Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name



Mechanical, Automotive, and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Jill Urbanic

Second Advisor

Peter Frise


Applied sciences, Automotive, Production complexity management, Wiring harness, World-class manufacturing




The large number of vehicle wiring harness variants during the design phase generates considerable complexity, which needs to be managed at the production level. The wiring harness design is usually optimized at the product level to minimize product costs. Issues related to the manufacturing processes are not considered. The aim of this research is to develop a cost model which includes product and manufacturing costs to define an optimum level between product variant complexity and material costs (with the focus on wiring harness complexity). The cost model consists of two parts, (i) the product cost and (ii) the manufacturing cost. Unlike product cost, which is relatively easy to obtain, the methodology for evaluating the manufacturing cost requires an in-depth analysis, which is done in this research. The trade-off cost model is first applied to a case study based on real production data to evaluate the potential benefits. Then, a MATLAB simulation is developed to simulate a new scenario for managing wiring harness complexity. The results showed that cost savings can be achieved by applying a trade-off strategy between the product cost and manufacturing cost dynamically according to the forecast data. The limitation of this research is using fixed manufacturing costs in the case study and the MATLAB simulation. For practical applications, the manufacturing cost should be a function of number of individual part numbers in the plant. The concepts and methodology developed in this research could be used not only on automotive wiring harnesses, but also on parts and materials which are expensive and have many variants that need to be managed during production.