ProP4CableSim – Simulation of Cable Systems in Vehicles

DFG-Project ProP4CableSim: Property Predictor for Cable Simulations

In the project »ProP4CableSim«, our researchers are working on predicting the elastic properties of cable systems. It is part of a special transfer program of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and the German Research Foundation (DFG). Partners of the Fraunhofer ITWM are the Saarland University and the ITWM spin-off fleXstructures GmbH.

The cable systems installed in modern vehicles are extremely complex. Up to 900 different cable types with different structures as well as functions are used. They supply and link numerous sensors and mini-computers, which communicate with each other and control them in a network: from cruise control, lane or brake assistants, to window regulators.

Cable installation is still a complex and time-consuming task. After all, the entire nervous system of the car has to fit into the smallest possible space in the car body and interior trim without any cables getting tangled. Kinking or too much twisting of the cables should be avoided, otherwise soon neither power nor data flow will work. Cables can also get damaged as a result of the complicated installation which leads to safety risks or expensive recalls.


Simulate and Predict Cable Properties

Often, issues in assembly due to too narrow spaces only become apparent in hardware prototypes which makes re-planning necessary. Assembly simulations can be used to avoid this by planning the routing of flexible cable systems virtually in early design phases. Mechanical parameters are required for the simulation models in order to represent the deformations as realistically as possible.

© Fraunhofer ITWM/fleXstructures
Modell eines Kabelbaums für Automobilanwendungen.

An efficient method of determining the mechanical properties of a cable system is experimental measurement, combined with data-based prediction of the nonlinear system properties. This is where the project »ProP4CableSim« (short for Property Predictor for Cable Simulations) comes in. The aim is to predict the elastic properties of cable systems for installation simulation. This will enable users to estimate the mechanical properties of cable systems in the early design phases and thus plan an installation space layout.

Further Development of Established »IPS Cable Simulation« Software

The work in »ProP4CableSim« complements »IPS Cable Simulation«, the software package for the structural-mechanical simulation of cables, cable systems and hoses. It was jointly developed by our researchers at Fraunhofer ITWM and our Swedish sister institute Fraunhofer-Chalmers Centre for Industrial Mathematics FCC in Gothenburg and is further developed and distributed by our spin-off fleXstructures.

Well-known companies in the automotive industry are already using IPS Cable Simulation and can look forward to new application scenarios thanks to »ProP4CableSim«: The coupling effects of bending and torsion as well as nonlinear behavior of the cables can also be simulated at the end of the project.

© Fraunhofer ITWM
Die Nervenbahnen im Fahrzeug bestehen aus dicken Bündeln. Im Bild: Querschnitt verschiedener Kabelbündel.
With our software IPS Cable Simulation, one can for example simulate the assembly and disassembly of the wiring harness system of cars consisting of many different cables.
© Fraunhofer-Chalmers Research Centre
With our software IPS Cable Simulation, one can for example simulate the assembly and disassembly of the wiring harness system of cars consisting of many different cables. This simulation requires knowledge of the mass, the geometric characteristics and the effective stiffness properties of the cables.

Data and Models From Science

In »ProP4CableSim«, research, application-oriented science and industrial practice come together, which is why the project benefits from the different focuses and expertise of those involved:

  • The Chair of Applied Mechanics at Saarland University (Professor Diebels and his research group) conducts extensive experimental investigations on different cable samples and determines mechanical parameters of the cable systems. They bend, load and twist different types of cables on test rigs specifically developed for this purpose and collect data and parameters.
  • Under the direction of Dr.-Ing. Joachim Linn, our researchers at Fraunhofer ITWM use the data obtained in this way to model the cable systems. They focus on the interactions that occur when different cable types undergo bending and torsions at the same time. Machine Learning (ML) methods are also used for this purpose.

Material Samples From the Application: Faster From Theory to Practice

Our spin-off fleXstructures GmbH is the industrial partner in this project, who works in close connection with the automotive industry. Relevant material samples from cable systems used in the automotive industry are taken into account in the measurement campaign. »The sample material covers the variety of real bundle structures, so it represents all possible variants of cables and hoses,« explains Dr.-Ing. Michael Koch, research coordinator at fleXstructures GmbH.

Our Project Partners

The project is managed by Dr.-Ing. Joachim Linn (Fraunhofer ITWM) and Prof. Stefan Diebels (Saarland University).

Funding and Project Duration

The German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft fund trilateral projects like ProP4CableSim« to close gaps between basic research and application.

ProP4CableSim started in 2021 and is designed to run for three years.

Saarbrücker Lehrstuhl für Angewandte Mechanik
© Universität des Saarlandes
Prof. Stefan Diebels und Doktorandin Carole Tsegouog vom Saarbrücker Lehrstuhl für Angewandte Mechanik untersuchen an eigens weiterentwickelten Versuchsständen, welche Kräfte auf Kabel wirken, wenn sie zugleich gebogen und verdreht werden.