Manufacturing Terms, Buzzwords and Acronyms

As part of a consulting project I am involved in, I have created a list of acronyms and terms that are used in manufacturing and industrial automation. These are terms and acronyms from Lean/Six-Sigma, controls, electronics, business software and general corporate use. Part of the reason I did this is to ensure that everybody is on the same page when discussing different topics; everyone’s background is different and especially with acronyms, some are duplicated.

I plan to update this list regularly since it seems like a good resource. Please throw any of your own ideas in!


5S – Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain. (Seiri, Seiton, Seiso, Seiketsu and Shitsuke).
Andon – System to notify management, maintenance, other workers of a quality or process problem via signal lights or audio.
ANSI – American National Standards Institute
API – Application Programming Interface (System specific program interface, MS Windows)
ASCII – American Standard Code for Information Interchange (represents text in computers)
ASME – American Society of Mechanical Engineers
Best Practices – Method or technique that has been generally accepted as superior to any alternative because it produces results that are superior to those achieved by other means or because it has become a standard way of doing things, e.g., a standard way of complying with legal or ethical requirements.
BI – Business Intelligence
CE Marking – A certification mark that indicates conformity with health, safety and environmental protection standards for products sold within the European Economic Area.
CRM – Customer Relationship Management
DBMS – Database Management System
DCS – Distributed Control Systems
DQL – Data Query Language
EATM – Enterprise Appliance Transaction Modules
ECO – Engineering Change Order
ECR – Engineering Change Request
ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning, automating back office functions.
ERP II – Expanded ERP, goes beyond corporate walls to interact with other systems. Web based software that provides real-time access to ERP systems for employees and partners.
FIFO – First In First Out
FMEA – Failure Mode Effects Analysis. A step by step approach for identifying all possible failures in a design, a manufacturing or assembly process, or a product or service. “Failure mode” means the ways or modes in which something might fail.
GRP – Government Resource Planning (ERP for public sector)
GUI – Graphical User Interface
Heijunka – Smoothing of production, production leveling
Heijunka Box – Visual scheduling tool
HMI – Human Machine Interface
HTML – Hyper Text Markup Language
IEC – International Electrotechnical Commission
IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers
IP (as in IP67) – Ingress Protection. An electrical rating for resistance to water
ISA – International Society of Automation
Jidoka – A quality control method
Jishu Hozen – Autonomous maintenance, a pillar of TPM
JIT – Just In Time
Kaizen – Improvement, continuous improvement
Kanban – Pull Systems
Kohai – Junior
KPI – Key Performance Indicator
Lean Enterprise – A practice focused on value creation for the end customer with minimal waste and practices.
Lean Manufacturing, “Lean” – Systematic method for waste minimization (Muda) without sacrificing productivity.
Lean Six Sigma – Six Sigma applied with the principles of Lean Manufacturing
LIFO – Last In First Out
MES – Manufacturing Execution Systems
MMI – Man-Machine Interface
MOM – Manufacturing Operations Management
MOS – Manufacturing Operating System
MRP – Material Requirements Planning
MRP II – Manufacturing Resource Planning
MTM – Methods Time Measurement
Muda – Waste Minimization
Mura – Waste though unevenness in work loads
Muri – Waste created through overburden NEC – National Electrical Code. A US design standard on electrical wiring and equipment.
NEMA – National Electrical Manufacturers Association
NFPA – National Fire Protection Association
NPN – Type of transistor used for sensors, “Sinking”.
NUMMI – Toyota GM joint venture
NVA – Non Value Adding operations.
OEE – Overall Equipment Effectiveness
OIT – Operator Interface Terminal
OSHA – Occupational Health and Safety Administration
P&ID – Piping and Instrumentation Diagram
PID – Proportional Integral Derivative. A method of process control.
PLC – Programmable Logic Controller
PLM – Plant Lifecycle Management (Process of managing an industrial facility’s data and information throughout its lifetime)
PLM – Product Lifecycle Management (Process of managing the entire lifecycle of a product)
PMTS – Predetermined Motion Time System
PNP – Type of transistor used for sensors, “Sourcing”.
Poka-Yoke – Error Proofing
PPM – Planned Predictive Maintenance
PPM – Parts Per Million
Prox – Proximity switch, usually inductive (detects metal)
PWM – Pulse Width Modulation
QC – Quality Control
QD – Quick Disconnect (cable)
RPN – Risk Priority Number (used in FMEA)
SCADA – Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition
SCARA – Selective Compliance Assembly Robot Arm, a form of robot
SCM – Supply Chain Management
Senpai – Senior
Sensei – Teacher
Sinking Sensor – An NPN solid state sensor
Six Sigma – SQC applied to business strategy
SMED – Single Minute Exchange of Die
Sourcing Sensor – A PNP solid state sensor
SQC – Statistical Quality Control
SQE – Software Quality Engineering
SQL – Structured Query Language
Takt Time – Average time between the start of production of one unit and the start of production of the next unit
TEEP – Total Effective Equipment Performance (OEE vs. Calendar Hours)
Time and Motion Study – evaluation of personnel/human activities.
Timing Chart – used for machine design
TMU – Time Measurement Units (0.00001 hours, 0.036 seconds)
TPM – Total Productive Maintenance
TPS – Toyota Production System, flexible mass production.
TQC – Total Quality Control
TQM – Total Quality Management (US Department of Defense (DOD))
UL – Underwriters Laboratories. An American safety, consulting and certification company.
Value Stream Mapping – Lean management method for analyzing the current state and designing a future state for a product. Charts a series of events that takes a product or service from its beginning through to the customer. Focuses on areas of a firm that adds value to the product or service. Also known as material and information flow mapping.
VFD – Variable Frequency Drive
XML – Extensible Markup Language


Part of the purpose of this list is to illustrate that words and acronyms can mean different things to different people, especially from different disciplines in the workplace. Make sure that you and the person you are communicating with are “on the same page”!


Electrical Engineer and business owner from the Nashville, Tennessee area. I also play music, Chess and Go.

2 Comments on “Manufacturing Terms, Buzzwords and Acronyms

  1. Your list is missing:
    DIN as in DIN rail
    RTU as in Remote Telemetry Unit
    RS revised standard (now ANSI, formerly EIA Electronic Industry Assoc.) as in RS232 or RS484.
    NEC National Electrical Code (published by NFPA)
    ICC International Code Council (publishes International Building Code, International Fire Code, International Mechanical Code, etc.)

  2. Some of these are industry slang, but are widespread in the midwest, and most of the US, to my understanding. Some have a military background.

    Cobble – quick and dirty work-around (see kludge)
    Debug – work out the bugs, usually part of any quote
    Freak Drive – Variable frequency [motor] drive
    Fubar – Fouled up beyond all recognition
    Kludge – see cobble, often occurs during prototyping
    Snafu – Situation normal…all fouled up.
    PoP – proof of principle (partial prototype)