US 3693228 A
A system is disclosed for the automated assembly of a wire harness from one or more spools of premarked wire. The spools of wire are mounted on a cross-head which is movable in the Y direction on a carriage, movable in the X direction above a surface. A jig board is placed on this surface, and has wire holding devices at preselected locations for receiving the wire. Means is provided for feeding the wire downwardly through a funnel in the cross-head as the head is moved in response to a predetermined program from one point to another on the "plotting" surface. The head includes a tool for inserting the wire into wire retaining slots in the wire holding devices, and a cut-off knife is provided for severing the wire once a particular length has been layed-up.
Description (OCR text may contain errors)
United States Patent Logan 1 Sept. 26, 1972  MACHINE FOR ASSEMBLING WIRE HARNESS David J. Logan, Glastonbury, Conn.
The Gerber Scientific Instrument Company, South Windsor, Conn.
Nov. 12, 1970 inventor:
US. Cl. ..29/203 MW Int. Cl. ..l-l0lr 43/00, HOSk 13/04 Field s gsv/zoa MW, 203 R, 203 P, 203
MM,"29/203 D References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS MacGregor et al.. 29/203 MW Primary Examiner-Thomas H. Eager Attorney-McCormick, Paulding & Huber s7 ABSTRACT A system is disclosed for the automated assembly of a wire harness from one or more spools of premarked wire. The spools of wire are mounted on a cross-head which is movable in the Y direction on a carriage, movable in the X direction above a surface. A jig board is placed on this surface, and has wire holding devices at preselected locations for receiving the wire. Means is provided for feeding the wire downwardly through a funnel in the cross-head as the head is moved in response to a predetermined program from one point to another on the plotting" surface. The
' head includes a tool for inserting the wire into wire retaining slots in the wire holding devices, and a cutoff knife is provided for severing the wire once a particular length has been layed-up.
7 Claims, 5 Drawing Figures PATENTEI] SEP 26 I972 SHEET 2 UF 2 MACHINE FOR ASSEMBLING WIRE HARNESS SUMMARY OF INVENTION This invention relates to machines for the automated assembly of wire harnesses, and deals more particularly with a machine for storing wire and feeding wire from a head capable of traversing a flat jig board. Comb-like wire retaining devices of the type shown and described in a co-pending patent application entitled Wire I-Iolding Comb" filed Oct. 9, 1969 under Ser. No. 865,116 now US. Pat. No. 3,588,081 are provided on the board. The head is slidably mounted on a carriage for independent movement in two mutually perpendicular directions, and includes a funnel which can be rotated upon an axis normal to the surface of the jig board. The funnel defines an elbow at its lower end which terminates in an orifice located in radially spaced relation to said axis in a plane normal to the table for feeding the wire in any desired direction. A wire inserting tool and a wire cutter are provided radially outwardly of the orifice in order to successively insert the wire into a particular comb slot, and to sever it at some predetermined length respectively. I
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a block diagram of the components which comprise a system of the present invention.
FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the physical make-up of several of the components shown in FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a plan view of a wire harness assembled by the apparatus shown in FIG. 2, and showing several wire holding devices supporting the wires of the harness.
FIG. 4 is a perspective view of one wire holding device of the type utilized in the apparatus of FIG. 2.
FIG. 5 is a schematic view of the various components of the cross-head utilized on the carriage of FIG. 2 for traversing the jig board on the table in the X and Y directions respectively, and for dispensing the wire as it so moves.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION Turning now to the drawings in greater detail, a conventional wire marking system is shown in block diagram form at in FIG. 1. This component of the system is not an essential one because of the possibility, offered by the programmed input data 22, that plain wire might be used and that the input data include information on the size and length of each wire in the harness. However, in the embodiment shown the wire marking system 10 comprises a convenient means for premarking wire with coded indicia so that a continuous wire is sub-divided in predetermined lengths, as well as being marked for later identification in fixing plugs or other connectors at one or the other of the ends of each of the wire segments so marked. Preferably, the lengths of marked wire include a mark of magnetic material which can be sensed by a suitable sensor provided for this purpose in the crosshead to be described in greater detail hereinbelow.
