Category Archives: Meridian Cable

Finding Custom Wire Harnesses & Wire Harness Assemblies for Medical Devices

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

What is a Medical Wire Harness Assembly?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Applications and Medical Machinery 

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

They are frequently used in the following medical machinery:

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

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

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

Designing a Custom Medical Wire Harness Assembly

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

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

Designed For Dependability 

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

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

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

Working With Our Design Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Short History of the IATF 16949 Certification

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

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

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

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

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

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

Companies that Require an IATF 16949 Certification

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

BMW Group

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

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

Stellantis

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

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

Ford Motor Company

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

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

Other Companies that Value an IATF 16949 Certification

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

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

Companies with IATF 16949 Certification

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

Optimas Solutions

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

Jasper Rubber

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

Covercraft Industries, LLC

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

Mecavit

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

Tempel Facilities

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

AIM Solder

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

Mayfield Engineering Company Incorporated (MEC, Inc.)

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

Mill Steel Company

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

Texas Instruments

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

Midwest Rubber Company

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

Nissin Manufacturing Co., LTD.

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

Schweizer

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

Where Does Meridian Cable Assemblies Fit In?

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

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

Get Your Custom Cable Project Started Now

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

Meridian Cable Assemblies Achieves IATF 16949 Certification

Meridian Cable Assemblies Achieves IATF 16949 Certification

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

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

What is an IATF 16949 Certification?

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

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

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

Benefits of IATF 16949 Certification in Cable Assemblies

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

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

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

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

Industries that Rely on IATF 16949 Certification Expertise

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

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

Why IATF Certification Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

Certifications

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

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

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

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

Getting Started with an IATF Certified Custom Cable Manufacturer

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

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.

The Ultimate Wire Harness Connectors Guide

wire harnesses with connectors on a white background

Wiring harness connectors come in an array of sizes, shapes, and materials in order to produce the best results in a given application. Our cable engineers utilize different wiring harness types in custom wiring harnesses every day to perfect their designs in terms of continuity, integrity, and safety. 

In today’s LiveWire spotlight, we’re honing in on the wide world of wiring harness connectors and terminals to give you a better idea as to just how important these components are in the overall design. 

What is a Harness Connector?

Wire harnesses provide both protection and organization for a cable assembly. Outside forces like abrasion, extreme temperatures, moisture, dust, and more, all bombard a cable assembly and can work to degrade components over time. Wire harnesses provide protection against these forces and are specifically engineered for whatever environment the application happens to be. Wire harness connectors, as part of this system, are the bridge for providing a consistent flow of data, signal, or power.  

There are essentially two main types of wire or cable harness connectors—male and female.  Male and female wire harness connectors serve to provide the necessary junctions between the many different elements of the wire harness to produce an efficient transmission of data, signal, or power through the system. In simplistic terms, plugs are usually male connectors and jacks are female wire harness connectors. 

Connectors come in all sorts of sizes, shapes, and dimensions in order to fit perfectly within the electrical system they need to support. From cutting edge medical devices to complex industrial control systems, the humble wire harness connector makes these marvels of modern technology possible. 

Different Types of Wiring Harness Connectors

When our wiring engineers set to work designing the perfect custom harnesses, the types of connectors they use are based on a variety of factors such as the types of connections present, what type of insulation is needed, and what kind of power and signal contacts there are. Different configurations within the wiring harness itself can dictate the need for one connector over another. There’s wire-to-wire configurations, board-to-board, and different combinations therein to consider. 

Our team will typically utilize standard connector designs with either a 2-pin, 3-pin, or 4-pin setup. A host of data sets are used to find the perfect connector design to meet the needs of the system, as well as fit within the client’s budget and time horizon. Effectively bringing efficient design, manufacturing, and logistics together in one cohesive package is the mark of a great custom wire harness manufacturer. 

Variables we plan for with each production run include:

  • The rating of the current.
  • The density and/or size of the circuit.
  • How much engagement force is required.
  • The gauge and length of individual wires.
  • The voltage required. 
  • Any certifications required.
  • How much each component costs.
  • Lead times to bring it all together.

Mitigating for delays and cost overruns has become a speciality with our team. After you’ve been a leader in custom cable manufacturing for decades, the intrinsic knowledge of your team and a vast tooling inventory really pays dividends in the quality of each product produced. 

A Closer Look at Wiring Harness Terminals

Terminals are what they sound like—their termination of a wire. At this important junction, you might have the end of a wiring component or you may have a connector to a different component, it all depends on the needs of the system. Terminals come in a variety of sizes and shapes, as well, and are all pertinent to their particular application. 

A few of the many different types of wire harness terminals include:

  • Rings: these terminals have a rounded end which lets it attach to screws and studs. Available in many different sizes, they can be insulated and crimped or soldered onto wires.
  • Spades – with a unique fork shape, these have an easily-attachable open end ideal for tight spaces.
  • Hooks – also with an open end, these are simple and efficient terminals with a high durability rating.
  • Quick-connect/disconnect – these are great for industrial control systems and automotive applications where the harness needs to be connected and disconnected rapidly.
  • Bullets – great for connections between male and female wire harness connectors.

Terminals play into the overall design of wire harness connections by providing the necessary junction from which a cabling harness can be terminated or progress to other components. Their design is just as crucial as any aspect of the custom wire harness in order to produce a product with the continuity, integrity, and safety required to pass our stringent in-house quality assurance testing.

How to Design Wire Harness Connectors

Seeing all the different types of applications for wire harnesses—telecommunications, medical, military, industrial, automotive, and more, it’s no small wonder that wire harnesses are an extremely customized piece of hardware within the electric system. When our designers first sit down with our clients, we work to understand the application in its entirety, as well as the budget and time constraints that require careful project management.

