Harmonizing global standards for wire management products will increase innovation and reduce costs
Standards form a basis for product development by establishing consistent protocols that can be universally understood and adopted. This fuels compatibility and interoperability; simplifies product development; and speeds time to market. Standards also make it easier to understand and compare competing products. As standards are globally adopted in various markets, they also fuel international trade.
Standards have been the core of every technological revolution. Just think of all the devices in your home, business and vehicle that can connect to each other wirelessly. All that innovation was made possible through the global adoption of connectivity standards.
When industries have consistent benchmarks for performance and quality, they thrive. Manufacturers of wire management products are no exception. Wire management products are crucial to maintaining organization, functionality and safety in a wide range of applications. Unfortunately, wire management products have been overly complicated by their base standards, which include various regional standards from the Association of Standardization and Certification (ANCE), the CSA Group (formerly the Canadian Standards Association), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
Due to this complexity, consumers of wire management products have not had a consistent benchmark of performance and quality, often resulting in unexpected total business costs. Because standards for wire management products are not harmonized, the industry is being served by varying benchmarks for compliance testing and certification.
Reducing the number of separate standards and testing requirements will enable manufacturers to promote wire management products that are high value, have consistent quality, and can be safely and efficiently applied. Product performance and quality will be assured, based on the successful completion of test standards. Through global standards harmonization, customers can have confidence that the products they buy will deliver optimal performance at a lower installation cost and with reduced risks. Furthermore, harmonized standards will encourage wire harness manufacturers in different sectors to innovate by working with customers to solve application issues and reduce labor costs.
Global Standards Harmonization
When countries around the world establish different requirements for wire harness manufacturers, it adds unnecessary complexity to an already challenging
industry. Harness manufacturers are forced to test multiple products for multiple markets and to comply with multiple safety standards. Meeting these requirements adds unnecessary steps that ultimately increase costs. In addition, the extra steps delay production and slow the pace of innovation. Internationally harmonized standards are critical to making the global reach of wire harness products more efficient, accessible and economical. Removing these barriers to global commerce will save time and money and improve safety and quality.
Harmonized global standards will confer several advantages to manufacturers of wire management products, as well. Because it enables manufacturers to make one product that can be used in all markets, it saves money. No more time need be spent designing multiple products for different markets. Manufacturing and testing one product thus becomes relatively simple, saving time and money. These cost savings can then be passed on to the consumer, or they can be spent internally for research and development.
Standardization also cuts the amount of money manufacturers must spend on compliance costs, which too can be passed along to the customer.
By reducing the number of standards, less time is spent keeping up with the documentation necessary to obtain certification to various standards. Reducing the number of products that must be tested and manufactured gets new products into the hands of consumers faster. It also increases quality and safety, because the organizations developing and implementing the standards would be able to leverage the technical expertise of their members to focus on one set of comprehensive test standards that would ensure reliability and consistency across the board.
Perhaps most importantly, a reduction in redundant or conflicting standards can provide a common understanding between international markets. Buyers and sellers in different markets would no longer have to compare different products that meet different standards. Rather, they can compare products that have each met one standard and focus on the features and factors they deem most critical to their application.
Outside the buyer and seller relationship, simplifying the process of meeting standards for different markets reduces the complexity for those testing and auditing standards compliance. This would simplify international trade by reducing the amount of technical barriers.
The Most Impactful Standard
As created by Underwriters Laboratories, the new ANSI UL 62275 standard for wire management products harmonizes with CSA C22.2 No. 62275 (Canada), NMX-J-623-ANCE (Mexico) and IEC 62275 (Europe) and establishes a scheme for standard type classifications and performance ratings. All regional standards have a stability date of December 2018, with updated standards being introduced in 2019. The passage of this updated version of the UL 62275 standard will be critical, because of how it will reduce confusion and create commonality between international markets.
One major change introduced in ANSI UL 62275 is the requirement of parallel entry metallic cable ties to be tested with the locking mechanism positioned at 9:00, whereas testing may have been conducted previously at 12:00 position. Additionally, coated metallic cable ties are currently classified as Type 21 products, but will be classified as Type 2 under ANSI UL 62275. The “contribution to fire” test will now be needed to classify coated metallic cable ties as Type 2, and products classified as outdoor-use products will be required to run the environmental exposure test at a spectral irradiance of 0.51, with the previous irradiance value being 0.35.
Products affected by ANSI UL 62275 include plastic cable ties, mounts, metallic cable ties, and integral cable tie mounts. Testing under ANSI UL 62275 will include tensile strength, minimum operating temperature, minimum installation temperature, minimum and maximum bundle diameter, UV resistance, vibration for metallic cable ties—cycling, corrosion, contribution to fire—needle flame, and plenum.
With a harmonized benchmark, wire harness manufacturers will now have the opportunity to bring their products to market faster and easier. When they can work with a truly global component supplier, harness assemblers can have confidence that their products will be acceptable when shipped to the United States, Europe, Canada, Mexico or other regions that accept ANSI UL 62275. Prior to ANSI UL 62275, wire harness assemblers might have needed to specify different components based on where the harness was going to be used.
This promotes high value, consistent quality, and safe and efficient application. Manufacturers of wire management products conduct rigorous tests of tensile strength, minimum operating and installation temperature, vibration resistance, corrosion resistance, and flammability through one organization. This, too, assures harness assemblers that they are buying a safe, high-quality product.
Because of standards harmonization, the gap between research and marketable products or services will be bridged. Harmonized standards are a key factor in trade by contributing to the removal of technical barriers and increasing market access. This enhances cooperation at the international level and enhances access to global products.
Ahead of these anticipated changes, assemblers need to learn the benefits for their applications. Not only will this provide customers with better products, but the availability of a harmonized standard will encourage a host of innovation across different sectors, including energy, defense, aerospace and medical devices.
The wire management industry serves a wide range of applications. It is crucial the industry is allowed to flourish. Countless industries have managed to evolve because of consistent benchmarks for performance and quality. The harmonization of wire harness standards will enable the wire management industry to reach new heights.
Editor’s note: Robert has more than 40 years of experience at industry-leading manufacturers of electrical products, including Panduit, Eaton and Furnas Electric (now Siemens Automation). He is also active in industry standards bodies. He is the chairman for NEMA 5FB-2-Wire Management Products, a committee member for NEMA 5FB-2 Technical Committee, chairman for CANENA-THSC 23A-62275, and technical expert for USNC-SC23A-TAG-WG17 to IEC.