User Stories

HUBER+SUHNER Optimizes Cable Manufacturing Using MATLAB

Challenge

Reduce time and waste in choosing the combination of part lengths required to assemble data and power cables

Solution

Create an optimizer tool that finds the best combination of part lengths for each customer request

Results

  • Resources and production time optimized
  • Waste and costs reduced
  • Carbon footprint minimized

“With MATLAB and the support of MathWorks Consulting Services, we were able to automate the core functions of our cable manufacturing process, saving up to 75 percent of the time spent on planning and reducing waste by 10 to 20 percent.”

Matteo Cavadini, HUBER+SUHNER
Planetary stranding machine for HUBER+SUHNER cable production.

Planetary stranding machine for HUBER+SUHNER cable production.


Headquartered in Switzerland, HUBER+SUHNER develops and produces electrical and optical connectivity solutions for industrial, communication, and transportation customers throughout the world. Uniting technical and manufacturing expertise in radio frequency, fiber optics, and low frequency technologies, the company goes through a demanding multistep process to build cables based on customer specifications. This includes gathering bare copper, stranding, extruding the insulation, and building the connectors. In most cases, the stranding of cables results in uneven lengths and leftover parts that can’t be used in future assemblies.

Using MATLAB® and Optimization Toolbox™, the company developed an application that automatically calculates the most efficient combination of parts to use in each cable. In only two months, with guidance from MathWorks Consulting Services, they built and delivered an easy-to-use application to factory workers that reduces daily planning time and waste.

“Optimization Toolbox was easy to use and follow as we developed the application,” says Matteo Cavadini, processing engineer at HUBER+SUHNER. “With this tool, we are saving a lot of time and resources that would otherwise go to waste.”

Challenge

Assembling cables involves many parts and different cable reels of various sizes and lengths. For complex cable orders, a team of specialists can spend up to three hours manually calculating different combinations of cable lengths in spreadsheets to make efficient use of their inventory. The HUBER+SUHNER team wanted to design an application that takes their cable parts inventory and cable orders as input and automatically provides the optimal solution.

Solution

HUBER+SUHNER provided their cable inventory and business requirements to the MathWorks Consulting team and together, they formulated a mathematical model for the cable assembly process in Optimization Toolbox using variables and expressions. To create the model, they imported the data into MATLAB, built the model in Optimization Toolbox, and used the mixed-integer linear programming solver for the cable assembly function.

The MathWorks Consulting team used the Experiment Manager app to run experiments with different data sets and hyperparameters to make sure the model generalized to the different kinds of orders that HUBER+SUHNER receives from customers. This step of the project required close collaboration between HUBER+SUHNER and the MathWorks Consulting team.

Once the model was designed and tuned, the MathWorks Consulting team used App Designer to create a user interface. Two weeks later, HUBER+SUHNER employees were using the interface to interact with the model. With MATLAB Compiler™, an executable file was created that employees can install and run on their devices royalty-free.

Results

  • Resources and production time optimized. “We used to spend 2–3 hours a day figuring out the best cable length combinations to use in production,” Cavadini says. “We’re saving up to 75 percent of this time thanks to the tool we developed in MATLAB. We can now spend our time on more productive and less repetitive tasks.”
  • Waste and costs reduced. “With Optimization Toolbox, we cut waste by 10–20 percent and could potentially reduce it up to 50 percent,” Cavadini says.
  • Carbon footprint minimized. “An added benefit is the reduction of our CO2 footprint,” Cavadini says. “We are reducing the amount of unusable and unrecyclable material that we have to burn or destroy.”

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