Location, Location, Location

One of the first steps in choosing the perfect wire harness connectors for a custom wire harness includes looking at the location and environmental factors of the intended application. Wire harnesses are usually behind-the-scenes operators, hanging out inside of the overall system to provide their critical support role. This can mean some very constrained locations where temperature, abrasion, moisture, and other variables all come into play. 

Think about military applications. Our men and women in uniform need their gear to go to the most extreme environments on planet Earth, and beyond, and still work flawlessly. This requires a cable engineer to know the environmental variables involved and assemble the perfect set of components to meet, if not exceed., the specifications of the project. 

Mitigating Against Interference

With the location in mind, comes figuring out the different types of interference that require protection. Interference comes in many different forms but all basically serve to degrade the transmission of data, power, or signal. Effective mitigation techniques such as using Mylar sheathing for electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI) can help preserve the signal and maintain a clean flow. This is especially important when it comes to communications

With high-tech communications equipment, our engineers have to work to protect the system from the many types of interference that would otherwise degrade a signal or even cause complete failure altogether. 

Precision Measurements Make Better Wire Harnesses

Using the correct connectors and terminals as part of a quality wiring harness design helps to make sure that the harness is stout, protected, and routed appropriately to give the system the best conditions possible for doing its job effectively. All of the lengths of wire, gauges, terminals, connections, sheaths, shields, and insulation are carefully measured and accounted for within the wire harness design to bring about the most efficient use of materials possible. This helps projects stay both on-time and on-budget through production.

Why Quality Matters With Wiring Harness Connectors and Terminals

In order to maintain our ISO 9001:2015 certification, Meridian has to be able to demonstrate both a quality of product and a quality of process on a continual basis. This requires a certain degree of fanaticism on behalf of our product testing team in order to make sure each and every wiring harness off our assembly line is known to perform within specifications. 

We have a wide variety of testing procedures including venerable Cirrus automated testing units, but, as is the case with custom creations, there are often times when we have to create a custom test to accurately measure a custom wire harness. Our Advanced Life Testing Lab is one of the coolest places in Meridian where our quality assurance engineers put wire and cable harness connectors through extreme, real world conditions to make sure they’ll be more than ready to take on whatever is asked of them. 

The second aspect of quality, quality of process, is undertaken with a lean production mentality. Utilizing methods such as just-in-time order, Kanban production, and six sigma process improvement, we continually analyse, measure, and improve our processes to be the very best they can be. A cool aspect of the ISO 9001 certification we maintain, is that this also applies to customer service. We strive to ensure that every customer of Meridian is treated with care and respect as we work to produce the perfect product to fit within even the most exacting specifications. This level of commitment is what truly sets apart working with a custom cable and wire harness manufacturer over using a generic off-the-shelf product.

Getting Your Harness the Best Connectors and Terminals

When it comes to using the perfectly-designed wire harness connectors and terminals, a custom cable manufacturer with the specific knowledge and experience in your industry is a must. After decades of doing nothing but high-quality designs, our team has built an incredible wealth of knowledge and a vast tooling inventory which allows us to produce one-of-a-kind solutions for even the most complex systems. Contact our team today to review your project’s specifications. 

The Buyer’s Guide to OEM and Cable Harness Engineering Solutions

meeting with wire harness engineers

Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and Original Parts Distributors (OPD) depend on quality parts that are up to exact specifications. With many different cable harness engineering solutions, the team at Meridian helps OEMs source the very best components to use in their cabling systems. 

Today’s Livewire News spotlight is focused on how Meridian meets the needs of OEMs and OPDs. Read on as we cover everything you need to know about the many OEM solutions Meridian’s cable harness engineers help develop every day.

What is OEM & OPD?

As stated, OEM stands for original equipment manufacturer. OEMs are able to manufacture products to the exact specifications needed to fit within a larger system. An OEM is traditionally a company that produces parts to be used as part of another company’s final product. One of the largest OEM markets is for different automotive parts. Different companies create expertise in creating certain components that are then all assembled together by another company who then sells the product to consumers. 

As you might expect, the OEM auto parts have to be exactly right. They must be official and genuine to the vehicle maker’s specifications. In this way, OEMs are able to produce an exact match for the vehicle component at hand, which helps keep America’s automotive industry rolling.

An OPD is a company that acts as an intermediary between the OEM and the next entity in the distribution channel. This helps the producer focus on improving production, rather than having to try and distribute the product themselves. In essence, OEMs rely on OPDs to help get their products to market and OPDs rely on OEM to have something to distribute.

Best Ways for Sourcing OEM Cable

As an OEM or OPD you rely completely on custom cable manufacturers like Meridian to do a perfect job of creating a solution that fits within a very unique set of parameters. Luckily, designing and manufacturing custom cable solutions are what we do here at Meridian. In fact, we design over 70% of the products we manufacture. 

When looking for OEM cable sources, it’s important to consider the capabilities, past track record, and certifications of the manufacturer behind the product.

