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What is UL Certification and Why is it Important?

You’ve probably seen the little “UL” inside a circle on a host of products you use on a daily basis but might never have given it much thought. UL stands for Underwriters Laboratories. They are one of only a handful of companies that have been certified by the U.S. Government to conduct quality and consistency testing for products, personnel, facilities, and systems/processes. So why does any of that matter in Meridian’s world of cable assemblies and custom cables? Well, it’s literally at the core of everything we do. 

History of UL Certification

William Henry Merril, Jr. founded the Underwriters Electrical Bureau in 1894. This was one of the first organizations whose mission was to promote safe living and working conditions by performing testing services for various building components. Their early tests focused on fire prevention within electrical wiring and insulation. 

In 1901, this mission would expand as UL was officially incorporated and their first testing lab was set-up in Chicago for testing all manner of products for safety, but with the main focus still being electrical. 

1903 saw the nation’s first-ever publication on a standard for safety – “Tin Clad Fire Doors” for establishments to safely implement this simple, but effective, method for fire control in public buildings. 

Three years later, in 1906, UL began labeling products it had inspected for safety, which included ensuring uniformity to new safety standards. 

In the following years, UL’s testing services and capabilities increased as they tested and literally wrote the book for safety standards within a wide range of products – everything from wall materials, to electric ranges, to fire sprinkler systems. 

In 1912, a component of UL published what would become the gold standard for the electrical industry’s uniformity with the “National Electric Code”. The standards they developed helped shape safer buildings and products in just about every facet of American life. 

By the 1950’s UL had expanded internationally with a focus on testing and certifying products from Europe and Japan that were bound for the U.S. 

1966 saw a revolution in manufacturing with UL’s release of the “Recognized Component Index”, which for the first-time allowed manufacturers to speed up their manufacturing process by using pre-certified materials and components in their products. This simple idea radicalized how manufacturers source materials and design their products, as product engineers now had a way to ensure a much better degree of product consistency.

Today, UL stands as a global leader in product testing, safety certification, and standards-writing. In fact, many federal, state, and local safety and environmental regulations were shaped using the data and standards UL developed. 

Benefits of UL Certification

Over a more than 120 year history, UL has helped shape how products are manufactured in a safe and uniform manner for the ultimate benefit of all parties along the product’s value chain including the manufacturer, handlers/shippers, insurers, and especially end-users. 

  • Product Testing: both within specialized labs and in the field, UL’s engineers employ testing equipment that’s engineered for a specific component of a system. For everything from lithium ion batteries to life vests, UL develops a specific battery of tests to ensure compliance with design, safety, structural integrity, and overall functionality. Rather than trying to invent a new and untested component from scratch, manufacturers who use UL approved products start the design process knowing the exact specifications of a given component and engineer their product around those known limits.   
  • Risk Management: UL-certified products are tested and retested with the greatest objective being the safety of all those who will come into contact with the end-product. As we’ve stated, this includes far more than just the consumer, with many stakeholders helping participate in the process of making a component into a system. At Meridian, our custom cable and wire assemblies are used in some of the most challenging environments on planet earth. Therefore, it is imperative to start the manufacturing process knowing that each and every component that goes into our product lines has been tested and certified for the capacity to which it will serve. Ensuring we have a consistently reliable product means testing and retesting before, during, and after manufacturing so that our clients know the product they receive will work within its set specifications established for that specific component.

  • Process Improvement: from their earliest days as an evaluator of electrical and fire systems, UL certification’s standards have led to a paradigm shift in the way goods are produced and services are provided in this country, and arguably, worldwide. Manufacturers were forced to adopt better processes that protected both workers and consumers so that their products could meet the uniform standards UL was developing. UL safety and product certification themselves can even extend to the manufacturing process as different elements such as supply chain management can also be certified. Meridian is both a UL approved wire and cable extruder as well as a UL approved manufacturing facility.

UL certification shows consumers that a manufacturer has dedicated the necessary resources to ensure their products meet a uniform standard of safety and design integrity. At Meridian, we make this commitment to quality because our components are used in absolutely vital systems – everything from automobiles’ electrical systems, to advanced medical devices, and many applications in the US military. All of these systems are simply too vital to produce anything less than perfectly suitable solutions that conform to the requirements of the project.

UL’s Certification Process

UL is the approved certification body for a wide variety of industry and governmental regulation authorities. UL breaks up its certification capacity into three different areas: UL listing service, UL recognition service, and UL classification service. 

A UL listing service is a manufacturer that has been verified as having met all of the requirements UL has developed for a particular product, service, or capability. UL does not typically test each product from a UL listing service, but instead relies on the manufacturer to provide their own testing, per UL’s requirements. In this case, UL will perform quality checks on the manufacturer to ensure continued adherence to these requirements is met.

A UL recognition service is for manufacturers that don’t develop the actual end product, but rather a component of the system. A custom wire and cable manufacturer is a good example of a UL recognition service. Like Meridian, these companies manufacture the cables, wires, harnesses, and other components that are then used by other manufacturers to complete the product. A UL recognition service will also generally provide their own testing services per UL’s strict requirements, with regular quality checks to ensure compliance.

