Monday, July 30, 2012

Wire harness software

Solution provider Eplan has taken over the development and sales rights to Harness Expert, the established 3D/2D software for wire harness engineering. The contract between software developer Linius Technologies and Eplan Software & Service was signed recently. This extension to its range will allow Eplan to offer its customers even more comprehensive support for all aspects of cable project management.

What is a wire harness?
A wire harness is a bundle of wires which normally have plugs or terminals at the end to create electrical connections to components and devices. It is considered a passive device. By fixing the wires together, e.g. by wrapping tape around, fitting them into protective sleeves or hoses or putting them in cable conduits, the individual wires are fixed in harness form and can be fitted in the same way as a single cable. The wires are also protected from dirt, heat and mechanical strain with a view to securing electrical properties such as insulation and conductivity throughout the service life of the product. Unlike conventional (sheathed) cable, wire harnesses are developed on a project or application-specific basis depending on the connections required. The benefits of this approach include optimisation of the space and weight within the installation space and ideal conditions for connection requirements. Also pre-fitting/mass production can be achieved even for small batch sizes.
The strategic purchase of the Harness Expert software will provide considerable potential in the domestic and international markets. It will allow Eplan to tackle new segments of industry, including apparatus engineering, rail and specialist vehicle technology, aviation, telecommunications and medical technology. At the same time, there is an increasing demand from within its own customer base for the implementation of 1:1 connections via wire harnesses, as the number of circuit-board based units in control cabinets and devices is increasing constantly. This new software is the perfect complement to Eplan Electric P8, the company's own CAE solution which has previously handled the engineering of single wires and sheathed cables in the control cabinet and field components. Customers can benefit from this consistent process integration, as all phases of the engineering process are supported, from planning through engineering through to wire harness design and production. "The purchase of the Harness Expert software makes our portfolio broad enough to cover all engineering requirements within the global market. It also gives us a considerable competitive advantage, especially in the international market," said Maximilian Brandl, Chairman of the Executive Board at Eplan Software & Service. The solution provider is planning to distribute the software internationally under the name of "Eplan Harness Expert" from autumn 2012.

Open for the IT market
Harness Expert is an easy-to-use software suite which fully supports all aspects of wire harness engineering. Typical harness or wiring loom design processes are shown by the software in 3D. All 2D production documents are produced by the system, which allows comprehensive openness when it comes to the import and export of third-party systems in design, administration and production. Integration between Eplan Electric P8 and Harness Expert provides all relevant wiring information, such as wire specifications, source/target information and bundle and socket assignments. This integrative workflow reduces engineering time and costs.

One workflow: design of mechanical systems and wire harness
The software provides different flexible approaches to designing a wire harness. Typically, this involves importing a 3D model from a conventional 3D CAD system, which then checks both the routes and design aspects such as clamps, clips, safety measures required and length calculations within the digital model. This does away with the time-consuming and expensive construction of prototypes. As an alternative to importing, things can be done in a simpler way. For example, if a wire harness has been laid within an imported 3D model, the design of the 3D model and the wire harness can be passed back to the mechanical design department. The advantage: any impediments to the wire harness as a function of the design can be detected in the virtual model and measures taken immediately - with no need for physical prototypes at all. If 3D models are not available for process-related or organisational reasons, a wire harness can be designed quickly and easily within Harness Expert’s 3D editor.

Reports and test runs
Harness Expert uses the 3D or 2D wire harness layout to produce a wide range of reports required for quotation, ordering and production. Complete or individual parts lists, plug and splice lists, wiring and connection lists and reports on working processes in order to calculate time and costs. The data can be transferred directly to cable finishing systems such as Komax. In order to validate the wire harness design, the system has extensive, practical testing and checking functions for bending radii, fill levels, cable lengths, bundles without wires and connectors. The aim is to identify possible inconsistency and errors at an early stage, i.e. prior to prototype production and simplify corrections.

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