How to Handle 300 Miles of Electrical Wiring


Aircraft electrical design projects tend to be very large and extremely complex. The challenges associated with managing the sheer number of wires (required for avionics systems, engines, sensors, in-flight-entertainment etc.) is frequently compounded by the distances some signals must travel within the airframe, passing through several harnesses on route. For example, an Airbus A380 – with its wingspan of almost 80m and a nose-to-tail length of almost 73m – allegedly has around 480km (300 miles) of wiring.

Keeping everyone in the loop

Keeping everyone in the loopCompounding matters further still is the number of stakeholders involved in the creation and subsequent maintenance of the wiring harnesses. These stakeholders include software, electronic, electrical and mechanical engineers, personnel in purchasing and QA as well as specialists in regulatory compliance, some of which will be external suppliers to the airframe OEM.

All must work together to produce an accurate data set for each harness, where the set includes a schematic, wiring plan, bill of materials, datasheets, assembly notes and, where applicable, fuse ratings and switch settings. Sound data management is essential if you are to stand any chance of creating and then maintaining something like this…

Managing your data

Managing your data

Thankfully, ECAD tools like Zuken’s E3.series have an object-oriented systems architecture. This ensures continuous synchronisation between all engineering stages and supports concurrent engineering within any given project. Also, if there are multiple projects, sound data management will be essential for version control and managing options and variants.

E3.series integrates well with MCAD tools. This allows electrical connectivity to be defined in a 2D environment, i.e. a traditional schematic, and for the design to be exported (via E3.Bridge) into a 3D MCAD environment. The design can then take on physical characteristics, such as wire and bundle diameters, inherited from data within the ECAD tool.

View and analyse

View and analyseOnce routed any harness can be selected (still within the 3D mechanical environment) and it will automatically launch Zuken’s E3.HarnessAnalyzer. This allows viewing and analysis of harness drawings in the standard HCV container data format.

The design can then be passed back to E3.series for the positioning of ties and clips, and for the creation of wiring drawings and other elements of the data set.

The wealth of documentation needed for assembly and maintenance purposes can, and should, have its roots in the electrical, mechanical and software design domains. Moreover, by making better use of the data within a project, all stakeholders stand to save money.

Further reading: “Long Haul Routes,” Aerospace Manufacturing Magazine.

You may also be interested in our annual innovation events – our final European one is:

Ulrich Prottung
Ulrich Prottung
Product Manager, CIM-TEAM
As a Zuken E³.series Product Manager I’m responsible for the E³.series including E³.WireWorks, mainly within the automotive, aerospace, construction machines and transportation industries. In this role, my job is to identify the needs of existing customers and prospects all over the world, and feed these back into our R&D department for integration into the software. I’m located in the office in Ulm, Germany, which is a really lovely town (well worth a visit). Outside of work I like skiing, driving motorbikes and my (classic) old-timer car.

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