Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)

When a substance is added in small parts to create an item. Typically this is done through 3D printing, which builds objects layer upon layer, from 3D model data. The process is faster and more cost effective than traditional productions methods. eBook: 8 Technology Trends in Manufacturing

Assembly Conveyance

This operation involves a strictly sequential flow layout where all products must flow through every station on the line; typically the process occurs in a line or a loop. Additionally, parts required for assembly are generally received in advance of the operation being performed, resulting in lineside buffers that consume valuable floor space.

Assembly to Order (ATO)

A production strategy, often working hand in hand with a build-to-order process, where products are built quickly upon receiving customer order, and made to incorporate customer requirements. ATO requires that basic parts are already made but not assembled until the customer order is confirmed. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

A fusion of advanced technologies, exhibited through machines, to provide humanistic intelligence and decision making. Blog: AI in the Manufacturing Industry


Computer-controlled machines that can perform a set of defined tasks by following specific instructions with minimal or no human intervention. Resource: AGVs vs Self-Driving Vehicles

Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV)

A guided transportation system that follows markers such as magnetic strips, bar codes or pre-defined laser paths to help the unmanned vehicles follow a specific route. Used in industrial applications for material movement. Resource: AGVs vs Self-Driving Vehicles


Machines that have the intelligence to make decisions when faced with new or unexpected situations. These machines may have the ability to learn as they encounter new situations. Resource: AGVs vs Self-Driving Vehicles


Big Data

A collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis. Blog: 5 Key Technologies in Industry 4.0

Build to Order (BTO)

A production process where products are not built until a confirmed order is received. It is established to eliminated wasted inventory and resources and align with lean manufacturing best practices.


Collaborative Robot

A robot designed for direct interaction with a human within a collaborative space. eBook: Mobile Collaborative Robots are Coming

Connected Factory

The connected factory is used in parallel with the term "smart factory". It is an industrial environment that uses Industry 4.0 technologies such as cloud computing and networked activity to offer task completion through autonomous capability. Information about all activity within the plant is received through real-time data reporting, which can be used to adjust issues before they arise. eBook: 8 Technology Trends in Manufacturing


First Mile

The flow of materials within a facility to create a finished good before it is delivered to the next destination in the supply chain. eBook: Introducing Autonomous First Mile Delivery

Flexible Conveyance

Flexible conveyance is the movement of materials or parts in assembly production on mobile, highly adaptable platforms. Flexible conveyance offers more productivity and efficiency in mixed model production, resilience to disturbances on the line, optimized floor plan utilization, and future-proof assurance.

Flexible Manufacturing

An infrastructure-free system of technologies and processes that enable operations to be reconfigurable and scalable. Blog: Risk Management with Flexible Automation


Industry 4.0

"Industrie 4.0" was the name initially given to the German strategic initiative to establish Germany as a lead market and provider of advanced manufacturing solutions. The term became widespread globally within the industrial sector as a way of articulating the next industrial revolution, which would contain advanced technologies and systems enabling the industrial internet of things and connected, autonomous systems. eBook: Industry 4.0

Inertial Guidance 

A sensor that uses an inertial measurement unit (IMU) via onboard accelerometers and gyroscopes to better estimate the object or vehicle's position. Inertial guidance is used in collaboration with other sensors and software to localize the object or vehicle.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The connection of all devices to the internet and each other. The phenomenon is built on cloud computing and networks to take in data and make real-time actions based on that data. Blog: 5 Key Technologies in Industry 4.0


The connection of cyber-physical systems, humans and smart factories communicating with each other through the IoT. In doing so, manufacturing partners can effectively share information, error-free. Blog: 5 Key Technologies in Industry 4.0


Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Quantifiable measurements to evaluate performance of industrial solutions and processes within an operation. KPIs can be benchmarked and compared across multiple facilities and include inputs spanning number of deliveries made, average downtime, cost per labor per shift, etc.


Labor Shortage

When Employers feel that there are not enough qualified employees to fill the number of empty jobs at the market labor compensation rate. Blog: Can Millennials Solve the Manufacturing Labor Shortage?

Laser Guided Vehicle (LGV)

Similar to an AGV, a laser guided vehicle is a transportation system used in industrial applications that moves through the use of pre-defined laser paths. LGVs often take the form of retrofit forklifts or tuggers and may or may not have the ability to detect or move around obstacles. Often the parameters to which LGVs can move around obstacles are limited. 

