Category Archives: Wire Harness

The Ultimate Guide to Different Cable Colors and Their Purposes

At Meridian, we are asked all the time if the colors for different wires and cables follow any industry standard. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a worldwide trade association, does, in fact, issue guidance for standardization in electrical design, but the key point is that their standards don’t actually get into the details of specifying cable colors as they pertain to a specific purpose or function. Rather, the push for standardization in this arena has been more on the private industry side, with the telecommunications industry leading the way. Here, we’ll dive into the wide world of cable colors, what they mean, and what purposes they serve.

Cable Color Standards 101

First and foremost when it comes to cable color standards, one must realize that while there are institutions like the IEEE helping to provide some standardization, there isn’t yet a universally-accepted standard or even requirement in most industries. The color scheme used in one industry can be totally different from what’s used in another and can vary significantly depending on exactly when the system was put in place. 

Remember the iPhone and the first true smartphone didn’t make its appearance until 2007, with that came a huge push for new telecommunications infrastructure to support it. So, depending on the timeframe when the cables are installed in their given systems, their color standards will pretty much cover the full spectrum. 

Adding to the lack of standardization in cable colors is the variance from one country to another. With today’s global logistics, a company in the U.S. may be sourcing their cables from several different foreign countries that all use different color schemes. With the guidance issued by the IEEE, the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA), and other industry requirements, such as those for the DOD, standardization is possible but may be a long time coming. However, next we’ll see how different cable colors can serve specific purposes in different applications. 

What Do Different Colored Ethernet Cables Mean?

Ethernet cables are a very common type of cable used in computer networking. They are used both in residential and commercial applications when a wired network is desired for data sharing and access to the internet. Most often an internet router uses ethernet cables in order to connect to a cable modem and will come with the kit your cable company sends you when you first sign up for services. 

However, if you’ve ever had more than one cable company or even have had one service for a number of years, you know that the ethernet cable color can vary. So, what do the different colors mean for ethernet cables? Are different colors faster than others? To find out, we’ll take a closer look at color coding specifically for ethernet cables.

  • What Color is an Ethernet Cable?

Like all cables, ethernet cables can come in several different colors. One color isn’t “better” or “faster” than another cable, but the colors can help denote the intended application. The most common colors seen with ethernet cables are grey, blue, yellow, orange, and white. If the ethernet cable is destined to be outside, it will often be black and waterproof to help it survive longer in the elements. 

  • Ethernet Cable Colors Meaning

As we’ve seen, the meaning of the color of an ethernet cable can vary depending on the where, who, and why of the intended environment. For example, with the Department of Defense (DoD), the government uses different colors of ethernet cords in order to assign a given level of classification for the data being transmitted within the cable e.g. yellow for top secret, red for mid-level, and blue generally for unclassified data.

  • Color Code for Ethernet Wires

Again, while there is no direct industry standard for one color over another, there are a few consistencies worth mentioning: 

  • Gray Ethernet: Ethernet cables that are grey are often representative of a “standard” ethernet connection such as is found in residential and commercial networks. 
  • Green Ethernet: Green ethernet cables can be used to classify a crossover connection, which are used to connect different computers and/or devices directly together.
  • Yellow Ethernet: Yellow ethernet cables are generally used for what’s known as “power over internet” (POE) connections. Interestingly, this standard was developed by the IEEE in 2009 to help classify these cords which deliver a 30W current at the level of the port when used with an ethernet twisted cable pair.
  • Blue Ethernet: blue ethernet cables are usually used for terminal server connection. A terminal server makes connections to multiple systems to a LAN network possible without having to use a modem or other network interface.

The TIA is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to create and maintain industry standards, including those for color-coding used in cable manufacturing. While these are some of the closest to standards that exist today, most of the TIA’s wiring color management schema is still viewed as a recommendation rather than a requirement. Until universal adoption takes place, there will most likely be many different colors used in ethernet cable colors. 

Patch Cable Color Standards

As we’ve come to expect, patch cable color standards may be published by ANSI/TIA but within these recommendations, there has yet to be universal adoption. With patch cable color standards, the University of Wisconsin Network Services Department is leading the way through example by helping to define what colors are to be used for every cable system on their campus. 

The standard colors used with patch cord jackets by the University of Wisconsin include:

  • Grey – used for standard ethernet connections
  • Green – used for crossover ethernet connections
  • Yellow – used for POE connections
  • Orange – used for analog non-ethernet connections
  • Purple – used for digital non-ethernet connections
  • Blue – used for terminal server connections
  • Red – used for IP cameras
  • Black – used as a general color 
  • Pink – used as an additional color option
  • White – used as an additional color option

Depending on the client and the application patch cable colors can vary. The key, however, is simple – consistency. With any new system, staying with a consistent color scheme can help save time and money with implementation and maintenance, as well as prevent a lot of headaches in the future.

