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Intro to PCB & Cable Harness Assemblies for Industrial, Controls & Instrumentation Applications

electric wires PCB motherboard

Printed Circuit Boards (PCBs) are laminated pieces of conductors and insulators providing layers of protection for the overall assembly. Soldering allows electronic components in precise locations to provide their respective use as connectors between terminations all in an efficient and controlled manner. Providing electrical connection and mechanical support, these workhorses make electrical components in a circuit’s usefulness possible within a vast array of electronic devices. 

Within the cable harness assembly sphere, PCBs for industrial controls and instrumentation are crucial components to the functionality of some of the world’s most complex systems. In today’s LiveWire insider’s look, we’ll cover all things PCBs in industrial and instrumentation to give you a better idea of how these components keep so many electrical systems running.

PCB Cable Assembly Manufacturing 101

Our connected world has increased in technological advancements at an exponential rate and the need for both commercial and industrial PCBs has risen in lockstep. Not only do PCBs and cable harness assemblies need to be highly capable but getting these products into the hands of clients given the many supply chain restrictions seen today takes a proven supply chain management system in place.

At Meridian, we deliver these kinds of exceptional results every day with a full line of some of the most advanced manufacturing capabilities available. From prototyping runs to making sure every component comes together perfectly to massive volume manufacturing, PCB assembly along with the custom cable assemblies provides total box, as well as sub-assembly set-ups for even the most challenging circumstances. 

PCB assembly can take many different shapes, depending on the needs of the project. There’s flex PCBs and standard rigid boards, single boards, double boards, multiple layers, and even specialized aspects like through-hole printed circuit boards. All of these require a perfect set of design parameters and precise engineering to provide a useful final product that will easily integrate into its intended system. 

Applications for PCB & Cable Harness Assemblies

PCBs really wouldn’t get very far without the perfect cable assembly and wire harness making integration possible. That’s where our full complement of custom cable and wire harness design and production capabilities comes into play in a big way. Whether it’s for a fully automated industrial control system for a waste-water treatment plant or a high-volume bottling facility, these PCBs and cable harness assemblies simply have to work. 

You’ll find PCBs in every electronic system imaginable, especially within the industrial and commercial marketplace. OEMs, as well, rely on the expertise we provide to provide the perfect solution within their overall system. A few of the many applications you’ll find include: 

PCB Assemblies in Medical Instrumentation

PCBs within the medical industry requires some very sophisticated processes to produce just what’s needed. PCBs start with screen printing where even the most precise specs can be ingrained into the design. Surface mounting also requires precision where testing and optical inspection systems can ensure exact fits per spec. You’ll see a blend of fully-automated processes, semi-automated, and even manual aspects to pull off the perfect build of a basic board. 

A few of the many different unique PCBs used in the medical field include:

  • Flex PCBs: these flexible printed circuit boards can be employed in many different applications where space constraints are an issue. Flex circuit boards utilize substrates with natural flexural strength to bend without breaking. This helps to provide a smaller and higher density design for mounting which in turn helps to reduce waste in the assembly process and enhances overall reliability in the system.
  • Rigid Flex PCBs: you can have the best of both worlds by combining rigid PCBs and flex PCBs in a hybrid circuit. Flex layers usually run between the rigid layers to give full connectivity on both the top and bottom of the PCB. The lightweight and compactness afforded to rigid flex PCBs is their main advantage. Designs help engineers fit these in smaller spaces, which in turn can be utilized in advancements like miniaturization which is at the frontier of some of the most cutting-edge medical technologies on the horizon.
  • Back Flex PCBs: these hybrids utilize special polyamide compounds and other unique aspects like water-soluble solder before being coated and baked in special ovens. The end result is a highly functional piece of equipment that is lighter in weight, thinner, more flexible, and can be directly integrated into advanced medical electronic systems.

From diagnostic hardware to advanced medical electronics, and cutting-edge medical imaging devices, PCBs and medical cable assemblies provide the crucial connection that makes today’s top-rate medical care possible.

PCB for Networking and Telecommunications Controls

The type of high-frequency chip carriers and advanced fiber optics found throughout our communications infrastructure is what powers global connectivity. At the core of these systems is, you guessed it, PCBs and custom cable harness assemblies. There are many specialized considerations within telecommunications

For example, a data access switch relies on PCBs that are in compliance with Restriction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) directives. From broadcasting to the communications system for a commercial office setting, PCBs make the electronics systems “talk” to one another in an efficient and secure manner. Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) devices, video conferencing, cell towers, high-speed internet, even secure servers for the military and department of defense—all of the systems rely on PCBs and cable harness assemblies to get the job done.

PCB and Cable Assemblies for Automotive Applications

Whether it’s a camera module in the vehicle, lighting that adjusts to the time of day and even the curvature of the roadway, or other forms of automotive electronics like LIDAR systems going into self-driving features, PCBs, and automotive cable assemblies make it all possible. With our IATF 16949 certification, Meridian stands as a recognized leader in high-quality automotive assemblies. We utilize our advanced capability in design and production to provide OEMs with the perfect set-up for easy integration, whether that’s a small-batch prototype run or full volume manufacturing.

Engineering the Perfect PCB Cable Assemblies for Industrial Controls

From robotics to everyday consumer electronics, advanced LED lighting, and more, our society relies on PCBs in just about every facet of life. Behind these products and services are the industrial control systems that make automation possible. Municipalities rely on industrial control systems to power water and utility grids, smart infrastructure, and a number of other critical components we rely on every day. 

Engineering cable types like braided, coaxial, multi-conductor, and too many more to list, Meridian has the design capability to start with known specifications and fit these to the project at hand. With a tool crib of well over 5,000 existing overmolds, junctions, terminations, connections, and other crucial elements, our team has the expertise and capability to deliver the perfect solution to even the most complex industrial control system. 

Quality is at the Core of High Functioning PCB Assemblies

Quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) is built into the heart of any custom cable manufacturer worth its weight. We have advanced accreditation in quality control systems that make sure we’re that much better with each and every production run we undertake. Our ISO 9001:2015 certification is actually wholly dependent on the QAQC program we have in place and our ability to continually demonstrate our commitment in this area. This extends from customer service all the way to design and production. 

Testing is an absolutely critical portion of quality control. We use other techniques like Lean Six Sigma, Kanban, and Just-In-Time ordering to have the most efficient processes possible, but testing is how we guarantee that each and every assembly is 100% known to be in line with specs for continuity, integrity, polarity, and functionality before shipping.

Meridian’s Advanced Life Testing Lab is one of the coolest parts of our entire operation, where each and every assembly and harness is put through the harshest conditions and tests imaginable to make sure they are up to the task they are being asked to do. Whether that’s a pull test, flex test, using extreme temperatures, chemical resistance tests, or a whole battery of others, we make sure that the assembly can perform. 

As a UL-approved manufacturing facility, we can also help our clients get their products certified through UL. We’ll typically develop a sample that’s ready to be tested and the UL design team uses their own battery of tests to make sure it’s in line with OSHA, ANSI, and other applicable standards. 

Start Your PCB Project with Dedicated Professionals

Meridian has decades of experience as a leader in cable assembly design and manufacturing. We’ve accomplished this with a commitment to quality in everything we do. From that first client interaction through volume manufacturing, you will find a superior level of quality built into every step of your project’s journey. Discover why so many of our clients have come to depend on us when complexity and technical expertise are required to get the job done on time and on budget. Contact our team today to discuss the needs of your PCB cable harness assembly project.

Is a Wire Harness Different from an Electrical Harness?

Wire Harnesses

Ah, the age-old question. The quick answer is no, there is no difference between a wire harness and an electrical harness. Wire harnesses and cable assemblies themselves are often used interchangeably but these two components each play their own critical part in the overall system. 

In today’s LiveWire deep dive, we’ll highlight the humble wire harness however you refer to it to see just how intense the engineering can be behind these workhorses that make today’s ultra-complex technology possible.

Wire Harness, Cable Harness, Wiring Harness – What’s the Difference?

No matter what name you call it by, the wire harness is the infrastructure behind some of mankind’s most technologically advanced machines in the modern age. A wire harness is made up of various components that support, protect, and simplify electrical design within a wide variety of industries. Meridian produces wire harnesses for industrial control systems and the military, for cutting edge medical units, automotive assemblies, telecommunications, and so much more. 

From fighter jets to sports cars, wiring harnesses are almost literally the glue that holds everything together. However, if you ask the average buyer what’s the difference between a wire harness and a cable harness assembly, they may be hard pressed to answer. 

That’s because cable assembly and wire harness are so often used interchangeably that they have spawned all manner of different name combinations that are still incorrectly referring to different things. While there is no difference between a wire harness and an electrical harness, a cable assembly and a wire harness are two distinct engineering marvels. 

So, What is a Wire Harness Exactly?

The wire harness itself is an engineered grouping of cable assemblies typically constructed with some form of insulative or other protective material. A cable assembly is used to transmit data, power, or signal through its system and a wire harness facilitates this functionality with various support structures. 

