrades.

Reduced Risk of Wire Harness Damage or Electrical Issues

Effective wire harness management also reduces the chances of experiencing wire/connector damage or loose connections, which extend the part’s lifespan.

Similarly, electrical issues like short circuits, ground faults, and open circuits are less likely to occur because effective management means adhering to manufacturing standards.

A burnt cable caused by short-circuiting

A burnt cable caused by short-circuiting

And since wiring harness management involves planned and careful routing, the system will experience zero or minimal electromagnetic interference, leading to better performance.

Simple Troubleshooting

Wire harness organization includes labeling and using standardized color codes, which makes it easier to spot and diagnose issues accurately.

Additionally, the wires will be on accessible routes along the vehicle. So you will get to them easily and diagnose the issues quickly.

This simplified troubleshooting will reduce downtime because you can fix the issue swiftly and resume operations.

Reduced Maintenance Costs

A combination of zero or few electrical issues, easy accessibility for repairs, and long lifespans make automotive wire harness maintenance tasks more predictable and cheaper.

Therefore, you can schedule repairs, inspections, or preventive maintenance tasks at specific times to keep the harness in tip-top shape.

Enhanced Car Safety

Well-designed, manufactured, and routed automotive wiring harnesses are less likely to experience short circuits, arcing, or ground faults, making your vehicle safer from hazards like electrical fires or shocks.

Additionally, the harness will meet all quality and compliance standards that ensure it is as safe as possible for the vehicle and the people inside. 

Better Vehicle Performance

A vehicle with reliable wiring won’t keep stalling on the road. The well-managed cable system will ensure the electrical or data signals move efficiently from sensors to computers to actuators, resulting in swift and efficient performance.

Reliability and Durability

Reliability goes hand-in-hand with durability. Effective wire harness management involves planned routing that dampens vibrations, reduces exposure to moisture to prevent corrosion, and avoids areas that can burn or cut the wires.

All these factors increase the cable harness’s lifespan, making it more durable and reliable.

A worker testing auto wire harnesses

A worker testing auto wire harnesses

Space Efficiency and Weight Reduction

Optimal wire harness routing utilizes spaces in tight areas, making the cable bundles appear neat while consuming little space.

With an efficient wire harness design that cuts excesses, space efficiency can reduce the vehicle’s weight due to optimal routing, minimizing fuel consumption.

Adaptability and Flexibility

An efficient and optimal auto wire harness design is more flexible and adaptable to modifications when upgrading your vehicle’s systems. This benefit cuts rewiring costs while making the process easier.

Streamlined Production

Wire harness management also benefits production processes by enhancing component manufacturing efficiency, hastening assembly, and reducing errors.

Common Challenges in Wire Harness Management

Effective wire harness management has several benefits, but these don’t come without challenges. Here are the typical ones.

Complexity

Modern vehicles have up to cable harnesses with wires having a combined length of up to 5km. These include nearly 3000 wires with almost 700 connectors, forming about 40 separate looms/harnesses.

A complex car wiring harness

A complex car wiring harness

Managing these pieces from design to assembly and routing is a daunting task that requires skill, concentration, and keen eyes.

Supplier Management

Most auto wire harness manufacturers and assemblers get their electronic components from multiple suppliers. You must manage these providers to ensure they are reliable and deliver consistent-quality parts.

Space and Weight Constraints

Since modern vehicles have multiple wire harnesses, finding sufficient space and optimal routing paths for them in the car is tricky.

Their weight is also critical because they weigh as much as 60kg. Therefore, optimizing their design to be lightweight is vital, but they should also meet industry standards.

Heat Management

Some electrical components in the wire harness generate excessive heat, leading to wire insulations and plastic connector damage. Therefore, you should design low-heat or ventilated parts to maximize durability.

Electromagnetic Interference

Some of the vehicle’s electronic parts generate EMI. Wires routed through these sections must have shields to keep the signals inside intact. Otherwise, you’ll have to channel them via non-optimal routes.

Durability

Auto wire harnesses must have high durability even when exposed to the elements, vibrations, extreme temperatures, etc. Manufacturing them to withstand these factors is challenging.

Customization

Auto wire harness manufacturers and assemblers can have contracts for different vehicle models. And customizing the designs, processes, assembly lines, and disposal procedures can be challenging.

Complex Routing

Channeling the close to 40 harnesses in tight spaces while considering heat sources, vibration avoidance, moving parts, and sections with limited accessibility is not easy.

Testing and Safety/Quality Assurance

Each harness component must undergo rigorous testing and quality control to meet the required standards.

Designing and building these components to meet and exceed these standards is challenging and expensive.