Cat6 Cable Color Standards

Whether it is a Cat5, Cat5e, Cat6, or even Cat6a ethernet cable, the color code of the outside of the cable should not be confused with the internal twisted wires that have their own color code. The outside color scheme is far more generic, simply helping to draw attention to the purpose of the connection. While a Cat6 cable is a twisted pair network cable that’s used for ethernet networks, it is also backwards-compatible with other Categories like Cat5 and Cat5e. However, once again we see that industry standards that are used across the board are hard to come by. 

Some of the more common color standards for Cat6 cable include:

  • Blue – denotes network connectivity
  • Yellow – generally used for wired security cameras 
  • White – also used for wired security cameras
  • Grey – used as an interconnection, also known as “jumpers”
  • Black – generally used for equipment, peripherals, and/or workstations in a network
  • Red – commonly used with VoIP phone systems or other emergency communications systems.

Network Cable Color Chart

If you’ve spent anytime looking for network cable color charts online, you may have been frustrated at the lack of continuity with different schemes. As we’ve hit on, the color standards vary widely, but the ANSI/TIA did help this endeavor with their lengthy standard – Administration Standard for the Telecommunications Infrastructure of Commercial Buildings or ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A. 

While the standard goes into tremendous detail for labeling and ease of identification, an actual color chart is hard to come by. Scouring the web, we were able to find a third-party site that published their version of the ANSI/TIA/EIA-606-A standards. 

Being from a third party, this chart is for informational purposes only, to help give our readers an idea of what a network cable color chart can look like:

A Final Look: Cat5e Blue vs. Grey

While the topic of many different internet forums, the difference between Cat5e blue and grey is the same as with the other cable colors we’ve looked at. The deciding factor here is only as far as the design engineer choosing a given color. This is highly subjective and depends on the many factors we’ve already discussed such as when the Cat5e cable was manufactured, where it was manufactured, and the industry it was manufactured for. 

Getting a Custom Cable Assembly Color-Coded Correctly

At Meridian, we custom create more than 70 percent of the products we produce. That means each custom cable is made to the exact specs of the client, to work as intended within whatever electrical system the assembly is destined for. One of the keys to our success here is in our ability to create a unit that is easy to integrate into the client’s existing systems. With decades of experience and some of the very best capabilities within custom cable manufacturing, we can design a color scheme that makes sense and that can be seamlessly integrated. 

Contact our team to go over your project’s specs today.

The Ultimate Guide to Wire Harness Manufacturing Terminals

In today’s spotlight series, we’ll look at an easily overlooked but absolutely vital component of the wire harness manufacturing process – the humble terminal. We’ll explore how terminals provide the perfect match for conquering the connection needs of the project and are just an important consideration for our wire harness design team as any other piece in the system.

What is a terminal in wire harness manufacturing?

Simply put, wire terminals terminate conductors. Coming in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, wire terminals are specific for the connection that is required for the application. Within the greater wire harness manufacturing process, wire terminals play a critical role in establishing the necessary connection. Wire terminals have to be designed within the constraints of the project, which requires extensive expertise in custom wire harness manufacturing in order to meet the time and budgetary constraints established. 

Different Types of Wire Terminals for the Task at Hand

Getting up to date with your terminal terminology is crucial for understanding how selecting the best components for the task at hand helps the entire system run cohesively, cycle after cycle. There are many different types of terminals, including an array of specialty terminals made just for a very specific task. The most common wire harness manufacturing terminals include:

