Top 34 Slang For Manufacturing – Meaning & Usage

In the world of manufacturing, communication is key, and that includes understanding the unique language that comes with it. From the factory floor to the boardroom, knowing the right slang can help you navigate this industry with ease. Our team has done the heavy lifting to bring you a curated list of the top slang for manufacturing that will have you speaking the language of production in no time. So, gear up and get ready to level up your manufacturing knowledge!

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1. Widget

A widget is a general term used to refer to a small device or object, often used as a placeholder or example in manufacturing or software development.

  • For example, in a conversation about product design, someone might say, “We need to create a widget that can easily attach to the main device.”
  • In a software development context, a developer might refer to a simple graphical element as a widget.
  • A manufacturing engineer might use the term to describe a small component of a larger machine.

2. Batch

A batch refers to a specific quantity of items or products that are produced together in a single manufacturing process or cycle.

  • For instance, a bakery might bake a batch of cookies, which refers to a specific number of cookies made at one time.
  • In a discussion about production planning, someone might mention the need to optimize batch sizes for efficiency.
  • A manufacturing manager might say, “We need to increase the batch size to meet the demand.”

3. Line speed

Line speed refers to the rate at which a production line or assembly line operates, typically measured in units per hour or minute.

  • For example, in a factory setting, a supervisor might say, “We need to increase the line speed to meet the production targets.”
  • In a discussion about process improvement, someone might suggest adjusting the line speed to optimize efficiency.
  • A worker might say, “The line speed is too fast, and it’s causing quality issues.”

4. JIT

JIT stands for Just-In-Time, which is a production strategy aimed at minimizing inventory levels by receiving goods only as they are needed in the production process.

  • For instance, a company might adopt a JIT approach to reduce storage costs and improve efficiency.
  • In a conversation about supply chain management, someone might mention the benefits of JIT in reducing waste and improving responsiveness.
  • A manufacturing consultant might recommend implementing JIT principles to streamline operations.

5. Lean

Lean refers to an efficiency-focused approach to manufacturing, which aims to eliminate waste, improve processes, and maximize value for the customer.

  • For example, a company might undergo a lean transformation to improve productivity and reduce costs.
  • In a discussion about continuous improvement, someone might mention the importance of lean principles in driving change.
  • A manufacturing engineer might say, “We need to adopt lean practices to optimize our operations.”

6. Work-in-progress

This term refers to any product or project that is still in the process of being completed. It represents items that are not yet finished but are actively being worked on.

  • For example, a project manager might say, “We have several work-in-progress tasks that need to be completed by the end of the week.”
  • In a manufacturing context, a supervisor might ask, “How many work-in-progress units do we have on the assembly line?”
  • A team member might update their colleagues by saying, “I made good progress on the work-in-progress report today.”

7. Kaizen

Kaizen is a Japanese term that means “continuous improvement” or “change for the better.” It is a philosophy and methodology that focuses on making small, incremental improvements in all aspects of a process or system.

  • For instance, a manager might say, “We need to adopt a kaizen mindset to constantly improve our production efficiency.”
  • A team member might suggest, “Let’s implement kaizen principles by regularly reviewing and optimizing our manufacturing processes.”
  • In a meeting, someone might ask, “What kaizen initiatives have we implemented recently?”

8. Cycle time

Cycle time refers to the total time it takes to complete a process, from start to finish. It encompasses all the necessary steps and activities involved in completing a task or producing a product.

  • For example, a production manager might say, “We need to reduce the cycle time for this product to meet customer demands.”
  • A team member might analyze cycle time data and suggest, “By streamlining our workflow, we can significantly reduce the overall cycle time.”
  • In a discussion about process efficiency, someone might ask, “What is the average cycle time for our most critical tasks?”

9. Poka-yoke

Poka-yoke is a Japanese term that means “mistake-proofing” or “error-proofing.” It refers to techniques or devices used to prevent human errors or mistakes from occurring in a manufacturing process.

