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Cable management solutions for automotive cables and wires

clock 3 minutes | 15 Jan 2018

Automotive technology continues to advance rapidly. The autonomous vehicles market is predicted to be worth £28bn to the UK economy by 2035 according to the BBC. The Financial Times reported that the government are set to allowing testing of driverless on UK roads. This is not surprising when you consider technology that reads road signs and can keep us in our lanes is already commonplace.

All of this innovation means more wires and cables need to fit into our vehicles than ever before. It’s therefore critical that these cables are managed carefully to create a vehicle that gets drivers from A-to-B quickly, comfortably and most importantly, safely.

Consider the ever-increasing amount of technology embedded in modern vehicles: parking sensors, cameras, heated seats, lighting, Bluetooth and GPS. The technological advances help to create the mile of cable that typically goes into a modern car. That’s before you factor in the essentials such as electrics, lights, computer assists and the motor wiring needed to actually make the car run.
This maze of cables must be organised enough to allow repairs to be carried out quickly and efficiently, so that mechanics aren’t forced to battle with a mile of cable spaghetti. An efficient cable management system can make car assembly simple and enable defects to be identified quickly and safely.

Solutions to consider


Cable management solutions used in the automotive industry vary. You can make life easier for assemblers by looking at these solutions:

Recommendation
Why
Cable management clips Wire saddles with snap-in fastening for a speedy job are an excellent choice. They’re non-locking, so wires can easily be replaced when necessary.
Wire cable clamp A great example, especially if you’re looking for simple wire cable installation, is the flat cable clamp. It’s easy to install and use, with a one-arm tension design that clamps flat, or ribbon, cable.
Diaphragm grommets The sharp edges of holes cut out of doors’ sheet metal can cut and damage the wires that operate windows and mirrors. Cable hole grommets provide the protection needed. Grommets are another key ingredient for electric vehicle (EV) chargers. They absorb vibrations and provide a liquid-tight seal.
Cable Conduits What are cable ties used for? To bundle and harness wires and cables. Cable management twist ties with snap mounts are perfect for restricted spaces. You can get adhesive bases for easy installation and flexible bases for curved or uneven surfaces. For heat resistant cable ties, opt for nylon as your material. Chemical resistant cable ties are also available.
Twist ties What are cable ties used for? To bundle and harness wires and cables. Cable management twist ties with snap mounts are perfect for restricted spaces. You can get adhesive bases for easy installation and flexible bases for curved or uneven surfaces. For heat resistant cable ties, opt for nylon as your material. Chemical resistant cable ties are also available.
Heat shrink tubing This shrinkable plastic tube insulates wires to protect them from abrasions and environmental elements. Polyolefin is an outstanding heat shrink tubing material, offering durability, superb mechanical strength and if coloured, high flammability resistance. Clear versions are used where flame-retardance is not necessary.
Slit harness wraps Durable protection for cable looms offering crush resistance, the slit harness wrap protects against abrasions while still maintaining flexibility.
Cord grips Different types of cable glands, as they’re also known as, are available. Connecting cables to equipment, these are useful for electric vehicle (EV) chargers. They come in nylon, brass and stainless steel and should be rated for flammability and explosion.

The importance of cable management

It’s one thing to create technology that improves the driving experience however, this technology is only viable if the cabling system can withstand the heat, cold, dust, moisture and electromagnetic interference that comes with life on the road. Automotive engineering must therefore ensure that cables are not only managed in an orderly and logical manner, but also sufficiently protected to allow the technology to function in the harsh environments on the road.

The importance of automotive cable management is further increased when you consider that many cables and wires perform functions for multiple systems. This is known as a digital multiplex bus system and helps to reduce the amount of wiring and cabling needed in modern vehicles.

This multifunctionality further demonstrates the importance of cable management and protection: if a cable is damaged, it can affect multiple systems, meaning that accurate fault diagnosis and repair is critical for manufacturers. Cables and their functions must therefore be simple to identify to ensure that manufacturers and associated aftercare businesses can operate in an efficient, safe and profitable manner.

Cable Management - The Design Engineers Application Guide