Capabilities of a Quality OEM Cable Manufacturer

To produce OEM cable, you have to start with the best components. At Meridican, we are currently certified by UL to produce a wide variety of single-conductor and multi-conductor wires. We are also a UL-approved cable and wire extruder, which simply adds another layer of quality to everything we produce. When it comes to OEM cable production, our team is able to provide:

  • Custom cable extrusion – this is a cable manufacturing process where molten plastic is conformed, generally through a die. Depending on the requirements of the client, different methods and materials can be used. 
  • Insert molding and overmolding – insert molding is a proven process where we can directly improve a product’s durability and functionality by covering components of the cable assembly with engineering plastics like PVC, PP, TPEE, and TPR. Meridian also designs many custom overmoldings for connectors, Y junctions, and many others.
  • Manufacturing capabilities – Meridian has two wholly-owned and operated manufacturing facilities – one in Tanggu, China and one in St. Augustine, Florida. These facilities complete everything from cable assembly design to UL approved extruding and manufacturing.
  • Process capabilities – Meridian remains a leader in custom cable manufacturing for our ability to provide a full cradle to the grave OEM cable system. Whether the cable needs overmolded connectors to ensure hermetic sealing, silicone overmolding for use in medical devices, or implanting a circuit board inside ultrasonically-welded housing, Meridian holds advanced process capabilities to meet the demands of the project.
  • Logistics – having facilities based in the US and in China helps our team judiciously distribute our client’s products per whatever project schedule is required. Integrating Kanban principles and JIT ordering, our streamlined logistics systems keep product deliveries on time. 
  • Testing/qualification and verification – automated Cirrus testers help make sure our OEM cable is produced to the very highest standards. Sometimes, we even need to design and manufacture a custom project’s very own functional tester for more advanced applications. Each product is always tested for continuity, integrity, polarity, and functionality. 

Past Track Record of the OEM Cable Harness Engineer

Producing products that work in some of the harshest environments on Earth requires a manufacturer to be pretty good at what they do and getting to this level is no accident. Over many years, our gifted cable harness engineers have built up a wealth of intrinsic knowledge and a vast array of existing tooling for connectors, junctions, overmoldings, and housings for use in OEM cable assemblies.

Certifications That Matter in OEM Cable

Meridian is so serious about quality in everything we do, we even got certified for it. ISO 9001:2015 is one of the manufacturing industries highest levels of quality assurance certifications. The certification requires continuous commitment to not only improving the quality assurance of the product and the process, but it also requires improving the experience for the customer. QAQC engineering requires examining the process and continually eliminating inefficiencies. This helps us produce superior products and commit to making customer service a priority that remains in the spotlight.

Industries Using Meridian’s OEM Solutions

We’re proud to produce the OEM solutions required in a wide variety of industry applications. With several decades of experience at the highest level of OEM cable solutions, Meridian has built up the expertise and the equipment required to deliver in almost any situation. Meridian’s top areas of expertise fall within the areas of industrial control systems, medical, telecom, military, and automotive.

Industrial Control Systems 

Industrial Control Systems help power our nation’s critical infrastructure and other highly-automated facilities such as a bottling plant. The control systems themselves are highly-complex. Many require power and signal conductos in the same cable with custom strain reliefs and cable stops. Others need overmolded connectors to make sure the hermetic sealing is perfect. 

Whatever requirements are needed, our cable harness engineers work to our client’s exact specifications to produce a product that is both functional and uniquely suited for it’s required role in the system.

Medical Technology

Speciality considerations that only come with advanced experience in the demanding field of medical technology are the breakthroughs that save lives. We take our responsibility with medical device OEM solutions seriously and can incorporate components like bio-sensitive jacks, strain reliefs, silicone overmolding, and any number of other considerations depending on the needs of the project. We’re proud to have so many instances of turning our client’s most complex medical cable problems into perfect solutions. 

Telecommunications 

Cable assemblies and connectors help keep our society connected on a global scale. We help produce the critical infrastructure required in telecommunications to help keep connections open. Whether a client needs a cable assembly with ten different connectors or a coax cable with a polyurethane jacket, Meridian’s telecommunications design team can produce OEM assemblies ready for integration.

Military

The military has some of the highest requirements for tough cable assemblies. The OEM solutions produced here may be used in everything from a fighter jet to a communications satellite. Specialized components such as Kevlar® or mylar sheathing can be used to add additional protection to an assembly. Meridian is proud to be able to produce MILSPEC cable assemblies for use in OEM applications.

Automotive & Other Industries

OEM cable assemblies for automotive, alternative energy, broadcasting, and a host of others are all found in Meridian’s expansive wheelhouse. Advanced process capabilities and tooling helps Meridian design and manufacture OEM cable to even the strictest of standards. 

Things to Consider When Starting an OEM Cable Project

When you first sit down with the Meridian design team, we’ll start to learn your needs and expectations for the project. A dedicated project manager will start gathering the specifications required for your project and outline a list of required steps to design, manufacture, test, and approve the OEM cable. With this plan in place, the entire team has a blueprint to follow to ensure the project is complete on-time and on-budget. 

While there are many steps between design and volume production, prototyping is arguably one of the most beneficial tasks our engineers can integrate into the process. Prototyping is where we get to design and test several different variations of a product to see how different combinations work together. Beyond simply deciding between material and design choices, our team also looks at how the logistics will play out and which design variation is best suited for meeting the project’s specifications.

Getting Started with an OEM Cable Harness Engineer

When looking for an OEM cable harness engineer, remember quality and experience matter. Off-the-shelf cable assemblies may be plentiful but you never know exactly how it fits with your existing system. With Meridian, our engineers take the time to learn your needs, budget, and timeline to produce the perfect cabling solution. Contact the Meridian Team to get a custom quote for your next OEM cable harness project.

Top Tips & Tricks for Crimping Wires in Wiring Harness Manufacturing

wire and cable manufacturers

Crimping wires as part of the wire harness manufacturing process may seem like a no-brainer step where any crimp will do. However, we’ll show how this seemingly simple process can absolutely make or break your project and the best methods used by the best manufacturers in the business to ensure a  perfect crimp, every time.

What Separates Custom Wire Harness Manufacturers’ Crimping Methods

At its most basic, crimping is simply the joining of wires to some form of fitting. The fittings help the wires connect to other components of the wiring harness assembly or to other wires themselves. The crimp is actually deforming the connector so that the components stick together. There are crimping hand tools, semi-automated tools, and fully automated crimping machines that our team uses with our custom wire harness projects.

