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June 25, 2019
8 minutes to read  

Dictionary of Common Manufacturing Terms

You don't need to be part of the manufacturing industry long to learn it has it's own native language with no shortage of acronyms. BOM, CBOM, EBOM, MBOM -- it can get confusing very quickly, but we've got you covered with this dictionary of the most commonly heard terms to help you navigate your way through the product development process.


ALTS - Alternative Components - Components that can be substituted for those initially specified without compromising performance in an effort to reduce cost or lead times.


BOM - Bill of Materials - the complete list of all the materials and parts that a manufacturer needs to create a certain product.


CAD - Computer Aided Design - a specialized graphics software used to design a part or work piece.

CFD - Computational Fluid Dynamics - The examination of fluid flow in accordance with its physical properties such as velocity, pressure, temperature, density and viscosity.

Change Request - A request specifying proposed modifications to the manufacturing process or equipment

CM - Contract Manufacturer - A manufacturer who contracts with companies to make certain components or products over a mutually agreed period of time.

Commercialization - The process by which a new product is introduced into the general market

Consigned - Partial outsourcing in which companies are able to retain some of the in-house controls over the manufacturing and supply chain processes.

Costed BOM - The bill of materials including the component costs for each component of the product.


DFM - Design for Manufacturing - the practice in which ease and cost of manufacturing, as well as quality-assurance issues, are emphasized during the product design stage.

DFMEA - Design Failure Mode Effects Analysis - an analytical technique used by a design responsible engineer or team as an effective means to identify potential failure modes and their associated causes, assign a risk priority number and address ways to mitigate the potential failures through enhanced process controls or increased detection controls.

DHF - Design History File - A document mandated by the FDA containing all of the product development documentation pertaining to a finished medical device.

DVT - Design Validation Test - Using one design configuration to build a small quantity of units using proper production processes and put them through strenuous tests to ensure durability and reliability.


EAU - Estimated Annual Usage - The quantity of a component or material used in a year, multiplied by its unit cost.

EBOM - Engineering Bill of Materials - Defines the finished product as it was originally designed by engineering, including the items, parts, components, sub-assemblies and assemblies.

ECO - Engineering Change Order - a documentation packet that outlines the proposed change, lists the product or parts that would be affected and requests review and approval from the individuals who would be impacted or charged with implementing the change. They are used to make modifications to components, assemblies, associated documentation and other types of product information.

EVT - Engineering Validation Test - Combining works-like and looks-like prototypes to ensure all functional requirements are to spec. The goal here is to finalize an intended design to weed out any hardware failures.

FEA - Finite Element Analysis - The simulation of any given physical phenomenon used by engineers to reduce the number of physical prototypes and experiments  to optimize components in their design phase to develop better products, faster.


IP - Intellectual Property - A collection of ideas to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, trademark or copyright. One type of IP, industrial property, includes patents for inventions and industrial designs.

ISO 13485 - An agreed upon standard that sets the requirements for a quality management system specific to the medical device industry.

ISO 9000 - An international quality-process auditing program, based on a series of standards published by the International Standards Organization through which manufacturing plants receive certification attesting that their stated quality processes are adhered to in practice.


Lean Manufacturing - An act of continuous improvement within a business to be environmentally responsible by reducing the seven wastes often occurring in manufacturing so the quality, cost and production time can all be reduced when manufacturing a part.


MBOM - Manufacturing BOM - contains information on all the parts and assemblies required to build a complete and shippable product, including all of the packaging materials required to ship the finished product to the customer.

MOQ - Minimum Order Quantity - The lowest quantity of a certain product that a supplier is willing to sell. 

Multi-Level BOM - also known as an indented BOM, shows the hierarchical structure of assemblies and their related parts and components. It is a nested list whose parts or items are listed in two or more levels of detail to illustrate multiple assemblies within a product's BOM. 


NPD - New Product Development - The early development to finalize the product design, requiring many iterations to get the product ready to hand off to operations

NPI - New Product Introduction - Similar to NPD, NPI focuses more on getting operations teams and supply chain partners aligned around the final released product design to effectively plan, produce and ramp to volume production.


ODM - Original Design Manufacturer - A company which designs and produces a product according to their own specifications.

OEM - Original Equipment Manufacturer - the company responsible for designing and building a product according to the buyer's specifications.


PLM - Product Lifecycle Management - the integration of all aspects of a product, taking it from conception through the product life cycle to the disposal of the product and components. This typically lowers the cost and speeds the time to market (TTM) for new product development.

Prototype - A first or preliminary model of a product from which other forms are developed.

PVT - Product Validation Test - The first official production run,with units ideally passing all tests and proving suitable to sell.


Reference Designator - identifies a component within an electrical schematic or on a printed circuit board (PCB)

Rework - Fixing defective products so they pass final inspection

RFI - Request for Information - a preliminary document used by companies that don't understand the marketplace they're about to enter.

RFP - Request for Proposal - A document asking vendors to propose solutions to a customer's problems or business requirements. This usually follows an RFI.

RFQ - Request for Quote - A detailed document drilling down to the exact specifications required by the company and the cost of the service or product. These are more specifically focused on a cost estimate that an RFP, but may also contain  

RMA - Return Material Authorization - An authorization from a manufacturer for their customer to return products that do not meet the required specifications.

RoHS - Restriction of Hazardous Substances - restricts the use of specific hazardous materials found in electrical and electronic products.


Single Level BOM - Displays the assembly or sub-assembly with only one level of children and only the components directly needed to make the assembly or sub-assembly.

Six Sigma - A set of management techniques intended to improve business processes by greately reducing the probability that an error or defect will occur.

SKU - Stock Keeping Unit - a product code that can be used to search and identify stock on hand from lists, invoices or order forms.

SOP - Standard Operating Procedure - A set of step-by-step instructions compiled by an organization to help workers carry out complex routine operations with efficiency, quality and uniformity.

Sub-Assembly - A unit assembled separately but designed to be incorporated with other units into a larger manufactured product

Supplier - Anyone who provides goods or services to another entity


Tolerance - A range of dimensions that is given for a certain part labeling how close a part must be made to that specific dimension.

Tooling - The tools and equipment that help industrial personnel make product parts of consistent size, shape and quality.

TTM - Time to Market - the period of time from the start of design and development work to commercial product availability.

Turnkey - A complete manufacturing function that provides all manufacturing and supply chain services.


UL - Underwriters Laboratories - A global safety science company that tests the latest products and technologies for safety before they are marketed around the world.

UOM - Unit of Measure - a physical unit, such as kg or meter, used to quantify the inventory items in stock. 


VMI - Vendor Managed Inventory - materials, components or sub-assemblies managed and replenished by on-site vendors with whom the plant has prearranged purchasing agreements. The supplier takes responsibility for the availability of supplies.


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Filed Under: Engineering, Manufacturing