What Is a Cable Harness?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Also known as a wire harness or a cable assembly, a cable harness is a series of cables or wires that are aligned to provide efficient transfer of information or electronic signals. The number of cables included in the harness will depend on the intended purpose for the wiring and the amount of current or data that must be transmitted in order to complete essential tasks. Typically, some type of method is used to secure the cables in position, a measure that helps to prevent issues that could interfere with the normal function of the individual cables.


A cable harness may be used in any number of different devices that rely on the use of electrical current for operation. For example, it is not unusual to find this type of wiring harness used in many types of vehicle engines. The grouping of cables makes it possible to transfer power to different engine components which in turn helps to support the overall operation of the engine with a high level of efficiency. In this application, the wiring included in the cable harness will often be protected with some sort of sheath and secured in place with clamps to minimize the chance of damage to the cables during normal operation.

Heavy equipment used in many factories as well as the wires and cables commonly found in power processing plants will also make use of different cable harness configurations. The size of the harness will depend on the number of cables included in the configuration, which in turn is often determined by the amount of energy that must be conducted through the system itself. As with most types of electrical equipment, a cable harness or assembly must meet safety standards set in place by regulatory agencies, and is routinely inspected for any signs of wear and tear that indicate the time has come for replacement.

While computer technology and other modern tools are often used in the design stages for creating a cable harness, the actual production of the harness is normally still performed manually. This involves the careful assembly of all the components involved and properly aligning the wires or cables included in the design. In spite of the manual production process, the time necessary for the assembly of a individual cable harness is relatively short, allowing manufacturers to produce enough product on a typical working day to make the effort profitable.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments


Most of my friends take apart and remodel cars. Last time I was over there they had all the cables and stuff laying on a work bench. The cable harness looked like the roots of a tree. It had somewhere between 30 and 40 little plug ins on it. Parts of the harness was silver too.

I don't know very much about cars -- but the parts make for some wicked photography. My friends tried to tell me the names of all the plug ins, but they couldn't remember them all. It's amazing how many wires can be ran through a wire cable harness and still work.

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