Common Cable Harness Design Mistakes
Designing cable harnesses is a complex process without the right engineering skills and tools, you can soon get in a tangle and end up getting a harness manufactured that is not fit for purpose. Which is a costly error both financially in terms of extended lead times and project delays.
Poor Data Packs
If you like to spend money on rework and wait an age for the right cable harness to be manufactured then giving your supplier a poor data pack is a right way to go about it.
Most decent and reputable cable harness manufacturers can work from very little information, you can usually get away with just letting them the connectors on each end, the pinout and the overall length. But this approach although easy on upfront effort will ensure you get a ton of engineering queries from the manufacturer before they even attempt to order the parts.
Also if you’re looking to build a test/prototype harness first with a poor data pack and then plan to use the same pack for production, then you can guarantee that the prototype and production harnesses will be using different components, which may impact the performance of your harness.
Specifying The Wrong Connectors
Specifying the wrong connectors is something that is very easily done and I can hold my hand up and say that I have made this error in the past.
In one case the team I was working with was designing a cable harness for a legacy piece of equipment that had hardly any connector information documented. We had two goes internally to specify the mating connector and failed, we then sent images to the manufacturer and the connector supplier and they also got it wrong. It eventually got solved but it caused a few months’ delays in testing a subsystem, which was less than ideal.
So getting the connector part number right the first time is crucial, as these are generally the parts that will have the longest lead time, with the average lead time being 12 to 16 weeks and in the worst case 30 plus weeks.
One thing I personally do is to check, recheck and then for good measure check it a third time, which may sound crazy and a little OCD, but a few minutes of checking will save you months of waiting for the right part to be delivered.
Getting Tied Into Long Lead Parts
Just like specifying the wrong parts, needlessly specifying long lead items has the same impact. Granted in some cases you will have to stick with a long lead item as that is the only item that will work for your harness.
But all too often companies will design themselves into a corner and specify a part number from one supplier. This supplier may have a 25-week lead time for that part but an alternative supplier may have the same part in stock but with a different part number so you can’t use it.
A great example is the D38999 series of connectors, there are a number of suppliers on the market that have their own versions of these connectors and they’re largely identical and interminable. What we do for our clients is to specify the common D38999 part number and leave it up to the manufacturer to order the parts based on the client’s lead time and budget.
Incorrectly Specifying The Pinout
This can have the same impact on your project as specifying the wrong connector. But there is nothing worse than plugging a harness in and the system components don’t operate as expected.
It can also have disastrous consequences on sensitive electronics within products which can render them inoperable. Trust me no project manager wants to hear that a cable harness has fried the PCB of a third-party product, trust me I’ve been there and had that awkward conversation, thankfully after a full investigation it turned out not to be the harness that caused the fault but I never want to have that conversation or the subsequent days of dread whilst trying to figure out what went wrong.
Do You Regularly Have These Issues?
If your projects commonly come across these issues then we’re here to assist and guide you to ensure you don’t fall foul of these issues and save you time and money when creating cable harnesses drawings and data packs.
With almost 30 years of experience in the design of complex cable harness systems NSTG Engineering is the ideal partner to get your cable harnesses defined and out to manufacture, whilst ensuring your harnesses are manufacturable and do not fall into the common pitfalls.
If you would like to work with NSTG Engineering please get in touch via our contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org