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Manufacturing & Quality Acronyms & Abbreviations Every Industry Pro Should Know

Mari Luke
May 8, 2019 8:46:40 AM

Have you ever heard an acronym but didn't know what it meant? It can really throw you off your game in a conversation. I usually try to write it down, or if possible look it up on my phone without anyone seeing. 

Industry specific acronyms can have multiple meanings, and sometimes Wikipedia isn't specific enough. 

That's why we've collected a list of the 31 most common manufacturing and quality acronyms that you can skim, study, or bookmark for later. 

Accepted Quality Limit (AQL)
In a continuing series of lots, a quality level that, for the purpose of sampling inspection, is the limit of a satisfactory process average.

Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
A high-level automotive process for product realization, from design through production part approval.

American Society for Quality (ASQ)
A professional, not-for-profit association that develops, promotes and applies quality-related information and technology for the private sector, government and academia. ASQ serves individual and organizational members in more than 140 countries.

Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG)
A global automotive trade association with about 2,600-plus member companies that focuses on common business processes, implementation guidelines, education and training.

Bill of Material (BOM)
A list of components and materials contained in the design record(s) of a product. 

Capability Maturity Model (CMM)
 A framework that describes the key elements of an effective software process. It’s an evolutionary improvement path from an immature process to a mature, disciplined process. The CMM covers practices for planning, engineering and managing software development and maintenance to improve the ability of organizations to meet goals for cost, schedule, functionality and product quality.

Closed-Loop Corrective Action (CLCA)
A sophisticated engineering system to document, verify and diagnose failures, recommend and initiate corrective action, provide follow-up and maintain comprehensive statistical records. Code of conduct: Expectations of behavior mutually agreed on by a team.

Coordinate Measuring Machine (CMM)
A device that dimensionally measures 3-D products, tools and components with an accuracy approaching 0.0001 inches.

Critical Item (CI)
Those items (functions, parts, software, characteristics, processes) having significant effect on the product realization and use of the product; including safety, performance, form, fit, function, producibility, service life, etc.; that require specific actions to ensure they are adequately managed. Examples include: safety CIs, fracture CIs, mission CIs, Key Characteristics (KCs), and maintenance tasks critical for safety.

Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)
Commercially available applications, defined by industry recognized specifications and standards, sold through public catalog listings. 

Cost of Poor Quality (COPQ)
The costs associated with providing poor quality products or services. There are four categories: internal failure costs (costs associated with defects found before the customer receives the product or service), external failure costs (costs associated with defects found after the customer receives the product or service), appraisal costs (costs incurred to determine the degree of conformance to quality requirements) and prevention costs (costs incurred to keep failure and appraisal costs to a minimum).

Control Plan (CP)
Written descriptions of the systems for controlling part and process quality by addressing the key characteristics and engineering requirements.

Distributed Control System (DCS)
A distributed control system uses computers, sensors, algorithms, and actuators to monitor and manage or control a machine, process, or site. The process inputs and outputs that are used to monitor and control equipment and processes are distributed, as opposed to centralized.

Digital Product Definition (DPD)
Requirements of any digital data files that disclose, directly or by reference, the physical or functional requirements, including data files that disclose the design or acceptance criteria of a product. Examples of DPD include the following:

  • The digital definition and fully dimensioned two-dimensional (2D) drawing sheets.
  • Three-dimensional (3D) data model and simplified or reduced content 2D drawing sheets.
  • The 3D model with design characteristics displayed as text.
  • Any other data files that define a product in its entirety.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
ERP software can be used at all levels of management to track current resources (i.e. raw materials, production capacities, cash) and commitments (i.e. invoices, POs, payroll). It allows data sharing between manufacturing, purchasing, sales, human resources, accounting, and other departmental systems to facilitate decision making and tracking.

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
A structured method for analyzing risk by ranking and documenting potential failure mode in a system, design or process. The analysis includes: 

  • Identification of potential failures and their effects
  • Ranking of factors (severity, frequency of occurrence, detectability of the potential failures)
  • Identification results of actions taken to reduce or eliminate risk

The FMEA assists in the identification of critical items as well as key design and process characteristics, helps prioritize action plans for mitigating risk, and serves as a repository for lessons learned. 

First Article Inspection (FAI) also referred to as production process verification
A planned, complete, independent, and documented inspection and verification process to ensure that prescribed production processes have produced an item conforming to engineering drawings, DPD, planning, purchase order, engineering specifications, and/or other applicable design documents.

