Category Archives: Meridian Cable

What is UL Certification and Why is it Important?

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

History of UL Certification

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of UL Certification

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

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

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

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

UL’s Certification Process

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conductor Size Matters

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

Colors of the Rainbow

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

Leave No Strand Behind

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

Why Insulate a Cable Assembly?

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

Fillers Can be a Good Thing

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

Cable Armor: Wraps and Shields

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

Last Line of Defense: The Cable Jacket

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

Bringing it all Together

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

Meridian Knows Custom Cable Assemblies

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

Top 10 Benefits to Creating a Custom Cable Assembly

custom cable assembly manufacturer

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

Top 10 Benefits of Custom Cable Assemblies

1. Ability to Prototype

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

2. Product Testing

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

3. Reduce Overall Costs

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

4. Perfect Fit

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

5. Faster Turnaround Time

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

6. QA/QC

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

7. Experience in Similar Applications

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

8. Better Materials

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

9. Ability to Scale Production

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

10.  Control Over the Process

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

Why Meridian?

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

The Many Uses of the Humble Curly Cord

The Many Uses of the Humble Curly Cord 

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

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

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

One Concept, Endless Applications

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

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

Non-Electrical Lanyards/Tethers

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

How are Curly Cords Made?

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

Advantages of Meridian Curly Cords

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

What Do Wiring Harness Manufacturers Do, Exactly?

wire harness manufacturer

What Do Wiring Harness Manufacturers Do, Exactly?

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

From Hand Tools to Precision Robots

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

Tool Cribs Not For Sleeping

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

Great Recipes Begin with Quality Ingredients

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

Custom Creations

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

Ready to talk over your project specs?

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

3 Reasons to Work with Cable Assemblies Manufacturers on Prototyping

3 Reasons to Work with Cable Assemblies Manufacturers on Prototyping

Partnering with cable assemblies manufacturers to prototype can help you ensure a more successful solution.

Working with cable assemblies manufacturers on prototypes is a great way to keep your production process running smoothly and end up with a cable assembly that performs the way you expect. While there are situations where an off-the-shelf cable can be used, it’s common that equipment has specialized requirements that can’t be met with a standard cable. When dealing with these kind of specialized needs, working directly with cable assemblies manufacturers to create a prototype has many benefits. Here are a few of the more common ones.

Working with Cable Assemblies Manufacturers Reduces Costs

Anytime someone says the word “custom” many of us hear “expensive.” However, when talking about prototyping cable assemblies, that isn’t always the case. In fact, many times you can actually save money by working with a cable assemblies manufacturer on a custom prototype. One of the first ways prototyping can help reduce overall costs is when it comes to the price and availability of components. Creating a prototype can help you identify issues with the supply chain for components before you go to a full production run. Unavailable or overly expensive components can make a significant difference in the cost when producing a large quantity of units. Understanding these costs at a smaller scale allows you to make more informed decisions or adjustments before it’s too late.

prototypes with cable assemblies manufacturers

Prototyping Simplifies the Production Process

Aside from the availability and price of components, prototyping also allows you to get a clear picture of the overall production process. It’s not unusual to discover problems with the production of a cable assembly after the design phase. Producing a prototype gives you a much better idea of what it will take to create a larger number of products without making costly mistakes. By paying attention to the production process when creating a prototype, cable assemblies manufacturers are able to identify ways to streamline production. This, in turn, can make turnaround times much quicker when producing the desired quantities of the finished product.

Product Testing

Testing a finished product is the best way to understand how effective it will be. By working with cable assemblies manufacturers to create a prototype, you are able to do thorough testing on a fully functional version of your product. This will allow you to get the clearest assurance that your finished cable will function as planned and whether it will be able to withstand the environmental conditions it will be subjected to during normal usage.

Conclusion

There’s no question that working closely with cable assemblies manufacturers on prototypes allows you to produce cables that will work seamlessly with your equipment. Choosing a manufacturer with a great deal of experience with prototyping is a great first step toward producing a finished cable that functions as expected for as long as expected for a price that matches your budget. When you are ready to discuss your next custom cable prototype, contact the team at Meridian Cable. We look forward to talking with you!

3 Industries Served by Custom Cable Assembly Manufacturers

3 Industries Served by Custom Cable Assembly Manufacturers

Because of their flexibility, custom cable assembly manufacturers work with a wide range of industries.

The ability to create products that are truly custom makes cable assembly manufacturers valuable to many different types of organizations, from military to industrial. The main goal of any custom cable project is the accurate and reliable transmission of data and/or energy. In almost every industry, the push to improve the speed and minimize the size of equipment is often a primary goal. Because of this, the cables supplying data and power to these machines must be rethought and reengineered over and over again. That makes a custom cable assembly manufacturer one of the most valuable members of your team.

