A wiring harness is only as good as it is engineered. The quality of the wire or the crimps is meaningless if it is engineered with incorrect lengths of wire, improper gauges or poorly constructed laid-in wires (which we will discuss shortly). The highest quality components can go into a poorly designed harness that will be a nightmare to install.
At Painless, we have five highly skilled engineers on staff who design our products. Each engineer takes a project from concept to final production, supervising each phase of the process. The first step is to lay out the design of the harness in AutoCad, as you see below.
It is here that each wire is drawn to its correct length in the CAD program, the proper gauge is determined, color codes established, etc. Most often the wire lengths are taken from the original factory harness if this is a vehicle specific design. We generally will increase the gauge of the wire from factory in order to accomodate for the higher amperage accessories used today.
There are two classifications of wire - those which are directly connected to the fuse block and those which are "laid- in." Laid in wires (also called break-outs) are those which go from some power source or switch to a particular accesory or appliance. It is this second class of wires which is so important in design. If the lay-in point is not drawn exactly, the installer could be three quarters of the way completed before discovering all of the wires to the dash are a foot too short to operate the gauges or switches. Not a pleasant discovery.
The drawings which are printed from this CAD layout will also become the template which is used for the actual layout board, so that the computer-generated harness will identically match the "human-generated" one.
After an engineer has completed the drawings - a process which can easily take months - one harness is built by hand to the specifications of the print. This harness is then installed on the subject vehicle to ensure all wire lengths are correct and that the wiring harness fits and can be easily routed. If any changes are required, the drawings are corrected and another hand-made harness is built.
Once the drawings are finalized, we will again make a limited run of three or four harnesses. These are sent to independent installers and consumers who have donor vehicles awaiting wiring. Once we have had independent feedback and made whatever changes are necessary based on that feedback, we are ready to go into production.
Harnesses are not made one at a time. They are produced in long production runs which, depending on the harness may be three to four hundred units. Once all the wire is cut, it is time for termination, the point when terminals are applied to the ends of the wires.
It's often said that anybody with a hand crimper can be in the wiring harness
business and, sadly, that is true. Probably not for long, though. The quality
of the crimp is one of the most important ingredients in the overall quality
of a harness and the determining factor in how it will perform and hold up
To the right you see the termination area in our plant. The "trees" on the left side represent all the various wires for one production run of a particular harness. To the right you see the amp presses used for termination.
Each press is set up permanantly for a specific gauge terminal. This eliminates costly set-ups and tear-downs as well as speeds up production and reduces costs. Just as importantly, it eliminates potential set-up errors in which the wrong terminal die could be used, resulting in a poor crimp. This is why we are confident in offering a lifetime guarantee on our harnesses. We know it's done right.