UL’s classification service is the actual deployment of UL’s engineers and testing professionals to certify specific risks or performance standards, adherence to regulatory requirements, or other specified conditions. For instance, UL is an approved certification body for the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which among other safety measures, required third-party verification for the safety standards of children’s furniture. Manufacturers needing to meet this requirement can have UL verify that their products adhere to these standards. 

How do you know if your cable manufacturer uses UL-Certified components?

As a UL approved cable and wire extruder and being a UL approved manufacturing facility, Meridian is certified by UL to produce a wide variety of wires and cables that all meet or exceed industry standards for those components. UL’s new Product iQ tool allows anyone to access certification information for the myriad of products or components UL certifies.

Buying a cheaper product from a company that doesn’t adhere to the same quality standards that UL has helped institute can be incredibly costly. Production delays or a drop in consumer confidence can spell a company’s ruin. Worse, a failure of a critical component in a military or medical setting can prove dire when human life is at stake. UL certification gives consumers the confidence to buy and use a product as it was intended, without reservation. Before UL, manufacturers could (and did) cut corners just to make a buck and both workers and consumers were negatively affected. UL’s certification process helped make manufactured goods and services accountable by creating a unified standard. At Meridian, we proudly maintain our UL certification and continue to add UL wire and cable certifications to our growing list because this commitment to quality lays at the center of every cable assembly, corded cable, molded component, and wire harness that rolls of our production lines.

Ready to start your project knowing UL-certified components are being used?

Have confidence with your project knowing that the components our design staff are putting in your system have been tested and retested to ensure they will perform in whatever environment you need them to. Each and every product off our assembly lines goes through our own strict QA/QC process to make sure the client gets exactly what they need with each and every component of the order. Our design team loves taking our client’s hard problems and producing solutions that deliver. With UL approved production facilities around the globe, Meridian can deliver your critical components anywhere you need them. Contact our knowledgeable sales team to start the design process today.

Custom Cable Manufacturers: Creating Endless Possibilities With Your Custom Cable Design

Based on the combinations of each level of design of a custom cable assembly, there seems to be an endless number of possibilities for creating a unique, never-seen-before amalgamation of cables, wires, and support materials. These innocuous materials come together by fanatical design to pull-off some of the most demanding jobs on the planet. From supporting our military men and women on tough missions, providing for the possibility of cutting-edge medical equipment to be employed by a skilled surgeon in a complicated surgery, or enabling the manufacture of millions of other products in an industrial setting, it all starts with humble cables and wires. We’ll explore how the different design layers come together to create a masterpiece of modern engineering that is the custom cable assembly.

Conductor Size Matters

Extruding conductors sounds like the name of a cool sci-fi flick but it’s actually the foundation of any cable assembly. Conductors are simply materials that are good at conducting; think copper, aluminum, or nickel. Extrusion is a series of processes where parts of cable assemblies’ cross sections are made. The conductor material of choice is fed into a large vertical hopper that in turn feeds the extruder machine. The extruder looks like a large screw with a barrel that’s heated so it can mix, melt, and pump the material into a die. Meridian’s brilliant design staff can extrude conductors as small as 34 gauge – about six one-thousandths of an inch, or as large as 12 gauge. Even cooler, oftentimes different gauge conductors are put together to accomplish different tasks within an electrical system. This type of cable is referred to as the mixed-gauge cable. Custom cable manufacturers mix and match gauges to meet the exact requirements, as well as, confines of the project.

Colors of the Rainbow

Color may seem a purely aesthetic choice but far from trying to keep up with the latest season’s fashion, colors help designers and installers keep track of the many different conductors within the cable assembly. At Meridian, we often make cable assemblies with well over 50 different conductors. Just to keep track, we have to use a color system. Colors and custom markings help ensure the right conductor goes exactly where it’s designed to within the cable assembly. The best cable manufacturers reverse engineer cable assemblies from their given applications so that installers can efficiently utilize the assembly in their unique circumstances. Color coding is one way to ensure the product works as intended from design through implementation. 

Leave No Strand Behind

Stranding is the process by which individual conductor strands are joined together. Using a really cool stranding machine, we take strands of wire and rotate them around a common axis to create a super strong and flexible cross-section. When using UL-certified wires, we know the industry specifications of each individual wire and produce a custom cable that performs under the given set of circumstances we plan for. The strands themselves can be an incredible array of different materials and sizes, depending on the level of connectivity an electrical system requires. Cable manufacturing companies typically leave no strand behind unless a single, large strand is the best conductor for the given objective.

Why Insulate a Cable Assembly?

Insulation provides the first line of defense for a cable. Insulators are non-conductive materials that act as separations for the conductors within the cable and also from the environment that could downgrade the effectiveness of the cable if exposed to the elements. Electrical and signal transmission cables will both use insulation to protect conductors from things like extreme temperature variants, friction, current/signal degradation, and moisture. Insulators themselves come in many different types of materials that then each have their own set of design specifications, like hardness and softness, that can be tweaked on a given project. Meridian offers a wide array of insulation materials to meet both budget and performance requirements of each project. Each insulator we employ in a custom assembly will have the specific properties needed to perform under the circumstances. Mechanical properties like operating temperature ranges, resistance to abrasion, and flexibility, electrical properties like dielectric loss (ability to dissipate electromagnetic energy), and physical properties like thermal expansion and resistance to moisture all need to be considered in the cable assembly’s design. Meridian’s design engineers are intimately familiar with each of our insulating materials’ inherent properties so they can hand-pick the perfect combination that meets the project’s unique requirements.

