Analysis and reevaluation of the logistics processes for an automated manufacturing process in the production of wiring harnesses.


Manuel Hagg

University Stuttgart

Mr. Hagg works at the Institute for Materials Handling and Logistics.


Logistic processes

Automation of logistics processes in assembly

In SP9, the logistics processes along the supply chain from the assembler to the provision of the cable harness at the installation site are examined. The focus of SP9 is on the automation of the logistics processes, which is intended to realize a smooth and automated provision of the cable harnesses at the assembly line.

Starting point and motivation

The wire harness is one of the largest, heaviest and most unwieldy components installed in an automobile. The main wire harness, which consists of several thousand cables, connectors, etc., is also difficult to handle and install due to its slackness. Up until now, this has only been possible through predominantly manual handling of the wire harness during vehicle assembly. In today’s assembly process, this involves the use of auxiliary supports that are not optimised for automated assembly. Rather, assembly is geared towards manual handling structures, which results in a great deal of manual handling and logistics effort. The aim of SP9 is to automate the end-to-end handling of the wire harness, starting from delivery to the OEM. The aim is to enable smooth automated provision at the assembly line, where the wire harness is to be installed into the vehicle and assembled with robots and machines.

Current working focuses

From the logistics point of view, SP 9 looks at the processes from the upstream removal of the wire harness from the assembly board, delivery to the warehouse or pre-sequencing at the OEM, through to provision at the installation site. Consequently, the focus ends where the robot or human takes hold of or picks up the wire harness ready for assembly in the vehicle. During the first step of SP9, a generic segmentation of the supply chain is being carried out as a basis for the analysis of the automation potential. To this end, the current state is first being analysed and generically mapped. For example, the following logistics processes are considered in detail with regard to the current state of automation, taking into account various wiring harnesses and delivery forms:

  • Unloading process of the incoming wire harnesses
  • Sequencing process for line assembly
  • Process for removing the wiring harnesses from the transport carriers
  • Process for removing the outer packaging
  • Feeding to the conveyor belt at the right time

The next step is the creation of a target representation f the automated logistics chain and the derivation of essential requirements. Building on this, a requirements matrix (current status vs. target representation) will be created to derive further fields of action. Developments in the content of other IIWH sub-projects are also taken into account.


In the further course of SP9, different focal points will be considered. One of these points includes, for example, the development of alternative packaging concepts taking into account new developments involving automated wire harness assembly in the downstream process. In addition, transport, storage and supply processes as well as digitalisation aspects across the value chain will also be discussed and examined.