What separates custom wire harness manufacturers is the quality of the crimp. This may not seem like an exact science when we’re deforming components to make them stay together; however, crimping needs to be exact to an incredibly precise level in order to ensure the cables’ transmission of data, power, or signal isn’t degraded. 

How to Test Crimps for Quality 

Quality testing is performed in a variety of ways and should be present throughout the manufacturing process and is something we take really seriously at Meridian. We’re really proud and humbled to continue to maintain our ISO 9001 certification. This certification is geared specifically at rating a manufacturer’s commitment to quality by grading both the quality assurance/quality control program itself and of the continued commitment towards improving this process. This level of commitment is what truly sets apart a quality crimp and a quality product.

A few of the different ways that we look to test crimp-quality include:

  • Crimp Force
  • Crimp Height and Width
  • Crimp Pull-Out Force
  • Crimp Strip Length

Running through these tests, sophisticated testing equipment is required to ensure the validity of the test data. To detect minute defects, you need a machine capable of tiny measurements. With our fully automated crimp terminal machine, there is a built-in crimp force monitor which is super sensitive in order to spot even the tiniest error in a crimp. 

Top Tips for a Perfect Crimp in Wiring Harnesses

Whether your princess involves the best hand tools for crimping all the way to a fully automated crimping machine, engineers still need to be involved throughout the process in order to ensure strict adherence to the specifications of the project. Here, we’ve highlighted several areas we pay special attention to while crimping wire harness components in order to create the perfect solution to our client’s unique needs.

1. Making Sure the Wire’s Insulation is All the Way Inside the Crimp Tab

On a crimp, the tab is what holds a wire tight and makes sure that the wire itself is fully covered. With a stripped wire, there absolutely has to be enough wire for the crimp tab to be completely covering the wire. The tab helps create a firm grip on the wire and also can grab a bit on the wire’s insulation to really secure the connection. With unstripped wires, we use crimp tabs that can make direct contact with the wire. This really is the preferred route since it saves time and is equally effective while maintaining the integrity of the wire.

The engineering that goes into this step is with the end-use of the user in mind. Our engineers design and test our product to withstand the type of variables the system is likely to face. Typically our tests run to the extreme side with things like water spray, salt exposure, extreme temps, and bending/stretching. We do this to make sure we know for a fact that a product works exactly as it’s supposed to when it rolls off the final assembly line and before it ever ships to our clients.

2. Ensuring the Wire Itself is Free of Defects Before Crimping

When you start comparing your crimp options, you really should start with the wire itself. We use UL-certified wires with known specifications so that our engineers can perfectly map out how the final product will perform under a given set of circumstances. Using a quality, proven product from the start is what helps ensure a wiring harness can be counted on to perform as intended. You can have the finest crimp in the world, but if the wires themselves are flawed, the final product will be less than stellar. 

3. How to Check Connectors to Make Sure the Wire is Fully Retained

Any sort of loose connection is going to be the biggest degrader for the wiring to transmit its supply of power, data, or signal. As a wire is having it’s terminals connected, there are several checks along the way that can help ensure a quality wire retention. 

4. Looking Closely at Crimp Indentations 

Wiring harnesses provide the wire management infrastructure needed in today’s sophisticated electronics. Crimp indentations help with the wire management plan, as well as the overall presentation. Proper alignment is also integral for ensuring a crimping tab is making good contact and actively gripping the wire. With several different kinds of crimping profiles out there, the proper indentation, done to the precise angles required, is what ensures the integrity of the connection.

5. Watch for Tears, Pulls, or Other Defects in the Insulation

Another way we pay incredibly close attention to quality is through the use of a micrograph. This sensitive equipment takes a cross section of a crimped terminal and analyzes it literally under a powerful microscope. When we polish and/or use methods like electrolyte staining, our quality assurance team is able to spot even the smallest of defects in the insulation and other integral components. This level of quality is what helps our clients know they can depend on the product they receive. With many of our wiring harnesses being used in medical, military, industrial control, and telecommunications, we know our products are simply too vital to ever allow a premature failure.

6. Ensure Crimp Tabs Don’t Damage the Wire Insulation

While we’ve shown that using insulation inside the crimp tab can benefit the integrity of the connection, as with our last tip, the engineers need to make sure that there is no further damage done to the wire insulation. It can be very easy to inadvertently damage the delicate components within a wiring harness, which is why it’s so crucial to have continuous checks throughout the process. 

When a crimping tool is being used, especially with hand-tools, there needs to be an exact exertion of force to properly grip the wire but not to damage the insulation. The same principle applies during all phases of the manufacturing process. If there’s defects in the insulation, there’s a good chance for damage and/or degradation of the harness prematurely.

7. Inspecting the Final Product

Any form of wire separation, damage to wires, damage to insulation, or abnormalities present within the many different terminals, connectors, wires, or any other component is simply not tolerated from a quality custom wire harness manufacturer.

We’ve spent a lot of time discussing quality because it’s that crucial for success in everything we do here at Meridian. As we’ve stated, when your products are being used to help our men and women in uniform, our doctors on the frontline of the medical field, or the vital communications equipment we all rely on to stay connected, you tend to take ensuring quality seriously. One of the biggest advantages we bring to our clients was the advent and ongoing use of our Advanced Life Testing Lab. This state of the art testing facility allows our engineers to subject a product to the harshest conditions imaginable to measure just how far these products will go for our clients/ When we’ve reached the best combination of different components to reach a desired outcome, we move forward in the manufacturing process. 

Quality control continues even through the final production run as each and every product we produce is tested before it ships so that when our clients receive the product they can have peace of mind knowing the integrity, safety, and functionality has been tested and retested.