Fillers Can be a Good Thing

Like insulation, fillers are used to prevent abrasion between cables which can degrade their construction over time. Basic cotton and fleece are great low-cost options for fillers that provide protection for the cables, help maintain the cable’s shape, and strengthen the cable through thousands of flexings. For applications requiring more beefy specifications, Kevlar is a great insulator for its inherent strength and durability – not to mention its sweet ability to stop bullets in other applications. Custom wire and cable manufacturers utilize even simple materials like fillers to create the perfect set-up for the intended application of a cable assembly. Far from being just a “filler” within the assembly, cable assembly fillers play a critical role in both form and function.

Cable Armor: Wraps and Shields

Adding to the layers of protection and durability, cable wraps and shields are used to create a cushioned, pliable barrier between the conductors and the final outer jacket. This helps prevent friction, increases strength, and adds to the overall durability of the cable assembly. Also, many electronic cables need special shielding to prevent interferences like electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio-frequency interference (RFI). This happens when an external source, both man-made and natural, directly affects the electrical circuit, which can degrade the current or cause it to cease altogether. Engineering in an avoidance system to EMI and RFI, our design team is able to create a cable system that can operate unimpeded through many useful cycles. EMI can be an intentional act such as the case with radar-jamming in military applications. Specialized shielding like aluminized mylar helps to block EMI, which allows our soldiers to openly communicate with each other on the battlefield.

Last Line of Defense: The Cable Jacket

The cable jacket acts as a final insulator and a protective barrier from the elements. The jacket can be made in myriad materials ranging from hard to soft to give our clients the protection of their custom cable assembly project needs. Simple materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) ranging to Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon), recognized for its use in non-stick, high-end cooking, can be utilized to create the perfect jacket to insulate all of the components from the elements in which they’ll be deployed. Nature throws a lot at cable assemblies like heat, oxidation, and moisture that would rapidly deteriorate the conductors and insulation materials without a robust jacket encasing the assembly.

Bringing it all Together

Each step in the production process requires an incredible level of detail to tweak the material to the exact specifications of the project. Our design engineers love being brought an unsolvable problem and putting together a solution that works for both budget and performance. These materials by themselves are just a bunch of seemingly commonplace components, but together, they can be formed into the cable assembly system to power a fighter jet or an electrical system for a Grand Prix race car. We combine the right materials for the right application to produce a one-of-a-kind solution that works. Simply put, we are passionate about exceeding our clients’ expectations and our passion is continuously showcased in our products.

Meridian Knows Custom Cable Assemblies

We know you have many choices in the cable manufacturing industry. Custom wire and cable manufacturers around the world boast of superior products and services. So why Meridian? First and foremost, we have almost three decades of experience in international manufacturing in order to bring our customers around the globe the perfect product, by the most judicious means possible. Our design staff has created cable assemblies for some of the most demanding applications the Earth has to offer. From military to medical, we take the trust placed in our products seriously so produce the very best we possibly can. We also have garnered incredible knowledge in pre-project planning so create an incredibly lean manufacturing process – saving our client’s time and money and producing an ROI time and again. Lastly, we place a huge emphasis on quality. We only use UL-certified cables and wires and even created our own testing lab to ensure each and every product that rolls off our assembly lines perform under the exact specifications to which it was designed. Our products are simply too vital to electrical and signal components to fail prematurely. Our continuing and unwavering commitment to quality is what’s earned us ISO 9001:2015 certification. 
When you’re ready to meet with an engineering team that loves solving even your most complex cable assembly design problems, give our knowledgeable sales and marketing team a call. They’ll help start the process of getting you the perfect custom cable assembly that meets your exact specifications.

Top 10 Benefits to Creating a Custom Cable Assembly

custom cable assembly manufacturer

Standard cable out of the box is usually mass-produced for a very simple purpose. When the application varies in even the minutest details, these standard cables will often fall short. Even for a simple application like hooking up a home theater system, the different connections from speaker, to power source, to audio source can vary significantly with the myriad of different brands on the market and usually require a custom coax cable assembly. A failure here can lead to a frustrating cinematic experience. Imagine if that failure were to occur during a critical mission with the military or during a large-scale production run in an industrial setting. Failure during these events could prove incredibly costly. And so, custom cable assemblies, crafted exactly for the task at hand, produce a return on the investment time and again. We’ll highlight below our top 10 benefits to creating a custom cable assembly with Meridian.

