Category Archives: Cable Assemblies

Wire Harness Components
Wire Harness Components

Diving into the wide world of wire harnesses can be daunting. There are simply so many variations for a wire harness that the options are truly mind boggling. But, in walks the concept of universal wiring harnesses and, poof, mind blow. So, is there such a thing as a universal wiring harness? 

Even in a space as customized as wiring harnesses, there are, indeed, universal wiring harnesses out there. We’ll look at what these curious amalgamations are, what industries use universal harnesses the most often, and where customization still plays a crucial role in the overall design.

What Are Universal Wiring Harnesses?

A universal wiring harness is one that can be used in several different applications that follow the same general set up. Some of the most prevalent universal wiring harnesses are for cars, trucks, and towing. However, because makes and models all can have their own little intricacies, some form of adaptation may be required to make a universal wiring harness fit its intended destination. 

Control modules, connection points, grommets, and other hardware are generally designed to handle multiple functions and accommodate different geometries. Therefore, you’ll see universal wiring harnesses with some typical features to make this feat easier. Lead lengths are usually pretty generous and instructions fairly straightforward. As we mentioned, though, there are almost always application-specific peculiarities that will exist and need to be customized. At this point, the question must be asked—If a universal wiring harness has to be customized, is it really universal? We’ll look to answer this head-scratcher next. 

Who Makes Universal Wiring Harnesses?

There are many, many manufacturers out there for universal wiring harnesses. A quick internet search is going to return page after page of online retailers. Most of these are going to be automotive wiring harnesses manufacturers. Now, not all universal harnesses are equal, and you need to know where you’re getting the item from. 

One of the certifications we maintain is the IATF 16949. This is one of the highest of the highs when it comes to automotive parts quality certifications and is held by only top manufacturers that can truly produce harnesses to spec. While it can seem tempting to go with that on-sale wiring harness online, it may actually cost you more in money, time, and labor if the unit fails prematurely. 

Bottom line, even with universal wiring harnesses, you need to do a little comparison shopping to make sure it’s a reputable manufacturer that has demonstrable expertise in the sector you need your harness for. 

Industries that Use Universal Wiring Harnesses

One of the most prevalent industries that you’ll find universal wiring harnesses is within the automotive sector. Automotive wiring harnesses are for specific applications where a “plug and play” solution can fit the bill. For example, you’ll see plenty of options for universal audio wiring harnesses for cars on Amazon for specific makes, models, and years. If you’ve ever done a search for a car part, you know that you need to find the right equipment based on the manufacturer’s specs. 

There are both OEM options and after-market options that may or may not be up to OEM specs. OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer and is an entity that can produce the exact specs that a manufacturer stipulates. These are usually subjected to higher quality assurance and quality control measures than the off-the-shelf wiring harnesses out there. 

Today’s cars have so many advanced components like audio systems, electrical systems, and convenience features. These all require complex wiring harnesses for helping manage the transfer of data, signal, and power throughout the system which is where “universal” can be a bit of a misnomer. You’ll more than likely still need various adapters to fit your unique set-up. 

How to Compare Options

As you start looking at different wiring harness options, it’s important to set a framework to level the playing field. We’ll show you a systematic approach to getting the best value from wiring harness manufacturers today:

