The manufacturing industry is full of terminology that is important to know and understand. It’s especially vital for those who intend to make a long-term career in manufacturing. While we’ve discussed industry terms before, there are still so many more to learn, so here are a few more to expand your vocabulary.

Cycle Time

Cycle time represents the time it takes to complete a product from start to finish. It begins when a product starts moving through the production line, and ends when the product is fully assembled and ready for shipment. This allows you to calculate the efficiency of workers, equipment, and the production process.

You can calculate cycle time with a fairly simple equation. The total number of products / total production time = cycle time. From there, you can begin narrowing down where hold-ups seem to be happening and work on ways to reduce them.


When a process, machine, or cell stops production, the lull is called downtime. It can happen for a lot of reasons, such as an equipment malfunction or power outage that causes the systems to go offline. Downtime costs manufacturers in productivity, which is why regular maintenance checks on machinery and equipment is highly recommended so malfunctions are less likely, meaning downtime can be avoided.

Scrap/Rework Costs

Scrap costs is the cost of parts or materials wasted in the production process. Rework costs are the costs of fixing defective products so that they pass the final inspection. According to the American Productivity and Quality Center, scrap and rework costs can cost manufacturers up to 2.2% of annual revenue.

Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)

Good manufacturing practices (GMP) consist of guidelines, systems, and best practices for managing every aspect of the production process that impacts the product’s quality. GPM also ensures that manufacturers meet industry regulations so that products meet the highest possible standards.

Make to Order (MTO)

Make to order (MTO) is a production strategy where manufacturers don’t begin assembly until they get an order. This helps prevent manufacturers from having to rely too heavily on market demand, which can be difficult to predict. This process also allows for more customization, as orders can be built to exact customer specifications.


Poka-yoke is the Japanese term for “mistake-proofing.” It’s “the use of any automatic device or method that either makes it impossible for an error to occur or makes the error immediately obvious once it has occurred.” This is meant to eliminate errors or quality-related production defects as early in the process as possible, which can save on costs from wasted materials and labor. 

A good example of poka-yoke is having completed components pass through a customized opening to ensure that the product’s dimensions are not larger than they should be.

When starting an apprenticeship or training program in the manufacturing industry, it doesn’t hurt to know the terminology so you can better understand the environment you’ll be working in. Having this knowledge early in your career can help you advance up the ladder more quickly. With hard work and a little knowledge, you’ll be on the path to success in the manufacturing industry.