Still with reference to FIG. 1 a automated plotting table is indicated generally at 12, and included as standard components of this table is a carriage I4 slidable mounted on rails located on either side of the rectangular table 12 and equipped with internally mounted motor means (not shown) for traversing this carriage 14 in the X direction indicated. Also comprising a portion of the automated plotting" table 12 is a crosshead 16 which is adapted to be driven in the Y direction on the carriage 14 in response to a predetermined program fed thereto by the control system indicated generally at 18.
FIG. 2 shows the physical layout of the automated table 12, together with its associated carriage l4 and cross-head l6'as well as a connecting cable 20 for feeding the appropriate signals to the motor means (not shown) for operating the cross-head in both the X and Y direction in response to a predetermined program stored in the control system 18. The control system 18 is housed in a console which not only includes the predetermined program for fabricating a wire harness of particular configuration, as for example that shown in FIG. 3, but also includes other suitable input data and all of this information is represented in FIG. 1 by the block indicated generally at 22. This input data might comprise two card decks, the first of which might comprise a location deck containing the number and the X-Y location and size of each wire holding device or comb of the type shown in FIG. 4 together with whatever other wire restraining devices might be required at intermediate locations as for example the wire restraining post devices indicated generally at 24 and 26 in FIG. 3. A second card deck would preferably comprise a routing deck having one card for each wire to be incorporated into the harness of FIG. 3. This routing deck would provide input data consisting of the origin for each wire, the connector and pin number for each such wire, by route, to indicate the path of travel required of the cross-head 16 in laying this wire from its point of origin to its destination. Sequence numbering of each deck of cards for identification purposes would also be provided as a part of the input data 22.
The wire harness shown in FIG. 3 is intended for purposes of illustration only, and it will be apparent from the description to follow that a wire harness of any predetermined configuration might be automatically layed-up in a machine of the type described herein without departing from the scope of the present invention. It will also be apparent that each of the wires comprising the harness of FIG. 3 might be one which differs in diameter or size from the other wires in the harness and as a consequence of this, FIG. 2 shows the crosshead 16 as being equipped with 6 spools of wire all of which may have been suitably marked by the wire marking system of FIG. 10 described hereinabove. One such spool is indicated generally at 30 in FIG. 5, and the cross-head 16 is also shown schematically in this view and this portion of the apparatus will now be described in some detail. Before leaving the description of the table 12, however, it should be noted that a jig board of predetermined configuration, as indicated generally at 32, is preferably held by vacuum or the like on the table 12. The board 32 is fitted with suitable wire holding devices of the type shown in FIG. 4 and as described in greater detail in the above-mentioned copending patent application. If is an important feature of these combs that the wire itself can be layed through the slots provided in the comb, and that each is releasably held therein so as to provide a predetermined tension in the wire as it is being layed-up by the cross-head 16 to be described. The board is preferably made to assemble a particular harness, and may be stored for future use.
The cross-head I6 is indicated schematically in FIG. as rotatably supporting one spool 34) of wire 34, which wire extends through a guide 36 and passes over a driven roller 38 and extends downwardly through a funnel structure 42. The funnel structure includes a lower elbow portion 44 which turns the wire 34 so as to pass said wire radially outwardly through an orifice 46 defined at the lower portion of the elbow adjacent the upper surface of the jig board 32. The funnel structure 42 together with its associated elbow 44 are rotatably supported in the cross-head 16 for rotation about a vertical axis located normally to the jig board 32, and a suitable bearing, indicated generally at 48 is provided for accomplishing this rotatable support for the funnel. Means is provided for rotating the funnel in response to the programmed direction of wire lay-up at any instant of time as supplied by the input data 22 in the console 18. Preferably, said means comprises a motor 56 which is geared to the rotary funnel as indicated generally at 52. Thus, the control console 18 provides a signal for the motor 50 to initially align the wire 34 exiting from the orifice 46 with the direction of initial travel of the head 16. Once the wire has been so started along a predetermined course in the formation of the harness the drag of the wire will serve to maintain the rotary funnel at the proper angle with no continuous alignment signal being required. In order to permit the wire to be selectively driven by the roller 38, downwardly through the funnel, a solenoid operated pinch roll 40 is adapted for horizontal movement toward and away from the roller 38.
