Digital product

description

Standardisation and expansion of data profiles

Digital product description

Standardisation and expansion of data profiles

Sub-project 10 (SP10) defines requirements for the digital product description of wire harnesses from the perspective of automated manufacturing. In essence, the sub-project plans to create the framework so that the defined design guidelines for wire harness design can be digitally verified. The KBL (cable harness list) and VEC (Vehicle Electric Container) industry data standards form the basis for this.

Starting point and motivation

In 2020, wire harness production in the automotive industry is still predominantly carried out by manual labour. Technical approaches to automating the manufacturing process, at least in part or even completely, have been known for some years. There are also specialised companies that offer corresponding machines and systems commercially. Nevertheless, the share of value added generated by automated production in the industry has remained at a constantly low level so far. There is no discernible trend towards indicating any change to this today, although various reasons indicate a clear need for action towards automation [see Reasons for automation].

One key cause for this situation is that the current design of wire harnesses is generally not optimised for automated machines. This is also due to the fact that the complexity of vehicle networking has been increasing for years and the wire harnesses primarily follow the requirements of the vehicle and the product function to be achieved. Requirements for a design suitable for automation still play a clearly subordinate role in industrial practice today.

Current working focuses

With this in mind, the aim of the sub-project is to establish requirements and recommendations for a digital product description based on known automation barriers and linked design guidelines to the wire harness definition. Requirements and recommendations need to be reflected in the documented state of the art through existing open data standards. This also has the background of proactively counteracting any inefficiencies in the exchange of data between the companies involved in the process chain.

One sub-goal is to demonstrate how obstacles to the automation of wire harness production or violated design guidelines can be reliably detected digitally in the early phases of product development using existing data standards. The vision behind this is that future vehicle architecture development will take requirements for automated wire harness production into account just as naturally as requirements for function, cost and weight in a continuous digital process.

A second sub-goal is to identify existing gaps in the relevant data standards and to implement the corresponding action in the responsible standardisation bodies. In the case of existing “white spots” in the standardisation landscape, the corresponding specifications (e.g. defined custom properties, e.g. method conventions) are defined by the sub-project itself. The data flow in the process chain also needs to be taken into account. This means that not only the OEM’s final digital wire harness description needs to be considered, but also the digital description of the components contained in the wire harness. The vision behind this is to simplify data exchange and data evaluation in the industry so that the processes in the value chain as a whole become more efficient and faster and competition between the companies in the process chain is ultimately strengthened.

Outlook

The primary result of the sub-project is the preparation of a paper on a standard to be developed within the ARENA2036 IIWH. The aim is to standardise data profiles for digital component and wire harness descriptions based on the standard data formats KBL (cable harness list) and VEC (vehicle electric container).

The background is that the aforementioned standard data formats tend to avoid imposing strict minimum requirements. This applies in particular to the VEC data format, which, in contrast to KBL, is explicitly not solely focused on the application case of wire harness mapping, but is also intended to serve an indefinite number of other conceivable usage scenarios. However, if the goal of checking compliance with design guidelines on the basis of digital data is to be achieved, dedicated requirements for the content and scope of the digital product description have to be met. The data profiles are designed to make this transparent.

As a secondary result, the sub-project is working on extending the above-mentioned data standards to close gaps that exist today but are relevant for an assessment of the suitability of wire harnesses for automated manufacturing. Corresponding tickets will be submitted to the relevant standardisation committees.