  • For instance, a quality control engineer might say, “We need to implement poka-yoke measures to eliminate defects and errors.”
  • A team member might suggest, “Let’s design a poka-yoke system that detects and prevents assembly mistakes.”
  • In a training session, someone might explain, “Poka-yoke devices are used to ensure that operators follow the correct sequence of steps to avoid errors.”

10. Gemba

Gemba is a Japanese term that means “the real place” or “the actual place.” In a manufacturing context, it refers to the physical location where work is being done, such as the shop floor or production area.

  • For example, a supervisor might say, “I need to go to the gemba to observe the production process and identify any issues.”
  • A team member might suggest, “Let’s conduct gemba walks to gather firsthand information and insights from the operators.”
  • In a meeting, someone might ask, “What observations have you made during your gemba visits?”

11. SMED

SMED is a lean manufacturing technique that aims to reduce the time it takes to change over a machine or process from one product to another. The goal is to achieve a changeover time of less than 10 minutes, hence the term “single minute.”

  • For example, a factory manager might say, “Implementing SMED helped us increase our production efficiency.”
  • A production worker might mention, “We use SMED to minimize downtime between different product runs.”
  • In a discussion about lean manufacturing, someone might ask, “Has anyone had success with SMED in their facility?”

12. 5S

5S is a methodology used to create and maintain a clean, organized, and efficient work environment. It consists of five steps: sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain. The goal is to improve safety, productivity, and morale in the workplace.

  • For instance, a manufacturing supervisor might say, “We implemented 5S to eliminate clutter and improve workflow.”
  • A team member might mention, “During the ‘shine’ step of 5S, we clean and inspect our equipment.”
  • In a training session, an instructor might explain, “The ‘set in order’ step of 5S involves arranging tools and materials in a logical and ergonomic manner.”

13. Andon

An andon is a visual control device used in manufacturing to signal abnormal conditions or problems on the production line. It typically consists of a light or display that changes color or flashes to alert operators and supervisors.

  • For example, a line operator might say, “I pressed the andon when I noticed a machine malfunction.”
  • A production manager might mention, “We use andon lights to quickly identify and address production issues.”
  • In a discussion about continuous improvement, someone might ask, “How do you utilize andon systems to reduce downtime?”

14. Gemba walk

A gemba walk is a management practice where leaders and managers go to the actual work area, known as the gemba, to observe and engage with employees. It is a way to understand the work processes, identify problems, and gather insights for improvement.

  • For instance, a plant manager might say, “I conduct gemba walks to stay connected with our frontline employees.”
  • A team leader might mention, “During a gemba walk, we focus on observing and listening to our team members.”
  • In a lean manufacturing workshop, an instructor might explain, “Gemba walks help us identify waste and opportunities for process improvement.”

15. Heijunka

Heijunka is a lean manufacturing technique that aims to smooth out the production schedule and eliminate fluctuations in demand. It involves balancing the production of different products or product variants to achieve a more consistent and efficient workflow.

  • For example, a production planner might say, “We use heijunka to avoid overproduction and reduce inventory.”
  • A team member might mention, “Heijunka helps us better respond to changing customer demands.”
  • In a discussion about lean principles, someone might ask, “How do you implement heijunka in a high-mix, low-volume production environment?”

16. Muda

This term refers to any activity or process that does not add value to the final product or service. In manufacturing, it is often used to identify and eliminate activities that are unnecessary or inefficient.

  • For example, a lean manufacturing team might identify and eliminate muda in a production process to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
  • A manager might say, “We need to reduce muda in our assembly line to increase productivity.”
  • A worker might suggest, “We should implement lean principles to identify and eliminate muda in our work processes.”

17. Jidoka

Jidoka is a Japanese term that refers to the principle of building quality into the manufacturing process. It emphasizes the importance of stopping production when a defect is detected to prevent further defects from being created.