  • Diversity of Options: one of the first things that you should see from a high quality wire harness manufacturer is going to be the diversity of options that they offer. As many applications require so many different individualized components to fit the needs of the project, you want to make sure the manufacturer can demonstrate expertise across multiple product lines. At Meridian, we are proud to make some of the finest quality cable assemblies, wire harnesses, coil cords, molded components, SMA cable assemblies, and other products that our world’s most advanced electronic equipment relies on. 
  • Customization: the ability to customize cable assemblies and wire harnesses is a big plus for a manufacturer. But customizing takes expertise and tooling capability. Meridian holds both with the ability to deliver the perfect solution that efficiently solves even the most complex tasks at hand. Even though there are universal wiring harnesses, at least conceptually, remember that each harness will typically undergo some form of customization to help it fit within the intended application.
  • Industry Experience: it’s hard to put a price on experience as it lends itself to so much value for the client. Your harness manufacturer of choice needs to show many years of experience in different industry sectors. From logistics to corporate governance, lessons learned from experience are invaluable for consistently achieving high levels of quality, efficiency, and reliability with each and every cable or wire harness produced. Meridian is proud to have decades of experience with some of the best and brightest cable engineers in the field today.
  • Capability: capability is what a manufacturer does, but a better way to look at it is what they do well. This means full-scale cable design and engineering services, in conjunction with, production, and global logistics. 
  1. First up, you need to have cutting edge design software and brilliant minds to engineer a perfect solution. At Meridian, we offer full-scale design and engineering services from dedicated experts.
  2. Then you need to be able to prototype and test different iterations to find the best fit. Prototyping is a crucial capability that includes testing everything from different insulation and jacket materials to seeing how sourcing logistics comes together with operations management techniques like just-in-time ordering.
  3. After that, you need to be able to rely on your extensive tool crib and deep intrinsic knowledge to manage a cost-effective and time-sensitive production schedule. This ensures on-time and on-budget solutions, every time. 
  4. Lastly, you need to see significant investments made in post-production testing. At Meridian, we created an entire Advanced Life Testing Lab where we put our units through an incredible battery of pertinent tests under stringent real-world conditions. This lets our engineers see how each component reacts to environmental factors and other outside forces to guarantee functionality, integrity, and safety with each and every harness that we produce. 
  • Certification: Last up on the comparison journey is going to be what certifications wiring harness manufacturers hold. Since a lot of universal wiring harnesses are made for the automotive electronic systems, certifications within this arena are fairly important. As we mentioned, we’re proud our quality of product and processes helped us earn the coveted IATF 16949 certification. Others out there that can really set a manufacturer apart include ISO 9001:2015 and UL certification. Both require extremely high levels of quality at every touchpoint in the organization and are internationally recognized.

When you’ve run through the above checklist, you’ll come out the other side with a truly top-notch wiring harness manufacturer who can handle everything from small-batch prototyping to volume manufacturing, from initial design through delivery—anywhere in the world. 

Where Custom Wiring Harnesses Come In

Custom wiring harnesses are needed in just about every application. Even in OEM settings, there can be variations between models that require adaptability on-the-fly. Customization is a skill that’s learned from experience. With decades as a leader in wiring harness and cable assembly manufacturing, our team has built this capability into our DNA. 

Custom wire harnesses can incorporate so many different unique aspects including specific conductor sizes and colors, stranding sizes, materials, and utilizing UL-certified wires and cables. Our engineers work with our clients to take wire harnesses from concept all the way through volume manufacturing with a project timeline that lets us meet all milestones. 

Starting a Wiring Harness Project

meeting with wire harness engineers

At the end of the day, there are many different off-the-shelf wire harnesses and cable assemblies out there. The difference is these can be lower quality and still require significant time and effort to make them fit a system. Our team takes a different approach by delivering a solution that’s perfectly made to efficiently solve the task at hand, and given the intended environment. From custom strain reliefs to overmolding, our capabilities, advanced technology, and team of experts all come together to deliver a solution that works. 

If you’re ready to start talking wire harness specs, contact our team however is most convenient. You can call 1-877-806-8667, fill out the online contact form, or email or sales team using the links provided on our contacts page.

What a Shielded Cable Assembly Is and Why It’s Needed

shielded cable

A cable assembly is a vital piece of modern technology that truly enables the functionality of our electronic systems. From cutting-edge communications systems to high-tech manufacturing facilities, cable assemblies are the humble workhorses that make it all possible. Certain applications call for increased protection like shielding in order to ensure the integrity of data transmission from interference like electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio frequency interference (RFI). 

In today’s LiveWire cable assembly deep dive, we’ll explore all the ins and outs of shielded cable assemblies to highlight just how useful these can be in a variety of situations.  

