The global light rail industry is forecasted to reach $4.97 billion by 2026, growing at an annual rate of 9.8%. While Europe continues to maintain the highest market growth, the recent rise in light rail passengers across major U.S. cities has led to approvals for light rail extension projects throughout the country — expecting to drive market growth even further. Light rail vehicles produced by companies like Bombardier, Siemens, Kawasaki, Hitachi, Alstom, Ansaldo, and others are expanding across the nation due to advancements in areas like noise reduction, comfort and safety.
Imagine notifying your two largest customers that their lines will be down because you won’t be able to deliver their products for 16 weeks. Imagine the daily conference calls, site visits, audits, and over-time costs while your organization is turned upside down trying to deliver product, all for one simple reason: a key part of the process was never formally documented on an assembly that is newly outsourced, or outsourced from a new supplier.
In cable assemblies and wire harnesses, there are hundreds and often thousands of opportunities for defects per assembly. Therefore, it is imperative that a manufacturer takes rigorous steps to mitigate the risk of incurring those defects. Multiple process controls must be deployed to ensure that a wire assembly is produced that meets or exceeds the customer’s requirements. Many of these measures are taken before the components are even built. Revision-controlled quality requirements---specified on prints and in workmanship standards---must be understood. Operators must be trained and must demonstrate this understanding. As an assembly is produced, a predetermined regimen of tests and other validations are employed, both by operators and technicians. These validations, depending on the project, can include mechanical, electrical, and environmental tests. Each of these stages in the quality assurance process ultimately ensures that the product meets or exceeds the customer specifications.
Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the aerospace and military defense industries rely on efficient integration of many different parts with little margin for error. As a result, effective aerospace and military manufacturing relies heavily on maintaining good business relationships between different buyers and suppliers on the production chain.
Marking and identifying the components of wire assemblies properly is an important step in the manufacturing process. Proper identification ensures that the product reaches the required certifications, while providing practical information to the manufacturer and customer about each component of the assembly. Different types of identifying techniques, including laser marking, heat-shrinkable labels, wrap markers, and printing, all offer various options for the manufacturer to meet the client’s needs.
Strategic sourcing processes allow manufacturers to choose the best vendors based on more factors than cost alone. By evaluating other characteristics such as quality management practices, efficient operations, design capabilities, and sustainability, purchasing managers are using strategic sourcing techniques to look at the “bigger picture” for long-term growth.
Making sure wire bundles are adequately secured or contained is an important step in creating a quality product, even after the necessary electrical or environmental protection has been applied. It is imperative that a wire assembly be secured adequately, and it is also crucial that the bundle fits well within the physical space allotted. This is where various wire bundle management techniques come into play. Wires can be held together using heat shrinkable tubing, lacing, stitching, tie wraps, metal bands, or braided coverings. The style and material used to secure the assembly helps it achieve the best performance possible.
Molding protects the connectors of a wire assembly from a variety of potential harmful influences. These include environmental factors such as water and chemical damage, as well as abrasion and other physical damage in service. Using the best material for the job also ensures the best possible adhesion for the components, yielding reliability and longevity of the end product. The choice of molding material used is directly related to the desired function and level of performance, and utilizing the best materials in the industry---such as urethanes , silicones, and epoxies---ensures the highest quality of assemblies according to client needs.
Insulation materials provide wiring harnesses with a layer of necessary protection in a variety of ways, depending on the specific requirements the product must meet. Insulation helps protect the product mechanically, electrically, or environmentally, meeting particular needs according to the product’s application. Additionally, a variety of materials used in wiring harness insulation ensure the various functions of cable harnesses are carried out in the best way possible using the best materials for the job.