Top 10 Benefits of Custom Cable Assemblies

1. Ability to Prototype

Prototyping is the process of creating a “test” assembly from which our design staff can run a particular set of cables, connectors, and ancillary components through a multitude of tests in real-life situations to ensure the assembly meets the design requirements. Multiple iterations produced at the same time allow for different prototypes to be tested simultaneously. Seeing the product perform in the real world gives our design staff and clients insight into different attributes that may need to be tweaked. One desired function may not work when different components are put together creating the need for a redesign of an original idea. Also, a prototype will help the manufacturer understand where, when, and how source materials will come together. If these components aren’t feasible, or economically viable, to source given the current configuration, designers can go back to the drawing board way before mass production ever takes place. Prototyping can prove incredibly cost-effective for production in the long-run of product development.

2. Product Testing

Meridian’s custom cable assemblies, whether prototyped or not, will undergo rigorous testing to ensure uniform functionality and quality. At Meridian, we even maintain our own testing laboratory that does nothing but test each product as it comes off the assembly line. Sometimes this requires inventing a whole new way of testing if the cable assembly is a completely customized project. Testing helps to ensure the client receives a product they know they can depend on, in whatever application they are planning on using it in. From military to medical, these assemblies are simply too vital to fail prematurely. Another important element of testing is being able to test the product in the elements; that is, putting the product in the environment it will be used in. Harsh conditions like salt water exposure or being subject to extreme temperatures will increase the need for effective insulators, fillers, wraps, and jacket materials. Testing allows custom cable assembly manufacturers to see how a particular amalgamation of components will stand up to the environment where it will be utilized. 

3. Reduce Overall Costs

Rather than trying to configure an off-the-shelf cable assembly to meet your specific needs, custom cable manufacturing allows you to create the perfect set-up. As we’ve discussed, prototyping and testing help ensure the final product has the form and function required of the cable assembly system, while still being economically viable. Our design staff and in-house engineers love solving our client’s complex problems. They’ll take into account how the cable is being used, the voltage or signal required, and even variables such as length to produce the perfect cable and cable assembly components. Knowing the costs, production times, and functionality of a custom assembly saves an incredible amount of time, which in turn, provides the best utilization of capital for our clients.

4. Perfect Fit

Oftentimes, our clients bring us very specific design criteria for use in their electrical systems. As discussed, these systems are used in an incredible array of industries. With such diversity, finding a premade cable assembly to fit your exact project requirements will be difficult, if not impossible. For example, our molded cable assemblies have a mold that’s created exactly to the project’s specifications. This creates a perfect, stable fit for the assembly to the equipment and provides the protection to stand up to the elements that may be subjecting the assembly and connections. Another example is the ability to color-code cables and wires. Color-coding greatly reduces the chances that an element is incorrectly installed, making sure the custom assembly remains the perfect fit from production through implementation. 

5. Faster Turnaround Time

Utilizing a custom cable assembly means all of the project source materials are known ahead of time. This reduces the chances for sourcing hiccups that can occur from trying to source materials on-the-fly. Also, running the cable assembly through prototyping and extensive QA/QC testing helps ensure the product is the perfect fit for the function to which it is intended. All of which helps decrease the chances that a product isn’t delivered on-time, as planned. Pre-production, our engineers and design staff put together a complete production plan that even takes into account the specific tools needed to complete a job. Tools are reserved from our custom tool cribs in order to make sure they are available at the precise moment they’re needed in the production process, which also eliminates time waste. Meridian is a firm proponent of Kanban production, which seeks to eliminate these types of waste throughout the production process in order to stick to the predetermined project schedule. 

6. QA/QC

Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC) lies at the very heart of everything a custom cable manufacturer does. In order to obtain and maintain our ISO 9001:2015 certification, we have to demonstrate a consistent commitment to the improvement of our processes. Demonstrating the integrity of our products, each and every production run, and our commitment to total client satisfaction, allows for production runs to go smoothly, issues to be addressed quickly, and the overall product quality to remain consistently high.

7. Experience in Similar Applications

A cable assembly manufacturer worth their weight will have produced thousands of different cable and wiring assemblies for a variety of different industries and applications. Meridian’s clients benefit from nearly three decades of intrinsic knowledge in custom cable assembly. We produce products that work right from the get-go, with each and every product manufactured off our lines. All of this experience equates to faster turnaround times, better products, and the ability to utilize our client’s budget in the most judicious means possible.

8. Better Materials

By going with a custom cable assembly and cable harness manufacturer, you get the benefit of qualified engineers sourcing the best materials for the actual application you intend the product for. At Meridian, we use UL-certified cables and wires so that we get both a uniform functionality, as well as, uniform quality to our products. This allows the final product to have a known range of specifications and likely failure points, allowing for clients to better plan for asset decay. Bottom line, better materials means better products.

9. Ability to Scale Production

Most projects usually go from concept, through design, to prototyping, testing, and finally roll off in small lots. However, we have the capability and experience to produce incredibly high volumes of cable assemblies, coil cords, molded components, and wire harnesses in our production facilities. Having two, wholly-owned production facilities located around the globe allows us to quickly ramp up production to get our products quickly to clients anywhere they may be.

10.  Control Over the Process

At Meridian, we control the entirety of the day-to-day operations in both of our production facilities. That means complete oversight over the complete production process. We have a fairly fanatical dedication to making quality products. The applications where our cable assemblies find themselves is simply too vital for us to produce anything less than great products, with known specifications, so that operators know they can count on the product wherever it’s being employed. You simply won’t get this level of control over product quality from an off-the-shelf cable assembly.