But you may be wondering if custom cables are right for your industry. The answer is most likely yes, but here are a few of the industries we work with most often.

telecom cable from a cable assembly manufacturer

Telecommunications Industry

This might seem like the most obvious industry on the list. From fiber optic to ethernet cables, telecommunications companies rely heavily on both standard and custom cables to keep their customers connected. This industry is known for constantly working to improve data transmission speeds while maintaining or improving the convenience of their products. Working with a cable assembly manufacturer on prototyping new cables can help these companies stay on the cutting edge.

medical-cable from a . cable assembly manufacturer

The Medical Industry and Cable Assembly Manufacturers

The medical industry might not be the first that comes to mind when you think about custom cable assemblies. The truth is, the equipment in healthcare facilities has specialized needs that can often only be met by a custom cable solution. Hospitals and other care facilities frequently require equipment that can be sterilized between patients. This can mean the devices, as well as their cables, must be able to withstand extreme temperatures and moisture, two of the most common elements that can interfere with the functionality of cables.

military-cable from a cable assembly manufacturer

Military Applications for Custom Cables

Cables used in military settings must function as expected for as long as expected. In many cases, lives depend on it. To make things even more complicated, military equipment is often expected to function in a wide range of environmental conditions, from extremes in temperature to heavy vibration. Standard, off-the-shelf cables are often unable to meet all of the specifications. However, a cable assembly manufacturer can take all of the requirements into consideration during the design phase so each cable is tailored to the exact needs of the equipment.

Conclusion

A good cable assembly manufacturer can take the specialized needs of an industry into account to ensure the best possible outcome. While telecommunications, medical, and military aren’t the only industries that benefit from custom cable solutions, they are among the most common. The team at Meridian Cable has the knowledge and experience to work on a wide range of custom cable projects. Contact us when you are ready to get started on your next custom cable assembly. We look forward to talking with you.

Ask a Cable Assemblies Manufacturer: Choosing Components

Ask a Cable Assemblies Manufacturer: Choosing Components

Each component selected by a cable assemblies manufacturer affects the final performance of your finished product.

When designing or maintaining a piece of equipment, a lot can depend on the decisions made by your cable assemblies manufacturer. Selecting the wrong gauge for the wire or a jacketing material that’s inappropriate for the environment can, at best, cause the cable to fail prematurely, and at worst cause harm to people and damage to equipment.

The number of options available when designing a custom cable assembly can be daunting. The good news is that an experienced cable assemblies manufacturer will help you select components that make the most sense for your project. To help you get an idea of what to expect, we’ve covered a few of the common questions most common questions we get during the cable design and manufacturing process.

Where’s the best place to start when first talking to a cable assemblies manufacturer about a new project?

With any new custom cable project, it’s always best to start with clear communication about the specifications for your equipment and the environmental conditions where the cable will function. Your custom cable design team uses the information you give them to make decisions about each and every component of your cable assembly. The environment and needs of your equipment are weighed against your project’s budget to make the best choices for your custom cable assembly. The more details you can give, the better the performance of your finished product.

What questions will the design team ask at the beginning of the project?

You may not always know what information will be important, but don’t worry. If you’ve picked a cable assemblies manufacturer with extensive experience in the type of cable you need, they will know what questions to ask. A few of the common questions you may get are:

Cross section of cables from cable assemblies manufacturer
  • Does the cable need to extend and retract?
  • Is the standard use condition static or dynamic?
  • Will the cable need to withstand extremes in temperature?
  • Does the cable need to be cleaned or sterilized regularly?
  • Will it be exposed to sunlight or moisture?
  • What type of signal will the assembly carry?  Power, data or a combination of both?
  • What type of data will transmit through the assembly?

Should we use the best conductor, filler, jacketing, etc.?

When designing a custom cable, “best” can be subjective. For example, a solid conductor of a particular gauge might be able to handle the amount of current or signal required but be too brittle for the amount of twisting and flexing needed from the cable. Another example might be choosing an aramid fiber for the outer jacket because of its heat resistance, but the cable will function in a “wet” environment. Since aramids absorb moisture, it would need to be coated with another material to be waterproof. There may be a better material that is heat and water resistance that is more economical. The design team should be able to weigh the specifications to determine which is the best choice for your budget.

Conclusion

The many factors that go into choosing components for your custom cable can seem overwhelming if you don’t have a good working relationship and open communication with your cable assemblies manufacturer. The best way to get a quality finished product is to work with a team you trust and be prepared to share as much information as possible. Contact Meridian Cable when you’re ready to get started on your next custom cable project. Our team is happy to answer any of your questions.