Getting the Best Crimp for Your Custom Wiring Harness

Crimping wires might seem straightforward but lower tier manufacturers simply aren’t able to offer the level of sophistication in equipment or expertise to ensure that the crimp is performing flawlessly. At Meridian, we pride ourselves on being custom wire harness manufacturers. By designing over 70% of the assemblies and harnesses we produce, we’ve built up an incredible knowledge and capability base. In fact we have over 5,000 existing tools, connections, and components that allow our design team to be able to produce the perfect solution, on-time and on-budget. 

When you’re ready for a whole new experience working with a custom harness manufacturer, please call on our team of cable and wire harness professionals.

An Up Close and Personal Look at a Fully Automated Cable Crimp Terminal Machine

At Meridian, we get to play with a lot of cool toys in our day-to-day. In fact, we have over 5,000 existing tools and components to build the perfect custom ribbon cable assemblies for the task at hand. One seriously powerful machine at our disposal is a fully-automated cable crimp terminal machine. This beast helps our engineers produce the perfect crimp for volume applications – saving time and money. Today’s series will dive into this crimp terminal machine and show you how this unique capability helps set Meridian’s ribbon cable assemblies apart from the competition.

How to Crimp Different Sized Flat Ribbon Cable 

When it comes to speeding up the process of crimping, nothing beats a fully automated cable crimp terminal machine. With incredible accuracy and precision built-in right in, an automated crimp provides a level of exactness at a speed that is simply not possible by manual methods. Let’s take a closer look at just what it takes to pull off such accuracy and precision, assembly after assembly. 

Getting Wires Ready to be Crimped 

Large and small gauge wire alike will all have to follow quite a few steps in the manufacturing process before it ever makes its way on the automated crimp machine. Even with a fully automated unit, our engineers have to be incredibly exact with the instructions they are providing to the unit via sophisticated design software. 

One of the most basic functions in the manufacturing process is feeding wire. When you have a really small wire gauge, putting even a fractional amount of excess stress will cause the wire’s integrity to be compromised. Even this basic function requires sophisticated equipment. The wires can be fed using several manner of devices such as a pneumatic or servomotor mechanism. There are even tools that use air to help propel wires through a guide tube so that they can be processed jam-free.

There are a thousand and one other considerations our engineers have to plan for in the design process to ensure a smooth build. Small wires tend to have really good memory, that is, it tends to want to go back to a previously-held shape, such as when it has come off a spool and wants to curl up when it is released. Other challenges our team overcomes with the grace borne of experience is in the cutting and stripping stage. Even if you have the best equipment in the industry, if the technicians powering the systems aren’t precise in the configuration of the blades, the process will not yield the kind of precision we require at Meridian. You also must have an absolute minimum wire overhang in this step in order to achieve consistent quality. Even for something as simple-sounding as cutting wire, the process can be incredibly complex and precise.

Let’s consider why this is. If you apply too much force, you can compress the wire and come out with an ovular shaped cut, instead of a circle. The circle shape is critical for attaching contacts and also terminations. This is also the case with stripping, where even the minutest excess will cause the conductor to be scraped or nicked, leading to a termination that’s not as strong or resistant to corrosive substances.

All of these tools require active maintenance and calibration to ensure they perform at the level of exactness required in this industry. As our flat and ribbon cable assemblies find themselves in everything from MILSPEC communications equipment to cutting-edge medical devices, we find it vital to seek perfection in every assembly we produce.

Setting Up the Cable Crimping Machine 

When wires are really small, they require more consideration to process. As the wires move forward in the process, you must have an applicator that is very precise. These help to provide a consistent position for the terminals. Any kind of damage or deformity to the terminals will compromise the connection. The kind of precision applicators we use help to put a complete conductor inside the terminal and then will align the crimper, terminal, and anvil. 

The automated crimping machine uses an applicator ram to push the crimper down and onto the barrel of the terminal. The force applied will actually deform the wire and barrel, but by applying just the right amount, our engineers create an airtight connection. Within the crimping machine, there are many different processes that can include crimping, an application of a sealant, and wire-end twisting and wire tinning. The software controlling the machine helps to keep the timing of these processes in perfect harmony. 

Positioning can make or break the crimping process so focusing on an absolutely perfect position for the wire conductor inside the terminal is a vital step. Even the slightest variance of being too long or two short will create it’s own list of problems and the conductivity can be severely compromised. If all the strands on a conductor don’t make it inside the barrel, you can also have issues with current degradation. Individual strands are far weaker by themselves and will be subject to outside variables.

Testing and Retesting Custom Ribbon Cable Assemblies 

All of this precision may sound easy when we’re using sophisticated automated machines but some of the small wire gauges we deal with can be really, really tiny, even down to around the thickness of a human hair. With small wires, trying to keep the terminal and anvil aligned can be downright difficult, because they are so diminutive. However, this is vital as asymmetry will compromise everything we’re trying to accomplish for our client. 

Some of the most precise ways to eliminate terminal feeding and/or alignment errors is by using a highly-tuned camera and software that auto-checks the alignment. Testing also involves not just the product, but also testing the equipment that produces it regularly. Our in-house engineers test our crimpers to make sure they are not worn.  Worn crimp dies might not be able to produce a uniform deformation to the terminal during the crimp. An imbalance can produce an asymmetrical crimp, which creates a weak point in the assembly

Keeping Automated Cable Crimp Terminal Machines in Alignment

Asymmetry can also occur when certain components aren’t precisely where they need to be. If a terminal isn’t oriented correctly or if an incorrect terminal accidentally makes it into the crimp area, you can get any number of crimping errors like too tight, too loose, or even errant conductor strands. Any of these errors can cause a ribbon cable assembly to simply not provide the level of conductivity required. Failure like this can simply be annoying when it comes to a connection or can be life-threatening if present in a medical device. No matter the circumstance, quality is absolutely key in custom ribbon cable assemblies.

