How to Qualify and Choose Wire Harness Assembly Manufacturers
Mar 15, 2023

How to Qualify and Choose Wire Harness Assembly Manufacturers

This article will highlight key considerations when choosing wire harness manufacturers in the distribution and contract manufacturing industry. Being born into the wire and cable manufacturing market through our family-owned business, I’ve learned what it takes to find a quality vendor that accepts your terms instead of dictating their own.

Your customers depend on your quality products, so it’s important to qualify a vendor that can support your exact needs and desires on your terms. Be tough, strong, confident and fair. When you get what you want, be appreciative.

A cable harness is very similar to a wire harness, which can also be interchanged with cable assembly and wiring assembly. They all have multiple wires or cables to transmit signals from Point A to Point B. They are held together with cable ties, heat shrink tubing, sleeving or a combination of each.

Can You Outsource Wire and Cable Assemblies to Save Money?

Outsourcing benefits companies that assemble wire harnesses manually instead of using expensive equipment. It also helps those with only a few machines that run at a third of their full potential or capacity.

Contract manufacturers use one piece of equipment for multiple customers and run the equipment all day. They buy similar products in higher quantities and focus on improving production on a daily basis. Therefore, you can obtain additional savings by purchasing in bulk and using equipment at full capacity.

You’ll have to search for these vendors online, which may or may not offer their services with a few clicks of the mouse. For instance, you may be able to find an online retailer if you only need cut wire, twisted pairs or a spiral stripe. However, as specifications get more complicated, it’s important to qualify this manufacturer before placing a large order for something that might lack your quality standards.

8 Questions to Ask Your Wire Harness Manufacturer to Ensure a Successful Contract

Hiring someone to assist you with wire and cable assemblies is no different than hiring someone to do any other job. For instance, you probably wouldn’t hire a landscaping company without ensuring they are qualified for the task, right? Asking a prospective wire harness manufacturer a series of questions can help you gauge their expertise and qualifications.

Their answers to these questions can help you determine if they’d be a good fit for your cable manufacturing needs. Here are eight important things to find out from a wire harness manufacturer to qualify them for the job.

1. Do They Have the Proper Equipment?

You can save money by finding a company with equipment you don’t have. Outsourcing your manually produced harnesses to a vendor that also produces them manually won’t save money.

It might save you a few headaches if you can manage fewer employees. However, you’ll want to discuss the equipment that will produce products faster than you currently do manually. Equipment will also provide more consistent cut lengths and insulation removal, which you can advertise to your customers.

2. Do They Have Quick Delivery Lead Times?

How quickly do you or your customers require you to deliver your products? Customers have demands and you need assurance from your new contract manufacturer that they can produce a certain amount of products in a given timeline.

Some vendors also implement strategies to ensure quick deliveries, such as blanket orders, Kan-Ban systems, buffer quantities and consignment inventory. Consider asking the contract manufacturer about any steps they take to speed up delivery.

3. Do They Follow ISO 9001 Quality Standards and Procedures?

ISO 9001 is the International Standards Organization. It stresses quality and structures companies to continuously improve processes and procedures. For instance, a quarterly ISO compliance audit will review any documented errors. It will request documentation of how you addressed those errors to ensure they won’t happen again.

ISO 9001 certification isn’t just a check off the list. It’s a continuous battle to pass audits, enhance employee safety and stay approved as a quality company that improves every quarter.

4. Can They Purchase on Terms?

Purchasing on terms allows you to pay the invoice at least 30 days after the product is shipped. A discount is usually offered, such as 2%10 Net 30 (pay within 10 days for a 2% discount).

The more business you have to offer the vendor, the better your chances of demanding your own terms. However, if you only have a small amount of business, you might choose to ask nicely for favorable terms. When you set up orders to ship monthly, you have 30 days to pay the invoice after each shipment, rather than making a large purchase online and receiving it all at once.

5. Do They Accept Blanket Orders?

Many wire harness manufacturers allow you to purchase 1,000 pieces and ship 250 per month. You only have to pay the invoice for each shipment after it ships. Ideally, you’re committing to purchasing 1,000 pieces without paying so your vendor can buy in bulk (cost savings) and offer you a better price.

This is an ideal situation for the vendor and the customer. The vendor can plan their production schedule better when inventory is readily available.

6. Will They Produce Buffer Quantities?

When fast deliveries are a main concern, an extra buffer quantity produced and sitting on the shelf for immediate release can help. Perhaps you can increase your normal order from 1,000 to 1,250 pieces, ship and pay for 1,000 pieces, then wait to release and pay the balance when you’re ready.