What is a Shielded Cable Assembly, Anyway?

Data transmitting cable assemblies require advanced protection from interference that can degrade what’s being sent through their system. Many cable assemblies have advanced protections like hermetic sealing and overmolding, as well as using specific materials like Kevlar when abrasion is a concern. However, how do you protect against external sources that are creating “noise” that can lead to a total loss of the data being transmitted? In walks shielded cable assemblies. 

Sources for external disturbances are many. To complicate matters, there are several kinds of interference and several ways that each can manifest itself. Disturbances are both man-made, as well as natural occurrences. With today’s increasingly-sophisticated electronic systems, it’s likely to have systems running near other electrical circuits or large pieces of automated machinery. Each of these systems has its own transmission of data and electrical currents which can change quickly up and down and generate disturbance. 

Why Do Cable Assemblies Need to Be Shielded?

When the noise that’s generated by nearby electronics actually leads to degradation, it can severely disrupt operations. As we discussed, cable assemblies’ jacketing, insulative, and filler materials can all be modified with a custom blend in order to provide the best protection in a given environment. Waterproofing, adding flexural strength, protection from abrasions—these are great for making a mechanically-sound assembly that functions well in its intended environment but it wouldn’t address any issues related to interference which could still render an unshielded cable assembly useless. 

That’s where shielded cable assemblies can really prove their worth. They are specifically engineered to combat electromagnetic interference. A specialized shielding is used to encapsulate the conductors below which are vital to the effective transmission of data. The shielding can both reflect back the disturbance and/or also ground it. Cable shielding has additional protection engineered specifically to the application so the amount and type of shielding that’s required can vary significantly. Our engineers help our clients look at the specific situation for the assembly to produce the most cost-effective version of the solution. Achieving this over and over again takes the right people, equipment, and intelligence of process. 

With our ability to prototype different types of shielded cable assembly, we apply to test in real-time just how each and every component comes together. If it doesn’t fit within the strict project management timeline and budget we’ve developed with our clients, then we’ll move on to the next solution that does. Quality assurance and quality control (QAQC) is a dedicated science that requires process management engineers to be skilled in eliminating waste and capitalizing on efficiencies. We have found such attention to detail is how you produce shielded cable assemblies that can be depended on no matter what the situation or level of complexity is. 

Different Types of Cable Shielding for Different Applications

Whenever you start to explore your options for shielded cable assemblies, you will likely see one of two prevailing types of shieldings present which are foil shielding and braided shielding.

  • Foil Shielding –  foil is one that uses a thin sheet of reflective material such as copper and aluminum. The foil method generally employs an additional layer of something like polyester synthetic fabric to beef up the overall construction. Foil taping with a material like Mylar can be truly game-changing to help amp up coverage for the assembly from the harmful effects of EMI and RFI. 
  • Braided Shielding –  By weaving together bare strands of a material like tinned or regular copper, you can achieve a great EMI-shielded cable assembly. That’s because the braided cord is a great way to ground the system and provides ease of termination, especially when soldering or using an automated crimp machine as we have at Meridian. The only downside you will find with a braided shield is that they are not going to give you the complete coverage you get with foil. 

Think about how the weave comes together, on a small scale, but there nonetheless, will be small gaps in coverage no matter how tight your weaving is. The tradeoff there though is that braided shields are typically more effective but add size/bulk and cost to the final cable assembly design. 

Interestingly, many shielded cable assemblies rely on both braided shielding and foil/tape shielding. These are best utilized when there are a lot of electronic systems in a confined space, like what you might find at a busy data center.  

How Do You Test Shielded Cable Assemblies?

Testing shielded cable assemblies is paramount to product quality but it takes some dedicated processes and documentation standards in order to do it right. We have held industry-recognized certifications like the ISO 9001:2015 for decades based purely on our level of fanaticism with quality in everything we do. Testing, therefore, is one of the most involved processes you will find at Meridian. 

