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Five Questions To Ask Before Your First Wire Harness Project
From the simple, multicolored spaghetti neatly corralled into a workable position for a small electronics system to a heterogenous cable aggregation for use in a telescoping mast assembly, wire harness project have a few common questions.
1. Does a wiring harness like this already exist? Wheels are expensive to re-engineer. If there’s a harness that has all but two of the required cable components, consider just focusing on two. Manufacturing isn’t the major cost drag: it’s support, re-engineering, quality assurance, and a host of other things. Using an existing harness lowers the cost. An off-the-shelf wiring harness plus a small custom one Is cheaper than creating a eighteen-cable, multiple connector, heat shrink-sealed wiring harness from scratch.
2. Is there a design for the wire harness project? Back-of-the-envelope might suffice for a pair of DC wires from battery to circuit board (accent on the “might”), but anything of complexity must be designed. There are too many variables to list, but let’s consider just a few:
a. Length. Sure, the joke of two inches too short is first at mind. But it’s true whether it’s an overhead conduit for network copper and fiber cabling in an office drop ceiling, or a web of wiring mating two daughter boards to a motherboard in an electronic component. Is this the only configuration the harness needs to meet? Multiple configurations mean multiple component lengths. Too much and the service loop interferes with the larger assembly. Too little and.. well, two inches, etc.
b. Harness tolerances. Moving cabling from a wire harness through the aluminum shell of a server isn’t the simple process it was a few years back. Access holes might require a harness to split and rejoin, or employ different sleeves to make things fit. Again, there are so many variables this is just an example of the issues.
c. Flex. Will this wire harness project deliver its component wires to all required areas? Depending on wire (or cable), its loom type, movement for the wire within its sheath, and environmental factors such as heat and electrical interference tolerances, a simple-seeming requirement can churn through several iterations of component materiel before “getting it right.”
So get. It’ designed. Carpenters do it. Cooks do it. Has it been done for this wire harness project?
3. Is this doable within the given specs? The answer’s easy if designing the wire harness project happens first. “Yes” is the easy answer—skip to the next question. “No” doesn’t mean “can’t.” It’s a call to redesign. Splitting the solution into multiple wire harnesses, working with other groups to change a fabrication to account better for the harness, or call into question some of the cable component needs. Is a 14 gauge wire necessary, or can a 22 gauge with resistors work as well? What’s the cost to replacing nylon weave sleeves with shrinkable ones?
4. What’s the complete wire harness project going to cost? There’s an old saying about the wisdom of selling at a loss and making up for it in volume. A project should have a target per-piece budget. Even if this is a one-off, money matters. Close but a bit over means going back to the components to see what can be scaled back in terms of specifications. Over by tens of percent means a prudent builder should return to the drawing board, preferably in conference with other makers of the proposed final product.
5. What’s the speed of manufacturing for this wire harness project? Again, if this is a one-off, never to be done again, this might not be a relevant question. Those are rare cases indeed. For projects where a successful quantity one leads to an order for “gimme a hundred thousand just like that,” it’s wise to drill down to components sourcing, manufacturing and delivery lead times, and how long, — and how many stations — are required to manufacture the wire harness. That feeds into the cost (see above).
Thinking all this out before beginning a project, no matter the scale, reduces frustration and regrets down the line.
Your best option for you next wire harness project is Lodan.