Alternatively, if you buy monthly quantities of 250 harnesses at a time, you can request that 250 pieces are made on the shelf for quick shipment. Once you release the harnesses on the shelf, the vendor will immediately start building the next batch of 250 pieces for the next time you call.

7. Do They Pay for Shipping?

Ask your potential vendors if there’s a threshold for free shipping. Perhaps you need to place an order for $1,000 to get free shipping and that’s easy for you to do. When you add free shipping with a 2% discount, outsourcing to a vendor with machine-produced products and bulk purchasing adds up to serious savings over time.

It’s important to take advantage of every opportunity to save money and increase quality. Buying completed wire assemblies is more organized than measuring the costs of inventory, waste, employees, overhead and equipment.

The nature of the business in contract wire assembly is to measure all of those costs and improve quality and output for their customers. After all, you research and develop a product, then have someone else make it for you at the level of quality you demand.

8. Do They Have a List of Wire Assembly Services?

Can the contractor produce cut wire and cable as you expect? Can they tin dip, solder, terminate, meet tight tolerances and follow difficult specification sheets? Do they provide quality control checks and balances before shipping products to you?

Ask about their quality processes to see how quickly and easily they supply you with that information. If you get an email within 10 minutes with five PDFs showing the detailed quality control process, you know you’re in good hands.

Use your judgment based on the item you want. Compare it to the cost, delivery method, terms and other factors, then make your decision with a list of pros and cons.

Steps to Take After Finding Potential Wire Harness Assembly Manufacturers

Steps to Take After Finding Potential Wire Harness Assembly Manufacturers

You’ve researched different wire harness manufacturers that can meet your requirements and narrowed down your list of prospects. So, what’s next?

A manufacturer can talk about their qualifications all day, but working with them is the only way to verify their credibility. Rather than starting with a bulk order and handing over a large sum of money right off the bat, it’s important to start slow when working with a new business. Get your feet wet first before diving right in.

With that in mind, here are some essential steps to take when partnering with a new wire harness assembly contract manufacturer.

1. Review First Articles

Once you find a manufacturer with your desired qualifications, request a few samples of a standard product you build in-house to compare with your own work. It seems customary to say that your business has top-quality products and first-class customer service, but take a test drive first to see for yourself.

If you have concerns, give the vendor a chance to address them once or twice. Are they willing to work with you without a fuss, or do they complain about the $5 shipping cost and say they produced a perfect product?

2. Start With a Small Order

Start by placing a small order of wire and cable products that aren’t too complicated to produce. Watch for the following performance indicators:

  • How quickly they complete the job
  • How often they need to ask you additional questions
  • Whether they push the delivery date out due to their own production schedule issues

Conduct any other tests you want them to pass before placing a bigger order. Complete this process with multiple vendors to see which was the easiest to work with.

3. Gradually Grow Your Relationship With the Business

Have a couple of vendors to start with in case something goes wrong. As you develop a stronger relationship with a vendor you like, you can push more business — and hopefully savings — through them.

Until you have a solid relationship that meets all of your terms, you should keep a few vendors in the mix. I hope these tips help you find a wire harness contractor that meets your needs.

The Benefits of Choosing WesBell Electronics for Wire Harness Assembly Services

As an ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016 certified company, WesBell Electronics has decades of expertise to guide you through the wire customization and manufacturing process. Here are some advantages of working with us:

  • Services that meet your specifications: We’ll carefully analyze your specification sheet to assemble the harness, then have you review it to ensure it meets your requirements. We keep a library of each part to use as a visual for future orders. Per your request, we can also add solder, shrink tubing, zip ties, bread ties, labels or other components to your assembly.
  • Efficient wire harness assembly: Our crimp process holds a reel of terminals and uses a foot pedal to crimp wires, offering a faster alternative to manual crimping.
  • Flexible shipping, delivery and returns: We pride ourselves on timely shipping and delivery. If you aren’t completely satisfied with your order, you can return your item within 30 days of receipt and receive a refund or store credit. We also offer free shipping on orders over $500.

Buy Wires With Harnesses From WesBell Electronics Today

Buy Wires With Harnesses From WesBell Electronics Today

WesBell Electronics can provide the custom wire and cable services you need. In addition to being a reliable wire and cable distributor, we also offer comprehensive assembly services for these products. Whether you have a clear idea of your wire specifications or need help finding a solution, our experienced technicians are ready to assist you.

Founded in 1988, we began as a flexible cable and hookup wire distributor for repair and maintenance organizations, contract manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Since then, we have expanded our services to include cut-to-length wire, insulation stripping, tin dipping, wire twisting and, of course, wire harness assembly.

Let us help you save time and money in production with high-quality cable products and preparation services. Contact us to buy wire harnesses or learn more about our assembly services!

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