Whether it’s cable straps and ties, Kevlar sleeving, specialized mylar tape, or an endless variety of other combinations, the wire harness is what simplifies the integration of cable assemblies into the large system. The term “plug and play” comes to mind with the ease of integration that one can think of with a well-designed and manufactured wire harness. However, there should be noted that there is a huge difference between an off-the-shelf assembly and one that has been custom designed to meet the challenges of the application. While a cable assembly can be as simple as a male to male coax cable, a wire harness can integrate multiple breakouts with different cable assemblies, conductors, terminations, and connections all in one complex system. 

It is this multifaceted usefulness that allows Meridian’s top cable engineers the ability to construct the custom wire harnesses used in everything from medical diagnostic equipment to communications infrastructure.

The Many Benefits of Using a Custom Wire Harness 

Ease of Integration

The typical car, truck, van, or SUV is going to have many feet of cables in order to connect all of the important components. The custom wire harness is one that has been specifically made to OEM standards in order to easily integrate into the vehicle either during manufacturing or when repairs are necessary. As you might expect, each manufacturer has its own specifications for exactly how each component should fit within the system. With high standards, automotive manufacturers and OEMs look for a specialized custom cable and wire harness manufacturers that have proven capability in this field. With Meridian’s IATF 16949 certification, our team has demonstrated we have the knowledge, skills, abilities, and commitment to the quality required in the automotive sector. 

Built to Spec

The automotive sector is only one industry where ease of integration is a major benefit of custom wire harnesses. Advanced medical equipment that have special concerns like bio-medical jacks and strain reliefs all require specific engineering to meet the demands of the application. That’s where a custom cable harness helps provide the stout engineering needed to meet the needs of each individual project. Take for instance MILSPEC cable and wire harnesses. These have to meet strict DOD guidelines for quality and exact specifications in order to both be integrated easily into a military system, but also to be able to withstand some of the harshest conditions imaginable. 

Perfectly Suited for the Environment

A custom wire harness provides protection against excessive vibrations, moisture, dust, humidity, caustic chemicals, temperature, and a wide range of additional variables. A custom component has also been engineered just for the space it’s going in, which means consideration for size optimization. 

How Our Team Designs a Complex Wire Harness 

The very first part of a custom wire harness design is looking at the requirements of the client. That means our engineers are busy calculating geometric, as well as, electric components to meet the needs of the project. The design is established in a virtual computer aided design (CAD) 3D system that allows the engineer a chance to build and test different components under different scenarios all before a physical assembly board is ever even utilized. 

Once the engineer finalizes the design that works best based on the models, we’ll usually move forward with a schematic that tells our skilled manufacturing team where everything goes on the assembly board for the wire harness. At Meridian, we design more than 70 percent of the assemblies and harnesses we produce which really makes us a design firm that happens to produce some of the best assemblies available today.

The assembly board provides a life-sized mapping of the entire harness assembly and each individual component of the overall design. With everything ready to begin manufacturing, our team can move forward in the production process. 

Manufacturing the Most Advanced Wire Harnesses on the Planet

Every wire in a wire harness starts out as a single strand of a conductor, usually copper. At Meridian, we extrude our own wires and can get them incredibly small and incredibly exact, depending on the needs of the project. Wires are cut to length and all labeled according to a master plan provided by our engineers. Wire management is a crucial component to any cable manufacturer’s repertoire and another benefit to using an experienced team of the best in the business. Conductors can be fitted with whatever connector or terminals are required because we have such a massive tool crib to tap throughout the process. 

Even better, if we don’t have the tooling required for a really custom job, we have the advanced machinery to make, test, and retest the component on the spot. Better still, we are a UL-approved manufacturing facility so we can even help get a harness certified through various agencies when that’s what our clients need. 

Are Wire Harnesses Assembled Manually?

Yes, even with the incredibly sophisticated machines we have at our disposal, a lot of the wiring harness assembly process is done manually by very skilled hands. There are a great many different processes throughout the process that benefit from semi-automation or even fully-automated processes, but there is still quite a bit that is done by hand because it’s simply more efficient. 

Some of the processes done by hand include:

  • Incorporating a terminated wire or wires that are different lengths into the assembly board.
  • Make sure the cable assemblies are appropriately placed through sleeves and/or conduits.
  • Ensuring cable breakouts are appropriately taped and marked. 
  • Manually crimping where required.
  • Installing various binding methods such as cable ties throughout the system.

When it’s a small batch such as for testing or prototyping, the hands-on process can really pay off with efficiency and quality; however, as we mentioned above we’ll use automation wherever it saves time and money in the process.

A sampling of different processes we can automate include:

  • Utilizing our fully automated crimping machine like the AMP crimping press.
  • Making automatic or manual soldering with our Quick 376D solder station.
  • Using our KAMsnaps press machines for two-part snaps.

We have hundreds of machines like the ones above and continually invest in new technology that allows the process to be that much better with each and every run. It’s this level of quality that separates off the shelf from truly custom manufacturers.

Meridian is Your Source for Custom Wire Harnesses 

When it comes to quality, it pays to be a little persnickety. Our team is able to maintain our ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949 certifications because we have a verifiable quality control system in place that truly governs everything we do. With continuous process improvement, we’re always seeking to do that much better. That includes everything from a customer’s first interaction to prototyping different wire harnesses and solving even the most complex issues for our clients. No matter the challenge, our experienced team has the state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to adapt and overcome. 

Whether you need a small batch for certification or require volume manufacturing, Meridian has stood as a leader in custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses for decades. Contact our team now to start reviewing your project specs and get started.

The Ultimate Guide to Finding Quality Telecom Cable Assemblies

High quality telecom cable assemblies are the humble workhorses that keep enterprises running, through even the most uncertain times. At Meridian, we design and manufacture assemblies used around the world to keep our global society connected. In today’s LiveWire deep dive, we’ll be taking a look at what all goes into custom cable assemblies for telecommunications and the top benefits of having a trusted cable manufacturer partnership. 

What is a Cable Assembly Used in Telecommunications?

The telecommunications industry understandably has some pretty tight requirements. Literally, telecom cable assemblies are going in some extremely tight spaces such as between the walls and floors in large commercial buildings. They may be subject to heat or friction, moisture or caustic chemicals, altitude, and 1,001 other environmental factors. They’re also subjected to various forms of interference like electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI). 

All of these factors have to be planned for and mitigated against with the right combination of conductor, insulators, fillers, connectors, terminations, sheaths, and more. Going further down this rabbit hole, all of those components have to themselves be made to a high level of quality, and preferably should be UL-listed so that integrity and safety are maintained. With all of the right parts and pieces, a cable assembly used in telecommunications can provide unfettered transfer of data, signal, and power around the world and even beyond. 

Aerospace and military telecommunications are some of the most demanding applications; however even the infrastructure required to maintain today’s global communications networks itself requires the highest level of quality humanly possible in their assemblies. 

Benefits of Working with a Telecom Cable Assembly Manufacturer

When you choose to get your custom telecom cable assembly from an experienced manufacturer, you’re going to get a lot of beneys that add value and produce measurable returns for the investment made. 

A few of the benefits you can expect to see with your new custom cable assembly can include:

  • More Accurate Specifications: we are a design firm that manufactures custom cable assemblies. Our engineers work to provide perfect specifications which can then be implemented during manufacturing. For example, we have both the technology and the skilled personnel to be able to provide incredibly precise soldering specifications, even to within .015 pitch. Our testing capabilities are also off the chart with Cirris testing units that can spot the smallest imperfections and even custom testing units to make sure that never-before-seen assemblies can perform under whatever conditions are expected of them.
  • Ability to Meet Quantities All the Way to Volume Manufacturing: we can produce qualification samples, do prototyping runs, and offer full-production testing before moving all the way to volume manufacturing. Not every manufacturer can produce small batch and volume manufacturing side-by-side in the same facility but with our expansive tooling inventory and advanced systems, we can produce whatever is needed to meet the individual demands of the project.
  • Better Flexibility in Design & Manufacturing: telecom cable assemblies have to be inherently flexible and we most definitely have a vast array of tests to meet even the strictest flexural requirements. But we also have flexibility in our manufacturing process because we have two wholly owned and operated UL-approved manufacturing facilities in both the U.S. and in China. This is what’s allowed us to pivot to the changing needs of the project and deliver the perfect solution. 
  • Next-Level Quality Assurance: from the top down, our entire organization is built around quality. It’s a part of literally everything we do. In order to maintain our ISO 9001:2015, we have to be able to demonstrate an actionable quality assurance plan is in place, is working, and itself is being continuously improved upon. That level of accountability lends itself to better cable assemblies.

Whether you have an older set-up that needs a cable assembly not being produced anymore or you need an entirely new custom cable assembly for your application, partnering with a trusted telecommunication cable assembly manufacturer is going to multiply the value your assembly project provides.

Where to Get UL Recognized Cable Assemblies for Telecom

UL, LLC, formerly Underwriters Laboratories (UL), is one of only a handful of safety certification agencies approved by the U.S. Government to create and test safety standards across many different industries. UL standards for wires and cables are stringent because these components are so vital to just about every facet of modern life. The UL wire and cable testing and certification process is able to test and evaluate nearly 100 different wire and cable categories to both national and international standards. These pertain mostly to safety and performance thresholds that need to be met with today’s telecom assemblies.

