Designing cable harness assemblies in virtual environments

F. M. Ng, J. M. Ritchie, J. E L Simmons, R. G. Dewar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Citations (Scopus)


Cable harness assemblies are amongst the most costly items in any electro-mechanical product. The domain is not widely recognised as an area for academic research. Internationally, some efforts have been made to automate or semi-automate the choice of cable harness path through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) via CAD systems, but with little success. Common themes voiced are that the problem is too open-ended and it is very difficult to capture the design intent of the activity. Human input is still very much required to guide the computer systems to reach an 'optimum' solution. Case study investigations were carried out at five advanced manufacturing organisations to determine the current industrial practice. The investigations revealed that the cable harness design and planning (CHDP) process is essentially sequential in nature and consists of lengthy activities carried out late in the overall product development cycle. It was also found that there has been little attempt to integrate any of the core activities involved. This paper describes work undertaken at Heriot-Watt University to research the effectiveness of immersive virtual reality for designing and routing cable harnesses by enhancing the expertise of the cable harness designer rather than by replacing the individual via an automated system. The new virtual cable design system developed in the course of this work has now undergone some pilot trials to test its usability. The system will subsequently be used to carry out full industrial trials in conjunction with a number of high technology equipment manufacturers. These pilot trials, combined with the case studies of current practice carried out at the companies, have highlighted a number of issues regarding cable design, particularly that immersive VR has a potentially unique role to play in the integration of cable harness electrical and mechanical design activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Materials Processing Technology
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 22 Nov 2000
Event15th International Conference on Computer-Aided Production Engineering - Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 19 Apr 199921 Apr 1999


Dive into the research topics of 'Designing cable harness assemblies in virtual environments'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this