Deep insights – the non-ferrous forming meeting of BECHEM.

The non-ferrous forming meetings of BECHEM are not about the road network. But the events certainly do concern what moves on it, because the automotive sector represents very important clientèle for a number of high-tech wire products.

Every two years, the BECHEM event is arranged at a different location in Germany. Now after 10 years, the non-ferrous forming meeting has become an industry event as well as a platform to network, often with more than 140 attendees, for experienced professionals and juniors alike. The program is determined by topics pertaining directly to the wire cable, the drawing tools and complex system peripherals, as well as special guest contributions relating to other current or future topics.

Visitors certainly benefit. They gain plenty of new information and a “view outside the box” – be it through presentations, or subsequent discussion or networking with old acquaintances and new industry insiders.

The special topics of the last event conveyed a deep insight into the production of vehicle wiring systems and a vision of the near future of these essential high-tech cable and wiring systems. There are plenty of major challenges in this dynamic market. At the fore here are the development of driver assistance systems, high-voltage technology, miniaturisation by material alternatives and electrification with multiple voltage levels.

High-tech wire products in use. More and more automotive applications need to work with increasingly complex non-ferrous metal wiring systems.

LEONI, a manufacturer of wiring systems, had a technical contribution, as did Aurubis, Frigerio, Niehoff and Schunk Sonosystems for example. Dr. Markus Ernst, Research and Development, Team Leader New Technologies and Innovation Management at LEONI, answered a few questions.

Did you know this?

Part of a wiring system from LEONI.

The weight of a wiring system can be as much as 35 kg in mid-range vehicles. For luxury vehicles in particular, this figure can be much higher depending on equipment.

Current automotive wiring systems are made up of one to three thousand wires.

With lengths between 2 km and 6 km, wiring systems can compete with jogging tracks.

Not just-in-time but just-in-sequence. Fitting for the high number of variants, wiring systems in automotive production are available next to the production line – individually for the vehicle model, ready for fitting just-in-sequence, and in the right order for the vehicle being made.

Automotive wiring systems – where we are now and challenges to come.

Interview with Dr. Markus Ernst, Research and Development, Team Leader New Technologies and Innovation Management at LEONI Bordnetz-Systeme GmbH.

CARL. As a representative of a manufacturer of wiring systems, you helped our last non-ferrous forming meeting with a contribution. Can we actually still say wiring harness these days? 
The term is still prevalent although we usually refer to wiring systems. The wiring system of a passenger car has undergone continual enhancement and changed considerably. Whilst simple point-to-point wiring was adequate for many decades, current wiring systems are more complex than ever. We have a modular system with which all OEM equipment variants must be configurable, and which in fact is made in batch sizes of 1. In terms of numbers, this means in a mid-range vehicle there are up to 3,000 metres of cabling with up to 1,500 individual wires, and a total weight of about 35 kg.

CARL. But it was not all about trends in your contribution. What have mega trends and vehicle cable harnesses have to do with each other?
The essential challenge in every kind of trend analysis is to generate a picture aligned towards the future, and from that to arrive at the correct conclusions for the present. We too face the challenge of applying the break-down of such omnipresent mega trends to our company. The difficulty is deriving from a mega trend, such as urbanisation which has a term spanning multiple years or decades, specific recommendations for action for research and development activities on the planning horizon, thereby anticipating solutions which are likely to succeed on the market. For a wiring system in particular, this task is not trivial because it is affected by the majority of the trends, which in part do not change directly the product itself (such as the ever-increasing number of sensors and actuators for autonomous driving) and on the other hand which can radically change the system (such as wireless technologies).

CARL. Facing this situation, where do the challenges in the near future lie for you in your industry?
The challenges in the wiring system sector can essentially be reduced to the same common denominator. The optimisation of costs, weight and installation space are the focus. From a technical viewpoint, the current discussion includes different topics which are resulting from the wide diversity of trends in the automotive industry. These are for example ever-advancing electromobility, the electrification of components previously powered mechanically, and automated/autonomous driving. Derived from this are different challenges, such as in the implementation of high-voltage technology in the vehicle, realisation of multi-voltage wiring systems, the increasing miniaturisation of components deployed, alternative car body and conductor materials for lightweight construction, and the implementation of higher data rates in the vehicle.

CARL. What do you believe this means for wire manufacturers?

For wire manufacturers, we think challenges of the future lie mainly in the reliability of wires and in opening up new materials and alloys, for signal as well as power transfer, so for example in new insulation materials and more complex wires for high to very high data rates. Miniaturisation will also continue, meaning we will be seeing a reduction in cross-sections in the future, entailing again a higher level of automation in wiring system configuration.

Dr. Markus Ernst, Research and Development, Team Leader New Technologies and Innovation Management at LEONI Bordnetz-Systeme GmbH.

Other topics

Nothing found.