One of the most likely culprits of asymmetry in the system is what’s known as “flash”. This is an excess of material on the sides of the terminal and on the anvil. When there’s too much flash, you can have an error with inserting the wires properly into the terminal, sealing properly, or causing a full break which would have a negative effect on performance. Our engineers test and retest each and every cable assembly before, during, and after manufacture to ensure a strict adherence to quality control standards.

Quality Assurance and Quality Control with Flat and Ribbon Cable

As a UL-approved manufacturing facility, we have to hold ourselves to a high standard in order to meet the rigorous requirements of continued quality assurance and quality control. As we’ve mentioned, this requires a lot of testing and retesting throughout the process in order to accomplish. 

Some of the many different tests our engineers perform with crimping include:

  • Crimp Force
  • Crimp Height and Width
  • Crimp Pull-Out Force
  • Crimp Strip Length
  • Measurement of Insulation Window
  • Bend cycle testing

When you’re running a test like crimp force monitoring, you need highly sophisticated testing equipment in order to detect any defects in what can be very small wires. Our fully automated cable crimp terminal machine has built-in crimp force monitoring that is highly sensitive and can detect when there is even the slightest error in a bad crimp. Another useful tool is the micrograph which is a photo of a cross section of the crimped terminal that’s then analyzed by microscope. Super precise optics and tricks like polishing and electrolyte staining help our engineers detect any defects, even when incredibly minute.

How to Begin a Custom Ribbon Cable Assembly Order

With the tools and equipment available to our brilliant design staff, Meridian is able to pull off some truly remarkable custom ribbon builds. We provide a seamless and fully integrated process, from initial concept design, through prototyping, and onto volume production. We can even help get your product certified, whenever that’s needed. When you’re ready to go over your project’s flat ribbon cable specifications, please use our handy contact form. You can also call 1-877-806-8667 or email us at sales@meridiancableassemblies.com.

The Cable Guru’s Guide to Flat and Ribbon Cable Assemblies

colorful ribbon cables

If you’ve ever popped open your PC, you’ve no doubt seen a host of flat or ribbon cable assemblies connecting your computer’s various components. This uniquely-suited cable assembly provides a host of possible applications, especially where space constraints are a factor. 

In today’s spotlight series, we’re covering everything you need to know about this humble workhorse and detailing ways that flat and ribbon cable assemblies can significantly save your project time and money.

Flat Cable Assemblies vs. Ribbon Cable Assemblies

Flat cable assemblies, ribbon cable assemblies, even planar cable assemblies are all different ways of referring to the same unique type of cable assembly. Because the wires are laid flat and arranged parallel to one another, the finished product is wide and flat and resembles a length of ribbon – hence, ribbon cable. This shape makes it extremely flexible and able to fit in spaces where other cable assemblies would not be feasible. 

Because of the connector’s engineering, a flat ribbon cable assembly can accomplish many connections simultaneously, which helps save time and money in the overall assembly design and production. While ribbon cable assemblies can go by several different names, they are all referring to the same versatile product.

Meridian’s high-performance automatic cutting machine at work! This machine processes a plethora of wires and cables. 

Understanding the Specifications for Common Ribbon Cable Assemblies

You can tell ribbon cable assemblies apart with two key measures – the spacing, also known as “pitch”, and how many conductors are used in the assembly. Spacing will almost always follow a set scale, but our team is well-versed in creating custom spacing solutions for a specific task at hand. The number of conductors used also follows a standardized scale, with options for customization available here as well. For the conductors themselves, we can use a variety of American Wire Gauge (AWG) sizes of stranded copper wire but ribbon cable assemblies typically run from 18 AWG to 34 AWG.  

Main Advantages of Ribbon Cable Assemblies 

Flat ribbon cable assemblies terminate into an industry-standard insulation displacement contact (IDC) socket. This means that flat ribbon cable is one of the most versatile cable assemblies on the market today. They are well suited for wire-to-board applications that are commonly found in telecommunications, networking, medical devices, industrial control systems, military applications, gaming, and a whole host of others.

Different Types of Ribbon Cable Connectors

With a wide variety of different cable connectors available for flat ribbon cable assemblies, Meridian can produce the perfect connector to fit within the application. Because the connectors allow for multiple connections simultaneously, our design engineers focus on providing the perfect components to match the existing system being implemented.

A few of the most common types of ribbon cable connectors include:

  • D-Subminiature (d-sub): a common type of ribbon cable connector so-named because of the “D” shape of their metal shield. You’ll recognize these connectors as the type usually used to connect components like monitors to your desktop computer. D-subs come in a wide variety of types all their own including M-single, F-single, M-M, and F-F. Different elements like strain relief and inserts can help customize the perfect d-sub connector for your project’s unique application.
  • Socket: too many of these versatile socket-type ribbon connectors exist to list but a few of the different variety include socket to cable, socket to cable T-P, and socket to socket.
  • Dips: dip connectors help provide a sharp 90-degree turn for the termination. They can be dip to single and dip to dip with a great many variations within those two broad categories.
  • Card Edge: resembling a credit card slot on a payment device, the card edge connector is available in varieties like the card edge to single without flange and card edge to single with drilled flange. 

Our design engineers know each of these connectors inside and out and combine decades of experience in cable assembly production to pull off some incredible feats for our clients. No matter the environment, complex specifications, or logistical challenges, our team can produce the perfect ribbon cable assembly connections needed for your custom project. 