Why Meridian?

Custom cable assemblies are a vital component to most any electrical system you can think of. We know you have a wide range of choices when it comes to cable assembly companies and cable harness manufacturers. At Meridian, we’ve developed a manufacturing process that utilizes the very best techniques in supply chain management and manufacturing, such as Kanban and just-in-time ordering. After nearly three decades as a cable and wiring assembly manufacturer, we’ve gotten pretty good at the process. This means putting client needs first to deliver a truly superior product, in a cost-effective manner. We value the trust placed in us by our clients so continue to seek ways to improve our processes. When you’re ready to go over your project requirements with a knowledgeable support specialist, call 1-866-866-0544 or email us at sales@meridiancableassemblies.com. You can also utilize our convenient online contact form.

The Many Uses of the Humble Curly Cord

The Many Uses of the Humble Curly Cord 

When we think of a curly cord, our minds usually go straight to the spiral apparatuses that tether corded telephone handsets. But you might find it surprising to learn just how many applications and industries this humble cord has made its way into. From military, to industrial, medical, and so many applications in between, the curly cord has made a name for itself as a brilliant utility. Read on as we explore how this simple, unpretentious concept carries out some of life’s greatest missions.

In a land of cordless, what’s the need for curly cords?

With so many of today’s gadgets “cutting the cord,” you might wonder how a curly cord could continue to prove useful. The truth is, wireless applications just aren’t as stable as a corded one. Have you ever noticed how much faster your internet is when you plug directly into your internet router? This is because the medium being transferred, whether that’s power, signal, data, or a mix thereof, is made in a dedicated line, rather than being “broadcast”, so there’s much less data/power/signal loss with a fully-corded connection. Below we’ll look at just some of the many varied applications where having a dedicated line, and also one that is free of obstruction, is still critical.

One Concept, Endless Applications

From car parts to medical devices, the curly cord continues to provide a safe, efficient way to manage the cord fray today’s electronics designs demand.  

  • Refrigerators: providing crucial internal wiring for fridges and other appliances to remain space efficient in a confined area.
  • Telephones: one of the most notable applications, curly cords provide a safe tether for headsets and allow for stretch before returning to a shorter length when the set is cradled.
  • Microphones/Speakers: helping vocalists avoid tying themselves up as they perambulate their respective stages. 
  • Cell Phone Chargers: providing a space efficient means to charge this now-vital life tool.
  • HDMI: allowing for the consumer to plug every device known to man with ease and efficiency into the rear of their television sets.  
  • Data/Network: USB, ethernets, and other data cords all running side-by-side without a rat’s nest of cords occurring as a result.
  • Medical Sensors: within the medical field, curly cords serve a monumental purpose in providing a safe way to manage the “pull” of a device such as a scanner attached to a patient. The cord allows  for weight distribution while still giving the patient and medical staff leeway in movement, all while staying out of the way when accessibility is needed.
  • Steering Wheels: for automotive and boating, you need special ranges of curly cords for different toggle switches and relays. 
  • Communication/Radios: police, fire/rescue, and others using handheld radios rely on the curly cord for keeping the microphone secure and out of the way, yet mobile.

Non-Electrical Lanyards/Tethers

Curly cords have endless applications in the non-electric field, as well. And here you thought curly cords were limited to data, electric, and signals. Think lanyards for identification badges, a secure tether for a police officer’s sidearm, or anti-theft security devices attached to phones at the mall. These are just some of the many different uses for non-electric curly cords. 

How are Curly Cords Made?

Every cord is made using different processes depending on the utility of that particular cord. For those wanting to see the process first hand, we have a cool video of a worker at our production facility in China making a quill cord by hand. For this process, a worker inserts a piece of rod into a specially-designed motor and then secures a length of cord with clamps to one end of the rod. Using a foot pedal to activate the motor spinning, the worker tightly wraps the cord down the length of the rod, to whatever specifications are needed for that job. A quick clamp and snip on the finished side and the cord-wrapped rod is placed in a rack ready to be sent to the oven to bake and be set. Sounds easy, but each cord is engineered to withstand the rigorous requirements set by its use. A certain type of cord may be required to achieve half a million extension/retractions without failure in order to be safe and efficient in its application. 

Advantages of Meridian Curly Cords

At Meridian, we design and manufacture cable assemblies. It’s all we’ve done for nearly three decades. One of our greatest advantages lies in our ability to custom design all types of different cords. We own our own production facilities both in the U.S. and in China to ensure we have the capability to provide our clients with the exact cords needed, wherever the application may be. From the first strand of copper through the final outer jacket, we engineer every step of our products with painstaking detail so that our products meet our clients’ most exacting requirements. When you’re ready to discuss your project’s cable needs, speak to one of our knowledgeable cable specialists to explore your options and find the perfect cable to meet your specifications.

What Do Wiring Harness Manufacturers Do, Exactly?

wire harness manufacturer

What Do Wiring Harness Manufacturers Do, Exactly?

