Ok. If you’ve been reading the blog since… well… a long time back. You’ll know I’ve been wanting for a very long time to have some option for pre-assembled wiring harnesses. Are you ready for it? By January 1st, if nothing goes wrong, I will no longer be selling un-assembled wiring packs. I will be replacing them in the lineup with pre-assembled wiring harnesses in all products. Yep, that’s right. I just saved you all 30-60 minutes of your life for every tester kit or bench display that you buy in 2016 and beyond. All this came about because of you, my wonderful customers, who have been graciously been purchasing my products in 2015. The only thing I’m waiting for right now is the tooling set for the .156 sized molex contacts… and I already have a UPS tracking number for that. In fact, I’m already crimping .100 sized contacts, which means WPC wiring kits for my switch matrix tester has already started shipping as an assembled harness.
To make this possible, there are a few processes I needed to get developed enough in order to assemble harnesses.
1. I needed a way to accurately measure wire and cut wire to length, to the millimeter, in order to keep the harnesses from creating stress points. Also helps keep them a lot nicer looking.
2. I needed a way to accurately strip both ends of the wire. This requires more accuracy than the cut length, as many crimp connections are very picky with stripped length. Molex calls for a 3mm stripped end to properly use their KK 254 and KK 396 crimp connectors.
3. I needed a way to cleanly, properly, and repeatedly apply crimp contacts to the now pre-cut and pre-stripped wire.
4. All of the above must be done as fast as possible. By hand, it would be impossible to do the 16 wire lengths, 32 stripped ends, and 32 crimps in a time efficient manner. Hence why I’ve been providing wiring kits since I started the business. (The LED adapters and Flipper Opto Testers I have been doing by hand so far.)
So, how do I make all this happen? Machines. Two of them actually.
First is an automated wire cut/strip machine I purchased from e-bay a few months back. You’ve already seen the benefit from this machine if you’ve purchased a tester with a wiring pack lately. Hit a few buttons, and it can provide whatever wire length I need in just a couple seconds…. and keep cranking out as many as I want. 16 wires, 150mm long, stripped 3mm on both ends? Hit start, and they’re done in 15 seconds. WOOT! Saves me time, gives you a better product, and saves me a lot of excess wire too. Really helped out when you guys started buying so many LED adapters too, and I’ve also backdated my bench displays to have pre-cut and stripped wiring too.
The second machine is the one I’ll debut now, a Molex 3BF flywheel press. It’s an old and obsolete model, but it still works fine, and does exactly what I need. Insert the pre-stripped end of a wire, hit a foot pedal, and it gives a perfect crimp. Not cool enough yet? Ok, how about that it pre-positions the crimp connector for me. I hit the pedal, and it doesn’t just crimp. The connectors come on spools instead of packaged loose. So it also automatically trims the connector off the spool, then indexes another into place for the next wire. Insert, step, insert, step, insert, step. I can crimp all the wires in a test board wiring pack in about a minute right now…. and I’m still getting faster.
The time I spend on wiring packs has not increased with all this extra value.
In the past I would manually measure the wire, wrap it up by hand, and stuff it in a bag. Then I’d get a couple connector housings, count out 18 crimps (always gave you 2 spares, just in case), put them in another bag. Get ANOTHER couple housing, count ANOTHER 18 crimps (other end of the harness), put that in a third bag. Then package the little baggies into the bigger baggie with the wire in it. Pretty annoying to be honest, particularly when all the crimps got clumped together.
Now? I hit a button, wait a few seconds, and I have 16 perfect sections of wire. I usually do 10-20 sets at a time. Then I walk into the garage, and every minute I get a set of nicely crimped wires for your tester harness. Another minute or two of inserting contacts into the housings, and you get a fully assembled and ready to go harness. So what used to take me about 3 minutes of packaging, plus you another 45 minutes of cut/strip/crimp insert…. now takes 5 minutes for me and zero time for you.
Ready for the last little bit of good news on all this? Crimps on spools are cheaper. So while I have a bit more labor expense on my end, it reduces the parts cost. Individual crimps are cheaper, and I don’t have to include 4 spares anymore. Because of this I will not be increasing pricing on either the tester kits or the bench displays that are getting this upgrade.