Wire harness manufacturers operate various machines that produce electrical harness assemblies to transmit either electrical power or signals. Many processes are automated but several are still operator influenced or manually controlled. There are far more people involved “hands on” in production in this industry than in other industries.
The most common primary processes for wire harness manufacturers include:
Automatic Cutting Machines
Automatic cutting, stripping and terminating machines are one of the more costly machines wire harness manufacturers will buy, and the one they are often most concerned with. Cutting, stripping or terminating a circuit wrong may result in wasted time, material or energy if the mistake goes undetected.
In the past, a machine may have been set up to run one specific circuit for days or even weeks, but today, smaller batch sizes and frequent set ups are the norm, making set up times as important to track as machine performance time.
A growing number of harnesses are being over-molded for weather proofing and reliability. Each connector is often unique, requiring specific tooling. Molding machines are usually the bottleneck in the processes. To optimize throughput, manufacturers usually have to choose between more machine set ups, or letting machines sit idle to avoid extra set ups, or, buying additional machines.
Molding machines require the management of temperature, raw material, a recipe, and more complex tooling set up than most other machines. Because of these things, these machines are often the constraint.
Braiding & Winding Machines
These are usually continuous processes. The value adding activity of braiding and winding machines comes down to what percent of the day (or shift or hour) it is winding or braiding, how long the machine is not winding (or braiding), and the reasons why.
Electro-Sonic Welding Machines
Because electro-sonic welders are usually manually operated, the rate and yield of the machine is largely operator dependent. There are quite a number of types of machines in operation on the plant floor, most of which do not support traditional connection technologies.
This is usually an entirely manual process. In some applications, operators can assemble and test hundreds of small harnesses in a single day. In others, it can take multiple people up to 8 hours to make a single harness. Because it is such an operator influenced process, the actual production efficiency can vary extremely, and is not easily empiracally measured.
FreePoint’s proprietary and “non-invasive” machine connection technology can connect to any machine on the plant floor the same way. On machines like cutters, welders and molders, value measurement will be based on cycles produced – on machines like braiders and winders, it will be based on running time.
On all the machines and assembly stations, FreePoint’s patent pending “value added activity” algorithm can be applied to determine what part of the day, shift, or period the machine is actually adding value, and which periods it is not.
By connecting the various machines on the shop floor on one platform, wire harness manufacturers obtain much clearer insight into their process. Machines old and new can be connected to and visualized on a single dashboard.
By improving process transparency, management can more easily identify bottlenecks in their process and address them to mitigate unplanned machine downtime. In turn, production capacity can be increased without adding new machines or personnel on the shop floor—saving time and money.
Visualizing value adding activity time and non-value adding time enables:
Using our “Narrative” module, Operators are engaged in the data collection process by empirically identifying all the non-value adding periods (down time causes), which gives management the information they need to make better decisions.
Using our “Notifications” module, supervisors, managers and maintenance staff can be alerted via text or email whenever a critical machine has stopped for a defined period of time, minimizing or eliminating unnecessary down time.