Last Mile

A term used in supply chain management to describe the movement of materials from one hub to a final destination. eBook: Introducing Autonomous First Mile Delivery

Lean Manufacturing

Relies on an efficient flow of materials, components and finished product. The concept was coined by Toyota to ensure manufacturing operations ran as efficiently as possible. Along with the definition of lean manufacturing, mudas (or wastes) were also established as key practices to avoid in manufacturing. Blog: Lean Manufacturing as a Solution to Lean Materials Handling


Light Detection and Ranging is a radar-based sensor system that uses light from a laser to detect and perceive its environment.


Mixed Model Production

The practice of assembling several distinct models of a product on the same assembly line without changeovers and then sequencing those models in a way that smooths the demand for upstream components.

Mobile Collaborative Robot

An intelligent, industrial robot that assists humans in a shared, collaborative workspace with manipulation and transportation. Humanistic intelligence is offered through a fusion of cutting-edge self-driving technology and sensors. eBook: Mobile Collaborative Robots are Coming

Mobile Robot

Automated machines - typically vehicles - capable of moving within a set environment. Most commonly used for research and exploration. eBook: Mobile Collaborative Robots are Coming


Muda refers to waste within a manufacturing process. There are seven defined mudas with regard to lean manufacturing best practices: overproduction, over-processing, waiting, transporting, unnecessary inventory, excess motion and defects. eBook: Eliminating Muda in Lean Manufacturing



The process of bringing manufacturing back to the continent in which the business is headquartered, typically a nearby country. The business may choose to do this in order to take advantage of lower labor rates of a nearby country and minimize distance and costs associated with shipping goods to the customer. eBook: Made in America: Why Manufacturers are Onshoring Operations

Network Security

A connected factory requires the use of standard communication protocols to enable machine-to-machine communication. As a result, secure, reliable communication and sophisticated identity and access management of machines and users are essential. Once secure, operations have opportunit to integrate industrial security and thread prevention across converging networks. eBook: 10 Step Guide to Preparing for Industry 4.0


Onshore Manufacturing

As opposed to setting up manufacturing operations offshore, this concept is for businesses that choose to establish their manufacturing operations in their homeland. eBook: Made in America: Why Manufacturers are Onshoring Operations


Predictive Analytics

The modelling of data to identify patterns that help businesses predict behaviors and events, from inventory depletions to machinery breakdowns, to consumer trends. eBook: 8 Technology Trends in Manufacturing



The process of bringing manufacturing back to the country in which the business is headquartered. Typically this is also where the target customer is located; therefore, goods are manufactured closer to their end destination reducing travel time and cost to the customer. eBook: Made in America: Why Manufacturers are Onshoring Operations

Right-To-Work Policy

Right-to-work laws allow employees to work without having to be a member of a union. The laws prohibit union security agreements - or agreements between employers and labor unions - that oversee employee membership, union dues payments, and other issues related to labor unions. With the right-to-work movement gaining traction, manufacturers have an opportunity to relocate or even reshore operations to right-to-work states. Blog: Right-To-Work: How Policy Affects Manufacturers


Self-Driving Vehicle (SDV)

Autonomous vehicles that move without the use of infrastructure. Within industrial centers, SDVs are a safe, collaborative and flexible method of material transport. They offer dynamic path planning and intuitive lights to signal behaviors to passersby. Resource: AGVs vs Self-Driving Vehicles

Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM)

A class of algorithm whereby a robot or a device uses a variety of sensors to create a map of its surroundings and locate itself properly within this map, in real-time. 

Smart Factory

The seamless connection of individual production steps, from planning stages to actuators in the field. In the near future, machinery and equipment will be able to improve processes through self-optimization; systems will autonomously adapt to the traffic profile and network environment. Blog: Smart Factories and Industry 4.0


Takt Time

The set time allowed at each station to complete a task on the assembly line. The takt time is determined by the station on the line that takes the longest time. 


Unit Labor Cost

The labor cost associated with producing one unit of output. This metric can be used to gain further insight into the labor makret to determine if productivity remains competitive. It is important to determine this metric when consider onshore vs offshore manufacturing operations.


Wearable Technology

Devices incorporated into clothing and accessories that can be comfortable worn on the body. They perform similar computing tasks as mobile phones and computers, but tend to be more sophisticated than hand-held technology because of sensory and scanning features. eBook: 8 Technology Trends in Manufacturing