Even from concept, we’ll be looking at continuity, integrity, polarity, and functionality. This first occurs in a digitized environment while different designs come to life with the help of computer-aided design software. We’ll run virtual simulations on individual components to see which designs best meet the needs of the project. 

Once complete, we’ll typically move forward with small batch prototyping. As we’ve looked at, this helps test the entire process for each design from start to finish. Just-in-time ordering, Kanban, and lean six sigma principles all come into play as we manage logistics, sourcing, manufacturing, testing, and shipping each individual component. The iteration that is most efficient in how it accomplishes every criteria is most likely to move forward with volume manufacturing. 

Last up is a visit to Meridian’s pride and joy – the Advanced Life Testing Lab. Cycles to failure, cable flexing to failure, retraction compliance—no matter what type of test is needed to confirm the data behind each unit’s performance, we make it happen under harsh, real-world conditions. Freezing and scorching temps, moisture, caustic substances, and more await each shielded cable assembly that rolls off the line to make sure it has what it takes to perform exactly as required for years to come.  

Industries that Use Shielded Cable Assemblies

Shielded cable assemblies provide their best benefit in particularly noisy environments or where the possibility for interference could possibly jeopardize the integrity of the data. In either case, industry stakeholders recognize the need for quality cable assemblies produced by trusted manufacturers. 

Shielded cable assemblies keep the modern world running and you’ll find them in just about every industry out there including:

  • Industrial control systems – think of a busy factory floor, a bottling facility, or even your city’s utility systems. Industrial control systems are tight environments, filled with a lot of electronic noise. Cable shielding helps keep each system operating as it should eliminate costly downtime and inefficiencies.
  • Medical technology – when diagnostic or surgical equipment performing well literally means saving lives, the cable assemblies powering these systems simply have to work. A host of additional design considerations play into medical cable assemblies beyond shielding including things like bio-sensitive jacks and specialized strain reliefs.
  • Telecommunications – our society is more connected than ever and relies on a steady stream of data from around the world. Advanced communications equipment like satellites and towers all require complex shielded cable assemblies to make sure data is uninterrupted. 
  • Military, Automotive Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), and many others! 

Depending on what the design calls for, shielding helps to reduce or completely block EMI in a shielded cable assembly. The type and amount of shielding used in each industry is going to vary on a case-by-case basis based on the application at hand. This is where custom cable manufacturers have a steep edge over off-the-shelf cable assembly producers.

Shielded Cable Assemblies Manufactured With Precision

Having the tools and the talent in cable assembly manufacturing is only part of the equation for a truly exceptional experience for your customers. At Meridian, we’ve invested in the quality of both our product and our processes, which include customer service and interaction just as much as the quality of the manufacturing process. When you invest in getting that much better with each and every project you undertake, the results really do start to speak for themselves. Ready to discuss the details of your shielded cable project? Contact our team however is most convenient for you and we’ll start the process of getting you the perfect solution.

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. 

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.

Back to The Basics: A Beginner’s Guide to Wire Harness Assemblies

Wire Harness Assembly
Wire Harness

What do you think of when you hear the term “Wire Harness Assembly”? Like many, you may be inclined to picture a mechanism for organizing loose strands of cables or wires. While this description is partially correct, wire harness assemblies serve a much more useful purpose. Today’s blog post will dive into the world of wire harness assemblies. 

Here, we’ll answer some of the most common questions related to wire harness assemblies. To do this, we will start from the beginning with its definition.

What is a Wire Harness Assembly?

At its most rudimentary level, a wire harness assembly is a collection of cables or wires that work together to relay electrical power or information and command signals. These cables and wires are often enveloped in a basic thermoplastic or thermoset casing to safeguard against external forces that would otherwise affect the structural integrity of exposed cables and wires. 

By binding cables and wires into a single instrument, wire harness assemblies act as an organizational mechanism to diminish the amount of space that would have been otherwise taken up by singularly installed cables and wires.