An employee checking the quality of auto wire harnesses in a production plant

An employee checking the quality of auto wire harnesses in a production plant

Environmental Compliance

Lastly, wire harness manufacturers must consider the materials they use and disposal procedures when making parts for the cable bundle.

Strategies for Efficient Wire Harness Management

Design Harnesses for Maximum Efficiency

The cable bundle optimization process begins in the design phase, where you should consider routing channels, wire length, connector location, etc.

Build Strong Relationships with Suppliers

On the part of assemblers and manufacturers, they should solidify their relationship with suppliers to ensure on-time delivery and consistent parts quality.

Proper Storage and Handling

Organize your components and harnesses cleanly to prevent damages or losses before installation. Also, train your personnel to handle the parts carefully during installation or transportation.

Wire harnesses in a neat and organized storage

Wire harnesses in a neat and organized storage

Proper Routing and Securing

Optimize the harness routing channels to avoid hot areas, sharp edges, moving parts, or areas exposed to the elements. Secure the bundle using cable ties, clamps, or clips to prevent sagging or contact with other components.

Implement Quality Control and Inspection

Factor in extensive quality control procedures during assembly and installation to maximize durability and reliability.

Regular Inspection, Testing, and Maintenance

Extend the quality control and inspection procedures to regular inspection, testing, and maintenance to keep the harness in tip-top shape.

Continuous Improvement

Learn from the past to improve the design, manufacturing, assembly, routing, testing, and inspection processes to optimize auto wire harness management and be better than competitors.

Advanced Harness Management Techniques

CAD Software for Design and Routing

CAD software can help you optimize the design process by auto-generating harnesses based on your specifications. This option cuts design time and creates an optimal layout with zero or minimal errors.

Simulation

Engineers can create simulations or digital twins before manufacturing to observe the harness behavior under different conditions, optimize wire routing paths, or perform inference testing.

Wire Harness Optimization Algorithms

You can combine the intelligence of CAD software with harness optimization algorithms to find the most efficient and cost-effective routing channels considering wire length, connected components, and cable weight.

An engineer using CAD software to make technical drafts and drawings

An engineer using CAD software to make technical drafts and drawings

Production and Assembly Automation

Try to automate parts of the manufacturing or assembly processes using robotic solutions. For instance, you can use 3D printing to make custom components with minimal weight requirements.

AR and VR

Technicians can use AR or VR technology (or both) to hasten the harness assembly, repair, or maintenance processes for efficiency and accuracy enhancement.

Wireless Connectivity

Instead of using wires for all connections, try replacing some data or signal links with wireless communication to reduce the system’s complexity, weight, and space consumption.

Embedded Diagnostic Systems

Try to embed diagnostic sensors in the wire harnesses for health monitoring to enable proactive maintenance.

IoT and RFID for Inventory Management

IoT and RFID chips are off-the-shelf solutions that you can use to track and monitor the condition of auto wire harnesses while in storage to optimize production and assembly.

An RFID tape containing multiple tags (wet inlay)

An RFID tape containing multiple tags (wet inlay)

Thermal Analysis and AI for Analysis and Evaluation

Thermal analysis is critical to ensure harnesses in hot areas, such as near the engine, can handle the high heat.

You can take this technology further by implementing AI to analyze data from sensors and harnesses to predict failures and inform preventive or proactive maintenance measures to enhance the vehicle’s performance.

Lightweight Materials

Wire harnesses in modern vehicles are heavy and will become weightier as electrified vehicles become mainstream and primary car functions increase.

So, one of the areas automotive manufacturers are researching is finding lighter materials for electrical and signal transmission.

Modular Construction

To cut costs, future automotive wiring harnesses should be modular and adaptable to fit as upgrades or modifications in different or changing vehicle platforms. Therefore, there will be some level of or complete standardization.

AI Predictive Maintenance

Artificial intelligence will assist with predictive maintenance, enabling you to know when to replace harnesses before they go out.

V2X Communication

V2X (Vehicle-to-Everything) is a technology that enables data exchange between vehicles and other intelligent devices on the road. Future wire harnesses should be able to handle this communication to the wireless interface that links to the outside.

High-Speed Data Communication Harnesses

V2X technologies like V2V, V2D, V2P, and V2I require shielded high-speed data harnesses to enable data transfer with minimal or no interference.

But even other harnesses will require noise prevention or canceling technologies to block EMI because the wiring will become more complex.

Wrap Up

Automotive wire harnesses are enablers of intelligent and convenient vehicle features but are getting more complex as cars advance.

Therefore, their management process should advance at the same pace to ensure designing, manufacturing, assembling, inspection, and maintenance are top-notch.

So, the advanced cable management techniques and future trends listed above are critical to watch.

That’s it for now. You can learn more about auto wire harness drawing templates to understand one section of the management process.

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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