Using UL certified wire and cables in our designs means our engineers are using something that has known specifications and has been tested for safety. This makes for a better design and a better product. Because we are a UL-approved manufacturing facility, we can help put the coveted “UL” mark of quality on the bottom of a product and can even help get products certified through many different agencies. Meridian is also an approved wire and cable extruder which means literally from the first strand of copper onward, our products are built to the highest specifications from the most demanding certification agency in the world. 

For single conductor wires, multi-conductor cables, and more being certified by UL to produce our own components to this superior level of quality permeates into every single cable assembly for telecom projects we undertake.

How Can You Use Telecom Cable Assemblies?

The telecommunications industry is a very broad sector with a myriad of companies and agencies seeking to transmit data and signal, whether that’s video, audio, text, or otherwise, around the world. The equipment making global communication possible holds some of the most technologically advanced systems in the world. 

Just a few of the many different applications and ancillary uses around the telecom sector include the following: 

  • Transmission and Switch Controls – lines that are transmitting are switched both in and out of a network so that the efficiency of an electrical system is optimized. Cable assemblies make this possible. 
  • Telecommunications Systems – covers a wide variety of transmission methods through different mediums including wires and radio signal, optical, and electromagnetic systems. Without cable assemblies for telecommunications systems, none of this transmission could occur.
  • Transmitting Video – the wireless transmission of video across locations is accomplished because a wired video signal can be converted into a wireless signal. All of this is accomplished through, you guessed it, telecom cable assemblies.
  • Antenna Connectivity – distributed antenna systems (DAS) can be vast networks of different nodes that are run to a common source between them via a wireless transport medium. Once again, cable assemblies for telecom help make this marvel of modern engineering possible.
  • Distribution Board – in order to get electricity safely into a building, you need a distribution board. The cable assemblies help provide the distribution board the power that’s then distributed around to different breakers and secondary circuits.
  • Networking Cores – this is the heart of modern telecommunication systems, allowing for the service that governments, businesses, and consumers alike rely on to be connected via an access network. 
  • Internet exchange point (IXP) – this is the physical location from which telecom infrastructure companies like internet service providers and communication providers connect and “exchange” internet traffic.

To accommodate growing demand for connectivity, ever-more sophisticated systems need to be engineered to meet even the most stringent requirements. As a design-first manufacturer, we rely on our vast experience and massive tooling inventory to produce the one-of-a-kind solution the world may have never seen before. In fact, we design more than 70 percent of the products we manufacture which is why our capabilities in custom telecom cable assemblies are so far reaching.

Sectors Rely on Quality Telecom Cable Assemblies to Get the Job Done

As a whole, the telecommunications industry is responsible for providing telephone, TV, internet, and other communications mediums to the world. Consumers are everyone from governments to businesses, and individual users. Whether it’s for local data transfer, longer geographical distances, the internet, wireless data, or private lines, the telecommunications infrastructure our cable assemblies help to connect is vital to our modern way of life. 

That’s why quality matters when it comes to telecom cable assemblies. You want a manufacturer that has the proven track record of delivering the best-in-class assemblies that can be relied on cycle-after-cycle. With decades of global telecom cable assembly manufacturing under our belts, this is exactly what our clients have come to expect from our team.

Start with a Trusted Cable Assembly Manufacturer

At Meridian, our expansive capability was born from decades of designing and manufacturing the highest quality telecom cable assemblies available. Whatever your project demands, we have the tooling inventory, processes, and people to deliver effective solutions. Contact us today to start reviewing your project’s specs with our team. We’ll review all the options available to deliver your perfect telecommunications cable assembly on-time and on-budget. 

Finding Custom Wire Harnesses & Wire Harness Assemblies for Medical Devices

Creating a custom medical wire harness assembly requires a particular level of precision in order to meet the standards of highly sensitive medical equipment. With each medical wire harness assembly that Meridian Cable creates, we pour our years of experience and engineering into creating reliable, durable and flexible cable and wire assemblies. When finding the right manufacturer for medical wire harnesses and assemblies, it is imperative that the wires and cables can be relied on in the most desperate of situations. We make every one of our medical wire harness assemblies to meet the highest standard to ensure quality and dependability. 

What is a Medical Wire Harness Assembly?

A medical wire harness assembly is a conglomerate of many smaller cables gathered into an organized collaboration with the purpose and function of connecting many different ports. While there are many different components that go into the makeup of a medical wire harness assembly, the basic components are the wires themselves, the insulation material, the coating around each cable and the connectors at each end. 

The use of medical wire harnesses is mainly to connect the ultra-sensitive medical equipment to other equipment, monitors, processors and instruments. The wires themselves transfer medical data from the patient, equipment, or instrument to the medical monitors, computers and processors. This information is then translated into medical data used to diagnose a condition, monitor a patient, or gain insight into the workings of the body. 

It is vital that these wires operate correctly as the information they transfer can literally be the difference between life and death. Medical wire harness assemblies can be found attached to nearly every piece of medical equipment in one form or another. They are a crucial component to everything from Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) machines and ultrasound wands, to a heart monitor. Keeping these vital pieces of medical equipment operating smoothly through a dependable medical wire harness assembly is what we are all about. 

Down to the Wire: The Material Components of a Wire Harness Assembly

The components of what make up each Meridian Cable medical wire harness assembly are designed and engineered to meet the highest standard for medical equipment. The cable itself is made up of three main components:

  • The metal conductor 
  • The filler/insulator
  • The outer coating

Each of these elements are vital components to the cable to ensure proper functionality and efficiency. We utilize high quality components to craft every custom medical wire harness assembly. 

The metal used at the center of each cable is typically copper because of its conductor capabilities and its malleability. To make the copper wire, the copper is stretched to be ultra-thin strands and then coiled around every other strand to create a spiral or coil of strands less than 0.05 inches in diameter. These coils are then encased by a filler and insulator. 

The filler that surrounds the copper conductor is designed to not only protect the conductor from heat, but also acts as a buffer to outside the conductor as well. This insulator ensures that the small pulses of electricity flowing through the conductors remain within the conductors. In addition to this protection, the filler give the cable shape throughout the crossbody of the cable. 

Lastly, the outer layer of the cable is designed to protect the cable from elements outside the cable itself. This coating is typically a plastic blend designed to be a waterproof barrier surrounding the whole of the cable. We use a combination of teflon and silicone to create our medical wire harness assemblies to ensure protection from moisture, heat, and breaks. In addition to this protection, using these materials allows us to create a flexible wire to endure the rigorous duress that medical equipment requires. 

Meridian Cable creates each custom medical wire assembly with the highest standard in mind. As we craft our products from quality components, we strive to ensure that each custom medical wire harness assembly meets the most stringent medical requirements.

Applications and Medical Machinery 

An application of a custom medical wire harness assembly can be found in every medical facility across the world. While there are endless possibilities for their use, medical equipment is among the most particularly important applications in which to utilize a wire harness assembly. The data that they transmit is life saving and is vital to the treatment and diagnostics of a patient by medical personnel.  

They are frequently used in the following medical machinery:

  • Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) scanners
  • Bioconnectors
  • Heart monitors
  • Computed Tomography (CT) scanners
  • X ray machines
  • Patient monitoring systems
  • Other medical imaging equipment 
  • Other medical instruments

The list of medical equipment that utilize a wire harness assembly can go on and on and the potential cannot be understated. There are so many ways in which a reliable medical wire harness assembly is crucial to the operation of a medical facility. 

Because it is vital that each wire be correctly functioning, Meridian Cable ensures that our wire harness assemblies will be built to meet the highest of standards. Our team of engineers and designers have the experience of years working to design custom medical wire harness assemblies that can be trusted with the most sensitive medical machinery.

Designing a Custom Medical Wire Harness Assembly

With so many different pieces of equipment and applications for a medical wire harness assembly, having a custom made assembly is an absolute necessity for any medical facility. While there are certainly off-the-shelf options, a custom built medical wire harness assembly ensures that every one of the needs are met with precision and correctness. The quality that we put into all of our products rises to the occasion to meet the highest medical standards and perform with integrity and dependability. 

With all the complexities that can come with a medical wire harness assembly, experience and quality matter most. We use ASO-certified components to make our custom medical wire harness assemblies to ensure both high-caliber and durable products. Meridian Cable works with our customers directly to help create a custom medical wire harness assembly that suits their specific needs for their medical facility and equipment. 

Designed For Dependability 

The necessity of reliable wiring for medical equipment cannot be understated. With the use of technology within the medical sector advancing rapidly and being used so widely, properly functioning medical wire harness assemblies are a crucial component to correct patient monitoring, diagnostics, and treatment. With so much at stake, it is imperative that each wire function correctly and consistently. 

It is frightening to imagine the ramifications of a malfunctioning wire when connected to a heart monitor, MRI machine, defibrillator, or ultrasound wand. A faulty wire could cause a malfunction in any number of medical machinery with drastic results. Unfortunately, there is a lot that could go wrong with medical equipment and so it is essential that the wiring be dependable and made with precision. 