The custom harness that was designed especially for all the different electronic systems you own and come into contact with on a daily basis, required some pretty sophisticated engineering. At the micro-level, the engineering that went into the engineering i.e. the machines that create a custom wiring harness also required a great deal of design and thought. After nearly three decades designing and manufacturing wiring harnesses, we’ve gotten pretty good at what we do. So what exactly does a manufacturer of wiring harnesses do? Read on as we explore what it takes to create this vital and oft-overlooked support system for nearly every type of electrical system in use today.

From Hand Tools to Precision Robots

Even down to the hand tools we use, our exact specifications have gone into every step of the manufacturing process. For manufacturing wiring harnesses, cable assemblies, wiring assemblies, and however else you refer to the systematic binding of cables and wires, our tools have to be extremely precise. Depending on the exact level of precision needed, we can deploy hand tools, semi-autonomous machines, and fully automated machines to meet the project’s design requirements. While our manufacturing engineers are extremely accurate and really good at what they do, when a design has to be absolutely correct, we rely on automation to do the job. However, even with automation, a lot of the assembly is still done by hand due to the complexity of steps that goes into even making a simple wiring harness. 

Tool Cribs Not For Sleeping

When you’re in the middle of a project, not having the tools you need at hand can be a real time-killer. In a production setting, delays can cost thousands of dollars and cause tight deadlines to be missed. That’s where a tool crib comes into play. Far from just a ubiquitous toolbox, a tool crib is an ordered, efficient storage of the myriad of different specialty tools we require on a job. Most often, these tools are not utilized all that frequently, but when needed, costly delays are avoided because the tools are available and ready to use right when they’re needed. When a project comes in, our project planners will detail all the tools required to do the job in a set amount of time. This includes “checking out” the specialty tools in the tool crib so that they are available for this particular job and don’t accidentally get pulled for another product run. We ascribe to kanban manufacturing techniques, which takes advantage of just-in-time ordering and lean manufacturing principles in order to economically produce the best products for our clients. Without the vital support of systems like the humble tool crib, we wouldn’t be able to produce wiring harness assemblies at a reasonable pace or price.

Great Recipes Begin with Quality Ingredients

The cable and wiring we use are all United Laboratories (UL) certified. ULⓇ certification means the components have been uniformly tested and certified for safety and function. UL is one of only a handful of U.S. corporations approved by OSHA to provide this rating to products. Even when we apply one of more than 50 colors available for wiring and vary the striping employed, we can still maintain ULⓇ certification on our wires and cables. Starting with the industry’s best components ensures the final product is both safe and will serve its function through many life cycles. 

Custom Creations

When we create a custom design, two factors presented to us by our clients have the greatest impact on the overall design. First, is the space we have to work with. Imagine the difference between a remote-control car’s wiring and the steering wheel assembly in a NASCAR race car. Both require precise electrical and signal transfers, but space, where these occur, is night and day and our engineers expertly work within the physical confines of the project. The second factor affecting the design is the project’s electrical requirements. This can determine wire size and thickness, and also affects additional design requirements like insulation and all the different materials needed. With these two factors in mind, our in-house engineers’ design and manufacture small batches of harnesses that will be tested and retested to ensure durability and longevity of the components.

Ready to talk over your project specs?

At Meridian Cable, we pride ourselves on listening to your exact needs and designing the perfect assembly to meet those needs. Our greatest advantage lies in our custom solutions. On-staff engineers, planners, and designers come together with our expert manufacturing team to produce a one-of-a-kind product, built to the highest industry standards, to meet the rigors of the job. From Military, Industrial, and Medical applications, our products are simply too vital to produce anything but our very best. Our wiring harness specialists are ready to review your project specifications and start building you the perfect components for your project. Contact us today to start the process. 

How to Work with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer When You Have a Tight Budget

How to Work with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer When You Have a Tight Budget

A cable assembly manufacturer has many options available that can help you stay in budget and get a custom cable that is right for your situation.

Having an unlimited budget to work with when designing a custom cord might seem like the best way to get the perfect end product, but that type of situation is rare. In most cases, budget is a concern. The good news is your cable assembly manufacturer should be able to help you balance the cable’s functionality with cost.

Good Communication Saves Money

This may seem like common sense, but make sure you are sharing as much information with your cable assembly manufacturer as possible in the planning and design stages of your project. Having clear specifications about how and in what environment the finished product will function gives the design team a thorough understanding at the outset. This can translate to a cable assembly that meets the needs of the equipment and environment with fewer revisions or surprises late in the project.

Talk Materials with Your Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Armed with complete technical specifications and a good understanding of the environment where a finished cable assembly will function, the design team is able to select the optimum materials to create a solution that operates as expected. At its most basic, a cable is made up of a conductor, connectors, jacketing, and insulation. Each can offer an opportunity for cost savings with some careful thought.

Conductorscable assembly manufacturer conductors

Obviously, the conductor material should be selected based on the type of signal and how long the cable is expected to be in use. However, with so many options when it comes to size, material, and plating, a cable assembly manufacturer can make recommendations that address cost concerns without compromising on functionality. For example: In many cases, a smaller conductor is less expensive. Choosing the smallest conductor that will transmit the signal or power allows you to get the functionality you need without the unnecessary expense of a larger conductor. Though, in some cases, a smaller conductor is actually more expensive to produce, so it’s doubly important to discuss options with your cable’s design team.

