Wiring harnesses are critical components in many of the products we rely on, from cars and planes to white goods and consumer electronics, enabling electrical functions such as lighting, electric motors, and sensors. As such, wire harnesses play a key role in electrification, the Internet of Things (IoT), and Industry 4.0. In this blog, we will look at why automating the production of wiring harnesses – presently a labour-intensive process – is so critical and how it can act as a catalyst for more resilient supply chains, higher product quality, and further innovation.
Inside every vehicle, machine, or electronic product are multiple wires carrying power and data critical for operations. For instance, an average car can have over 3,000 wires weighing up to 60kg, while a typical passenger aircraft can have 500km of wiring, weighing more than 8 tons. These wires are typically collected into wire harnesses to consolidate them into confined spaces and maintain an orderly arrangement.
Wire harness production has traditionally been a manual operation as the harnesses are too flexible for robotic handling. As such, manufacturing has been outsourced to areas like eastern Europe and central America where there are skilled workforces but relatively low labour costs. A remote production strategy has met the needs of the industry in the past, but some recent challenges have exposed weaknesses in this traditional approach.