Conductor Gauges for Custom Design Cables

Conductor Gauges for Custom Design Cables

The right gauge conductors are key to making your custom design cables as effective as possible.

It’s no secret that creating custom design cables is the best way to ensure your product or equipment meets all of your specifications. Because the conductor gauge directly affects the flow of electricity or signal through the final product, the choice you make is extremely important. Choosing the wrong gauge can result in a less efficient cable that might lead to unnecessary costs. A reputable custom cable manufacturer will help you make the right choice and get the most successful outcome.

Cable Conductor Types

There are two main types of wire: solid and stranded. Solid conductors are a single, solid strand, usually made of copper. Stranded conductors are made up of smaller strands of copper that are twisted together to create a larger conductor. The main difference is that a stranded conductor is better able to withstand bending than a solid conductor. Additionally, solid conductors are less expensive to produce than stranded.

Why Size Counts with Custom Design Cables

custom design cable

For both types, the overall size of the conductor affects the flow of signal and electricity. Signal or electricity flows through larger gauge conductors more easily than it does smaller gauges. We refer to how easily the signal flows through the conductor as resistance. A wire with a conductor gauge that is too small is not providing the right amount of signal to the equipment it is powering. This could result in the equipment not functioning as it should. A too-small conductor gauge could also cause the wire to overheat, which may cause it to fail.

So…Larger Gauges Are Better?

While working with a larger conductor gauge seems like the safest bet, it’s not always the best option for your project. Larger gauges are able to accommodate more current, but they can be more expensive than all but the smallest gauges. In the end, the best gauge for your project is the one that closely matches your equipment specifications. Having an in-depth discussion with your cable manufacturer’s design team about the needs of your product is the most effective way to make sure you end up with a custom cable that functions as expected.

Gauge & Wire Length

When determining the gauge of conductors for custom design cables, the circumference isn’t the only consideration. The final length of the wire also affects the amount of resistance the current experiences. The longer the wire the more resistance there is, which weakens the signal. For longer cables, it may be necessary to use a larger gauge to counteract the resistance caused by the length.

Conclusion

Choosing the right gauge can be a complex process that includes a thorough understanding of the final cable’s uses, length, voltage, and signal type, as well as many other considerations. Working with a cable manufacturer you trust can make all the difference to the success of the final product. The Meridian Cable team has extensive experience with a wide range of custom cable design projects. When you are ready to discuss your next custom cable, please contact us. We look forward to talking with you.      


5 Benefits of Custom Cable Assemblies

5 Benefits of Custom Cable Assemblies

Custom cable assemblies offer many benefits over off-the-shelf products…including cost.

It’s possible there’s a standard cable that matches the needs of your equipment perfectly. However, it’s much more likely that you will have to make do with something that is almost right, which can lead to technical issues that can cause bigger problems down the road. This is especially true when your project’s requirements are specialized or complicated. While an off-the-shelf cable might seem like a quick and cheap option, custom cable assemblies have many advantages…and cost is one of them.

Cost Saving

Your first impression may be that custom cable assemblies are automatically more expensive than standard cables. This is not always the case. While a custom solution might be more expensive up front, better performance and longevity can save money because you don’t need to replace the assembly as often.

Time Saving

At first glance, you might think it’s faster to pick a cable up off the shelf and simply connect it to your equipment. Unfortunately, it’s usually not that easy. In many cases, it’s a struggle to make off-the-shelf cables work for any but the most simple applications. Trying to retrofit standard cables takes time and money that could have been saved by working with a manufacturer to create a custom cable assembly.

Better Performance

This one seems obvious, but custom cable assemblies are designed to work with your equipment and environment in mind. This means that they can not only take all of your requirements into account, but also be extensively tested with those requirements in mind to ensure a successful finished product. Because of this, you get a cable assembly that will function and last as expected.

Customized Appearance

custom cable assemblies

With an off-the-shelf cable, what you see is what you get. When producing custom cables, you are able to specify color, texture, and whether you need any type of labeling. This allows you to brand the cables or choose a color that makes it easier to identify. Color coding not only creates a more professional appearance, but also makes installation easier and repairs safer.

Availability

We’ve covered some great benefits that custom cable assemblies offer over standard cables, but the most significant is that you have a product that does what you want it to do. There are applications that are too specific or complex to be adequately served by an off-the-shelf cable, but with a custom product the options are nearly limitless.

Conclusion

There is certainly a time and place to use standard cables. However, there are also circumstances that call for a more custom option. With custom cable assemblies, you can be sure that your solution will meet the needs of your equipment and function how you expect. Working with a reputable, experienced cable manufacturer like Meridian Cable gives you even more peace of mind that you will get the performance you need. When you are ready to discuss your next custom cable project, don’t hesitate to contact us. We look forward to talking with you.