Transformation hub for the automotive wiring harness value chain.


Georg Schnauffer

ARENA2036 e.V.


Transformation hub for the wire harness

Support for transformation processes in the wiring harness industry

The Transformation-Hub-LS combines results from research with the practical needs of the wire harness industry. The conceptual basis is an end-to-end transfer model that captures the needs of the companies and guides them step by step to the implementation of lighthouse projects.

Bridge and hub function

The core element is the application perspective of the Transformation-Hub-LS. The Hub looks at research and development (R&D) projects and other sources of innovation through the eyes of an industry expert rather than a scientist. One focus of examination is on the ongoing projects at KoPa 35c. However, the consideration also goes beyond this. The Transformation-Hub-LS translates project results into messages and use cases that are understandable and relevant to the industry. In addition, the Hub has direct contacts to the companies, so that it can identify concrete implementation potential in dialogue and provide important decision-making support for implementation. In this context, the Hub pursues a bridging and a hub function. This means that relevant results from R&D are not only transferred into practice but there is also an active feedback channel.

The conceptual basis is an end-to-end transfer model. It is based on an adapted AIDA approach, at the end of which there are concrete implementation activities by the companies. In the course of the project, the Transformation-Hub-LS aims to expand the target group in the direction of the electrical and electronics (E/E) domain. Likewise, close cooperation with other hubs such as powertrain and interior will be sought, as these are inseparable from the on-board network.

Wiring harness industry in transition

The wiring harness, also often referred to as "cable harness", "cable set" or "on-board network", connects all electrical and electronic components (drives, actuators, sensors, displays, control units, energy sources, etc.) in the vehicle. It is one of the most expensive and labor-intensive components of the automobile. For German automotive manufacturer (OEMs) alone, several hundred thousand jobs in the supplier industry worldwide depend on this component. However, overriding trends in the automotive sector as a whole and various component-specific developments are now forcing all players in the value chain to undertake far-reaching transformations and reassess all value creation processes. The core challenges of the value chain lineset are in particular:

  • Highly integrated functions due to the rapidly growing complexity of vehicle electrics
  • Electrification of the powertrain (electromobility)
  • Rising data rates and increased requirements for functional safety. These are the essential prerequisites for autonomous driving at levels 4 and 5
  • Increasing automation and digitization of all production and processing operations
  • The acceleration of miniaturization in wires and components of the vehicle electrical system
  • Increased quality requirements and audit-proof traceability of all process steps
  • Resilience of the value chain, such as production at the OEM on site
  • Circular economy and new materials for sustainability (REACH)
  • Determination and reduction of the CO2 footprint across the value chain

The wiring harness must be understood and approached as an integrative total system involving every E/E component. For many companies, how well these challenges can be met depends on faster and better access to innovation impulses and new approaches to solutions. This applies in particular to the disruptive developments in the areas of digitalization and electrification.

Bridging the "Valley of Death"

The claim of the Transformation-Hub-WH is to bridge the "valley of death" between research and practice. This system-immanent "predetermined breaking point" of many R&D projects results from the fact that convincing and proven answers to the practical questions are a prerequisite for the later scaling of the implementation. This is where the Transformation-Hub-WH comes in. The following key activities result from the end-to-end transfer approach:

  • Research and contextualized preparation of pre-competitive solution approaches for the transformation needs of the value chain based on a complete systematic requirements survey of the value chain actors, as well as preparation of the findings from workshops, studies, surveys, interviews, etc. One focus is on technology and digitization innovations from ongoing collaborative projects with a high level of application relevance to the value chain.
  • Dissemination and marketing: Generation of awareness and interest in the industry and initiation of the AIDA process with suitable, sequential formats for knowledge transfer such as events, trade press, website, social media, etc., involving established transfer structures (multipliers, cooperations, etc.).
  • Interested companies are introduced to more in-depth transformation projects in smaller groups via low-threshold incubation formats. These transformation projects set the course internally for a longer-term and comprehensive transformation process.
  • At the same time, the added values are communicated. The goal here is to initiate lighthouse projects. These serve to generate follow-up effects and to build up network structures (communities of practice), which can then be used to ensure a transfer to further unsubsidized scaling (stabilization).