Paper is patient – OEMs are not
Krailling, August 2, 2023 – Wiring harnesses are becoming increasingly important – as are the requirements of OEMs for their quality and traceability. DiIT explains how wiring harness manufacturers can meet the most important of these requirements today.
Electrification, connected car and autonomous driving are turning vehicle wiring harnesses into safety-critical components. Accordingly, OEM requirements for quality and traceability are also increasing. Wiring harness manufacturers must monitor and optimize the quality of their products and in the event of problems they must supply the OEM with the requisite data for targeted recall actions. However, the many semi-manual and manual processes still used by wiring harness manufacturers stand in the way of meeting these requirements.
“Although wire cutting is highly-automated, wiring harnesses are generally pre-assembled manually and their final assembly is even performed completely by hand,” explains Bernd Jost, managing director of DiIT GmbH, a specialist for integrated software systems used in wiring harness production. “There is no automated data collection during pre-assembly and final assembly which is why quality measurements are mainly recorded on paper. This practice is extremely error-prone and makes evaluations difficult or even impossible. It also severely restricts traceability because wire bundles pre-produced mechanically are then further processed anonymously in manual processes.”
In order to remain competitive in the future, wiring harness manufacturers must further automate their production. For this, however, they are reliant on a product design that is suitable for automation which means that wiring harnesses must be designed in such a way that their very manufacture can be automated. The pathway for this has already been mapped. The sector is working on component standardization and OEMs are increasingly requesting zonal architectures which segregate wiring harnesses.
It will still take several years before these developments enable the comprehensive automation – and therefore also digitalization – of wiring harness production. According to DiIT, at least by then manufacturers will be able to meet the most fundamental requirements of OEMs for quality and traceability by using a range of measures:
• Modern Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) which not only enable automated, but also manual processes, to be controlled and documented. They specify to employees what the next steps are, what quality assurance measures they need to take and enable them to carry these steps out digitally.
• Wiring harness manufacturers will be able to define bundles, parts, materials, machines or workstations as trace objects that should be traced. These objects can be fitted with unique trace references and recorded with traceability technologies such as barcodes or RFID.
• As process parameters such as crimp force, tool changeover, post processing or quality tests are dynamic, they cannot be fitted with unique trace references. They can however be referenced using time stamps.
• Through the introduction of warehouse management principles such as FIFO (First in – First out) wiring harness manufacturers can further facilitate traceability.
“Due to the revolutionary changes in the automotive sector, many suppliers are now in difficulties. Not however wiring harness manufacturers. Huge new business opportunities are opening up for them,” explains Jost. “If they succeed in mastering the challenges of digitalization, they have a bright future ahead of them. That is why it is best to start today.”
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. Part of the Komax Group, DiIT operates as an autonomous company. Komax is a global technology group and a leading supplier in the wire processing industry.
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