SOLIDWORKS, Electrical Design

Cable Harness and Connectors in SolidWorks Electrical

By Adam Ferrer on May 30, 2022

SOLDWORKS Electrical has several tools available to make the documentation of complex cable harness assemblies more manageable. Let’s investigate how to create a detailed connection within the tool by taking a set of connectors and conductors and combining them to establish a new cable harness.

Single Line Insertion  

We have the option of representing connectors in our schematics in a couple different ways, one is with single line insertion into a connector. In the image below, we can see the conductors inserted into the connectors downstream but not occupying every pinout on the connector. Although all pins within the connector are being used, it can be represented using less conductors on the schematic.

cable harness diagram

Figure 1: Cable Harness Diagram

The bottom right corner has a 6-pin connector that fits comfortably on the sheet, but in other situations with large connectors like Mil-spec connectors, they can have several pinouts that don’t fit on a single schematic sheet. In this case, SOLIDWORKS offers the flexibility of separating that connector across pages if necessary, breaking them off based on where they are being used.

Double clicking on a connector symbol will bring up the parts list of the components associated with it. For instance, if each wire going into the connector was terminated with crimp terminals, the specified crimp terminal manufacturer parts will come up in the parts list.

manufacturer parts associated to connector P11

Figure 2: Manufacturer parts associated to connector P11 (Connector housing and crimp terminals)

This goes the same for other components such as the housing, strain reliefs, and any other parts that are associated to that part of the harness. This information is stored in the program and will be used downstream when generating the BOM for the harness.

BOMs can be generated specific to individual cable harnesses including all the wires, connectors, manufacturer parts and references contained within it.

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harness management window

Figure 3: Harness management window

Displaying Individual Connections 

Another way of representing the connectors in schematics is by displaying individual connections. Rather than displaying all connections on one symbol as a connector, we can break it down to just single pin-to-pin relations while being associated to the same connector i.e., P39 and P39A in the Image below.

individual pin-pin connections

Figure 4: Individual pin-pin connections

This is a huge advantage because in situations like this, where there are several connections coming from the left, leading to other devices downstream. There’s now a detailed and simple representation of individual connections, therefore we can re-order them as necessary to make sure the flow of the diagram makes sense and is easy to understand.

The pins have been broken down into groups that all represent the same device:

  • 5-8
  • 17-20
  • Mix & match of other pins

Whether we define our connectors with a single symbol or pin-to-pin fashion, ultimately the goal is to bundle it all up into a common cable harness. By drag selecting all the components on the sheet, we can add any new wires and components to the database for any specified harness with just a few clicks (this can be reviewed using the harness tool under the project tab).

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adding components to the harness

Figure 5: Adding components to the harness using drag select and a right-click

cable harness BOM

Figure 6: Cable harness BOM – Can be exported as an excel document, txt file, or XML.

SOLIDWORKS Electrical allows you to create a consistent representation of connectors that will vary in length but not in style, based on the connector that you're using, and automatically produces reports by harness. Having different options for representing connectors using symbols or not, SOLIDWORKS Electrical makes the process intuitive, easy to understand, efficient.

To learn more about SOLIDWORKS Electrical, check out our other Electrical blogs or contact us to find out if this is a solution best suited for you.

Want to learn more? Sign up below to watch the on-demand webinar "How create cable harnesses in SOLIDWORKS Electrical". 

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