Connectors

All cable assemblies connect to some sort of equipment or power/signal source. Because the section of cable that leads to the connector is a common point of failure due to stresses, it’s important to select the right type of connector for the job. While an overmolded cable offers more durability in many cases, it may make more sense to use a connector that can be repaired by a technician. Understanding the needs of your finished product allows you and your cable assembly manufacturer to make the right decision before producing a cable that doesn’t fit your needs.

Jacketing & Insulation

The environment where a cable assembly will be used often dictates what type of jacketing material or insulation is used in the finished product. Different materials are more suitable for cables that are exposed to extreme heat or cold, moisture, or stresses. More expensive materials for jacketing aren’t automatically better for every environment. In many cases, choosing a more costly material that is unsuited for the environment can be a waste of money and compromise the function or service like of the cable.

Conclusion

Good planning, open communication, and thoughtful selection of materials is the great way to save costs when creating a custom cable with a cable assembly manufacturer. If you are ready to talk about your next custom cable project, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We’d love to discuss your options.

Benefits to Working with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer on Prototypes

Benefits to Working with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer on Prototypes

Creating a prototype is often the key to creating a successful custom cable solution.

You probably already know that creating a custom cable with a reputable cable assembly manufacturer is a great way to make sure the finished cable is tailored to the needs of your equipment or product. If you were using an off-the-shelf cable, testing it out on your equipment might be as simple as purchasing one and plugging it in. However, if the cable is custom, it’s a little more complicated.

With all the options available when creating a custom cable, working with a cable assembly manufacturer on prototypes can be incredibly useful. Not only can it help eliminate assumptions when selecting materials, but it can also help you streamline the production of larger quantities.

Real Cables in the Real World

Because a prototype is a full-scale version of the design that is, in many cases, fully functional, producing a prototype will allow you to see and feel how it will function in the real world. This ability to manipulate a physical product can help you make determinations about the functionality that go beyond technical capabilities. For example, being able to test the extension and retraction of a coil cord prototype can reveal design flaws that might otherwise go unnoticed until much later in a project when they are harder to correct.

Faster Turnarounds from an Experienced Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Choosing a cable assembly manufacturer with in-house capabilities means you are often able to have a cable prototype to work with quickly. While the availability of the appropriate materials is always a consideration when estimating the time a prototyping project will take, a manufacturer with extensive experience can often provide you with a more rapid turnaround.

High-Quality Prototypes Can Offer Significant Cost Savings

custom cable assembly

It doesn’t make sense to extrude large quantities of a new cable design design without testing. A prototype allows you to produce multiple iterations of a cable to ensure it is ideal for the equipment and environment where it will function. Thorough testing of a new cable design at the prototyping stage can go a long way toward eliminating headaches further down the road. This may include issues in the product itself or the production process.

Conclusion

Producing a prototype is often a critical step in designing a custom cable assembly, because it allows you and the design team to address issues before they balloon into expensive or even dangerous problems. Working with a custom cable assembly manufacturer experienced in producing high-quality prototypes in a timely fashion gives you the opportunity to create a finished product that is virtually guaranteed to fit the specifications of your equipment. If you’re ready to talk about your next project, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to hearing from you.

3 Advantages of a Molded Cable Assembly

3 Advantages of a Molded Cable Assembly

A molded cable assembly offers many advantages over non-molded cables.

A molded cable assembly can often be the best choice for a wide variety of applications. Using an injection molding process allows custom cable manufacturers to create overmolded assemblies that offer customers better functionality than was previously available.

A More Aesthetic Molded Cable Assembly

An attractive appearance isn’t the thing our customers are concerned with when creating a cable assembly. But just as with jacketing material, there are a few benefits to producing a cable that matches the appearance of the associated equipment. Colors that coordinate with the equipment can make replacement cables easy to identify in storage. Custom molding also allows branding, like logos and company names, to be incorporated into the mold. Because the cable is molded specifically for your equipment, you can even choose to create a unique shape that offers enhanced functionality or visual appeal.

Customization Options 

A molded cable assembly is a custom product by its very nature, because your cable assembly manufacturer is creating a mold to your specifications. Depending on your budget and the requirements of your equipment, you can choose from a nearly limitless variety of options, including color, jacketing material, and conductor type. Add to this the ability to create a molded connector that creates a perfect, stable fit for your equipment, and you have a product that will provide you with the best possible results.

Enhanced Durabilitymolded cable assemblies

An overmolded cable can be designed to create seals that are impervious to a wide range of fluids, including water and oil. This allows the finished cable to function in harsher environments with a much lower incidence of premature failure. Additional protection comes from selecting materials that offer resistance to vibration and other types of wear and tear. Working with your cable manufacturer’s engineering team to accurately identify the environmental conditions where the wire will function can result in a molded cable assembly that performs to your expectations.

