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Is there any software or method out there that makes laying out a wiring harnesses easier? I can draw a wiring harness out in just about anything, but mapping all the wires, colors, lengths and connectors can get to be very tedious and error prone. For the most part I have just used a complicated spreadsheet and tape measure alongside a layout schematic.

Is there a better way?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ One harness, or a production run of identical harnesses? In what scale is this harness? For a pocket-sized device, a vehicle, or an industrial complex? \$\endgroup\$ Aug 25, 2014 at 13:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do a lot of prototype harnesses for industrial engines and wiring cabinets. Usually just small scale productions, larger scale runs would be outsourced for my particular case. I would be interested in any and all options and methods people use. \$\endgroup\$
    – radix07
    Aug 25, 2014 at 13:54
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    \$\begingroup\$ What about the routing tools present in any modern mechanical CAD? \$\endgroup\$
    – venny
    Aug 25, 2014 at 14:03

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One popular and effective technique for laying out small-to-medium harnesses is through the use of a physical template. Make one sample harness with bundles lashed together only at critical points, and test it for accuracy. Now build a platform a little larger than the harness and lay the "go-by" harness on top of it. At each breakout, drive nails or screw down short battens to indicate the breakout location and direction, folding the "go-by" breakout around the nails/battens. Also at each breakout, tape down a color-coded diagram showing the colors of the wires involved in that breakout.

At each connector location, tape a drawing of the connector with color-coded wires going to their correct locations within the connector.

When you're finished, you should have no loose ends, and every breakout and connector will have a drawing from which to make duplicates. Remove the "go-by" harness and staple cardboard boxes at each termination point - you'll fill those boxes with the appropriate connectors for each termination.

Now you can set up your spools at one end of the template and very quickly make another harness that fits the same template, with all the correct wire lengths, and with the correct connectors already laid out in their respective locations.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for solving the actual manufacturing problem without a need for fancy software! \$\endgroup\$
    – gbulmer
    Aug 25, 2014 at 14:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ This is very useful for the production/manufacturing side of things, although I am more concerned with the actual initial design and documentation of the wiring harness. \$\endgroup\$
    – radix07
    Aug 25, 2014 at 14:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sort of related to this: youtube.com/watch?v=ewpBY-6nY_A \$\endgroup\$
    – David
    Aug 25, 2014 at 17:34
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For schematics point of view I suggest you trying ZUKEN E3.Series or Logical Cable (Mentor Graphics)

For CAD point of view, there is CATIA (v5 or v6) of Dassault Systems and UG_NX of Siemens...

These are the most common ones used in automotive industry...

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Solid Works seems to have a package that will allow you to take a CAD drawing and route your harness in 2D and/or 3D. It will also track wire lengths, colors, connectors, BOMs and other things.

http://www.solidworks.com/sw/products/3d-cad/electrical-cable-harness-and-conduit-design.htm

Although this is very pricey, especially if you are doing low volume or don't already know and use the software.

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