  • Push-on Terminals: these terminals are made for connecting quickly and can be configured as a male or female connection. They also have a wide variety of available options to cater to the individual application. These include considerations such as heat shrink, vinyl, nylon insulated, non-insulated, high temperature, and completely customized. We’ll dive a little deeper into the unique advantages gained from each of these options later in this post.
  • Butt Connectors and Splices: providing a wire to wire connection, these terminals are used to connect or splice two, or more, wires together. This could be to lengthen, change, or repair a certain wire. Butt connectors come with available options such as nylon or vinyl insulated, non-insulated, heat shrink, and high temperature.  These can be used in the field for repair work should a wire need splicing or repairing.
  • Ring Terminals: ring terminals are crimped or soldered and are used to connect a wire to a stud or a post.  When attached to large gauge wires they are sometimes referred to as Lug Terminals. Ring terminals are commonly used for power or ground connections. Ring terminals are usually made of a copper alloy, making them easier to solder or crimp to provide a secure, protective connection. Ring terminals come in a variety of types depending on the application such as non-insulated, vinyl, nylon, heat shrink, and high temperature.  
  • Spade Terminals: these terminals are used to connect a wire with a stud or screw to make an electrical connection. The spade terminal is common in automotive applications. Spade terminals come in a wide variety of sizes and options as well. Some of these options include non-insulated, vinyl, nylon, and heat shrink. 
  • Fork Terminals: used to connect wires to components that use a clamping hold down. Because of its shape, the fork terminal is easy to install and uninstall. Fork terminals can come non-insulated, with vinyl or nylon insulation, and with heat shrink. 
  • Bullet Terminal Connectors: bullet connectors are used a lot in automotive environments because they are pretty easy to connect and disconnect. One very commonplace they are used is in the plugs connector a trailer to a vehicle.  Another useful aspect is that they can come fully insulated to prevent moisture intrusion. Bullet terminals can be vinyl or nylon insulated or heat shrunk to meet the requirements of their intended system.
  • Bare Copper Eyelets: these unique terminals are generally used in the automotive industry as a connection for battery cables to electrical equipment. These connectors have to be able to safely conduct high voltages hence they are made of pure copper, which is an excellent conductor. 
  • Terminal Blocks and Terminal Strips: these support elements help to organize the mass of wires to different electrical circuits. This is what allows multiple wires to all be connected within the same circuit. 
  • Flagged Terminals: simple terminals that provide a secure connection in tight spaces or when another terminal such as a quick connection is not ideal. These are often called Quick Connect or Quick Disconnect terminals. Flagged terminals are easy to connect and disconnect and can be either insulated or non-insulated. They are often used to connect a wire to a circuit board that has a mating spade terminal.
  • Hook Terminals: the open-ended connector is simple, but extremely durable and effective and can be used in a variety of applications. Resembling the shape of a small hook, it can easily attach to a stud or screw. 
  • Quick Disconnect Terminals: as the name implies, this terminal is produced to easily be connected and disconnected. These are often called Flagged/Flag terminals.  The terminal can either be insulated or non-insulated, depending on the environment. Our team has integrated this type of terminal in the projects of many different clients, but primarily they are used in the automotive or industrial sectors. 
  • Specialty Terminals: at Meridian, we have decades of experience in providing custom solutions to clients. With that expertise, we can design the perfect custom terminal to meet the requirements of the project. Custom adapters and connectors like “X” and “Y” connectors help solve the complex connection aspects of the project.
  • Most terminals are crimped on the wire.  The tooling required to properly crimp a terminal is critical.  At Meridian, we have the correct tooling to crimp terminals from most major suppliers, including, but not limited to Molex®, Amp®, Amphenol®, JST®, Souriau®, Deutsch® and Panduit® to name just a few.

As you can see, the possibilities for different connections and terminals doesn’t stop at type. After our engineers figure out the perfect type of terminal to provide the desired result, then they must piece together many different available options that serve to protect and preserve the connection. We’ll cover the options for wire harness manufacturing terminals in greater detail next. 

Choosing the Best Design Options for Wire Harness Terminals

You have many different choices when it comes to your terminal’s design. Depending on the environment, there are a variety of considerations to make:

  • Heat Shrink – made for high performance, heat shrinking provides a watertight seal to the terminal connection so is best used when water, salt, or steam exposure are probable environmental risks. Resistant to abrasion and the effects of aging, heat shrink also helps with pullout strength and strain relief.
  • Vinyl Insulated – when insulation is required, vinyl affords the most economical route to go. The insulation helps to protect against short circuits.
  • Nylon Insulated – nylon insulation is more durable and can withstand higher temperatures making it ideal when the environment is hot and tough, such as might be seen by our military.
  • Non Insulated – this type of terminal is typically the most economical of the design choices. It is often used when the project does not present any special characteristics or additional protections.
  • High Temperature – typically an element like nickel plated steel is used in the terminals construction to help it withstand temperatures in the realm of 900 – 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. These can be found in common consumer applications like ovens, cars, and light fixtures.
  • Overmold – this is done when either a special shape is required, a group of terminals need to be in one package or if a certain shape is desired for cosmetic reasons.

How Terminations Get Insulated

Nylon insulation and vinyl insulation are both great options for providing protection for the terminations in your custom wire harness. Vinyl insulation is the more economical of the two but still affords great protection. That’s because vinyl insulation employs a PVC sleeve that’s tapered permanently to the barrel to protect against vibration and also provides mechanical stress relief. If you need to kick it up a notch, nylon insulation is made extremely rugged to provide maximum performance protection against high vibration and stress.

Wire Gauge Sizes for Wire Terminals 

When exploring your options for different wiring terminals, it is important to remember that there is a correct size for every wire gauge and it will always have a crimping die to match. Insulated terminals come in common sizes that correspond to a color system. Most times, wires larger than 10 gauge will be required to have a terminal that’s not insulated. Your Meridian design team will skillfully employ the perfect gauges with the appropriate terminal to efficiently solve your project’s requirements.

