A cable assembly is simply a wire harness in slightly different clothing, right? As such, the terms can be used rather interchangeably without much fuss. So long as everyone that needs to be on the same page is, then all is well. But in the grand scheme of things, is settling into such a lazy use of industry verbiage problematic?


That depends. For industry insiders who find themselves maneuvering through the inner workings of their equipment and machinery on a daily basis, a verbal slight between ‘cable assembly’ & ‘wire harness’ seems trivial. After all, they see a grouping of cables or wires together that need replacing or updating, period. When speaking to the proper personnel in charge of buying, however, knowing what term to use with a parts supplier makes all the difference. Ordering the wrong thing means delays in projects, paying restocking fees, not to mention possible penalties to be faced by employees for incompetence (for lack of a better word).
To further prove the point, if one were to break down actual damage to the protective covering seen on either a wire harness or cable assembly, what word(s) would be used to name the covering? Jacketing? A sleeve? Sheathing?
Clarity and consistency in the terminology used is needed. This leads to one major question — what’s the difference between a cable assembly & a wire harness?

Cable assemblies tend to be characterized as being incredibly durable & structured in such a way as to protect the wires & cables that run through them. They tend to be the go-to solution for facilities where environmental conditions can cause greater wear & tear. High heat, pronounced vibrations, dirt/dust, and moisture are just some of what cable assemblies can tolerate due to their sturdier construction.

Wire harnesses, on the other hand, are more of an organizational tool for individual wires & cables. The idea behind them is simplicity & ease of connectivity for the end user. The grouping materials with which the wire harness are assembled can vary quite a bit based on the needs of the client. In some ways, consumers have created their own version of a wire harness when installing home A.V. equipment, for example. The simple act of using a twist-tie or rubber band to group cables can technically be seen as a makeshift wire harness used to keep things behind your television tidy.

While machinery that employs both wire harnesses & cable assemblies is often thought of as being indoors, there is a plethora of physical capital companies depend on that is exposed to some form of the elements. It’s here that the variations between cable assemblies & wire harnesses come further into focus. Cable assemblies are probably better suited for these types of applications while wire harnesses may be a better bet for indoor use.

That said, it is important to note that the wire harness & cable assembly debate should not be limited to discussion of where each falls on a durability scale. Many industries will argue that a wire harness, with a well-curated construction including top-notch connectors, grommets, terminals, and stout strain relief, can be a formative build element for certain applications.

In order to be sure the ideal cable assembly is being spec’d out, it is important to work with an interconnect solutions juggernaut like LoDan Electronics, Inc. of Chicago. Contact us today to learn more.