When we craft a custom medical wire harness assembly, we know what is at stake. With the weight of correctly operating medical equipment in mind, we put our cable and wire assemblies through stringent tests and rigorous quality control to ensure that each one meets the highest standard. Our years of experience and expertise has made us a leader in cable manufacturing and we strive to uphold reliable quality you can depend on. 

Working With Our Design Team

With every medical wire harness assembly having unique requirements, we work with you to create a custom designed wire harness to meet your specific needs. Our team will help walk you through every step of the process to make sure that you get exactly what your medical equipment and facility requires. Because each medical wire harness can present its own challenges and requires so much detail, we strive to communicate directly with you in order to provide the best experience possible.

The custom medical wire harness assemblies that we create to meet you specific needs are backed by our tears of experience crafting unique and precise cable assemblies. Custom work is our speciality and we have the expertise to craft a medical wire harness assembly to your satisfaction

We quality test and check each custom product that we create through thorough examination to ensure both the functionality and quality of our work. With every wire harness and cable assembly we make, we utilize quality materials, attention to every detail, and decades of experience to present a trustworthy and dependable product.

Let Meridian Cable Design a Custom Medical Wire Harness Assembly For You 

There is so much that goes into the design and crafting of a medical wire harness assembly that it can be easily overwhelming. Our years of experience has proven that Meridian Cable creates the quality and brings the expertise needed to design reliable medical wire harness assemblies for your medical facility. Contact us today to get started on designing, engineering, and creating a custom medical wire harness assembly for your doctor’s office, hospital, medical practice, or medical facility. 

The IATF 16949 Certification: An Overview of the Companies that Value the Designation

We’re excited to have just announced that Meridian Cable Assemblies has recently obtained a gold standard certification in the automotive industry. After a lot of hard work, Meridian has met the requirements for obtaining the IATF 16949 certification (also simply known as the IATF certification). 

To fully understand the importance of this recent achievement, we have published a two-part series that dives into the specifics of the certificate designation. In this section, we’ll highlight why this designation is so important, discuss important companies that also value the IATF 16949 certification, and look at companies that currently hold its designation.

A Short History of the IATF 16949 Certification

The IATF 16949 certification was created in 1999 by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) – a consortium of automotive trade associations and manufacturers working in conjunction with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). According to the IATF, the requirements set forth within the IATF Certification were created to bring unity to all of  “the different assessment and certification systems worldwide in the supply chain for the automotive sector.” 

The IATF Certification has since undergone various updates to reflect changes in the automotive industry standards. The most recent iteration of the document was published in 2016 as the IATF 16949:2016.

Obtaining this certification signifies to the automotive industry that Meridian’s management systems are capable of continually manufacturing quality cable assemblies and harnesses. Further, the certification recognizes our unparalleled expertise in designing an array of standard and customizable cable assembly and harness products that can meet our customer’s demands in the automotive industry.

What is the IATF 16949 Certification and Why is it Important? 

The IATF 16949 certification is a merit badge for companies that are responsible for creating and supplying automotive elements or assemblies to the automotive industry. When a company attains an IATF 16949 certification, it signifies a number of high marks about its product to a prospective buyer. 

According to the globally accredited certification body, National Quality Assurance Limited (NAQ), the IATF certification reveals that a company has developed a “process-oriented quality management system that provides for continual improvement, defect prevention and reduction of variation and waste.” Establishing this system ideally leads to a production process that consistently churns out grade-level automotive parts and assemblies. 

Companies that Require an IATF 16949 Certification

Top automotive companies around the world actively seek out custom cable and harness manufacturers that have passed the rigorous requirements of the IATF 16949. Below are a few recognizable companies that look for this gold standard.

BMW Group

Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, better known by its luxury-defining acronym BMW, is a powerhouse member of the International Automotive Task Force. With customers spanning the globe, BMW has constructed a supply line that is truly complex and cost-efficient to ensure that its customers continually receive a high-caliber vehicle with a matching price. 

For this to occur, contracted companies conducting business along BMW’s supply line must also be able to invariably produce quality automotive parts that ensure BMW’s brand is upheld. To guarantee this quality, almost all of these companies are required to hold an IATF certification. 

Stellantis

Formerly known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or FCA US LLC, Stellantis is a Netherlands-based company that oversees the production of vehicles including trucks, SUVs, and commercial vehicles. Stellantis’ portfolio boasts recognizable brands such as Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep on the consumer end, as well as Maserati on the more luxurious side. 

Regardless of brand affordability, Stellantis, like BMW, requires companies that create parts for its vehicles to retain an IATF certification to ensure quality maintenance. 

Ford Motor Company

Creator of the original American muscle car, the Ford Mustang is one of the most recognizable cars across the world. The ingenuity and attention-to-detail put into this classic, along with Ford’s other array of vehicles, has followed this car since its inception. 

Today, iconic models like the F-150 and the Mustang still retain their superb quality in every part. Like its competitors, Ford ensures quality assurance by requiring third-party companies working within its supply chain to maintain an IATF 16949 certification.  

Other Companies that Value an IATF 16949 Certification

The BMW Group, Stellantis, and the Ford Motor Company are not the only major players in the automobile industry that require its third-party contracts to hold an IATF 16949 certification. Below is a list of other recognizable and not-so-recognizable companies and organizations that value the IATF certification:

  • Daimler AG
  • French Federation of Vehicle Equipment Industries (FIEV)
  • Geely Group
  • General Motors Company
  • German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA QMC)
  • Groupe Renault
  • Jaguar Land Rover Limited
  • Italian Association of the Automotive Industry (ANFIA)
  • The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)
  • Volkswagen AG 

Companies with IATF 16949 Certification

While Meridian has only recently obtained its IATF 16949 certification, there are many other companies playing important roles in the automotive industry that have, and/or continue to hold, this gold standard classification. This section will provide a small snapshot of the multitude of other IATF 16949 certification holders.  

Optimas Solutions

Optimas Solutions is a company that specializes in creating standard fastening products, such as screws, nuts, bolts, and washers for a variety of industries, including the automotive industry. 

Jasper Rubber

Jasper Rubber manufactures molded, extruded, and lathe-cut, rubber, plastic, and thermoplastic materials for automotive components. Jasper’s products are recognized for their standard grade and are commonly sold in the US and exported to countries such as Mexico and Canada. 

Covercraft Industries, LLC

Covercraft Industries is a leader in creating custom covers for vehicles of all sizes. Evolving from humble beginnings in California, Covercraft’s products have become internationally recognized for their quality and durability earning them the status of the “world’s largest manufacturer of custom patterned vehicle covers” (retrieved via Covercraft website). 

Mecavit

Mecavit is an Italian company that manufactures fasteners such as high-quality screws. With 60% of its business overseas, Mecavit is truly an international company that services automotive clients in the European Union and Russia. 

Tempel Facilities

Tempel Facilities is an international manufacturing company that produces high-quality, magnetic laminations for motors. 

AIM Solder

AIM Solder is a manufacturing company that supplies solder assembly materials and products to the electronics industry. Within the automotive industry specifically, AIM is a global supplier of solder paste, solder wires, and solder bars. 

Mayfield Engineering Company Incorporated (MEC, Inc.)

MEC, Inc. is a third-party contract manufacturer that supplies an array of “prototyping and tooling, production fabrication, coating, assembly, and aftermarket services to the automotive industry” (retrieved via MEC website). Its products are used in a variety of vehicle markets including commercial, power sports, construction, and military markets. 

Mill Steel Company

The Mill Steel Company specializes in servicing steel. Among its various steel service centers in the US, the Mill Steel Company has received its IATF certification for its production of steel coils that are designed to meet the custom needs of its customers. 

Texas Instruments

Texas Instruments is known to many as the company that produces high-end calculators that help students pass their complicated math classes. While this is true, Texas Instruments is also involved in the creation of a variety of products that are across the spectrum for multiple industries. Within the automotive industry, Texas Instruments is known for manufacturing integrated circuits for automotive systems.

Midwest Rubber Company

A competitor of Jasper Rubber, the Midwest Rubber Company also manufactures high-quality plastic and rubber components for the automotive industry. Midwest Rubber Company specializes in dip-molding and dip-coating techniques for car parts. In fact, you may find Midwest Rubber Company’s rubber products on your own vehicle’s windshield wipers. 

Nissin Manufacturing Co., LTD.

Nissin Manufacturing Co. is a Japanese manufacturing company recognized for its production of metal and powertrain parts for the automotive industry supply chain. 

Schweizer

Schweizer is a manufacturer of spring technology. Schweizer has industrial hubs in Europe and Asia and holds multiple IATF certifications for the production of strip springs, clamping springs, and wire springs, to name a few. 

Where Does Meridian Cable Assemblies Fit In?

As you can see from the list of certification holders in the previous section, the scope of the IATF 16949 extends across every aspect of the automotive industry’s supply chain. From the smallest screw to the rubber trim on a windshield wiper, the IATF certification ensures that quality is maintained across the product spectrum. 