Why a UL Rating Matters for Wire Harness Manufacturing Terminals

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) certification is something you’ll hear us discuss often because it is such a vital piece of the manufacturing puzzle. Using UL-certified components and being a UL-approved manufacturing facility means the client benefits by knowing the things going into their product, as well as the manufacturer behind the product, have met high levels of quality assurance thresholds. Quality is determined based on testing components to know their exact specifications and tolerances and then to provide this as a standard across the industry. 

When a facility doesn’t use UL-certified components in their design they are taking a gamble with something that hasn’t been tested and retested for functionality, durability, and integrity. As a UL-approved manufacturer, our manufacturing processes have been scrutinized and have been found to be of the professional caliber required to maintain this high honor. This all translates to better products for our clients. 

With clients in industrial controls, telecommunications, military, medical, and other critical sectors, each and every product off our line is designed, tested, and retested under the most stringent of conditions so that we know it will keep on performing as intended cycle-after-cycle.

Picking the Best Terminals to Get the Job Done

Our team prides itself on solving our client’s most complex wire harness problems with a small team of elite professionals each working together to bring your project’s tough specifications to life, both on-time and on-budget. When it comes to designing the perfect product, our team excels at perfecting the minutiae, while effectively managing the ‘big picture’. Contact our team now to go over your options for a custom wire harness that perfectly meets the project’s needs.

Cable Harness Assembly from Prototype through Production

Wire Harness Components

With over 5,000 existing tools at our disposal, chances are good we’ve got everything we need to produce even highly complex and completely customized solutions. However, there are many instances where we’ve had to design a totally new tool or testing mechanism when a solution is a never-before-seen amalgamation. We leverage decades in the industry to produce products for our clients that we know will stand up to whatever application they will be utilized in and also can be delivered within a viable framework, given the time and budget constraints of the project. 

Aerospace, automotive, lighting, and alternative energy are just some of the many different industries we stand ready to serve with our custom solutions to even the most complex problems our clients present us with. While solving problems is something our design engineers are really good at, the solutions are only viable if all the pieces of design and production can meet both the budget and timeline set forth for the project. With strict adherence to kanban manufacturing techniques, just-in-time ordering, and efficient, worldwide logistical support, we are able to deliver full-functional and repeatedly-tested cable assemblies and wire harnesses to clients anywhere in the world.  

Cable Harness Assembly Design and Manufacturing

Our design and manufacturing process follows a set protocol towards maximizing a project’s budget, meeting project milestones and ensuring the absolute functionality of the final product. Here’s a quick snapshot of a few key elements of the process:

  • Needs Assessment: we will examine all of the specifications for your project and seek to understand all of the elements at play for how and where the system will be employed. This is where initial design elements are started to be placed together which will later be developed into working prototypes. 
  • Extruding: our in-house extruding machine can extrude conductors as small as 34 gauge and all the way up to 12 gauge. These conductors make up the building blocks of both cable assemblies and wire harnesses. They can be stranded or braided, filled with insulation, wraps, shields, and other components depending on the project needs. Connectors, overmolds, terminations, and housings help bring the cables and wires together within an electronic system.
  • Prototyping runs: we will usually produce several iterations to not only test a unique combination of components for accomplishing a given task, but will also look at how those components are sourced to see if a given assembly is viable. 

Why Certifications Matter

One of Meridian’s greatest strengths lies in our Quality Assurance program. Each and every product that rolls off our assembly line will be tested through multiple iterations to ensure continuity, integrity, polarity, and functionality. Prototyping allows our design staff to gauge different configurations and sourcing in order to find the most efficient means of solving the problem at hand. 

Maintaining an ISO 9001:2015 is no easy task and certification to which we are extremely proud to have held for nearly 20 years. ISO 9001:2015 requires a company to demonstrate they have advanced quality assurance processes in place and also mechanisms for continual improvement in both product and production, but customer service as well. Additionally, we are an Underwriters Laboratory (UL) certified production facility and predominantly use UL-certified components. UL certification means our products have been independently-verified for structural integrity, functionality, and safety. This allows our design staff to utilize a component with a known specification, that’s been stringently tested, rather than creating a whole new component from scratch.

If your cable or wire harness supplier isn’t ISO certified and doesn’t utilize UL-certified components, they have not made a solid commitment to quality assurance and you will be taking a huge risk with the products they produce.

Cable Harness Assemblies for Industrial Controls

Industrial control systems, or industrial process controls, require a complex array of signals, data, and power to be sent at just the right time in the production process in order to provide the intended function. These systems provide almost complete automation for the operations and performance monitoring functions within many critical infrastructure systems like water, power, and civil transportation systems, as well as in manufacturing settings like a bottling plant. 

