Spotting 60 Potential Errors in Machinery Cable and Wire Harness Design

Apr 29, 2024

The complexity of wire harness design for machinery necessitates a meticulous approach to avoid errors that could lead to malfunctions, safety hazards, or increased production costs. Based on the the industry's best practices and standards, we can identify a range of potential errors that could occur during the design phase. Here, we will discuss 60 such errors, categorized for clarity.

Design and specification errors

  1. Inadequate requirement gathering: failing to collect comprehensive requirements and specifications can lead to design flaws.

  2. Incorrect wire selection: using wires that are unsuitable for the electrical load can cause overheating or failure.

  3. Improper connector choice: connectors that do not match the application can lead to connectivity issues.

  4. Inaccurate length specifications: miscalculating wire lengths can result in tension or slack, affecting performance.

  5. Misjudging environmental conditions: not considering temperature, moisture, and chemical exposure can lead to material degradation.

  6. Overlooking flexibility requirements: ignoring the need for flex cables in dynamic applications can cause premature wear ().

  7. Ignoring electromagnetic interference (emi): failing to account for emi can disrupt signal integrity.

  8. Neglecting voltage drop calculations: not calculating voltage drop over long distances can result in inadequate power supply.

  9. Forgetting to specify tolerances: omitting tolerance levels can lead to manufacturing errors.

  10. Lack of compatibility checks: not ensuring component compatibility can lead to assembly issues.

Manufacturing and assembly errors

  1. Poor crimping practices: inadequate crimping can cause loose connections and potential failure.

  2. Faulty soldering: bad solder joints can lead to intermittent or permanent circuit breaks.

  3. Ineffective shielding: inadequate shielding can leave cables susceptible to emi.

  4. Incorrect use of heat shrink: misapplication of heat shrink can compromise insulation and protection.

  5. Inconsistent wire preparation: inconsistent stripping or tinning can cause variability in connections.

  6. Improper routing: poor routing can lead to mechanical stress and potential damage.

  7. Neglecting strain relief: not providing strain relief can lead to wire breakage at connection points.

  8. Inadequate testing procedures: insufficient testing can allow defects to go undetected.

  9. Overlooking quality control: skipping quality checks can result in non-compliant products.

  10. Failure to follow standards: ignoring industry standards like ipc/whma-a-620 can lead to substandard assemblies ().

Technical and engineering errors

  1. Miswiring: incorrectly connecting wires can cause circuit malfunctions.

  2. Open circuits: incomplete circuits due to missed connections can prevent operation.

  3. Short circuits: wires touching each other can cause shorts and potential damage.

  4. Insufficient insulation: poor insulation can lead to shorts and pose safety risks.

  5. Overlooking redundancy: not designing for redundancy can lead to system failures in critical applications.

  6. Ignoring thermal expansion: failing to account for thermal expansion can lead to mechanical stress.

  7. Inadequate conduit use: not using conduits where needed can expose wires to damage.

  8. Overloading circuits: designing circuits that exceed the current capacity can cause overheating.

  9. Failure to incorporate service loops: omitting service loops can complicate maintenance and repairs.

  10. Lack of clear labeling: not labeling wires can lead to confusion during installation and servicing.

Project management and communication errors

  1. Ineffective communication: poor communication between teams can result in design discrepancies.

  2. Lack of collaboration: not involving all stakeholders can lead to oversight of critical requirements.

  3. Inaccurate documentation: errors in schematics or diagrams can misguide manufacturing.

  4. Mismanagement of changes: not properly tracking design changes can cause inconsistencies.

  5. Inadequate resource allocation: insufficient resources can lead to rushed designs and mistakes.

  6. Failure to plan for obsolescence: not planning for component end-of-life can cause future sourcing issues.

  7. Overlooking cost optimization: ignoring cost-saving measures can lead to unnecessary expenses.

  8. Underestimating timelines: unrealistic timelines can result in shortcuts and compromised quality.

  9. Neglecting risk assessment: not assessing potential risks can leave the project vulnerable to unforeseen issues.

  10. Inadequate training: not providing sufficient training can lead to errors in assembly and testing.

Automation and technology errors

  1. Overreliance on automation: depending too much on automation can overlook the need for human oversight.

  2. Incompatible software tools: using design tools that are not integrated can cause data inconsistencies.

  3. Outdated technology: relying on outdated design tools can limit capabilities.

  4. Ignoring simulation tools: not using simulation software can miss potential design flaws.

  5. Lack of digital prototyping: skipping virtual prototyping can result in physical prototypes with errors.

  6. Inadequate data management: poor data management can lead to loss of critical design information.

  7. Failure to leverage 3d design: not utilizing 3d cad for routing can lead to spatial conflicts ().

  8. Not updating firmware/software: neglecting updates can cause software glitches and design errors.

  9. Insufficient it security: weak security can lead to data breaches and intellectual property theft.

  10. Lack of integration with plm: not integrating with product lifecycle management systems can cause workflow disruptions.

Environmental and regulatory compliance errors

  1. Non-compliance with safety standards: designing without adherence to safety standards can lead to regulatory issues.

  2. Ignoring rohs directives: not complying with the restriction of hazardous substances can lead to legal repercussions.

  3. Overlooking reach regulations: ignoring registration, evaluation, authorisation, and restriction of chemicals can lead to non-compliance.

  4. Failing to meet ul certifications: not achieving underwriters laboratories certification can restrict market access.

  5. Neglecting e-waste regulations: not considering end-of-life disposal can lead to environmental violations.

  6. Overusing hazardous materials: using materials that are hazardous to the environment can lead to penalties.

  7. Ignoring energy efficiency: designing without energy efficiency in mind can lead to higher operational costs.

  8. Bypassing conflict minerals compliance: not verifying the source of minerals can contribute to unethical practices.

  9. Disregarding export controls: failing to adhere to export control laws can result in fines and legal issues.

  10. Overlooking accessibility standards: not considering accessibility can limit the usability of machinery.

Best practices to avoid errors

  • Thorough design reviews: conducting comprehensive reviews can catch errors early.

  • Regular testing and validation: continuously testing throughout the design process can identify issues.

  • Clear communication protocols: establishing effective communication channels can prevent misunderstandings.

  • Adherence to industry standards: following standards like ipc/whma-a-620 ensures quality and reliability ().

  • Detailed documentation: keeping meticulous records can provide clarity and traceability.

  • Continuous improvement processes: implementing feedback loops can enhance design quality over time.

  • Risk management strategies: developing and following risk management plans can mitigate potential issues.

  • Sustainable design practices: considering environmental impact can lead to more responsible designs.

  • Cross-functional team collaboration: working closely with all departments can ensure cohesive design efforts.

  • Ongoing education and training: keeping teams trained on the latest technologies and practices can reduce errors.

The design of cable and wire harnesses for machinery is fraught with potential errors that can impact the functionality, safety, and compliance of the final product. By understanding these common mistakes and technical issues, engineers and designers can implement best practices to mitigate risks and ensure high-quality outcomes. Continuous learning, adherence to industry standards, and effective communication are key to avoiding the numerous pitfalls in wire harness design.