As a recent recipient of the IATF 16949 certification, Meridian is primed and ready to employ our cable assembly expertise for all of our customers in the automotive industry and elsewhere. We have an array of products that will almost certainly fulfill any cable assembly or wire harness needs that you may require. If you do not find what you are looking for, we have the capability to manufacture a customized product to meet your exact specifications. 

Get Your Custom Cable Project Started Now

Ready to get started? We guarantee that you will be satisfied with the end result. Call 1-866-866-0544 or head to our contact page and a member of our team will be in touch shortly. 

Meridian Cable Assemblies Achieves IATF 16949 Certification

Meridian Cable Assemblies Achieves IATF 16949 Certification

Meridian Cable is proud to announce that we have met the rigorous demands to achieve the well-respected IATF 16959 certification. This standard applies to automotive quality management systems and is only provided to those who demonstrate true quality in everything they do. From customer service to reducing defects in products, the team at Meridian is proud that the work we do every day meets the criteria to obtain this leading certification in manufacturing. 

Read on as we cover what the IATF 16949 certification is and why it’s so sought after for products related to land-based transportation applications.

What is an IATF 16949 Certification?

The IATF 16949 is known as the “International Standard for Automotive Quality Management Systems”. Obtaining this certification is no easy task. A manufacturer will have to demonstrate continual improvement within their quality management. This deals with everything from quality assurance in products to minimizing any waste in the supply chain. As for the IATF itself, that’s the International Automotive Task Force, which in conjunction with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), developed this certification specifically for the automotive industry. 

IATF 16949 wants to see that a manufacturer has quality at the forefront of everything they do. Quality that is embedded in an organization is going to showcase itself throughout the day-to-day operations. Quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) are factors that are measured and then set as a benchmark. With continued improvement to processes relative to this benchmark, a manufacturer is demonstrating a superior commitment to quality, which, in essence, is the hallmarks of IATF 16949 certification.

Being recognized with our IATF 16949 certification is one reason why our team remains confident that we are providing the caliber of product that our customers have come to expect from us.

Benefits of IATF 16949 Certification in Cable Assemblies

When you see that a custom cable manufacturer has IATF 16949 certification, you know that this company is truly excelling in the quality of their product, people, and processes. This three-prong approach to overall quality improvement translates into better products and better experiences for customers. 

Gaining this IATF 16949 certification takes a lot of work, but creates a lot of benefits to the organization itself, including:

  • Increasing the efficiency of processes and improving the effectiveness of each input. 
  • Ensuring the continued satisfaction of customers, including all touch points. 
  • Overall continued improvement for the organization. 
  • Dramatically reducing or even eliminating defects in custom cable assemblies.
  • Cutting lead times, improving processes, and removing all waste from the supply chain.

All of these benefits are passed on to the clients in each and every project we undertake. Whether it’s cable assemblies to be used in industrial control systems within an automotive plant or OEM parts manufacturing, our team’s continued commitment to total quality management doesn’t just raise the bar, it sets it again and again.

Industries that Rely on IATF 16949 Certification Expertise

Companies with IATF certification are some of the top automotive manufacturers in the world including BMW Group, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Volkswagen AG. With any kind of land-based transportation, IATF really matters in the quality of the product. Automotive companies like those above and OEMs rely on custom cable manufacturers to be able to deliver the perfect assembly to integrate into their systems and IATF 16949 certification is a way to demonstrate that your capabilities are up to the task. 

At Meridian, we have decades of experience providing custom cable assemblies for some of the most demanding applications on the planet. In this time, we’ve built up incredible expertise and an impressive tool crib for delivering the perfect solution to even the most complex specifications. Obtaining our IATF 16949 certification publicly demonstrates what we were already doing internally and is a testament to the men and women who make it happen here every day. 

Why IATF Certification Matters

As we’ve seen, automotive stakeholders look for IATF-certified manufacturers to be assured that they are going to get a solution that’s safe, functions well, and is built to stand up to everything required of the assembly. Additionally, IATF certification matters because of what it means the company is doing within their organization. 

Results you’ll see that come from doing everything required to obtain certification can include:

  • Customer Satisfaction – when a client has a fantastic experience, they are more likely to continue doing business with you. Relationships are incredibly important in custom cable manufacturing because the stakes are just that high for the necessity of integrity in product and process. Whether it’s a cutting-edge medical device or the automotive cable assembly inside a family’s SUV, these systems simply have to work. IATF certification says that the manufacturer is committed to making sure their customers are absolutely taken care of every step of the project. 

One way we do this is by continuing to improve project management. Staying on time and on budget is something that an experienced custom cable manufacturer should bring to the table. 

  • Lower Operating Costs – when waste is reduced from the manufacturing process, it results in efficiencies, which in turn reduce how much input is required to garner the same result. Lower operating costs means we have more money to invest in things like recruiting the best people, keeping them current with training and development, purchasing new technology, and generally improving how we do what we do. This mentality of continued improvement is at the heart of IATF 16949 certification.
  • Better Relationshipscustom cable manufacturing is all about relationships. Relationships with suppliers, vendors, clients, and even our own people are vital to our success. With the IATF 16949 certification, we are also showing a commitment to improving these relationships. Whether that results in a better price on a UL-listed component for a cable assembly or a better deal from a vendor, these improvements trickle down into positive effects in myriad ways.
  • Increased Procurement Opportunities – specifically when designing MILSPEC cable assemblies, procurement officials are looking at certifications like the IATF 16949 to find the best option to meet their needs. Having this certification means that a cable assembly manufacturer can provide services to a wider range of applications, which in turn can increase capability.
  • Respected Globally – the top automotive manufacturers and OEMs are looking for the IATF 16949 because it sets the bar so high for quality. This certification is well-known and well-respected throughout the world. With manufacturing operations both in the U.S. and in China, Meridian is a true global custom cable manufacturer which is why an internationally-recognized quality standard is so important. 
  • Consistency in Improvement Methodology – this is really important in cable assembly manufacturing because you need to have a standard for quality management systems. Having your IATF 16949 means you have a gold standard, with the framework needed to achieve the level of quality that the automotive sector demands. Consistency means that the exceptional level of service is achieved over and over again. 

The benefits that originate from IATF 16949 certification work their way throughout the organization and serve to make it better as a whole. Increased efficiency in operations across the board means that every member of the organization is contributing towards making the company incrementally better each and every day.

Certifications

IATF 16949 certification is something we are definitely very proud of at Meridian. We’re also really proud that this is adding to other industry-recognized certifications we already have, some of which we’ve maintained for decades. 

Other certifications that really add validity to the quality of what we produce here at Meridian include ISO 9001:2015 certification and UL Certifications.

  • ISO 9001:2015 – this certification is very similar in nature to the IATF 16949 certification in that it revolves around a demonstrable commitment to improvement of quality across many different sectors. While the IATF certification we’ve achieved pertains to the automotive industry, ISO 9001 applies to a wide range of different industries. We’re incredibly proud to have maintained this distinction since 2000 because it means we’ve never really stopped in our pursuit of doing things that much better each and every time. 
  • UL Certifications – a huge benefit of being a UL approved wire and cable extruder and a UL approved manufacturing facility is that it means we can help get your product certified through UL. Our clients also know that they can count on the level of quality that stands behind every cable assembly we produce. 

Having IATF 16949, ISO 9001, and UL certification is a potent combination of capability. We know that our clients demand nothing less than perfection in design, which is what we impart every member of our team to contribute towards. Working as a cohesive unit of experienced professionals, the team at Meridian continues to produce cable assemblies that are trusted around the world. 

Getting Started with an IATF Certified Custom Cable Manufacturer

From the very first interaction with our clients, our team sets out to make it the best experience possible. Contact us now to get started. We’ll work to understand all your needs and tailor the perfect solution. 

Why is Shielding Needed in Cable Assemblies?

shielded coaxial cable

Shielded cable assemblies are the right solution required when the environment is doing everything it can to degrade power, signal, and data transfer through an electrical system. In today’s LiveWire cable deep dive, we will explore all the in’s and out’s of shielded cable assemblies, highlighting how these unique support features can absolutely make or break a custom cable assembly. 

What Exactly is a Shielded Cable Assembly?

As a shielded cable manufacturer, our cable engineers have to figure out the exact requirements needed in order to design the perfect shielding plan for the assembly. Too little shielding and the system won’t have adequate protection, too much and you likely have overruns in cost and time. 

So why is shielding so important in cable assemblies? A few key facts to remember:

  • Shielding acts as a buffer for the cables and wires within a cable assembly from disruptive external forces that are constantly bombarding the system. 
  • Cable shielding comes in many different sizes, materials, and manufacturing methods in order to produce the best fit for the project at hand. 
  • One of the most common externalities that requires mitigation in our cable shielding designs is for electromagnetic interference (EMI). 

Shielded cable assemblies are a great way to protect your system from the disruptive effects of EMI. We’ll look at why EMI can be so harmful to the functionality of your electrical system next.

EMI Makes Shielded Cable Connectors Crucial

Whenever a cable harness assembly is sending off data signals, it will need some sort of consideration from any sort of EMI being subjected to the system. EMI comes from an external source and can disrupt the flow of data. EMI can cause ripple effects where the signal is degraded or even fails altogether. EMI is produced by a wide array of processes including both natural and mechanical occurrences. 