  • For instance, in a car manufacturing plant, jidoka might involve stopping the assembly line when a quality issue is detected and fixing the problem before continuing production.
  • A quality control engineer might say, “Jidoka is a key principle in achieving high-quality products.”
  • A supervisor might train workers on jidoka principles, saying, “If you detect a defect, stop the process and fix it immediately.”

18. Shop floor

The shop floor refers to the area in a manufacturing facility where production activities take place. It includes the space where machines, equipment, and workers are located.

  • For example, a manager might say, “We need to improve efficiency on the shop floor to meet production targets.”
  • A worker might ask a colleague, “Have you seen John? I need him to help me on the shop floor.”
  • During a tour of a factory, a visitor might ask, “Can we see the shop floor where all the production happens?”

19. Assembly line

An assembly line is a manufacturing process in which products are assembled in a sequential manner by a series of workers or machines. Each worker or machine performs a specific task as the product moves along the line.

  • For instance, in a car manufacturing plant, each worker on the assembly line might be responsible for installing a specific component of the car.
  • A manager might say, “We need to streamline our assembly line to increase production capacity.”
  • A worker might describe their job, saying, “I work on the assembly line, installing doors on the vehicles.”

20. Production line

A production line is a sequence of machines or workstations where products are assembled or manufactured. It is often used interchangeably with the term “assembly line.”

  • For example, in a food processing plant, a production line might involve a series of machines that clean, slice, and package fruits and vegetables.
  • A supervisor might say, “We need to optimize our production line to meet customer demand.”
  • A worker might explain their role, saying, “I operate a machine on the production line that fills bottles with liquid.”

21. Lean manufacturing

Lean manufacturing is a production system aimed at eliminating waste and improving efficiency. It focuses on reducing non-value-added activities and streamlining processes.

  • For example, a company might implement lean manufacturing principles to reduce inventory and improve production flow.
  • A manager might say, “We need to embrace lean manufacturing to stay competitive in the market.”
  • An employee might suggest, “Let’s use lean manufacturing techniques to eliminate bottlenecks and improve productivity.”

22. Just-in-time

Just-in-time (JIT) is an inventory management strategy that aims to deliver products or materials exactly when they are needed in the production process. It helps minimize inventory holding costs and reduce waste.

  • For instance, a company might adopt a just-in-time approach to reduce storage space and optimize cash flow.
  • A supply chain manager might say, “Just-in-time delivery ensures that we have the right materials at the right time.”
  • An employee might suggest, “Let’s implement just-in-time manufacturing to reduce lead times and improve customer satisfaction.”

23. Batch production

Batch production is a production method where products are manufactured in groups or batches. It involves producing a specific quantity of a product before moving on to the next batch.

  • For example, a bakery might use batch production to make a certain number of loaves of bread at a time.
  • A production supervisor might say, “Batch production allows us to control quality and minimize changeover time.”
  • An engineer might suggest, “Let’s optimize our batch production process to reduce setup time and increase output.”

24. Mass production

Mass production is a manufacturing process that involves producing goods in large quantities. It is characterized by high volume, low cost, and standardized products.

  • For instance, an automobile factory uses mass production to produce thousands of cars in a short period of time.
  • A business owner might say, “Mass production allows us to meet high demand and reduce unit costs.”
  • A production line worker might comment, “Working in mass production requires speed and efficiency to meet production targets.”

25. CNC machining

CNC machining refers to the use of computer numerical control (CNC) machines to automate the manufacturing process. It involves using pre-programmed software to control the movement of tools and machinery.

  • For example, a company might use CNC machining to produce precise and complex parts for aerospace applications.
  • An engineer might say, “CNC machining improves accuracy and reduces human error in the manufacturing process.”
  • A machinist might suggest, “Let’s invest in CNC machines to increase productivity and reduce setup time.”

26. Fabrication

Fabrication in the context of manufacturing refers to the process of creating or constructing something, often using raw materials or components. It can also refer to the act of making up or inventing something that is not true.

  • For example, “The fabrication of this car involves welding, painting, and assembly.”
  • In a discussion about fake news, someone might say, “The fabrication of false information has become a major issue.”
  • A person accused of lying might defend themselves by saying, “It’s not fabrication, it’s just a different perspective.”