Meridian’s custom-built wiring harness and cable assemblies provide the necessary infrastructure for these process controllers to perform at their best. Particular considerations for industrial control systems include incorporating components that ensure the fidelity of the process. For example, engineering in radio frequency interference (RFI) avoidance measures, which can include specialized shielding, helps to avoid costly delays within an industrial control system when a wrong signal is sent/received and causes some crucial function to not be performed. Even small delays in an industrial setting can be incredibly costly. Hermetically-sealed connectors, strain reliefs, and cable stops are all utilized to ensure the system operates as intended cycle after cycle.

Cable Harness Assemblies for the Military

Cable harnessing companies operating in support of providing our military with crucial electronic systems components knows their products will more than likely be deployed in some pretty extreme environments. Not only must they contend with extreme temperature swings, sand, dirt, dust, and mud, but also exposure to water, salt, and corrosive materials must be accounted for in the cable assemblies and wiring harnesses being used for military purposes. Our men and women in uniform count on our products to assist them in everything from navigation to communication, and increasingly are being utilized to empower unmanned systems such as UAVs. Special considerations in design can include incorporating Kevlar into the sheathing material to prevent cutting and aluminized mylar to prevent interference.

In support of their mission, our design team comes together to produce a solution that works within the usually tough parameters set forth by our clients in military contracting. We are adept at meeting project and budgetary milestones to deliver the perfect solution to the complex problem at hand.

Cable Harness Assemblies for Other Industries

Aerospace, automotive, lighting, and alternative energy are just some of the many different industries we stand ready to serve with our custom solutions to even the most complex problems our clients present us with. While solving problems is something our design engineers are really good at, the solutions are only viable if all the pieces of design and production can meet both the budget and timeline set forth for the project. With strict adherence to kanban manufacturing techniques, just-in-time ordering, and efficient, worldwide logistical support, we are able to deliver full-functional and repeatedly-tested cable assemblies and wire harnesses to clients anywhere in the world.  

Ready to Go Over Your Project Specs?

Our team stands ready to review your project’s unique specifications and will deliver a solution perfectly suited to match your needs. Contact us now to start the design process

What Do Wiring Harness Manufacturers Do, Exactly?

wire harness manufacturer

What Do Wiring Harness Manufacturers Do, Exactly?

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

From Hand Tools to Precision Robots

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

Tool Cribs Not For Sleeping

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

Great Recipes Begin with Quality Ingredients

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

Custom Creations

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

Ready to talk over your project specs?

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

Wire Harness 101 with a Wire & Cable Manufacturer

Wire Harness 101 with a Wire & Cable Manufacturer

Wire harnesses can be tricky without the help of an experienced wire and cable manufacturer.

At its most basic, a wire harness is an effective way to organize wires or cables by grouping or bundling them together in order to transmit signal or electrical power. They can be used in almost any application that requires multiple wires or cables. While many of these harnesses are complex with multiple wires and components, they don’t have to be. A wire and cable manufacturer is able to design and produce a wide variety of complex or simple wire harnesses that are truly tailored to the needs of your project.

Benefits of Wire Harnesses

Complex equipment and machinery often require a great deal of wiring to function. Running each and every one of these wires separately can be time consuming. Additionally, that many wires can be bulky if there are space constraints, and keeping multiple wires organized and running in the right direction can be challenging. Integrating the component cables and wires into a single harness allows for faster, easier installation that doesn’t take up more valuable space than necessary.

However, there’s more to it than just a neat and tidy wiring system. In some cases, it is extremely important to prevent certain wires from coming into contact. Designing a wire harness instead of running individual wires allows a wire and cable manufacturer to better protect the conductors from environmental issues like vibration, moisture, heat, cold, and abrasion. Bundled wires can also be further protected from shorts and electrical fires by using non-flexing or flame retardant jacketing materials.

Manual Assembly

Believe it or not, a wire harness is more efficiently manufactured by hand. There are steps during the pre-production stage that can be automated, but the assembly process can be complex. Depending on the needs of the project, production can include multiple steps, such as:wire harness

  • Taping Breakouts
  • Binding Components with Tape, Cable Ties, or Clamps
  • Conducting Multiple Crimps
  • Routing Wires through Sleeves

This makes manual assembly more economical, especially when working in small batches. The manual assembly process also means wire harnesses can take a little longer to produce than individual wires. It’s vital to work with an experienced wire and cable manufacturer that understands how to keep the production process on schedule.

Testing Performed by a Wire & Cable Manufacturer

No reputable wire and cable manufacturer would deliver a wire harness that has not been fully tested. However, the sheer number of cable and wire components makes this process a little more involved than testing individual wires. That’s where a pre-programmed test board comes in. By programming the test board with the required electrical characteristics for the project, we are able to plug in the finished wire harness and test the components individually or in groups as needed making for a safer, more stable final product.

