4 Challenges for Wiring Harness Manufacturers
Krailling, December 8, 2020 – The wiring harness is now one of the most complex and most important components in a modern vehicle. DiIT, a specialist in integrated software systems used in wiring harness production, explains the four biggest challenges this presents to manufacturers.
With the growing number of driver assistance systems and the increasing electrification of drive systems, it is not only the quantity of wires that is dramatically increasing in modern vehicles. Automotive manufacturers are also installing more and more special wires designed for specific uses only and which must also fulfil high quality and security requirements. This creates new challenges for the producers of wiring harnesses as they are no longer supplying a typical commodity product as was formerly the case, but a highly customized and safety-critical vehicle component. DiIT explains four developments to keep in mind:
1. Traceability of parts. Manufacturers of wiring harnesses require the continuous tracking of materials and components across all processing steps through to the final assembly of wiring harnesses in the vehicle. This is the only way to ensure seamless traceability and to reliably identify defective parts or batches. This means it can then be determined with precision in which vehicles these parts are located in order to perform a targeted recall, ultimately leading to huge cost savings when compared to a whole series recall. In the finished vehicle it must also be possible to ascertain the original batch of each wire bundle, the materials that were processed and by which machines.
2. Increased automation. The manufacture of wiring harnesses is a complex process which is highly automated in some areas yet still requires a high amount of manual work. This is because slack parts cannot be machine-processed easily and custom-configured vehicles require highly adapted wiring harnesses. Due to the increasing number of special wires and smaller and smaller wiring harnesses, producers will not be able to avoid increased automation due to the quality and safety requirements they must fulfil. Automation can prevent human error, not only in production, but also in quality assurance – for instance through scanning systems for tracking parts, monitoring manufacturing parameters and the automatic disablement of scrap parts.
3. Quality assurance through machine learning. Wiring harness producers already collect a lot of production and operating parameters – from the power in the crimping process to the temperature of the motor in the crimping machine. Deviations can easily be detected to enable manufacturers to immediately reject wires, for example, which have been processed incorrectly or to prevent any overheat of the motor and any ensuing machine damage. However, the use of cameras, microphones and additional sensors means that additional parameters can be recorded and evaluated through analytics applications with machine learning. This enables manufacturers to better detect, or even predict, faults and quality variations in production. They are also able to optimize the maintenance of their machines because they will know in good time when wearing parts must be exchanged.
4. The specific requirements of high-voltage networks. Wiring in modern cars with many driver assistance systems is already extremely complex, but with hybrid and electric drive systems even more wires are required and this presents very specific challenges. On the one hand they are multiple wire lines requiring special shields because they have a bigger diameter and cannot be processed by traditional machines. And on the other hand, these wires must meet extremely high safety requirements which in turn pre-suppose a high degree of automation – no easy undertaking con-sidering that most batches are even smaller.
“The wiring harness sector is undergoing radical change and is reliant on higher-performance software support to further automate its production, to ensure the traceability of all parts and to make use of the huge potential of data analytics for quality assurance and predictive maintenance,” emphasizes Bernd Jost, Managing Director of DiIT.
DiIT GmbH, based in Krailling near Munich, is the world’s leading provider of integrated software solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), customized wire harness production and logistics. DiIT‘s competencies are bundled in the “4Wire Solutions” software suite, which is primarily used for the production of wire harnesses and wiring systems in the automotive industry and other industrial sectors. By digitalizing the value chains, the company‘s innovative software optimizes and controls complex manufacturing and logistics processes and supports quality assurance and traceability. DiIT was founded in 1990 and has a subsidiary in Berlin. DiIT is also represented in the key markets Mexico and China. The company offers a comprehensive services package to both large and small customers which covers consulting, project management and customized implementation and training. The DiIT support line is available during 24 hours and 365 days. DiIT is a wholly-owned, independently managed company of the Schleuniger Group. Schleuniger is a globally active technology company and a leading solution supplier in the wire processing industry.
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