In an electrical system with cable assemblies, the source for EMI can be as simple as nearby machines or an electrical circuit. Cable assemblies can wind up in all sorts of situations like industrial control systems in a bottling plant, connecting telecommunications systems in a data center, or providing data transfer in a state-of-the-art medical device. In each of these environments, there can be a variety of electrical “noises” that produce EMI. This EMI requires mitigation to ensure there are no ill effects made to the strength of the data transfer, which could in turn render the greater system inoperable. 

Shielded cable manufacturers know that insulation and jacketing are great for protecting cable assemblies from external forces like heat, moisture, and abrasion, but they do little good for protecting against EMI. That’s where cable shielding produces the greatest benefit.

How Cable Shielding Combats EMI

As we just discussed, the best way for a shielded cable manufacturer to protect against EMI is to utilize shielding in their design. Shielding provides a 360 degree zone of protection around the inner conductors of the cable assembly. Shielding has a number of ways that it protects against EMI, which can be tweaked based on the application. Shielded cable connectors can both reflect and deflect EMI wherever it is most advantageous to dissipate it away from the assembly. 

As you might expect, each and every application is unique. This requires cable engineers to account for a very specific quantity and type of shielding to be utilized. The intended environment, the types of cables, and costs all play into the decision making process for the most efficient design possible. 

Different Types of Shielding Used in Cable Assemblies

Shielded cable assemblies are predominantly found with two different types of shielding, either foil shielding or braided shielding. The type used is going to depend on the needs of the project as both have their strengths and weaknesses. 

  • Using Foil Shielding in Cable Assemblies

Foil shielding is a type that uses thin metal sheets like copper, aluminum, and others, that are attached to different materials such as polyester in order to provide greater resiliency. Foil shields often incorporate a taping that provides great all around coverage for the cables and wires beneath. This provides an effective barrier for the internal system from external EMI. 

  • Braided Shield in Cable Assemblies

The other type of cable shielding you will likely see is braided shielding. Braided shielding incorporates metal weaves of high gauge wires, usually copper. A braid shielding is a good way to create a path that’s low-resistance when grounding and is also able to terminate rather simply, especially when crimped or soldered with a shielded cable connector. 

The only drawback to utilizing braided shields in cable assemblies is that there is never absolute coverage of the system. This can be exactly appropriate depending on the application but do expect to see coverage running below 100 percent down to even 70 percent or more Different metals have different levels of conductivity which makes them great at the job of protecting against EMI. 

Even without total coverage, a braided shield typically performs better than a tape or foil shielding. Braided cords do also incorporate more materials into the project, which means they come at a greater cost and increase scope. Engineering the best use of each type of shielding into our products is what sets apart an experienced shielded cable manufacturer from off-the-shelf products.

Integrating Shielded Cable Assemblies in Your Next Project

Remember our examples above of the bottling plant, medical device, and data center? These locations are particularly “noisy” with respect to EMI because there are so many different electrical systems in the space. Whenever a cable assembly is destined for a location that has an increased level of EMI present, it is almost always ideal to employ multiple layers of cable shielding. Utilizing both a braided shield, as well as a foil shield can offer a particularly stout level of protection. 

When cable assemblies have dozens of different cables and wires carrying out their own functions within the electrical system, sometimes it becomes important to shield even against the EMI produced from adjacent components. Foil shielding can be useful in these instances since it takes up a limited amount of space and envelopes the given shielded connector, wire, cable, or terminal.

Why Shielding Cable Assemblies is So Important

Within a cable assembly, EMI can either be reduced or eliminated altogether depending on the needs of the project. In any application, a sufficient type and amount of shielding is utilized to bring about the best benefit. There are systems which require braided shields, other foil shields, and still other applications requiring a combination of the two. 

Cable assemblies which contain flexed cables may require a different shielding method such as wrapped shielding as opposed to foil shielding which may be prone to spot-failures under such conditions. Above all, grounding is critical with whatever application is occurring. A lot of the shielded cable connectors out there will provide for a termination at the shield. When examining these shielded cable connectors for your own project, remember that each connector needs to provide an adequate level of EMI protection, at least on par with the cable assembly itself. 

These shielded cable connectors can be produced in a variety of materials such as thermoplastics and cast zinc. Whenever the pieces all come together, the different pieces of the assembly, from shielding to termination, have to be properly engineered and calibrated to provide the most efficient overall protection and functionality. 

Certifications Matter With Shielded Cable Manufacturers

Maintaining our ISO 9001 certification requires a commitment towards complete quality of our processes, including manufacturing, logistics, and even customer service. In this way, we continuously strive for improvement. Even if each experience is only marginally better than the last, we are always improving what we produce and how we do so for our clients. The end result is a dependable custom cable assembly that’s going to fit its intended system perfectly.

In addition to maintaining our 9001 certification, we are also extremely proud to be listed as a UL-authorized manufacturing facility. This means that we can help get your products certified by UL and add the coveted mark to your product. The UL symbol on a product is one that’s recognized the world over as a measure of quality, setting your products apart. On a more basic level, utilizing UL parts and products in our own designs lets our engineers use a material with tested and measured characteristics, rather than starting from scratch.

Starting a Project Utilizing Shielded Cable Assemblies

Starting a project on the right foot takes experience, capability, and commitment. After several decades as a leading shielded cable manufacturer in both the U.S. and in China, Meridian cable has developed unique expertise around cable shielding requirements. We incorporate a blend of fully-automated, semi-automated, and hand tools in our manufacturing process and have a tool crib of well over 5,000 different tools at our disposal. 

Finishing projects on-time and on-budget is what we do best. Contact our team today to get started on your own project utilizing shielded cable assemblies.

Custom RF Cable Assemblies Guide

Macro close up of radio frequency cable with SMA connector on the Smith chart

Standard cable assemblies are used in a wide variety of applications through just about every conceivable industry including industrial control, medical, telecommunications, military and many others. The cables that make up these assemblies can be customized with the perfect RF-type connector mounted to carry out the task at hand. In today’s spotlight series, we’ll cover everything you should know about buying the right custom RF cable assembly to get the job done.

What are RF Cable Assemblies Used For?

RF stands for radio frequency and is a type that applies to a wide range of coaxial electrical connectors. One of the most common types of RF connectors is the SMA, which we’ve hit on in previous posts. The range of component types can include flexible cables, semi rigid cables, and both corrugated and hand conformable cable assemblies. The applications for RF cable assemblies cover a wide gamut of consumer wireless internet TV and audio, wireless antennas in mobile devices, the network interfaces that keeps telecommunications networks going, medical devices, wireless LANs and bluetooth, and many, many more.

In a custom RF cable assembly, all of the RF cables and connectors will be individually optimized in order to bring about the most efficient transmission within the system. RF cable assemblies are frequently used in tight spaces, where space constraints demand a custom solution. They are also great for high-vibration environments due to their inherent durability, reliability, and overall performance. 

The features of a RF cable assemble allow for some seriously diverse applications. Some of the basis for the usefulness of the RF cable assembly include: 

  • Tremendous level of customization options for coaxial cable and interfacing;
  • Both 50-ohm and 75-ohm varieties means more wireless applications covered;
  • Can be created in a non-magnetic version, specifically for sensitive medical equipment.

These are just a few of the many features that bring about great benefit for using an RF cable assembly in a custom solution. However, each of these features is a custom addition to the design, warranting individual consideration and an advanced RF cable assembly acumen to pull off successfully. We’ll look a little closer at the specific benefits of custom RF cable assemblies next.

Benefits of Using a Custom RF Cable Assembly

There’s three key benefits to using a custom RF cable assembly within an electrical system: an RF cable assembly will produce excellent and dependable electrical performance, it will present a low loss, and it can operate at a high frequency.

  1. RF Cable Assemblies Produce Excellent and Dependable Electrical Performance

The smaller design for most RF cable assembly connections means they save space, especially in vertical mating applications. The couplers themselves can be custom created to the unique application but a threaded coupler ensures even high vibrations won’t uncouple the connection. As well, with a custom RF cable assembly you can combine signal, power, and RF all in one package. These packages can be custom spec’d for non-magnetic applications or with waterproofing components. 

  1. RF Cable Assemblies Present a Low Loss

There are a great many design considerations in a custom RF cable assembly that helps to improve overall system performance. Design considerations like silver or tri metal plating alloys will help to deliver more conductivity and also protect against corrosion. With a low loss cable inside the assembly, you can effectively maintain higher signal strength. 

  1. RF Cable Assemblies Can Operate at a High Frequency

The high frequency ranges makes custom RF cable assemblies the ideal for broadband, wireless, and GPS configurations. The characteristic impedances used in RF cable assemblies of either 50 or 75 ohm aren’t coincidental. These two values can be traced back to early experiments for transferring high power levels but also achieving minimal signal loss. 50 ohms is a good middle ground for power-handling and 75 ohms is best suited minimizing the loss of high-frequency, high-speed signals such as those used in radio antennas. 