The cross-head further includes means for inserting the wire into an appropriate slot in the origin comb as well as in the destination comb, and preferably said means comprises a solenoid operated wire inserting tool 54. This tool 54 includes a fixed upper portion 55 and a reciprocable lower portion 56, the lower portion including a bifurcated member having radially spaced inner and outer leg portions adapted to guide and to support the wire 34 from either side of the comb shown in FIG. 4 to provide a convenient device for inserting the wire into its appropriate slot.
Means is also provided in the cross-head 16 for severing the wire after it has been so inserted in a slot of the comb, and said wire cutting means includes a solenoid operated cutter 60 having a guide opening for the wire 34 at its lower end and a reciprocable cut off blade located therein for operation across the opening (not shown) in response to a predetermined input from the console 18. Said wire cutting means is preferably located between the elbow orifice 46, and the wiring inserting tool 56, and includes a fixed portion 58 which houses a solenoid operated plunger (not shown) for operation of a reciprocable blade located in the de pending member shown. Said depending member defines the guide opening for receiving the wire 34 and the cut off blade is slidably received in said depending member for movement across said opening.
Both the wire inserting means and the wire cutting means described above are preferably mounted on the rotary funnel portion of the cross-head 16 so as to be always arranged in operating position. Finally, and still with reference to the cross-head l6 sensing means is provided at the upper end of the elbow 44 and more particularly at the junction between said elbow and the funnel defining portion of the cross-head for detecting the premarked indicia on the wire as applied by the wire marking system 10. The sensor 16 provides a convenient means for periodically checking on the lengths of wire being layed up in order to detect any accumulative errors which might be encountered as a result of either a faulty marking system, or a faulty input program or for any other reason.
As a result of utilizing the automated cross-head 16 described above with reference to FIG. 5 a reusuable jig board 32 can be utilized for laying-up harness or predetermined configuration as needed, removing the necessity that exists in todays wire harness manufacturing requirements, that an excess number of harnessess may be produced in order to have spare ones available either for replacement or repair in previous installations. However, it should also be noted that the wire holding devices, or combs, may be disassembled from a particular jig board and only the location of these components need be stored on the jig board for future use in manufacturing a wire harness to replace one previously made. While the wire holding device or comb itself does not form the only basis for the present invention, its importance to the overall combination described herein warrant that it be described at least briefly. Basically, the wire holding device of FIG. 4 comprises a generally flat base 62 which may be provided with depending pegs or the like (not shown) on its bottom surface to permit the device to be placed at a particular location on the jig board 32. This base portion 62 is preferably fabricated from a relatively stiff or rigid material such as plastic or metal, and said base has an upstanding arcuate portion 64 which forms a rigid comb on the base and defines a plurality of upwardly open slots 66, 66. These slots are preferably wide enough to loosely receive the various wires, A, B, C etc. Such wires may of course vary somewhat in diameter if a six spool head is used as suggested hereinabove with reference to FIG. 2. The slots 66, 66 in the rigid comb portion 64 are preferably wide enough to receive the largest of these loosely. The rigid comb portion 64 preferably carries a strip or layer of resilient backing material 68, which is secured adjacent to the convex outer surface of the rigid slot defining portion 64 of the comb by any suitable adhesive. The resilient backing strip 68 preferable comprises an elastomeric material, such as rubber or the like, defines a plurality of upwardly open slots 69, 69 each of which is aligned with a slot 66 in the rigid comb 64. However, the width of the slots 69, 69 in the elastomeric material are significantly less than that of the slots 66, 66 in the rigid comb 64, and it will be apparent that as so constructed and arranged the resilient strip will exert a pulling force on the wire such that the tension in the wires, after they have been inserted in their appropriate slots, will cause the backing material 68 to be drawn into the larger slots 66, 66 in the comb itself, tending to hold these wires under tension as is necessary in the laying-up of the harness by the moving cross-head 16. In fact, the greater the pull on the individual wire the greater the force exerted on that wire by the comb so as to hold it in place. An oppositely arranged comb is used at the opposite end of each of the wires, as depicted in FIG. 3, and it will be apparent that if an arcuate comb, such as the origin comb 29 is used at each of these locations that the lengths of the wires originating and terminating at the same combs might be made identical to one another. It will also be apparent that after a wire harness is layed-up utilizing these combs, the ends are conveniently located so as to be conveniently stripped and identified so as to permit conventional continuity checks or the like, and to permit assembly with conventional terminal strips or plugs.