How we Create Custom Ribbon Cable Assemblies

At our core, Meridian is, and always will be, a custom cable assembly design firm. We employ teams of in-house engineers and designers with many years of experience producing custom cable assemblies for every conceivable industry. Rare indeed is the ribbon cable assembly that goes from design to volume production without thousands of steps in between that continuously test and tweak until the perfect solution is achieved. 

Some of the many steps our dedicated project managers help keep on-track include:

  • Ribbon Cable Assembly Design Phase

When our design engineers first sit down with our clients looking for ribbon cable assemblies, they take the time to get to know the specifications needed, as good, if not better, than the client themselves. In this way, we design the perfect solution to meet the needs of the project, rather than trying to make the project fit with an off-the-shelf solution. 

With state-of-the-art CAD design software, our team sets to work to build the perfect amalgamation of wires, connectors, terminations, and other components in a digital space before the first physical pieces ever come together. Once these designs are exact, our design team will move to prototype to start testing how everything comes together in the real world.

  • Prototyping Steps for Flat Ribbon Cable Projects

The prototyping phase allows our engineers the opportunity to test a few different combinations for the materials and/or processes used in a particular flat ribbon cable assembly. We test each unit for integrity, stability, safety, and functionality and see how that specific unit’s components work together. One crucial piece of prototyping is testing different sourcing logistics. Knowing the most efficient means of producing the best variation of a particular assembly is how we’re able to consistently provide dependable products to our clients.

  • Getting Flat Ribbon Cable Assemblies into Volume Production

Once we’re sure which iteration provides the best combination of form and function, we’ll move ahead with volume producing the assemblies per the project specs. Over time, we’ve built our existing tool crib into a virtual library of more than 5,000 tools, connectors, and other components available for use during production. Honing our process using Kanban manufacturing techniques and just-in-time ordering, we are always aiming to make our processes more efficient. 

  • Simulating Real-World Conditions in the Advanced Life Testing Lab

Cable assemblies are destined for any number of harsh environments and our design team has to take into account any environmental factors that can hinder the cables’ performance. 

In our Advanced Life Testing Lab (arguably one of the most fun places in our production facility), our quality assurance engineers subject the flat ribbon cable assemblies to variables like extreme temps, saltwater, abrasion, flexing, and more, all to ensure that the components we’re using can meet the demands of the project. 

When our ribbon cables are helping to power things like life-saving medical equipment, anything less than a perfect solution won’t make it past our stringent quality standards.

All of these phases require many steps in between in order to go from concept to finished assembly, ready to be implemented by the customer into their existing system. While there are many processes that must occur at proper intervals to keep a project on-time and on-budget, our dedicated project managers handle the entire project with professionalism and the confidence that comes from decades of experience as a custom cable assembly manufacturer.

How Using Ribbon Cable Assemblies Can Save Your Project Money

Flat ribbon cable assemblies are so easy to terminate because of a fixed and controlled spacing plan. This allows for ribbon cables to be able to be mass terminated using the IDC connectors we covered earlier. Typical IDC connectors will use a type of forked-contact that is able to go through insulation in order to make contact with a conductor. While there are times when one end of a cable will utilize an IDC connector and the other may be soldered or crimped, most often, both ends of a ribbon cable assembly will have IDC connectors installed. 

Because the IDCs help simplifies the termination, integration of a flat ribbon cable assembly is extremely easy to accomplish, saving the project time and money over implementing a less-desirable solution. 

Why Choose Meridian? 

At Meridian, we design well over 70% of the assemblies that we produce. With a process honed from years of providing the best quality in custom cable assembly manufacturing available, we are able to provide a turn-key solution to clients around the globe. 

Our wholly-owned manufacturing facilities in the U.S. and China means our team has control over every aspect of the design, production, and delivery of your custom flat ribbon cable assembly and can ensure the product functions dependably, cycle-after-cycle. 

Start Your Flat and Ribbon Cable Assembly Project Now

Contact our team of dedicated professionals today for an entirely different custom cable design experience. We can work within your budget to produce the perfect solution for your unique application. Get a quote through our handy contact form, call us at 1-877-806-8667, or email sales@meridiancableassemblies.com

Wire Harness Projects: The Technical Skills Needed to Complete the Assembly

Wire Harnesses and Wire Assemblies

From the get go, a wire harness project can be fairly complex. Once the client has laid out their needs to our in-house engineers and designers, work begins to create the perfect solution for the unique situation. From simple hand tools through fully automated manufacturing equipment, our team employs the best techniques available in wire harness manufacturing today. 

In today’s spotlight series, we’ll focus on the skills employed by our manufacturing experts and the tools they use throughout the process. 

In a Land of Automation, Hand Tool Skills Still Reign Supreme

Wire harness manufacturing has never been more automated, with new technological advancements making the process so connected, so complex that you might think that the humble hand tool is simply a bygone contraption. However, even for today’s wire harness manufacturers, skills in various hand tools are necessary in order to produce even the most complex wire harnesses in use today.

Electronics infrastructure has absolutely exploded in the last decade and with it so has the need for more automated solutions. In fact, our team of expert craftsmen and women employ a bevy of sophisticated automated manufacturing and testing apparati throughout the production process. But the truth is, there are limitations to fully-automated systems that make them far more costly or time consuming than using a hand tool for a particular task. 

For example, with a custom wire harness, there may not even be a tool designed yet for testing the unit to ensure its functionality, safety, and integrity. That’s when our designers in our Advanced Life Testing Lab go to work to create a custom testing unit to test the new product.

Cutting-Edge Wire Harness Tools and Products We Use Everyday

For wire harness manufacturers, the process is only as good as the tools used to produce the product and the tools are only as good as the skilled hands employing them in that process. Over decades in the industry of custom cable and wire harness manufacturing, we have built up a massive tool crib – an industry term for the tools available to complete a project – to well over 5,000 existing tools for connectors, junctions, overmolds, and housings. 