Custom RF coaxial connectors and cable assemblies are the solutions required for today’s complex electronic systems. With a team of in-house engineers, designers, and producers, Meridian is able to support a diverse market; producing tough military equipment, cutting-edge medical instrumentation, OEM automotive solutions, and telecom and wireless solutions. 

Getting Technical: Amplitude and Phase

Amplitude and phase are the leading basis for setting many key performance parameters in custom RF cable assembly design and production. These include parameters our engineers know inside and out such as attenuation, return loss, and phase stability. These parameters, along with a host of additional variables, will determine the proper components to be used within the assembly. Things like the type and sizes of the conductors, using braided or unbraided wires, or utilizing pricier precious metals like silver-plating, are all considered in order to produce the very best performance, within the confines of the budget. Our team truly excels at manufacturing efficiencies so that our client’s budgets can stretch the farthest.

How to Produce Custom RF Cable Assemblies

The first step for producing a one of a kind solution that only the custom RF cable assembly can provide, is basic – listen to the client. Our design team takes the time to get to know our clients needs, the strengths and weaknesses of the application, and how to most-efficiently solve the task at hand. With custom RF cable assemblies, we’ve already discussed the major benefit of combining signal, power, and RF all in one package. Now, consider how this is accomplished. Each of those activities will require dedicated cables, connectors, terminations, jackets, sleeves, wire harnesses, and a thousand other considerations in order to perform flawlessly. 

Design Phase 

After the initial meeting, our design team goes to work with advanced computer aided design (CAD) software to produce the first digital iterations of the final product. Using these systems, our engineers can go ahead and “test” different design configurations using different data models and variables. This is just the first of many rigorous rounds of testing the product will undergo before it ever arrives with the client. 

Prototyping 

Once the design team settles on a design that meets the requirements presented by the client, it’s time to begin prototyping. While we can go directly from design to volume manufacturing, this is very rare. Instead, prototyping allows our engineers and project managers the opportunity to see how all the components come together in the design and manufacturing process. Not only will this look at the performance of the given components, but our testing engineers have the opportunity to look at multiple iterations of a product at one time to see which yields the most favorable results. As well, our facilities ascribe to some serious manufacturing efficiency models like Kanban and just-in-time ordering. With prototyping, our design team gets to see how the sourcing plan for those components will come together in real time before we ever begin volume manufacturing. This way, we can be sure we have the perfect selection of components within the cable assembly, the necessary tools and equipment reserved to complete the assembly, as well as the logistics in place to produce and deliver the product both on-time and on-budget.

Testing

After prototyping and throughout the process, testing is the name of the game. The product will undergo many different rounds of testing, including a visit to our advanced life testing lab, where it will be subjected to harsh real world conditions to make sure everything is operating optimally for the RF cable assembly’s intended environment. Only once our rigorous Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QAQC) process is complete and the final product has been verified for safety, integrity, and functionality, will we utilize our worldwide distribution network to get our products to the client for final delivery. 

Getting a Custom RF Cable Assembly Certified by UL

A certified product from Underwriters Laboratories, better known by the little “UL” symbol within a circle and proudly stamped on the bottom of many products, is recognized the world over as one that has been tested for quality. When we design the perfect custom RF cable assembly for a given situation, we primarily will only utilize UL-certified components in the design. This helps our engineers as the components they’re working with will all have known specifications, rather than having to start from scratch. With both our manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and China being recognized as UL-approved facilities, we are able to help get our client’s assemblies UL-certified and thus recognized in their own rights as quality products.

Starting a Custom RF Cable Assembly Design Project

Getting a custom RF cable assembly project off the ground can seem daunting. With so many different variables to plan for and factors to mitigate against, only an experienced team of data-driven engineers and production staff can produce the perfect solution in the timeframe required and with the budget available. Our team specializes in custom cable assemblies, in fact over 70% of our products are custom solutions. We’ll work with you to find the solution that fits perfectly, period. Contact our team to schedule a design consultation today.

How to Get Started with Your OEM Wire Harness Project

Wire Harnesses Design

An Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is able to produce the exact parts required to fit within a system per strict specifications. OEMs are most commonly recognized as the manufacturers for parts used within the automotive industry but are widely used through a myriad of different applications. Custom wire harnesses for OEM applications therefore have to be perfectly suited to meet the specific demands of the application. 

In today’s LiveWire feature, we’ll look at the wide world of OEM wire harnesses and how these vital workhorses go from concept to volume manufacturing on their way to power some of the most sophisticated automotive systems on the planet.

What is an OEM Wire Harness?

First off, a wire harness assembly is the collection of wires, cables, terminals and other components that are then insulated, sheathed, and otherwise protected to fit the needs of their environments. An OEM wire harness is one that is built to the exact specifications as the original part in order to fit within an existing system. If you think about an automotive application, you have so many different systems within the vehicle that all must remain powered, with free exchange of signal, power, and data in order for the vehicle to safely operate. 

Wire harnesses are an especially critical support element as an OEM part. OEM wire harnesses are going to provide the connection needed to relay power, data, and/or signal to all the outlying systems. The alternator, battery cables, headlights, and a hundred other systems in the vehicle all rely on wire harness assemblies to maintain the connection. Vehicles are subjected to a lot of environmental forces that all require mitigation. 

Finding efficient ways to protect against all of the variables bombarding a wire harness assembly, our engineers take many steps during the design and prototyping phases to ensure our custom OEM wire harness assemblies are performing exactly to spec.

Designing an OEM Wire Harness

An OEM wire harness’s design is absolutely critical towards its overall functionality within the larger system it is intended for. There’s both a physical space requirement component, as well as a certain threshold for the transmission of data, power, or signal that play into the overall design. There’s also the environmental factors we just mentioned that also need to be accounted for in order to produce a viable and effective product. 

  • Space Constraints With OEM Wire Harnesses: cables and wires have to traverse some pretty tight spaces in order to provide the critical junction between different components. Whether it’s for a multi-million dollar fighter jet or a piece of industrial control equipment powering a municipal waterworks, space constraints play a huge role in dictating final design. When a cable is bent, the wire harness engineer will have had to factor in this stress and provide the right materials and overall design that best meets these conditions. We’ll touch more on testing OEM wire harnesses a little later. 
  • Power, Signal, and/or Data Requirements: different cables from coax to CAT5 are utilized within electrical systems to provide the necessary functionality. With power needs, the gauge of the wire dictates how much current can safely be transmitted through the system. The size differences here within a cable require engineers to provide just the right amount and type for structural components such as insulation and filler materials. While these support elements can be easily forgotten when looking at the finished OEM wire harness, without them, the system would not remain operable for long. 
  • Mitigating Against External Factors: think about the underside of your vehicle traveling down the highway day after day. When you walk out first thing in the morning to power your vehicle, you’re pretty much counting on it to start right up and get you where you need to go. But this would be impossible if the OEM wire harness engineer for your vehicle’s electrical systems did not plan for environmental variables in their initial design. Oil and caustic agents, moisture, abrasion, heat, and others all require a keen set of deterrents that are effective both in the efficiency of design, as well as related to budget. Operating within budget keeps an OEM wire harness feasible for the final application. 

When you have considered all of these different constraints of a project, you can design a wire harness that fits within that framework The various wiring and cables all need to be easily-deployed within their application, which requires exacting specifications based on a present set of data. Our engineers work to solve even the most complex integration issues to ensure our harnesses provide a seamless “drop-in” installation. 

Bringing an OEM Wire Harness Assembly From Concept to Reality

When our wire harness engineers are producing designs for new OEM wire harnesses, they are running multiple iterations through sophisticated modeling software that let’s engineers see how a system will perform under a variety of simulations. The design that moves forward to the assembly of the wire harness is called a schematic which then gets translated into a physical assembly board, also referred to as a pin board.

A pin board is like a large diagram of an OEM wire harness which helps to map out all the different parts and pieces with their specific location to match the necessary applications set by the manufacturers specifications. Wires and cables have systems of identification, along with the proper terminals, connector housings, and other pieces to integrate the final harness assembly. 

All of these components have been placed perfectly within the system to maximize efficiency and utilization. Support structures such as cable sleeves, ties, and straps are all required to protect and strengthen the overall electrical system. The process to produce each of the various components takes a blend of fully-automated, semi-automated, and hand tools to produce the final product. 

While automation and semi-automation are utilized when it’s most efficient to do so, much of the work of an OEM wire harness assembly is still completed by hand because there are so many intricate processes. 

Testing is Everything with OEM Wire Harnesses

Even during the design and prototyping phases, testing is a constant part of the process. Testing during the design phase, helps to save time and money during prototyping, which in turn, saves time and money for the overall project timeline. Meeting each major project milestone on the project schedule takes careful planning from the start.

When looking to test electrical functionality with an OEM wire harness, a test board is a good place to start. A test board is one that comes programmed specifically to test the unique characteristics of that particular product. A wire harness is dropped into a test board much like it would need to plug and play with its final destination. The test board is just one of the many resources available within Meridian’s in-house Advanced Life Testing Lab. 

The Lab is arguably one of the funnest places at our facility as engineers put wire harnesses through a variety of extreme tests based on real life scenarios. Freezing and burning, bending and stretching, and even automated testing from our venerable Cirris testing units are in store for any OEM wire harness that wants to make it past quality assurance testing. Often, prototypes are used for testing before volume or even small-batch production to ensure the final iteration is the most efficient design possible. 

