Automated assembly of the

wire harness in the vehicle

Theoretical evaluation of motion kinematics and creation of a demonstrator


Christian Steiler


Mr. Steiler is Head of Electric Interieur at Vehicle Protection

Automated assembly of the wire harness

Automated assembly of the wire harness in the vehicle

Sub-project 8 is working on concepts for the automated installation of the wire harness into the vehicle.

Unlike other assemblies (windscreen, exhaust system, etc.), wire harnesses are predominantly flexible components that must be tightly compressed in the transport container and thus only unfolded into their final position once in the vehicle. In addition, dimensions of up to seven metres in length and a weight of about 35 kg make handling difficult.

Starting point and motivation

After the sub-assemblies have been delivered by the suppliers, they are installed into the finished vehicle at the OEM plant.

In contrast to body shell construction or paintwork, final assembly often still involves a great deal of manual work. This applies especially to the installation of the wire harness in the car body.

Even before the carpets or seats are fitted, up to six employees work simultaneously to lay out this assembly at various positions within the car body and then route and thread through the individual strands. The attachments and the electrical connections are then plugged or screwed in.

This process is time-critical on the assembly line, extremely dependent on the workers and is now to be automated to a large extent. A collaborative model of cooperation should therefore also be considered.

Current working focuses

SP8 starts by examining the process section from the removal of the assembly from the staging area next to the vehicle to the laying of the up to 65 mm thick main strands.

During the current project phase, the participants are concentrating on the following fields of action:

  • Creating a demonstrator
  • Practical implementation of the favoured automation concept developed in the previous phase
  • Validation, evaluation and comparison of further solution concepts (functional descriptions) in practice

For this purpose, a demonstrator based on the real assembly is to be set up, consisting of:

  • Hardware and software: Robots, sensor systems (numerous cameras and force-displacement sensors) and control computers.
  • Test objects, including a vehicle body shell and a defined sample wire harness.

This is used for carrying out practical investigations to assess different concepts for the automated installation of a partial wire harness. The technical limits and possibilities will then be derived from the knowledge gained during this process. In addition, we will provide the demonstrator to other sub-projects for testing purposes.


Following the initial installation of a generic demonstrator wire harness in a real car body, we will successively extend the scope to include the complete vehicle.

To ensure smooth communication between the many sensors and different software modules, it will be necessary to create a uniform syntax. In this respect, we plan to develop an interface design for the important sections of coarse and fine localisation.

In addition, the question of balanced automation arises: how can collaboration between robots and humans be realised in this confined environment?