Harnessing the wire & cable market
Stephen LawElectronics Contract Manufacturing Engineering Supply Chain cable Editor Pick harnesses ProEV wire
ProEV to open dedicated wire harness & engineering facility in Montreal
While the world shifts from the manufacture of petrochemical fuelled vehicles, the supply infrastructure for electrical versions is revving up – and a Canadian operated business is sitting in the driver’s seat.
ProEV, a spin-out from leading global electrical harness provider Electrical Components International (ECI), will open North America’s largest dedicated wire harness and engineering facility for commercial and industrial electric vehicles (EVs) in Montreal this summer.
Specializing in smart, connected and electrified solutions for anything that does not represent a passenger vehicle, ProEV has put its focus on becoming a one-stop-shop for full vehicle architecture concept of handling all the harnessing and electronics for EVs that encompass trucks of all classes, buses, recreational, agriculture equipment, mining vehicles.
“They are putting so much tech into these EVs that they more resemble the smartphone in your pocket, versus the vehicle they once represented,” enthused ProEV president Jarred Knecht. He refers to the increasing amount of sensors, connectivity, safety systems built in their design today.
After dipping a toe in the EV market seven years ago, ProEV noticed some discernable challenges facing both start-ups and established OEMs alike. It related specifically to high voltage cables, including a lack of supply and inflexibility of the product itself. This lead the firm to making its own wire and cable. It wasn’t long before ProEV began producing low-voltage harnesses, which parent ECI had 30-years of experience doing.
Orange the new green
“High voltage cable is like the high-tech version of old school cable. In the past, we had no need for these orange, double-shielded cables in large volumes. Now, we live and breathe orange – it’s everything,” Knecht says.
All of ECI’s global customers will direct their designs to the Montreal facility for engineering and manufacturing for the electrification projects they are working on. This allows ProEv to work with its North American base, while gaining access to European clientele as well – being fed by ECI.
“Because we have such purchasing power and scale – the mix of having a local Canadian resource for this type of engineering and production performed quickly, all while being able to scale unlimitedly, is a very attractive thing. We are the leader in that regard. We handle the prototyping – get right in the mud with the OEM to work through their designs – and then if they want to build anything between 50,000 and 100,000 vehicles – we can handle it as a one-stop-shop,” Knecht states.
While currently retrofitting a building previously occupied by CEA Inc. on the West Island of Montreal, ProEV is completing improvements and installing equipment at the 60,000-square-foot facility, which is slated to open in August 2022. Knecht anticipates ProEV to grow to approximately 250 employees within the first five years of operation. To achieve this goal, the firm is actively recruiting engineers of all types – electrical, mechanical, industrial. There is also a need for hiring program managers or project coordinators, which help to organize activities between all of our different departments.
The Applied innovation Group – ProEv’s version of an R&D department, is comprised of a team of experts developing next generation technologies to use in manufacturing processes or other parts of our business.
“The applied innovation team can work with engineering if there is something that comes up at an early stage on a customer’s product that we need to figure out,” notes Knecht. “The innovation team will also work alongside the engineering team on the production floor, understanding that some of the processes and where there could be added-value to a product.”
Depending on its design and application, a finished wire harness could be constructed of anywhere between 20 to 200 different components, according to Knecht. ProEV deals with all component brands when it comes to selecting or working with suppliers. ProEv will often extend the reach of its business connections to its OEM customers, who may be in need of very specialized support or resources.
“Our vision is to utilize our full skill-set to build technology products. Our in-house applied innovation team has created cutting edge proprietary technologies, using artificial intelligence and robotics to assist our teams in building safety-critical products for our customers.”
The rising costs of gasoline has most corporations operating fleets of commercial vehicles that deliver goods and services to the end-user re-evaluate their transportation costs. Knecht is convinced that switching to an electric vehicle platform is the answer, not to mention an environmentally sound option.
“The move from gas to electric vehicles is the biggest change I am going to see in my life, for sure. For that reason, we demonstrate a great deal of passion towards what we do here,” Knecht says. “We love this (supplier) space. We want to attack the most polluting vehicles on the planet, which is also why we specialize in commercial industrial. These vehicles are the worst. They are on the road 24-hours a day, they burn so much more fuel while creating more emissions and noise than passenger vehicles.”
According to the EPA, 80% of emissions come from 20% of vehicles volume, namely commercial and industrial vehicles, whereby passenger vehicles represent 80% of vehicle volume and 20% of emissions.
“Supporting the supply chain for commercial and industrial EVs is imperative for the environment, economy and establishing of a hub for manufacturing and innovation in North America,” says Knecht. “Job creation, and economic growth in the new technology era is at the cornerstone of our nation. Our dedicated EV center of excellence will work with our customers globally to support the electrification of all vehicles, leading the charge into the next generation of clean, sustainable transportation.”
Knecht says ProEV’s involvement with ECI makes it a global business overnight – operating 37 plants around the world, employing more than 25,000 people. The new Montreal facility represents the global centre of excellence for EVs, on behalf of ECI.
“We have a tremendous amount of resources to our advantage – while specializing at the new facility in wire harnesses and engineering – focused on EVs in the commercial industrial sector,” Knecht says. “Between ourselves and the reach of ECI, we can pretty much deliver on almost any request of specialization.”
One thing is clear, and the new dedicated facility represents ProEV’s commitment to invest in the future of EVs and will benefit the industry and the economy, according to Knecht.
“We have been doing this for seven years now, which has allowed us to work with a lot of OEMs and vehicle architectures. Thus, when it comes to working on a new prototype, we are able to insert ourselves at any point in the design process,” he concludes.