By way of summary, the location deck and wire by wire routing deck comprising the input data 22 for the computer 18 can be conveniently used to automatically lay-up a wire harness of the type shown in FIG. 3. The computer reads and stores the location of each comb and post unit, reads the top routing card, sends the head to the location of the source comb, offsets it to the desired slot of this comb, causes the specified wire to be fed in measured amount between the pinch roll and driven roller, and inserts the wire in the comb. The computer guides the X-Y head and carriage system over a straight line path through each specified post locations 24, 26, and 28, ending at the location of a destination comb 25. The system again offsets to the specified slot of this comb, this time positioning outside the comb so that the wire is drawn over the desired comb slot. Assuming that the length marker has been properly sensed the head is stopped and wire is inserted and then cut to length. The next wire card is now read and this wire layed in a similar manner. Magnetic ink length marks applied by the wire numbering and marking machine indicated generally at will be sensed by the wire laying head through the sensor 70. If necessary two length marks may be used for each wire on the spool so that an amount of scrap wire will be allowed between the end mark of one wire and the start mark of the next wire.
l. A machine for laying-up wires to form a harness, and comprising a planar jig board, wire holding devices comprising upwardly open combs defining slots for receiving and holding said wires arranged at spaced locations on the jig board, a carriage spanning the jig board and adapted for movement longitudinally thereof in an X direction, a cross-head slidably mounted on the carriage for movement laterally across the board in a Y direction, spool means on said crossheadfor storing wire, and means for inserting said wire into said comb slots as said cross-head and carriage move in their respective directions from one such wire holding device to another.
2. A machine as set forth in claim 1 further characterized by means for cutting said wire, said wire cutting means being located adjacent said wire inserting means in said cross-head.
3. A machine as set forth in claim 2 further characterized by a funnel through which said wire is fedvfrom said spool means, said funnel having a lower end which defines an orifice adjacent said wire cutting means, said orifice defining portion of said funnel comprising an elbow portion which the orifice is defined in a plane normal to the jig board, and means for rotatably supporting said funnel for movement about an axis in said cross-head which is generally normal to the plane of sai boa d.
mac me as set forth in claim 3 wherein sa1d wire inserting means comprises a vertically reciprocable bifurcated member having spaced legs which define openings for receiving said wire, and said wire inserting means being mounted for rotation with said funnel.
5. A machine as set forth in claim 4 wherein said wire cutting means comprises a depending member having a guide opening through which the wire passes, and a knife in said depending member for severing the wire at said guide opening, said depending member also being rotatably mounted for movement with said funnel.
6. A machine as set forth in claim 1 further characterized by computor means for controlling the path of movement of said cross-head and carriage, and input data for said computor means to cause the cross-head to track a series of predetermined paths over said jig board to form a harness of predetermined configuratron.
7. A machine as set forth in claim 6 further characterized by means for pre-marking the wire in predetermined lengths, and sensor means carried by said funnel and responsive to said wire markings to provide successive wire length signals for said wire cutting means.