First Article Inspection Report (FAIR)
The forms and package of documentation for a part number, sub-assembly, or assembly, including associated FAI results.

Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility (GR&R)
The evaluation of a gauging instrument’s accuracy by determining whether its measurements are repeatable (there is close agreement among a number of consecutive measurements of the output for the same value of the input under the same operating conditions) and reproducible (there is close agreement among repeated measurements of the output for the same value of input made under the same operating conditions over a period of time).

Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GD&T)
 A set of rules and standard symbols to define part features and relationships on an engineering drawing depicting the geometric relationship of part features and allowing the maximum tolerance that permits full function of the product. Learn more about GD&T. 

International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG)
An international nonprofit aerospace and defense industry legal entity (registered in Brussels) to continuously improve the industry’s processes used by its supply chain to consistently deliver high-quality products or services and to make significant improvements in quality performance and reductions in cost.

International Automotive Task Force (IATF)
An ad hoc group of automotive manufacturers (for example, General Motors, Ford, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, BMW, Volkswagen and Renault) and their respective trade associations (for example, Automotive Industry Action Group, the German Association of the Automotive Industry and the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders) formed to provide improved quality products to automotive customers worldwide.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)
An independent, nongovernmental international organization with a membership of 161 national standards bodies that unites experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market-relevant international standards, guidelines and other types of documents.

Key Characteristic (KC)
An attribute or feature whose variation has a significant influence on product fit, performance, service life, or producibility; that requires specific action for the purpose of controlling variation

  • KCs for a part, subassembly, or system are those selected geometrical, material properties, functional, and/or cosmetic features; which are measurable, and whose variation control is necessary for fulfilling customer requirements and enhancing customer satisfaction.
  • Process KCs are those selected measurable characteristics of a process whose control is essential to manage variation of part or system KCs.

Substitute KCs may be identified when a customer-defined KC is not readily measurable, within the production/maintenance setting, and other characteristics may need to be controlled to ensure conformance.

Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA)
A study of the effects of selected elements of a measurement process (i.e., people, machines, tools, methods, materials, environment) on accuracy, precision, and uncertainty of measurement.

Product Development Process (PDP)
A generically applied term referring to an organization’s process(es) for product realization. The process begins with conceptual product needs and expands throughout the life of the product. Common milestones include: kick-off, end of concept [i.e., Preliminary Design Review (PDR)], design release [i.e., Critical Design Review (CDR)], initial production approval, and production launch.

Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)
A customer part qualification process for purchased parts or materials that are to be used in the customer’s final product. Customer PPAP approval, or a deviation, is required before shipping the purchased parts or materials to the customer for use in their production process. Its purpose is to determine whether all customer engineering design record requirements are properly understood by the supplier and that the process has the potential to produce product consistently meeting these requirements.

Production Readiness Review (PRR)
A review of the manufacturing process (e.g., equipment, operator training, manufacturing documentation, control plan, associated measurement tools) by a multi-disciplinary team to verify that the production processes are appropriately defined, documented, and ready for production.

Quality Assurance/Quality Control (QA/QC)
Two terms that have many interpretations because of the multiple definitions for the words “assurance” and “control.” For example, “assurance” can mean the act of giving confidence, the state of being certain or the act of making certain; “control” can mean an evaluation to indicate needed corrective responses, the act of guiding or the state of a process in which the variability is attributable to a constant system of chance causes. (For a detailed discussion on the multiple definitions, see ANSI/ISO/ASQ A3534-2, Statistics—Vocabulary and Symbols—Statistical Quality Control.) One definition of quality assurance is: all the planned and systematic activities implemented within the quality system that can be demonstrated to provide confidence that a product or service will fulfill requirements for quality. One definition for quality control is: the operational techniques and activities used to fulfill requirements for quality. Often, however, “quality assurance” and “quality control” are used interchangeably, referring to the actions performed to ensure the quality of a product, service or process.

Quality Management System (QMS)
A formal system that documents the structure, processes, roles, responsibilities and procedures required to achieve effective quality management.

Statistical Process Control (SPC)
This is a set of statistical tools and techniques that are used to measure and analyze the variations in a process. The purpose of SPC is to monitor and improve process stability by controlling process inputs.

Statistical Quality Control (SQL)
The application of statistical techniques to control quality. Often used interchangeably with the term “statistical process control” (see listing), although statistical quality control includes acceptance sampling, which statistical process control does not.

Have a manufacturing or quality acronym to add to the list? Contact us with the term and its definition. 

Resources: ASQ Quality Glossary,  IAQG International Dictionary.

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