Underneath the Woven Electronics logo on the cover of its product catalogue is the statement, “The solution is clear.“ A supplier of electronic harnesses, the Mauldin, S.C.-based company considers itself the solutions provider for interconnect applications. The originator and industry leader in woven cable, Woven Electronics offers total interconnect packages — from the basic cable to the integration of PC boards, overmolded cables and backshells, and mechanical backshells.
The company offers interconnect packages with reduced cost and weight, based on the combination of its multipackaging ability and its approach to woven organized wiring. Lower cost and size mean enhanced maintainability for any applications in which size and weight play a critical role.
Woven construction also provides interconnects that are more routable and flexible, enhancing installation. It also produces configurations that are exactly repeatable and easier to change in the design, thus slimming down development costs.
Woven Electronics began as a division of Southern Weaving Company, which was founded in 1924. Southern Weaving made its electronics business into a separate division in 1963. Today, Woven Electronics is a major supplier to the nation’s top military contractors. In the commercial world, the company’s customers include original-equipment manufacturers of computers, data storage devices and telecommunications products.
The company’s U.S. manufacturing facility is in Simpsonville, S.C. Named for Edgar Ross, who helped developed woven circuits with Southern Weaving in the 1960s, the Simpsonville manufacturing space measures 90,000 square feet. Woven Electronics also includes a subsidiary in Great Britain, Woven Electronics Ltd., which manufactures and sells assemblies in the European market. Both manufacturing locations are certified for ISO 9001, and are structured to meet the distinct requirements of both military and commercial customers.
The ISO designation recognizes Woven Electronics’ ongoing quality commitment and its techniques for continuous improvement. The company has set up cross-functional quality teams including employees, suppliers and customers. This system has led to several quality awards from its high-profile customers, including the Boeing 1999 Preferred Supplier award and the 1999 Silver Supplier award from Northrup Grumman.
Harnessed to Creativity
Woven Electronics has structured itself into two business groups, one for its military products and the other for its commercial products. Underscoring the importance engineering plays in the company’s products and customer service, each unit includes both electrical and mechanical engineers. The advantage to this approach is that it heightens the focus in each group on its particular end-use market. The engineers in each group follow the design and technology developments pertaining to their distinct market, enabling them to get the inside track on breaking news more rapidly, and with a greater understanding. It’s an organizational structure that has encouraged greater creativity, resulting in solutions that are both unique and less costly for the customer.
For its military customers, Woven Electronics specializes in designing and manufacturing cable harnesses. Using its experience as both the originator and industry leader in woven cable, the company offers total interconnect packages made from its signature woven construction. These begin with the engineering and design of the basic cable, and lead into the integration of PC boards, overmolded cables and backshells, and mechanical backshells. This process results in interconnect packages with higher density, lighter weight and increased signal isolation — and that are less costly.
Of course, all of these products conform to the standards set forth by the U.S. Armed Forces. For example, both the receptacle/backshell combination and the plug/backshell combination are produced in accordance with the MIL-STD-1760 standard; the connector interface dimensions on both of these products meet the MIL-C-38999, Series III, Class W standard. The line of swage tube adapters meets the grounding requirements under MIL-STD-1310.
The Woven Electronics’ commercial group targets its electrical and mechanical engineering services at helping its customers design digital-signal transmission-line cables. These services enable customers to design the cables that will provide the best performance and the easiest packaging and installation. The company’s engineering team has played a crucial role in the design of many shield/jacketing solutions that are inexpensive and that meet EMI/RFI requirements.
In the commercial area, Woven Electronics offers its woven controlled-impedance (CI) cable, which has been shown to provide performance levels near to coaxial cables at a fraction of the cost and size. The company has also established itself as experts in high-speed interconnect products through its extensive experience in controlling such cable characteristics as cross-talk and signal skew. The engineering team uses three-dimensional CAD design systems, which not only make cable design easier and more efficient, but also permit the engineers to support the company’s customers in the concurrent engineering of their products.
Woven Electronics also offers DensePak™ cellular cable, a high-density and high-flexibility cable that is actually a group of cells with conductors woven, grouped and sequenced inside. The fact that DensePak™ puts more conductors into less space than any other round-wire configuration offers the customer a wide range of versatility in packaging. The company also supplies programmed breakout cable for products that call for very exacting cable clearances and cable lead exposure at precise predetermined points. Produced in volume on high-speed, automated looms, these cables maintain tight, flat profiles and are less bulky and more uniformed than hand-tied harnesses.
In addition, Woven Electronics produces Flat-To-Round™ cable, which combines the all-direction flexibility of round cable with the packaging characteristics of flat cable. Flat-To-Round™ is a custom-engineered cable that can be ordered as a complete harness assembly or as unterminated, with or without pre-prepared leads.
New Answers, New Growth
Just as it has been the major factor in creating and nurturing the company’s reputation up until now, engineering expertise will play the key role in Woven Electronics’ future. It will be the critical factor as the company seeks to diversify its product offering. The company continues to work on new solutions in packaging design, connector options (including those with strain-relief systems), new backshell design concepts, new concepts in organized wiring, new PC board design ideas and more.
Both of its business groups are positioned for promising growth opportunities over the next few years. For the military sector, Woven Electronics’ expertise in packaging wires is an important factor in meeting the growing demand for aerospace harnesses. Fiber-optic assemblies, particularly those used in computers and telecommunication products, offer a venue for the company to use its solutions approach to meet unique installation requirements.
The solutions approach is what guarantees future success for Woven Electronics, and its marketing strategy centered around its solutions has boosted the company to the top of the interconnect industry. As its product literature states, the company’s engineers take on problems involving cable “and weave ‘em all behind.”