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Wire harness design best practices

4 Things Designers Should Know About Wire Management

When it comes to building electronic equipment, designers tend to focus on the overall product they are developing. They think about things like system functionality, features, and cost. However, one thing that might not get as much attention is wire management.

Wires often have to run around multiple components, twisting and turning on their way to their final destination. The end result can be complicated. That’s where wire management comes in.

Wire management requires consideration of how wires and other devices will interact in a complicated system. Good design at the beginning of product development can help avoid rework and field issues later on.

There are 4 things designers should pay attention to for stress-free wire management:


Routing a wire through a machine is about more than just getting it from point A to point B. Due to demand for smaller and smaller pieces of equipment, today’s engineers have to fit more types of wiring into smaller spaces than ever. They must take other devices into account, while also following industry codes. Designers should plan carefully up front to develop the most efficient routing plan possible.

In order to assemble a wire harness, a wire is often stretched and twisted and may have to be longer than initially laid out. It might be tempting to save by ordering the shortest wires possible, but saving a few pennies in material costs can lead to a wire that is difficult to work with and assemble. Considering a field service call can cost from several hundred to several thousand dollars, a single service call can wipe out all savings from slightly shorter wires for years and years. On the other hand, if you spend one to two cents more on a wire that’s a half-inch longer, you’ll have made a good investment if you end up needing extra length in order to assemble the product. Spending a few cents more on a slightly longer wire is one of the most affordable ways to add a margin of error into product design to increase product reliability.

Bending radius
While developing the routing, designers should also factor in bending radius of wires. Sharp angles, especially at termination points, put pressure on wires. This can result in stressed connections, reducing reliability and potentially requiring repairs. This is another reason that a longer wire is often better—the extra flexibility allows you to ensure a strong connection. Wires with straight-angle mating points are another solution to a tight bending radius.

Often, designers are dealing not with a single wire, but multiple wires at once. If you don’t plan to use a wire loom or a wrap, you have two main options for holding your wires together: taping and tying.

Taping, using conventional electrical tape, is an option many engineers are familiar with. Designers place pieces of tape at locations along the harness assembly to control multiple wire leads. But tape has a downside – with time, its adhesive can break down particularly if it is next to equipment that gives off heat. Wire ties, in contrast, never lose their tension. They are placed just like tape, but take up less space and can be placed closer to a bend in the wire. This gives designers greater control over where their wires can go.

Wire management may be easy to overlook. But it should be part of every engineer’s design checklist. Investing a little extra time up front can save designers from major headaches and expense in the long run.

Do you need help with wire management? Contact Custom Cord today.

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