Automatic assembly path planning for wiring harness installations

T. Hermansson, R. Bohlin, J. S. Carlson, R. Söderberg. Journal of manufacturing systems, July 31, 2013, 32(3), 417-422.


The automotive industry of today is becoming more focused on electrified and hybrid solutions, where both conventional combustion engines and battery supplied electrical engines need to fit in an already densely packed vehicle. Many quality problems are related do flexible parts. In particular, the assembly of electric cables and wiring harnesses is difficult due to its concealed routing, multiple branching points, weights and the flexibility in the material. To avoid late detection of assembly problems, the assembly aspect must be considered early during conceptual design and production preparation with respect to both feasibility and ergonomics. Development of automatic path planning methods in virtual manufacturing tools supporting deformable parts is therefore highly motivated.

This article presents a novel method for automatically planning and finding a smooth and collision-free mounting of connectors in a wiring harness installation. Automatic path planning for deformable objects in general is widely acknowledged as a very difficult problem. To overcome this challenge, we propose a low-dimensional path planning algorithm that operates in the following way: constraint relaxation, handle path planning, unfolding, path smoothing and handle supplementation. The method has been implemented and successfully applied to an industrial test case.


This work was carried out within the FFI Sustainable Production Technology program, the Wingquist Laboratory VINN Excellence Centre, the Sustainable Production Initiative and the Production Area of Advance at Chalmers University of Technology and as part of the VISTRA project [28]. It was supported by the Swedish Governmental Agency for Innovation Systems.

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Hermansson, Fraunhofer-Chalmers Centre
  • R. Bohlin, Fraunhofer-Chalmers Centre
  • J. S. Carlson, Fraunhofer-Chalmers Centre
  • R. Söderberg, Product and Production Development, Chalmers University of Technology

Photo credits: Nic McPhee