Conclusion

An experienced wire and cable manufacturer is a valuable partner when you need a well-designed wire harness. Not only are they able to design a harness that meets all of the requirements of your equipment, but they are also knowledgeable enough to understand the time and budgetary challenges involved in producing a complex solution. When you’re ready to start your next project, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to talking with you.

Wire and Cable Manufacturers: The Design & Manufacturing Process

Wire and Cable Manufacturers: The Design & Manufacturing Process

Most people don’t spend a lot of time thinking about the wire harnesses that are literally all around them.

In many cases, these wire harnesses are powering or carrying information to equipment we use every day at home or at our jobs. Since they tend to be hidden away, we often don’t realize how important the design and manufacturing process is to the proper function and safety of our equipment. Luckily, reputable wire and cable manufacturers take their processes very seriously.

At its most simple, a wire harness is a group of wires or cables that have been covered by an exterior sheath. In many cases, they also have their own coverings. In general, they are used to organize a wiring system as opposed to providing protection from factors that could cause damage to the wires.

Wire Harness Design

The first step to manufacturing a wire harness is to identify the problem it is meant to address. Each piece of equipment has certain electrical and geometric requirements. For example, wire and cable manufacturers may be required to design a wire harness that fits into a limited space and meets certain electrical safety requirements. At Meridian Cable, we like to gather as much information as possible at the beginning of the process to ensure the finished harness is tailored perfectly to each piece of equipment.

Assembly Process of Wire and Cable Harness Manufacturers

Once our engineers have a design in hand, we gather the components and begin cutting the wires to the appropriate lengths using a special wire-cutting machine. The next step is to strip the wires and fit them with terminals and connector housings. Then we set up a workbench or assembly board to the design specifications. An assembly board is a full-sized diagram of the harness that shows all components as well as their locations. Only then can we get to work assembling the wires into a harness…by hand.electrical-wires

Since there are many processes involved in assembling a wire harness, it is often more efficient for wire and cable manufacturers to complete it manually, especially for small batches. However, depending on the specifications and complexity of the design, wire and cable harness manufacturers may be able to automate some of the steps in pre-production.

Safety First

Because safety is one of the most crucial considerations for any wire harness, assembly isn’t the end of the process for a reputable wire and cable harness manufacturer. It is important to put the harness through multiple safety checks. Not only are Meridian’s manufacturing facilities UL-certified, but we are also committed to designing only the highest quality products for each and every client.

Conclusion

No matter how simple or complex a wire harness, it must be safe and function as expected. By working with an experienced wire and cable manufacturer, you can ensure your finished wire harness is both safe to install and use, and meets all of your electrical and geometrical requirements. The team at Meridian Cable works hard to make sure all of our clients get a custom harness that fits their needs. Contact us when you’re ready to talk about your next wire harness project.

Ask a Cable Assemblies Manufacturer: Prototyping 101

Ask a Cable Assemblies Manufacturer: Prototyping 101

There are many reasons to create a prototype for your custom cable assembly, but one of most compelling is that it helps you ensure your finished assembly will function as expected.

Prototyping makes it possible to extrude a cable with the appropriate voltage, required wire gauge, and optimal heat rating without any guesswork. Even further, creating a prototype can help you simplify the production process because your cable assemblies manufacturer can work all the kinks out and address any issues before they produce the full run of the final product.

When working with clients, we have run into a few general questions about prototyping that we wanted to take a moment to address.

Is working with a cable assemblies manufactuer on a prototype expensive?

While there is certainly a cost associated with producing a prototype, doing so can help you save money overall. Creating a prototype also helps save time when it comes to choosing the right materials. If you don’t create a prototype, you may be in the position of experimenting with different types of products and wiring systems to determine what will be the best solution for your application. The cost of these experiments can add up.

An experienced custom cable assemblies manufacturer is able to produce a full-scale, fully functional (in most cases) prototype that allows them to determine whether the assembly is feasible and practical from a technical and financial standpoint. If design flaws are discovered, it’s much easier and cheaper to address them at this stage.

Will a prototype be an exact representation of the finished cable assembly?cable cross section

Yes and no. While it is possible to produce a prototype that looks and functions exactly as the finished product, it’s not always necessary. Each prototype is produced to have the level of functionality that is necessary for each project. This allows the manufacturer to isolate the specific design or manufacturing issues for each application. Your project may or may not require a fully functional prototype, but it is certainly possible to create one if necessary.

Are there any drawbacks to prototyping?

Producing a prototype gives a cable assemblies manufacturer the opportunity to test an assembly design in real-world conditions. While you may be focused on a few potential issues, it’s important to remember to test the prototype’s functionality in every way so design flaws can be addressed immediately.

It’s also a good idea to address any issues with ownership of intellectual property in the prototyping phase. In general, it’s much easier to clear up any issues with intellectual property before you have produced the final cable assembly.

