Case Study

Switchtrack Braiding: Wiring Harness Product Development

Project challenges

  • Current process results varied quality harnesses
  • Specific skillsets required to produces harnesses and often subject to long lead-times
  • Main wiring harness supply chain is not UK-based, resulting in potential supply uncertainty

Business challenge

  • Product Innovation

  • Process Innovation


  • Electrification

Technology or capability

  • Product Design

  • Process Design

Semi-automated wiring harness development

The MTC has developed a semi-automated process that produces a low complexity wiring harness using demonstrative materials. The application of this pattern can be applied to multiple materials and has uses in industries such as automotive and aerospace, where current harnesses exist.

The work MTC has done in developing semi-automated wiring harnesses will help companies in the automotive and aerospace supply chains massively, allowing them to de-risk and on-shore production. 

Mary Lack, Research Engineer, MTC 


The challenge

Wiring harnesses are predominantly made by hand, being manually fed through a braider or taped using a suitable material whilst being built on a peg-board, before electrical end connectors are applied. The process results varied quality harnesses, requires specific skillsets and is often subject to long lead-times. 

The main wiring harness supply chain is not UK-based, resulting in potential supply uncertainty during world events. 






The Outcome

  • Using test materials continuous wiring harness samples were able to be produced on the switchtrack braiding machine, with no user interference.
  • Several different wiring harness patterns were achieved, including braiding multiple ‘branches’, and splitting the ‘branches’ unevenly.
  • The impact of braiding parameters on the quality of the wiring harness coverage and bifurcation points were understood and improved on previous test versions.

MTC's Solution

  • The MTC investigated automating the braiding manufacture of the wiring harness using its switchtrack braidng machine. This enables the wiring harness branches to be automatically included in manufacture and removes the manual task of feeding wires through a braider.
  • Trials to match current wiring harness quality were undertaken, specifically focussing on the point at which the wiring harness bifurcates into multiple paths.
  • Following experimental validation, different designs of wiring harness were verified within the switchtrack braiding machine’s capability.

Benefits to the client

  • Automating the braiding of a wiring harness looks to reduce the production time and decrease the potential for human error to occur when separating the branches.
  • The bifurcation points are a seamless transition within the braid, resulting in a strong join, as well as minimising overlapping braids.
  • Braiding the wiring harness with seamless bifurcations minimises the potential for loose parts to come free and expose the internal wires or find their way into other parts of the surroundings. 
  • Demonstrated ability of braiding technology to produce potentially scalable products.

The innovation in the braiding of a wiring harness is going to help manufacturers reduce costs and improve product quality. The work the team has done is  state of the art in the automotive and aerospace sectors. 

Shan Dulanty, Chief Engineer, MTC


Switchtrack Braiding: Wiring Harness Product Development

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