These tools are used to create the cable assemblies and wire harnesses that are used heavily in the industrial manufacturing sectors, with military hardware and equipment, telecommunications, medical, and truly just about every conceivable industry out there. Our expertise with these tools allows our production team to design more than 70 percent of the assemblies and wiring harnesses Meridian produces. 

While 5,000 tools would be a lot to list here, we’ve compiled some of the essential, and easily overlooked, tools and components for producing the perfect cable and wire harness for the client’s unique requirement. 

  • Cable tying tools – even with a fairly “simple” hand tool like a cable tie, we use a wide selection of industry-approved styles and sizes, capable of using different materials and incorporating ergonomics to aid our manufacturers in keeping consistent tension around the cables. Hand cable tying tools can either be manual or pneumatic. We can also employ fully automatic cable tying systems when high-volume manufacturing is needed.
  • Cable tie mounting components – these components help to physically secure the cable ties into the rest of the assembly. With fairly broad selection here, we’re able to engineer wire harnesses with a high degree of installation flexibility.
  • Fixtures for wire harnesses – another “humble” tool that can get overlooked is the uniform spacing between wire bundles, attributing for distance and height from a wire harness board. This helps create a smooth cable tie application and can be incorporated either with hand tools or an automated tooling machine.
  • Printers and other media software – another easy to overlook tool in our tool crib are the custom printers and their associated software programs that allow our designers to incorporate the labels necessary to comply with set industry standards for identification and/or quality.
  • Ferrules – a ferrule is a small metal or plastic ring (depending on the requirements of the application) that is crimped over a stranded wire to secure, seal, and/or reinforce the connection to a terminal. A ferrule crimping tool is a vital necessity to accomplishing this task but crimping takes far more skill than you might realize. Too much or too little pressure can have negative results for the quality of the seal.
  • Built-in abrasion resistance products – our wire harness engineers have to design the perfect combination of components in order to ensure the functionality, safety, and integrity of every product we produce. Abrasion resistance products include elements like spiral wraps, heat shrinking, and grommet edging which help to protect the cables and wires, especially in tough environments.
  • Terminal tools – another custom crimping tool is used to help provide the perfect crimp for terminals. Without these, the system would not be able to function as it should. We can also use a fully automated termination system to speed up the process of crimping and indexing the connectors. This helps to maintain consistent, quality terminations. In some instances, automated termination can be up to 600 percent faster than manual termination.
  • Connector compression tools – there are a seemingly endless amount of compression connectors and terminals our gifted engineers incorporate into the system. Hand tools and automated compression machines help to ensure a uniform connection.

While these tools and products are undeniable necessities in our existing tool crib, we have many, many more vital tools and products at our disposal in order to produce a truly one-of-a-kind product for our clients. 

Advantages of Using Automated, Semi-Automated, and Hand Tooling All in One Process

You might think that fully automated systems are the way to go and why would anyone waste time anymore with a hand tool. However, there are many applications where an automated solution simply won’t provide the efficiency we need to stick to the design schedule. Often with custom wire harnesses, we’ll have to design the tools and testing equipment needed to ensure the system works as it is intended. 

Advantages to being able to employ the full spectrum of hand tools, semi-automated tooling, and fully automated tooling into our production process include:

  • Maximizing Uptime: uptime isn’t a term that’s thrown around alot, instead you often hear its opposite – downtime. With that in mind, uptime is a great measure of the reliability of your system as it shows just how long our tools and machines were up, running, and/or available to be used in the process. By using a full spectrum of different levels of automation in our tooling, we can maintain a much more consistent uptime percentage, which helps keep the production process running smoothly.
  • Reducing Cost: by focusing on keeping uptime percentages high, we can increase productivity which translates to lower costs.
  • Staying on Budget: reducing costs helps our project managers maintain a tighter adherence to the project budget.
  • Reducing Cycle Time: automation will almost always help to reduce the cycle time by increasing production speed. 
  • Sticking to the Project Timeline: by reducing cycle times, our project managers are able to better keep to the major project steps, which need to occur at specific timing intervals because different processes have different lead times. 
  • Creating Ease of Integration: as our design and manufacturing teams flex their muscle and produce custom wire harnesses that get the job done, the project would be meaningless if that component failed to integrate into the client’s electrical systems. That’s why we employ such a wide variety of tools and equipment to produce not only a functioning and safe wire harness or cable assembly, but also one that integrates easily into the client’s systems.
  • Increasing Flexibility of Design Process: lastly, the diversity of tools and the requisite knowledge in using them properly means our design team has an unmatched level of flexibility for choosing the perfect amalgamation of tools and materials to get the project done on-time and on-budget. 

The advantages for a custom wiring harness manufacturer having expertise and availability with hand tools, semi-automated, and fully automated tooling systems are many. While hand tooling may seem antiquated, our sophisticated operators are employing some of the most advanced tools on the planet to keep our various electrical infrastructures connected.

First Steps for Starting Your Custom Wiring Harness Project 

When looking over your options for wire harnesses manufacturers out there, be sure to examine both their capability and their track record. We are both proud and humbled to have been able to produce in so many different applications. Everything from the wire harnesses used in cutting edge medical equipment saving lives, to the electrical equipment keeping our troops connected, the industrial control systems powering our nation’s largest manufacturing and municipal processes, and so many more applications over our many decades in this business. 

When you’re ready to begin your custom wire harness design project, please contact our team of gifted engineers. We’ll help you create the perfect set-up for your project and have the demonstrable experience to keep the project on-time and on-budget. Contact us now to get your project started.