Digital product


Standardisation and expansion of data profiles


Dr. Stefan Kreitmeier


Mr. Kreitmeier is a specialist architect for tools & methods, working in the field of physical wiring systems.

Digital product description

Standardisation and expansion of data profiles

Sub-project 10 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

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. This is done by standardising data profiles for digital component and wire harness descriptions based on the standard data formats KBL and VEC.

During project phase 2.1, the first version of DIN 72036 was created together with the project partners. To this end, sub-project 10 derived data-format-independent requirements for the digital product description from the design guidelines listed in the standard and presented these in the form of data requirements. The sub-project then projected these requirements onto the KBL and VEC data formats and ultimately defined three data profiles:

  • A VEC-based data profile for wire harness components
  • A VEC-based data profile for wire harnesses
  • A KBL-based data profile for wire harnesses

The envisaged uses of the data profiles defined in the standard essentially extend to all stakeholders involved in development and production. The reason for this is that the data profiles explicitly clarify which data are fundamentally needed in the process in the context of automated wire harness production and how they are digitally represented. This provides an orientation for all stakeholders, prevents unnecessary iteration loops and can support the development of useful tool solutions across the industry.

In the course of defining the above-mentioned data profiles, extension requirements were submitted to the responsible standardisation bodies in order to close existing gaps in the data formats used for the digital product description.

Project phase 2.2 will now continue down the established path and update and expand the data profiles in coordination with the other sub-projects. This is based on all the activities for creating a new version of DIN 72036 during the envisaged scope extension, e.g. to the high-voltage range, as well as all new topics, such as the introduction of an automation index. Furthermore, the VEC and KBL data profiles are to be published to PROSTEP via corresponding XML schematics.


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 and VEC.

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.