What are wiring harnesses, and what significance do they have for electrical and electronic (E/E) device designs? A wiring harness is a protective outer covering or sheath that holds a group of electrical wires or cables together.

For many applications, wiring harnesses are an ideal way to simplify and standardize the assembly of components that require complex wiring systems. Installers can work with the wires as a pre-assembled unit rather than attaching and configuring each one separately within the device. This improves product uniformity and reduces the chances that any connections are skipped.

The design of a custom wiring harness must take several factors into account, including the number and type of signals being transmitted, voltage requirements, and environmental conditions like exposure to extreme temperatures, corrosive substances, dirt, or water. 

Wiring harnesses have many advantages for E/E devices and components, such as:

  • Organizing device wire layouts
  • Simplifying workflows
  • Easy identification of wire assemblies
  • Reducing wire and cable clutter at workstations
  • Easier troubleshooting
  • Reducing electric shock risk during wiring
  • Maximizing space for airflow and components inside devices


Materials for Wiring Harnesses

What are wiring harnesses made of? It’s essential to select a sheath material that meets the specific needs of the application, such as thickness and flexibility, thermal insulation, moisture resistance, chemical resistance, temperature protection, or UV resistance. Common choices include:

  • PVC
  • Vinyl
  • Thermoplastic elastomers
  • Polyurethane
  • Polyethylene


Cable Harness Vs. Wiring Harness

A common question customers ask is, what is the difference between a cable harness and a wiring harness? They have similarities, but there are some notable differences.

Cable assemblies tend to be used with point-to-point wiring connections. They may include multiple legs or loopbacks; however, in general, they are a pre-bundled group of cables or wires.

Wire harnesses are generally more complex and are an excellent choice for creating a custom group of wires or cables within a device or component. Designers have the ability to include exactly the wires or cables needed for the application and plan out how they should be routed on installation. 


Where Are Wiring Harnesses Used?

There are many applications for wiring harnesses across industries. In any situation where handling numerous separate wires becomes cumbersome or counterproductive, wiring harnesses are an effective solution. They are also critical in protecting delicate wires and connections from damage and environmental conditions.

The following are examples of industries and applications that depend on wiring harnesses to simplify and organize complex wire systems:

  • Automotive, aviation, and transportation: Vehicles use wires and cables to relay electrical signals for sensors, control units, lights, actuators, batteries, and more. Harnesses also provide protection against the elements and corrosion.
  • Telecommunications: Harnesses for data transmission wires minimize wiring errors while protecting wires from harsh operating conditions and temperature extremes. 
  • Flat screens and control panels: Harnesses keep wires and cables compact and neatly grouped in small spaces like thin screen assemblies and panel instrumentation.
  • Durable IT equipment: In heavy industrial and military settings, harnesses protect sensitive electronics from dust, weather, and abrasions. 
  • Industrial machinery, manufacturing, and construction equipment: Harnesses keep similar wires together and located away from moving parts, heat, exhaust fumes, and other hazards.
  • Home appliances: Wiring harnesses streamline appliance assembly in factories and for professional appliance installation.
  • Medical equipment and devices: Harnesses keep exposed and enclosed wires away from staff and patients and protect wires from dirt, liquids, and physical damage.


Learn More About Custom Wiring Harnesses From MarVac Assemblies

MarVac Assemblies helps your team make short work of complex electrical connections and assemblies with a range of products and services. We specialize in custom wire harness assemblies, supporting the safe and efficient wiring needs of numerous industries. Additional capabilities include wire processing, sleeving, box builds, value-added electronic component assembly, soldering, kitting, packaging, and more. 

Contact us to learn more about our services, or request a quote to connect with our experts about your next wiring application.

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