Conclusion

Prototyping is a critical stage of the process when working with a cable assemblies manufacturer. Not only will producing a prototype allow engineers to refine their design, but they will also be able to get a handle on any manufacturing issues and test the cable assembly’s overall functionality. This can help you save money and time, and achieve more success over the long term. If you are ready to discuss producing a prototype of your next custom cable, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to hearing from you.

5 Facts about Custom Cable Assemblies & Wire Harnesses

5 Facts about Custom Cable Assemblies & Wire Harnesses

Do you know the difference between custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses?

Unless you are an electrician or electrical engineer, you probably haven’t thought much about the differences and similarities between custom cable assemblies and wire harnesses. It’s not a subject that tends to come up in everyday conversation. Unless, that is, you need to run multiple wires or cables from one piece of equipment to another or to a power source. That’s when knowing the difference between wiring and cable and the strengths and weaknesses of each becomes more important.

We put together fives facts about wires and cables to help you understand the difference, and why you should choose a wire harness over a cable assembly in certain situations.

Wires & Cables Aren’t the Same Thing

This fact may seem pretty obvious, but many people use the terms “wire” and “cable” interchangeably. It’s understandable. Wires and cables are similar in that they carry electricity or signal from one place to another. However, there are a few very important differences. Wires are made up of a strand (or strands) of conductive material like copper and are suitable for a wide ranges of applications beyond carrying electricity and signal. They are also one of the components that make up a cable. Conversely, a cable is made of two or more conductors that are insulated. They tend to be better protected than wires and are suitable for applications that require more durability.

Both Are Used to Organize Wires & Cables

The basic purpose of both wire harnesses and cable assemblies is to bundle wires or cables. Bundling wires or cables allows you to keep them more organized, especially in situations where having multiple cables and/or wires takes up too much space or can cause additional wear that is easily addressed by bundling. A few common places you see bundled cables or wires are cars and computers.

Wire Harnesses Have a Thin Layer of Protection

While cable assemblies are more heavily protected with insulation and jacketing material, wires usually have a thin exterior covering made of thermoset or thermoplastic material. This covering is meant to protect the environment or a person handling the wire from the flow of electricity. The jacketing material can also be color coded to aid in keeping systems organized and make it easy to identify different types of wires.

Custom Cable Assemblies Are More Durable

With the additional materials used in custom cable assemblies, a cable manufacturer is able to design the assembly to address exposure to extreme temperatures, moisture, friction, chemicals, and more. They can also take size and flexibility requirements into consideration, so the cable is a perfect fit for your application. A cable assembly may require less maintenance and can also be easier to install since the conductors are bundled. custom cable assembly

Wires Are More Affordable…When They Are Right for the Job

You may be thinking extra protection means a custom cable assembly is always the right choice for your project, but that’s not always the case. In situations that require a small, lightweight option, a wire might be your best bet. Because wires are generally less expensive to produce, it can be a more affordable option — especially if the wire will be used indoors in a relatively sheltered environment.

Conclusion

Understanding the difference between a custom cable assembly and wire harness is an important step when considering what you need for your project. The team at Meridian Cable is able to help you make the right choice for your application, environment, and budget. Get in touch with us when you are ready to get started. We’re happy to answer all of your questions.

Single and Multi-Stranded Wiring for Cable Assemblies

Ensuring that your manufacturer’s cable assembly meets your product’s specific design requirements.

Determining the various differences and use cases for single strand and Multi-Stranded Wiring and conductors can be difficult. The difference isn’t a visible one, and with all of the variables in designing custom wiring, it’s not likely to be one that you and your team think of. However, this difference can dictate whether your product succeeds or fails – if a wire in your product cannot withstand movement and cracks as a result, it’s not likely to be well received by customers. To ensure that your product uses a conductor material that is suited for your industry and the type of custom cable that you will be utilizing, work with your manufacturer’s engineers and designers to ensure that the best choices are being made for your custom cable.

Here are some of the important differences between single and multi-stranded wiring, and what these differences will mean to your final product:

Single Stranded Wiring:

  • This type of wiring is typically less expensive to manufacture than a multi-stranded wire as it does not require as much processing.
  • Single stranded wire is not as flexible as the alternative. This lack of flexibility can increase the likelihood of metal fatigue and the wire snapping as a result. Because of this, single stranded wires are best suited for products that won’t encounter much movement.
  • This type of wiring is often only used in smaller gauge wiring applications as it can be difficult to maneuver and utilize a heavy gauge, single conductor wire.

Multi-Stranded Wiring:

  • This type of wiring has a higher cost due to the need for more rounds of extrusion and stranding.
  • Multi-strand wiring is more flexible and less susceptible to cracking and metal fatigue than single stranded conductors. This makes it the preferable solution for wiring that will need to maneuver and bend without experiencing metal fatigue.
  • The increased surface area of multi-stranded conductors decreases the amount of resistance that currents or signal passing through the wire will encounter.
  • Multi-stranded wiring can create challenges when soldering connectors or terminals as it can be difficult to ensure that all of the small strands have been soldered properly.  If this type of wire is soldered, it is good practice to tin the wire first. This type of wiring is better suited for use with an application that requires a crimp connector. The small, flexible strands of wire typically crimp easily and mold to the crimp connector very well.

