Original Date: 10/14/1988
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Wire Harness Automated Manufacturing System
Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. (BHTI) began development of an automated wire harness manufacturing system during the mid 1970s. Wire Harness Automated Manufacturing System (WHAMS) was initially implemented in 1981.
Major benefits resulting from the implementation of WHAMS include reduced wire waste; reduced use of identification sleeves; reduced duplicate layout boards; and reduced rework effort.
These benefits translate into a $2.1 million first year cost reduction resulting from a $750 thousand implementation cost. Use of the system has resulted in an 80% reduction in labor in the wire cut and stamp area and a 40% reduction in labor in the harness layout area.
The principal concept behind WHAMS is to use a manufacturing data base to provide electronic data for automated and manual operations in the wire harness manufacturing process. Currently, data developed by various electrical engineering and planning activities are resident on a BHTI mainframe computer as part of the Bell Engineering Information Management System (BEIMS). These data are downloaded into a local manufacturing computer to create a WHAMS database. This data is used to group like cable types so that continuous filament wires can be processed through the manufacturing cell.
WHAMS data is used to drive an automated wire marking system capable of placing identification markings every 2-1/2 inches at speeds up to 350 feet per minute. The system uses an AB Dick Videojet Printer and an American Can model 1JM Wire Transporter. After marking, the wires are spooled and heated to cure the ink markings.
Harness layout boards are set-up and marked into zones for wire end termination to assist in the proper routing of wires. The layout process uses data from WHAMS but remains a manual operation. Wire routing is accomplished manually with the assistance of computer displayed instructions. Wire sleeve identification tags are automatically printed out. Harnesses are cut and bundled, wires are stripped and crimped, and end terminations are made up manually using WHAMS generated printouts.
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