Conclusion

Choosing to design and produce a molded cable assembly allows you to take advantage of materials and technologies that may not be available with a non-molded solution. Working with a custom cable assembly manufacturer experienced in producing high quality overmolded cables gives you the opportunity to create a finished product that can save money while giving you the exact cable you need for your application. If you’re ready to talk about your next project, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to hearing from you.

Discussing Jacketing Material with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Discussing Jacketing Material with a Cable Assembly Manufacturer

Do you really need to think about jacketing material when working with a cable assembly manufacturer to design a custom cable?

A cable assembly manufacturer can not only design a cable assembly, they can help you determine what type of jacketing material is appropriate for your application. While it might be tempting to overlook the jacketing on your cables, you could be missing out on some added value and functionality, including:

  • Enhanced Overall Flexibility
  • Better Flexibility in Low Temperatures
  • Quick Identification
  • Elastic Memory
  • Chemical Resistance
  • Resistance to Extreme Heat or Flame

As long as you think carefully about how and where the cable assembly will be used, you can address many of the environmental challenges that can affect the durability and safety of the finished cable by selecting the proper jacketing material.

Durable Cables in Challenging Environments

A cable’s outer jacketing is often the first line of defense against elements like heat, cold, moisture, UV rays, chemicals, and other substances that could affect the wire’s functionality. As with any custom wire, it’s important to consider all of the requirements for your environment and application. For example, jacketing made from PVC is a low-cost option that can handle the stresses of moderate daily use and withstand temperatures ranging up to 105 degrees Celsius. However, it would not be a good choice for a cable that must function in extreme heat or that is subject to heavy wear and tear – PU is a better choice for that type of environment.

Cables with Enhanced Safety Featuresred cable assembly

A custom cable assembly manufacturer can help you choose a jacketing material that is specifically designed to meet the needs of your equipment. This goes beyond the function and durability of the cable to the question of how safe it is. The jacketing of a cable assembly protects the conductor from stresses that would cause failure. However, you can also choose materials that are resistant to fluids and chemicals that could cause shorts or corrosion which could cause the wire to fail prematurely. In addition, jacketing material can be designed to be resistant to flame, which can help prevent the spread of fire.

Cable Aesthetics

How a cable looks might not be the top priority when discussing jacketing materials with a cable assembly manufacturer, but a cable’s appearance should not be overlooked. Altering the appearance of cable jacketing materials is more than just designing a cable that looks nice. Choosing matte or shiny finishes and specific colors can also be practical, because these features allow the finished cable to be quickly and easily identified. Cable jacketing can be produced in colors that match the appropriate equipment or signal whether it carries electricity or data. In addition, the cable’s texture can make it easier to grip which could be a desired feature in some environments.

Conclusion

When designing a cable assembly, selecting the right jacketing material for your application and environment can often be just as important as choosing the right conductor. A reputable cable assembly manufacturer can offer many options to ensure your finished cable meets your requirements for durability and functionality. Clearly communicating your environmental concerns along with technical requirements will result in a custom cable that offers you the performance and durability you expect. If you have any questions about jacketing materials, please feel free to contact the team at Meridian Cable.

Coil Cord Design: What Questions to Expect

Coil Cord Design: What Questions to Expect

Thinking through what you need before the coil cord design process starts can help you get the ideal cable for your equipment.

Custom coil cord design services allow you to get a final product that is a better match for your needs than an off-the shelf wire. But if you haven’t done some serious thinking about what you really need, you might not get the results you were looking for. Here are a few questions you can ask your team to get a coil cord that is truly customized to the requirements of your equipment.

In what environment will you be using the cords?

One of the first questions an engineer will ask during the coil cord design process is what environmental conditions the wire will need to withstand. Obviously, a cord used in a military or industrial environment has different requirements than one that would be used in a retail setting. Other questions could include: Will the cord be used inside or outside? Does it need to be able to withstand extreme heat or cold? Will the cord come into contact with moisture or oil? These are all conditions that can and should be taken into consideration when designing coil cords.

How long should the coil cords last?

A coil cord that lasts forever might seem like an ideal product, but if higher durability compromises function and/or makes it prohibitively expensive to produce it may not be worth it. In addition to durable jacketing material, there are other elements that can affect longevity. For example, choosing stranded wiring as a conductor can create a cord with a higher resistance to metal fatigue than a solid conductor. However, tinsel might be a better choice if you need flexibility but the finished wire can’t handle a high current capacity.

How dynamic are the coil cords during normal function?coil cord design

A coil cord can be designed with materials like steel, Kevlar, Spectra, or Teflon to make them virtually indestructible. That sounds great, but is that durability worth the added expense to produce for a cord that doesn’t require it? By clearly communicating your cord’s normal, everyday function, a coil cord design team can recommend materials that are the right balance of cost and physical properties for your equipment. A key question will be how many extension and retraction cycles the coil cord will experience in its life.

Conclusion

Custom coil cord design from a reputable cable manufacturer like Meridian Cable is a great way to get a cord that is perfectly tailored to your application. While there are many different elements to take into consideration when creating a custom coil cord, thinking through the questions above is a great way to prepare for initial discussions with the design team. When you are ready to discuss your project, please contact us. We look forward to hearing from you.