The Benefits of Using a Wire Harness Assembly

Wire harness assemblies are important instruments in the operation of electrical systems around the world. They are often incorporated because they increase the efficiency of these systems. In this section, we discuss two of the major reasons why wire harness assemblies are popular: organization and protection.

Wire Harness Assemblies Save Valuable Space

Have you ever gone into the attic during the Christmas season to get your lights and found that the strands were hopelessly entangled? If you are one of the people who have experienced this event, then you can sympathize with how frustrating it can be to disentangle these from one another. 

In applying the previous example to a collection of loose cables or wires, you will quickly understand the need for an organization mechanism. A disorganized system of interlocking and intersecting cables and wires can be equally, if not more, aggravating to work with than a loose collection of Christmas lights. This is especially true should the need arise to replace or rearrange dozens of cables and wires. 

One of the major benefits of adopting a wire harness assembly is that it organizes your cable and wire arrangement. By clustering cables and wires beneath a single external casing, a wire harness organizes your cable/wire set up by decreasing the spatial dimensions needed to house the arrangement. 

To illustrate this point further, consider the car that takes you to work or the airplane that flies you to your favorite vacation destination. Both the car and the airplane require thousands of feet of wiring to operate effectively and efficiently. So, instead of attaching an abundance of cables and wires separately, the wire harness assemblies group cables and wires into an individual apparatus that is then easily installed. 

In short, if you are an individual that values organization and order, a wire harness assembly will change your life. 

Wire Harness Assemblies Protect Cables and Wires 

A wire harness assembly not only acts as an organizational tool but also protects the functionality and durability of your cables and wires. Interconnecting and intersecting cable and wire setups may result in suboptimal performance and damage to cables/wires over time. Organizing cables and wires using a wire harness assembly can minimize decreased functionality and potential damages resulting from external forces. More specifically, the outer thermoplastic or thermoset casing of the harness acts as a basic buffer against the negative impacts associated with moisture, lacerations, and accidental vibrations. 

Additionally, wire harness assemblies can protect against electrical damage. The insulating sheath that covers the bound cables and wires assists in preventing electricity from shocking those working with them. Additionally, the possibility of an electrical short is diminished since the sheath that makes up the wire harness assembly grouping cables and wires are firmly bound. 

Because wire harness assemblies provide organization and increase protection for the cables and wire, they are an important element in global electrical systems. The next section will illustrate how wire harness assemblies are utilized across various industries.                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

The Many Applications of Wire Harness Assemblies

Wire harness assemblies have many different applications. The list of applications extends across multiple industries and sectors including, but not limited to, the agriculture, automotive, communication, manufacturing, and medical sectors. 

Agricultural Industries

Much of the equipment and vehicles used in today’s agricultural sector utilize wire harness assemblies. The organizational and protective features of wire harness assemblies ensure that heavy machinery, such as tractors and cultivators, operate throughout the year. 

Automotive Sector

Wire harness assemblies are installed in cars to help disperse electricity and electric signals throughout the vehicle. The electric power and signals that pass through the wire harness are instrumental in starting the ignition, turning on the lights, cooling and heating the car, listening to the radio, and rolling down the windows.

Communications Systems

Global communication systems rely on wire harness assemblies to connect the world. From modems to routers and broadband networks to satellite receivers, wire harness assemblies are pertinent in powering the infrastructure that makes instantaneous communication possible. 

Healthcare Technology

Modern medical care would arguably not be possible without the integration of wire harness assemblies into the devices used in doctor’s offices and hospitals to treat modern ailments. Medical instruments are often subject to frequent operation and must rely on the durability and versatility of wire harness assemblies to assist in maintaining functionality. 

Industrial & Manufacturing

Wire harness assemblies are frequently used in the industrial control and manufacturing processes. As assembly line and production systems require intricate cable and wire systems to fuel automation, it is the wire harness assemblies that organize these elaborate connections of cables and wires to streamline the production process to ensure the optimization of the much larger manufacturing components. 

