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02 February 2006
02. February 2006 Commercial Aircraft

Cable harness manufacturing - saving money and time on long cables


Airbus engineers have merged technological innovation and efficiency in the development of an electronic jigboard - a cable harness manufacturing device that makes the cable positioning process more flexible. Along with meeting the demand for custom products ready on short notice, the e-jigboard offers voice-operated, interactive support and a plexiglass panel to display drawings.

Cable harnesses are a good example off how electrical component manufacturing in Hamburg is steadily being adapted to the ever more efficient and innovative Airbus production systems.

Previously, cable harnesses were assembled using a drawing printed out and pinned to a board. Cables were then laid along the lines indicated on the drawing using pins and screws, and tied together to a cable harness. In case of modifications, a new drawing had to be prepared, printed out and attached to the board. This meant searching, comparing and checking for the employees involved.

In addition, the times of series production, when predominantly identical cable harnesses were manufactured at the Hamburg site have gone. Nowadays, cable harnesses - in particular those designed for the cabin compartment - must frequently be adapted to specific requirements. Many cable harnesses are custom products to be manufactured at short notice.

To meet these new needs, a device has been developed to render cable harness manufacturing more flexible: the electronic jigboard or e-jigboard. Printed drawings are now replaced by a projection on a plexiglass panel with special coating. The panel is designed as a multimedia working panel, where holders are positioned, cables laid and terminal units connected. The e-jigboard offers voice-operated, interactive support, and displays information which previously had to be printed out or obtained via a laptop from an information system.

There are many advantages to the new system: data are directly retrieved from the CCD file, which is regularly updated online while modifications are displayed as soon as the new order number is entered. Furthermore, whereas the former method had a maximum tolerance of one centimeter on 10-metre-long cables, the new system has a constant tolerance of between 0.5 and 0.7 cm, irrespective of the cable harness length.

Following a development phase of about one year, the prototype was initially used to manufacture up to four-metre-long cable harnesses. With the trial phase completed, the system is now used for up to 32-meter-long cable harnesses.

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