27. Automation

Automation is the use of technology and machinery to perform tasks or processes with minimal human intervention. It involves the use of machines, robots, or computer systems to perform repetitive or labor-intensive tasks.

  • For instance, “The automation of this factory has greatly increased productivity and efficiency.”
  • In a conversation about job loss, someone might say, “Automation is replacing human workers in many industries.”
  • A company implementing automation might boast, “Our new automated system will streamline operations and reduce costs.”

28. Robotics

Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots. It involves the study of mechanical systems, electronics, and computer programming.

  • For example, “The field of robotics is advancing rapidly, with robots becoming more intelligent and capable.”
  • In a discussion about automation, someone might say, “Robotics plays a crucial role in the automation of manufacturing processes.”
  • A person interested in technology might say, “I’m fascinated by robotics and the potential for robots to improve our lives.”

29. Quality control

Quality control refers to the processes and procedures used to ensure that products or services meet specified quality standards. It involves monitoring and inspecting products at various stages of production to identify defects or deviations from the desired quality.

  • For instance, “The quality control department checks every product before it is shipped to ensure it meets our standards.”
  • In a conversation about customer satisfaction, someone might say, “Quality control is essential for maintaining a good reputation.”
  • A company implementing quality control measures might say, “We are committed to delivering products of the highest quality through rigorous quality control processes.”

30. JIT manufacturing

JIT manufacturing, also known as just-in-time manufacturing, is a production strategy that aims to minimize inventory and reduce waste by producing goods only when they are needed. It involves closely coordinating the supply of materials and components with the demand for the final product.

  • For example, “JIT manufacturing allows companies to respond quickly to changing customer demands.”
  • In a discussion about lean manufacturing, someone might say, “JIT manufacturing is a key component of lean production systems.”
  • A company implementing JIT manufacturing might boast, “Our JIT manufacturing system has significantly reduced storage costs and improved efficiency.”

31. MRP

A system used by manufacturing companies to manage and plan the materials needed for production. It involves analyzing the demand for products, determining the quantity and timing of materials required, and ensuring that the necessary materials are available when needed.

  • For example, a production manager might say, “We need to run MRP to determine how much raw material to order for next month.”
  • A supply chain analyst might discuss, “MRP helps optimize inventory levels and minimize stockouts.”
  • A manufacturing engineer might explain, “MRP is a key tool for ensuring production efficiency and meeting customer demand.”

32. TPM

A methodology used to optimize the effectiveness of equipment and machinery in a manufacturing environment. It focuses on proactive maintenance and continuous improvement to prevent breakdowns, reduce downtime, and improve overall equipment efficiency.

  • For instance, a plant manager might say, “We implemented TPM to increase our equipment reliability and reduce maintenance costs.”
  • A maintenance technician might discuss, “TPM involves regular inspections, cleaning, and lubrication of machines to keep them in optimal condition.”
  • A production supervisor might explain, “TPM requires involvement and commitment from all employees to ensure equipment is properly maintained.”

33. Downtime

Downtime refers to the period of time when a machine or production line is not in operation or is experiencing a temporary halt in production. It can be caused by various factors such as equipment breakdowns, maintenance, or changeovers.

  • For example, “The machine had to undergo repairs, resulting in significant downtime.”
  • A production manager might say, “We need to minimize downtime to maximize efficiency and productivity.”
  • During a meeting, someone might ask, “What steps can we take to reduce downtime and increase output?”

34. Batch processing

Batch processing is a method of processing a large amount of data or performing a series of tasks in a grouped or batched manner. It involves collecting and processing data in batches rather than individually or in real-time.

  • For instance, “The company uses batch processing to process payroll for all employees at once.”
  • A data analyst might explain, “Batch processing allows us to analyze large datasets more efficiently.”
  • During a presentation, someone might mention, “Batch processing can help streamline repetitive tasks and improve overall workflow.”
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