Multi-Stranded Wiring
Multi-Stranded Wiring

Types of stranding arrangements for Multi-Stranded Wiring

If your project seems suited for multi-conductor wiring, there are a variety of geometric arrangements that the wires can be put into to optimize the final product. These geometries include:

  • Concentric Arrangements – This is a common wire arrangement in which the conductors  are arranged in concentric circles. The benefit of this arrangement is that the wires can be bunched tightly together to maintain the wire’s shape, reducing the need for additional filler material in many instances.
  • Bunch Arrangements – Unlike concentric stranding, the wires are not arranged in a specific geometry, but are simply grouped together and then twisted to ensure that they remain tightly packed.
  • Rope Arrangements – This arrangement groups strands of conductors together in several small bundles. These bundles are then arranged in concentric circles. This increases the flexibility of the final wire, making it ideal for applications that require a great deal of movement or will be housed in a product that moves frequently or in multiple directions. This arrangement is more popular in applications with a larger wire gauge size, adding to the product’s overall durability and functionality.
  • Annular Arrangements – In this arrangement, conductors are centered around a circular core that is not typically conductive. This helps the conductor material to retain its shape. This arrangement can be helpful for reducing the wire’s resistance.

These are just a few of the various geometric shapes that can be used in the wire and cable manufacturing process. Choosing the most effective type of conductor for your wiring project is key to its efficiency and reducing the odds that your product will need service down the line.

Will Single or Multi-Stranded Wiring Be Suited To Your Custom Cable Assembly?

Gauges for Custom Wiring

Optimize your product by choosing the right conductor and Gauges for Custom Wiring and your custom cable assembly.

Make your product as effective as possible with these tips for designing custom wiring and identifying proper gauges for custom wiring.

The size of a wire’s conductor plays an important role in the functionality of the final product. The gauge of the conductor material impacts the flow of signal and electricity through a wiring system and can alter the cost of the wiring as a result of the amount of material needed to extrude a conductor of the specified size.

wire and cable manufacturers
wire and cable manufacturers

Determining the appropriate Gauges for Custom Wiring is fairly complex, and custom cable assembly manufacturers must gain an understanding of the final product’s uses and nuances such as the length of wire that will be needed to connect the terminals, the voltage or signal type that the wire must carry, and a variety of additional aspects.

After all of these details have been taken into account, the manufacturer will have to work through a series of steps and equations to properly determine which gauge will be most appropriate for your project. While it’s a complex process, there are a few factors that can be taken into account to help estimate the most appropriate wire gauge for your custom assemblies:

The Wire’s Resistance

The wire’s resistance is dependent, in part, on the gauge of the conductor. The larger the circumference of the wire, the less resistance the signal or electrical current passing through it will encounter. If the gauge is too small; the wire’s circumference is not large enough to handle the current passing through it and the wire risks becoming overheated. This is because of the high resistance created by the current as it attempts to pass through a wire that is too small to accommodate that many electrons. This could also prevent your product from working as effectively as possible because it is receiving the wrong amount of signal.

Resistance is Also Tied to the Wire’s Length

The longer the wire, the farther the signal will have to travel before reaching a terminal point. This creates increased resistance which can weaken the signal as it passes through the cable’s wire. Your manufacturer may have to use a wire with a larger gauge to ensure that the signal is able to travel across longer runs effectively without losing too much thermal energy.

A Note About the Way Gauges are Labeled

Gauges are a bit counterintuitive in that as the physical size of the wire decreases; the gauge is referred to by a larger number. So a 12 gauge wire is physically larger in circumference than an 18 gauge wire, despite the assumption that the 18 gauge wire would be larger. As one would expect, the larger the wire, the more signal it can carry with less resistance.

Why Not Always Use a Larger Gauge?

A larger gauge size does have several benefits, such as potentially reducing energy costs, but it can also increase the cost of your product and prove to be unnecessary past a certain extent. The additional cost results from the increased copper or conductor material that will be necessary to make the conductor. However, extremely small conductors will also increase the cost of your cabling assembly as a result of the extensive extrusion process that they must go through.

Custom cable assemblies are intricate and it’s important to work with a manufacturer who understands this and has experience producing custom projects. Ask your manufacturer about their production and sourcing process, as well as similar products that they have made or provided service for. This will help you to determine their level of experience in your specific industry.

Working With Custom Cable Assembly Manufacturers to Determine the Proper Gauges for Your Custom Wiring