All things considered, wire harnesses assemblies are a common feature found in electrical systems spanning the globe. Without them, modern technology would arguably not nearly be as efficient. 

The Difference Between Wire Harness Assemblies and Cable Assemblies

One common assumption made about wire harness assemblies is that they are interchangeable with cable assemblies. Wire harness assemblies are often confused with cable assemblies because they both have similar features; however, they are not the same. 

Wire Harness Assembly

As a short review, a wire harness assembly is a collection of bound cables and wires sheathed in a basic thermoplastic or thermoset material designed. The wire harness assembly sheath is simply designed to bring organization to the installation of cables and to provide basic protection from externalities. This basic construction defines wire harness assemblies as best suited for indoor use where externalities are minimal. 

Cable Assembly

Similar to wire harness assemblies, cable assemblies consist of bound cables and wires. However, the material in which they are wrapped tends to be more durable. Cable assembly casings are usually made from materials, such as vinyl or thermoplastic rubber, that allow the unit to operate in the most intense environments where externalities abound. In comparison to wire harness assemblies, cable assemblies are often best suited for outdoor use or within environments operating under various amounts of stress, such as heat, moisture, and friction. 

If you are interested in delving into the more intricate details of the differences between wire harness assemblies and cable assemblies, read our article entitled “Cable Assembly VS. Wire Harness”.

Designing a Wire Harness Assembly

Wire harness assemblies are often designed to meet the needs of a purchasing agent. Depending upon the customer’s specifications and energy requirements, the number of cables and wires in a wire harness assembly can vary. In its most elementary form, a wire harness assembly may contain only a few cables or wires with only the most necessary terminals installed. 

On the other hand, for electrical systems that require a variety of operations and functions, a wire harness assembly may contain an incredible assortment of cables and wires that, without a harness, would resemble a never-ending labyrinth. In the end, the complexity of the design will ultimately be impacted by the function it is being designed to do. Meridian Cable specializes in designing simple to complex wire harness assemblies for a variety of purposes. 

Getting the Perfect Wire Harness for Your Application

If you are in the market for a custom wire harness, Meridian is here to help. Our team is committed to creating the highest quality, customizable wire harness assemblies for our OEM customers. We have the capabilities to engineer wire harness assemblies for all types of applications. We guarantee that we will customize the perfect wire harness assembly to satisfy your necessary specifications. Alternatively, if you do not have a specific design in mind, we also maintain a large selection of pre-made products that are sure to meet your needs. 

Check out our products page to view our full range of products and customization options available to you and contact our team to start reviewing your project’s specifications.

The Ultimate Guide to Wire Gauge Sizes | Learn What Gauges Are Used For Custom Wire Harness Applications

Different kinds of cables are on wooden pallet.

Wire gauges help determine the effectiveness, as well as the costs of the overall design. That’s why our designers take such care when designing custom wiring harnesses to incorporate the perfect gauges to meet the needs of the project. 

In today’s LiveWire spotlight, we’ll showcase a complete wire gauge guide focused on topics like wire gauge sizes, how to measure wire gauge, and how to choose the right wire gauge in custom cabling applications.

Wire Gauges Explained

First up, what does gauge mean in wire harness design? Wires are produced in a wide variety of widths in order to meet the needs of the project. The diameter of a wire is expressed in a unit known as a gauge, as set by the American Wire Gauge (AWG). The AWG sets corresponding numbers to different diameters of wire gauge. 

Contrary to what you might think, the lower AWG numbers actually correspond to wires with higher diameters and the larger numbers in the AWG wire gauge size chart correspond to smaller diameters of wire. The AWG sets gauges in order to have a unifying system of measure with wires and conductors. It’s important to note that the AWG applies to round, solid, and non-ferrous wires. Non-ferrous metals, like aluminum and copper, make excellent conductors.

Wire diameter is critical in custom wire harness design as it helps to determine how much of an electrical load and the level of resistance, expressed in ohms (Ω). This standardization helps our wire engineers start with materials with known electrical properties to provide the most effective designs possible. In the custom cable manufacturing industry, exactness matters which is why even the smallest degree of error needs to be corrected in a design before ever moving forward with production.  