Bringing it All Together

Having the best design and manufacturing process in the world for OEM wire harnesses is meaningless if you can’t bring it all together to get to your customers what they need, when they need it. Having fully-owned manufacturing facilities in both the US and in China, allows our team to utilize a global logistics network to source materials, assemble designs, and deliver the product on-time and on-budget. This level of commitment is earned through many years of tweaking your processes in order to find the best mix for your unique offering. 

Meridian is proud to maintain our ISO 9001 certification which is only accomplished through a continued commitment to improving processes across the board. Formal quality assurance quality control (QAQC) procedures are put in place, as well as techniques like Kanban manufacturing and Just-in-time ordering to ensure efficiency of process. 

A crucial aspect of ISO 9001 quality management certification holders is that they also must commit to improving their service to the customer as well. We’ve learned over the years that honestly looking at each and every interaction with our clients and systematically reviewing how we could have done things better has allowed us to continue to deliver exceptional results for our clients.

Getting Started with Your OEM Wire Harness Project

At Meridian, we simply take the time to ensure that everything is done right. After decades of providing the OEM wire harnesses for some of the most sophisticated electrical systems on the planet, we have amassed both the tools and the talent to produce exactly what’s required. Contact our team now to start reviewing your project specs. 

The Automation of Complex Wire Harness Designs

Wire Harnesses and Wire Assemblies

Automation now accounts for vast amounts of modern manufacturing. Many if not most of the products we purchase have been assembled with the help of an automated process. But, are there certain functions and designs for which human experience and expertise are still required? Of course. Doctors still care for patients, though aided by computers. Roads require engineering and expertise even though engineers use computer aided drafting and design software. 

Complex wire harnesses require the same engineering and expertise expected of good health and good infrastructure. In today’s LiveWire special edition, we’ll explore why complex wire harnesses should not be fully automated with the following topics:

  • What are complex wire harnesses?
  • Why do complex wire harnesses require human engineering?
  • Why do some companies fully automate wire harness design and processing?
  • What aspects of wire harness assembly can be automated?
  • What aspects of wire harness assembly should not be automated?
  • What are some of the design features of wire harnesses?

What are Complex Wire Harnesses?

Complex wire harness designs require precision engineering and assembly, something automation cannot deliver. A wire harness includes an outer layer (protective sheath often of thermoplastic) and an inner layer (wires or cables). Other exterior sheathing materials include PVC, Teflon®, and Silicone. Wire harnesses often contain a variety of cables. Together, the wire harness offers a low-cost electrical solution. 

Remember though, low-cost does not mean simple. Some projects require very complex designs, incorporating conductors, connectors, terminations, sheathing, overmolds, grommets, and strain relief. These design elements require more than automation. They require expertise and engineering, like what is provided by Meridian Cable.

Why Do Complex Wire Harnesses Require Human Engineering?

First, each project requires unique attention and design. Our design team has the tested expertise to custom design wire harnesses in such a way that pitfalls are avoided. This doesn’t mean that automation is completely avoided. 

For example, in the prototyping phase, wire harness designs are subjected first to a series of automated tests from machines like Meridian’s Cerrus units (considered industry gold standard for automated testing). But, design iterations require more than automation. This is why our team ensures that our wire harnesses are custom-designed and manufactured without complete automation. No product ever leaves Meridian’s production line without being rigorously tested to ensure safe and proper function.

Design

Wire harness applications also deserve careful engineering. Automobiles and airplanes require substantial wires to successfully function. Wire harnesses join the many wires into a single harness, making installation easier and durability more attainable. These harnesses need to be designed and engineered first to ensure the assembled product will function optimally. 

During the initial design phase, our engineers have numerous conversations with our clients to ensure we understand the specific wire harness application. Is this design going into a toy airplane or a real airplane? The application makes a remarkable difference in design.

Logistics

Another reason automation cannot fully account for complex wire designs is that logistics have to be considered for production and distribution. An automated system may not be able to alter designs to better utilize available materials, but an experienced cable design company like Meridian can adjust to the unexpected, minimizing distribution delays.

Specific Standards

Finally, wire harness design and manufacturing should not be fully automated because custom wire harnesses are required to meet the variety of projects and standards needed across various industries. For instance, the standards for a medical application may differ widely from a military (MILSPEC) or telecommunications application. Industrial controls include bottling plants and municipal utility systems, and these both have unique wiring specifications. Our wire harness engineers must custom design a wire harness to meet the needs of an automotive manufacturer versus an alternative energy facility.

Most modern wire harness manufacturers will utilize some automation, but engineering and expertise are required, with rigorous testing standards, to ensure the highest quality of wire harnesses is produced. Meridian Cable has a full complement of equipment to process wire harnesses, from basic hand tools to semi-automatic machines.

Why Do Some Companies Fully Automate Wire Harness Design and Processing?

One research paper from Siemens Digital revealed 10 different reasons for fully-automated complex wire harness design. They propose that fully automated wire harness design offers the following benefits:

  1. Automated harness engineering and validation.
  2. Subassemblies to streamline production design.
  3. Controlled, automated change management.
  4. Digital continuity design through production.
  5. Full-scale formboard layout and fixtures.
  6. Effective formboard utilization.
  7. Factory modeling and bill-of-process generation.
  8. Time and cost calculations to increase assembly process efficiency.
  9. Balance tasks across a hardness production line.
  10. Ready-to-use work instructions for every stage of assembly.

Basically, these benefits proposed by Siemens can be summarized into three claims about fully automating wire harness design.

  1.  They claim fully automated design is faster and cheaper.

This may be true initially, but cutting down on design cost only helps on the front end. Over the wire harnesses life cycle, design flaws may prove costly. Engineering and careful product testing ensures the life-time costs will be more economic than a cheaply designed product.

  1. Improve product and process quality.

This seems doubtful at best. As the old saying goes, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. Fully automated wire harness processing may be more cost effective, but it hardly guarantees better quality. Engineering and expertise deliver better quality products over full automation.

  1. Reduce harness manufacturing turnaround time and cost.

This may be true at the beginning. Fully automated manufacturing can produce wire harnesses quicker and for less money, but at what long-term cost? Another old saying merits citing: you get what you pay for. Rather than sacrifice quality to save a little time and money on the front end, the wise approach is to select a wire harness designer and manufacturer that balances a cost-effective approach with engineering and expertise.

What Aspects of Wire Harness Assembly Can be Automated?

Some aspects of wire harness assembly can be automated without sacrificing quality and durability. For instance, specialized machines cut and strip the ends of wires and then can crimp the terminals on the wire ends. Some soldering can also be successfully automated without degrading the wire harness’ quality. It should be noted that the more aspects of wire harness design that are automated, the more the need for rigorous quality testing.

What Aspects of Wire Harness Assembly Should Not be Automated?

The initial engineering process may be aided by computer drafting software, but should not be fully automated. This ensures the design matches the project. Meridian has become a field expert in custom solutions. More than 70 percent of the products we produce, we design. 

In addition to the initial design phase, the final testing phase should also not be fully automated. This complex stage of design iterations requires experience and expertise to ensure the highest quality wire harnesses. 

Additional manufacturing processes should not be automated, including:

  • Incorporating wires of different lengths into a single wire harness.
  • Performing multiple crimps on a single wire.
  • Binding together a variety of components with a variety of bonding materials such as clamps, ties, and tape.
  • Carrying wires through sleeves or exterior sheathing.
  • Properly bonding branch out points with tape.

Using the right tool for the right job matters. Meridian Cable has over 5,000 existing tools available in our tool crib, and we know how and when to use these tools. The wide variety of project applications requires the right tool for the right job in manufacturing complex wire harnesses. Our team brings both the tools and the expertise needed to get the job done right.

What are Some of the Design Features of Wire Harnesses?

Design features for wire harnesses include conductor sizes, conductor colors, stranding sizes, conductor insulation materials, and UL® wire and cable standard sizes.

Conductor Sizes

You’ll see a wide range of available conductor sizes in order to meet the needs of the project. From 12 awg to 34 awg, there’s many different options for our engineers to utilize.

Conductor Colors

Colors are fully customizable per the project’s needs and requirements and can greatly aid in wire management.

Stranding Sizes

From 0.002” to 0.01”, our wire harness engineers can find the perfect stranding size to match the application.

Conductor Insulation Materials

The choices abound for insulation as well, allowing our design team to put together the best materials for the needs of the project. Common insulating materials include Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) and Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon®).

UL® Certified Cables and Wires

Utilizing UL® certified cables and wires helps our designers start with a safe, tested, and reliable product from the start.

Start Your Wire Harness Design Today

With this variety of design features, it is little wonder that Meridian Cable is committed to hands-on engineering and manufacturing. We incorporate the best in semi-automated applications for manufacturing but remain personally invested in our products. 

Contacting Meridian means selecting a custom cable assembly or wire harness assembly team to deliver cost-effective and high quality wiring. Let us help you strike the balance between cutting edge automation, and dependable quality and experience.