1997-06-03

The Impact of Ultraviolet Laser Wire Marking Technology on Automation and Cost Reduction in Aerospace Wire Harness Manufacture 972210

Wire harness production is one of the most labour intensive and costly areas of aircraft production. Reduction in manufacturing cycle times and costs are presently key drivers in all areas of aerospace manufacture. The introduction of ultraviolet (UV) laser wire marking technology has already had a dramatic effect in helping to achieve these goals in the area of harness manufacture. The development of UV laser marking and its application to aerospace electrical harness production is reviewed. The advantages of laser technology in relation to factors such as machine set up times, throughput, print quality, wire handling automation and downstream manufacturing processes are considered. The latest developments are presented, including the direct bar code marking of wires, which for the first time offers reliable access to a full range of manufacturing data via machine readable code. The fusion of laser wire marking and processing technology with automated data handling opens the way to paperless manufacture of harness bundles. It should now be possible to manufacture wire bundles, from taking the raw wire through to the first end termination and connector make up, without the need for operators to directly read manufacturing data either from the wire or from paper. Operator strain and fatigue, and errors, will be reduced while productivity and efficiency are increased. Further developments toward cellular manufacture and further levels of automation are considered.

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