How to Measure Wire Gauge

To answer questions like, “how thick is 4 gauge wire?”, you need to understand how the AWG wire gauge system works. As we discussed, the larger gauge numbers expressed in an AWG size chart correspond to lower wire diameters and smaller gauge numbers mean larger diameters. 

Before the AWG, different manufacturers had their own unique sizes and systems, making any form of standardization difficult. However, the AWG isn’t the only gauge measurement around with most of the world relying on a metric-based system for gauge measure. For the purpose of this wire gauge guide, we’ll stick with the AWG.

The Formula for Wire Gauge Sizes

Looking at an AWG wire gauge chart, you’ll see 0000 on up to 36 and beyond. A 36 AWG wire is going to be .005 inches while a 0000 AWG is .46 inches. The ratio between these matters is exactly 1 to 92. With 40 different gauge sizes between 0000 and 36, there’s a consistent geometric step with each successive AWG number. 

This is important because it helps to qualify a constant multiple from which the entire system is based. For example, with every 6 gauge of decrease, you’ll get a doubling of the wire’s diameter. Conversely, a 3 gauge decrease doubles the wire’s cross-sectional area. 

Wire Gauge Diameter

The actual formula for figuring out the diameter of wire gauge is a little complicated but one our engineers use in our designs every day to find the perfect wire to match the application. Diameters are calculated with this formula – D(AWG) = 0.005·92((36-AWG)/39) inch. 

For those that want to dig more into the technical side of electronic formulas like this, we recommend a mainstay in the industry known as the “Handbook of Electronics Tables and Formulas” by Howard Sams. 

Wire Resistance & Wire Length

AWG helps to provide consistency to resistance and wire length as well since different gauges will have known levels. The larger a wire’s circumference is, the less resistance the signal or current will have. A very small gauge wire might not be able to handle a given electrical load, which could prove dangerous and even cause a fire. Wire gauges have to be exact in order to create the ideal resistance level in a given custom wire and cable harness. 

Another important consideration is the length of the wire. With longer wires, the signal or current has to simply travel further before reaching a termination. Longer distances lead to more resistance which can degrade the signal. A larger gauge wire can help to make sure that the signal or current is able to travel these long distances without becoming too degraded. In our AWG size chart, you’ll see this expressed as a measure of ohms per 1,000 feet.

You might simply think you should always just use a larger gauge wire and be done but this blanket approach can prove inefficient, especially from a materials-cost perspective. As a custom cable manufacturer, we examine all of the nuances of a design in order to produce the best utilization of our client’s budget, given the parameters of the intended application. This level of sophistication is what truly sets apart working with a custom manufacturer over relying on off-the-shelf cable assemblies.

Wire Gauge Chart

The standardization for diameters and cross-sectional areas presented as AWG sizes is continued to be maintained by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). The ASTM is actually an international organization that helps to develop consensus across industries for a wide range of technical applications. 

When it comes to the source for an AWG wire gauge chart, the ASTM is the best place to start. For the most up-to-date wire gauge chart see ASTM B258 – 18 Standard Specification for Standard Nominal Diameters and Cross-Sectional Areas of AWG Sizes of Solid Round Wires Used as Electrical Conductors. This publication specifies diameters, areas, equations, and rules for calculating AWG sizes. Length of the wire, resistance (Ω), and rated strengths are all required for standardization, as well. As you can imagine, global standardization is difficult and requires developing a complete methodology for the process.

