You have products—perhaps industrial, military, solar and wind power, agricultural, or transportation—that require complicated cables and harnesses. Your engineers come up with a design, but is it as cost-effective to produce and as high performing as it could be?
Here are four steps you can take to ensure that the budget and performance specifications you aimed for are actually delivered with your cable and harness assemblies:
- Understand your manufacturer’s specialties. Some cable and harness manufacturers specialize in one piece flow: high volumes that pass along a production line from one person to the next. Others specialize in high mix/low volumes, where a dedicated assembler walks the product through from start to finish, increasing ownership, traceability, and accountability. Others, like Whitney Blake, do both.
- Check into your manufacturer’s training program for cable and harness assemblers. Individual assemblers should be trained to IPC/WHMA-A-620 Certification, Requirements and Acceptance for Cable and Wire Harness Assemblies. You want the entire team to understand the materials, methods, tests and acceptability criteria for producing interconnections, cables, and harnesses, regardless of the method they use.
- Coordinate with your manufacturer’s engineering and design team. You are the specialists in your product. However, if you select a manufacturer with an engineering and design team, you ensure that your final design takes full advantage of the tools and capabilities the manufacturer already has. If your design requires re-tooling, the costs and delays may increase. In addition you want to be sure that everyone is on the same page and takes ownership.
- Make sure your manufacturer has the agility you need. Your manufacturer should be able to change and set up the production floor quickly to accommodate your scheduling; be adaptable to the new materials and products that transform your industry; and have made efforts to reduce waste, defects, and especially downtime. No cable and harness manufacturer can wave a magic wand and deliver your product the day before yesterday—but choose a company that understands the importance of scheduling, anticipating material and production needs, and meeting shipping constraints.
- Bonus step: select Whitney Blake.
Recently, Whitney Blake handled a typical project involving 150 cables and over 700 connections tested on a harness board that was 8 feet by 4 feet. Every connection involved 2 to 10 wires. We assigned two people to follow that assembly from start to finish: that’s typical of our low volume/high mix, customized work, where we produce multiple parts at different volumes every week.
In addition, we specialize in one piece flow for high volumes. We can be that flexible because all of our staff are trained one-on-one to IPC/WHMA-A-620 Certification standards; our engineering and design staff are smart and ready to help; and we have high quality machinery, with a commitment to keeping up with technology. We are experts in accurate and efficient just-in-time manufacturing.
Bill Browne, Production Manager for cable and harness assemblies, summarizes Whitney Blake’s approach to manufacturing: “We want to be as agile as our customers in taking on new challenges, learning, and growing. We are good at what we do because we specialize in it.”