The following wire gauge chart was adapted from an American Wire Gauge reference article published by Boston University:

AWG gaugeDiameter InchesDiameter mmOhms per 1000 ftOhms per kmMax amps for chassis wiringMax amps for power transmission
OOOO0.460011.68400.04900.160720380302
OOO0.409610.403840.06180.202704328239
OO0.36489.265920.07790.255512283190
00.32498.252460.09830.322424245150
10.28937.348220.12390.406392211119
20.25766.543040.15630.51266418194
30.22945.826760.19700.64616015875
40.20435.189220.24850.81508013560
50.18194.620260.31331.02762411847
60.16204.114800.39511.29592810137
70.14433.665220.49821.6340968930
80.12853.263900.62822.0604967324
90.11442.905760.79212.5980886419
100.10192.588260.99893.2763925515
110.09072.303781.26004.1328004712
120.08082.052321.58805.208640419.3
130.07201.828802.00306.569840357.4
140.06411.628142.52508.282000325.9
150.05711.450343.184010.44352284.7
160.05081.290324.016013.17248223.7
170.04531.150625.064016.60992192.9
180.04031.023626.385020.94280162.3
190.03590.911868.051026.40728141.8
200.03200.8128010.15033.29200111.5
210.02850.7239012.80041.9840091.2
220.02540.6451616.14052.9392070.92
230.02260.5740420.3666.780804.70.729
240.02010.5105425.6784.197603.50.577
250.01790.4546632.37106.17362.70.457
260.01590.4038640.81133.85682.20.361
270.01420.3606851.47168.82161.70.288
280.01260.3200464.9212.87201.40.226
290.01130.2870281.83268.40241.20.182
300.01000.254103.2338.49600.860.142
310.00890.22606130.1426.72800.7000.1130
320.00800.2032164.1538.24800.5300.0910
330.007100.18034206.9678.63200.4300.0720
340.006300.16002260.9855.75200.3300.0560
350.005600.14224329.01079.1200.2700.0440
360.005000.12700414.813600.2100.0350

You’ll see in the above chart that amps are listed with each gauge. This is the capacity level that each wire gauge is able to safely handle. Looking at lower gauges and remembering these correspond to thicker wires, you’ll notice that they have higher maximum amp ratings.  

Common Applications of Standard Wire Gauges

Wire gauges will each have their own electrical properties which makes them each perfect for their own unique applications. Higher gauges are great for lighter-duty electrical work, while lower gauges are reserved for more heavy-duty projects. 

The most common gauges of wire out there are 10, 12, and 14 as these are used in building and construction applications. As we’ve seen, when projects require a wire to go a longer distance, the gauge of wire needs to be bumped up in order to compensate and allow electricity and/or signal to pass through it. 

A few of the more common applications with AWG sizes include:

  • 14 Gauge Wire: this is very common in residential wiring applications such as with light fixtures, devices, and household outlets. 
  • 12 Gauge Wire: this is also common for residential wiring to be used for outlets, small appliances, and even smaller air conditioning units.
  • 10 Gauge Wire: 10 gauge is starting to get into larger household appliances such as window air conditioning units, water heaters, and your clothes dryer. 
  • 8 Gauge Wire: this is for larger household appliances such as electric ranges, ovens, and your home’s air conditioning system.
  • 6 Gauge Wire: this is going to be for the largest household appliances and air conditioning units.

Even within a consideration like wire gauges, we see that there is a tremendous level of exactness required from a cable harness design team in order to find the best application. Selecting the best gauge wire for the application takes a lot of careful measurements and considerations during the design phase. Our cable engineers work to find the most efficient means to produce a given assembly within the specifications provided by the client.

Choosing the Perfect Wire Guage

The two most important questions you need to know in your project are wire gauge and wire length. This is determined by looking at what carrying capacity and the level of current, expressed in amps. As we’ve discussed wire gauge is listed based on how the maximum amount of amps that can run through it. Last up is the distance as this is crucial for gauges. You’ll be able to effectively counteract the drop in voltage by increasing the wire gauge, which can handle more amps. 

Getting the Best Design with the Correct Wire Gauge

Working with our client’s unique specifications, the Meridian team is able to consistently exceed our client’s expectations when it comes to delivering the perfect solution for even the most complex issues. Contact our team today to start reviewing your project and to see where utilizing a custom cable manufacturer can benefit your project.