Welcome to our automation industry definition page, we tend to use a lot of acronyms in the automation industry and we hope that these definitions will clear things up.

Apprentice – A person who works under the guidance of, in trades, a licensed or more senior tradesperson in order to learn and gain skills and knowledge.

Apprenticeship – A formalized program of applied learning usually for skilled trades. Involves mentorship and education components.

Automation system – A system of components like motors, robots, sensors, actuators, cameras, integrated to perform tasks usually in a manufacturing environment.

Automation cell – A stand alone piece of automation that performs a particular task within an automation system. Will often include a robot.

Blue light scanning – A process where blue light is used to project a pattern onto an object and allow very accurate measuring, modeling and data collection.

Bowlfeeder – Also called a vibratory bowl feeder, it is a piece of automation that vibrates parts automatically to feed them through an inline and escapement, typically for a pick and place operation.

Canada Controlled Goods Program – A Canadian government program that requires registration for companies in the defence industry that examine, possess or transfer controlled goods.

Cobot – A more colloquial name for a collaborative robot.

Collaborative robot – A robot created for interaction with human workers on a factory floor. Developed to be safe, easy to program and less expensive than traditional industrial robots.

Contract Manufacturing – When a small manufacturer contracts out the production of automation equipment or components to another company. This allows a smaller company to fulfill customer orders without a large capital expenditure.

Conveyor – A piece of automation equipment for handling and transporting goods to a different location within an automation line.

CNC – Computer Numerical Control is used in a machine that uses a computer program to control the speed and movements of the workpiece and tool in a manufacturing machine.

Factory automation – Incorporates automation systems and all its components to optimize a manufacturing process, making it more efficient by reducing downtime, redundancies and ultimately improving profitability.

Gantry robot – A robot with 3 axes that move in different directions: up/down, in/out, back and forth, across a horizontal plane. Also called a cartesian robot.

Industrial robot – A programmable robot intended to automate intensive, rigorous manufacturing tasks. Moves on 3 or more axes and are capable of functions like assembly, welding, painting, packaging and picking and placing.

IIoT – The Industrial Internet of Things refers to the integration of the many devices in industry that are linked together and share communication, data and resources.

Industry 4.0 – Refers to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Industry 4.0 encompasses all the aspects of developing technologies and connectivity in industry and manufacturing, allowing computers to analyze and make decisions within processes to optimize outcomes, reduce downtime and provide rich information for manufacturers.

Industry 5.0 – Refers to the 5th Industrial Revolution which characterizes the optimized interactions of humans and machines within manufacturing and other industries to create an environment of sustainability and wellness alongside productivity. See also cobots and collaborative robots.

Lean automation – Employs the Lean principles of reducing waste through identification of redundancies while maintaining or improving efficiency and productivity.

Leak test – A quality test performed on a piece of manufactured equipment or product that ensures no liquid or gas can escape from a possible defect.

Machinist – A highly skilled tradesperson who has knowledge of the operation, set up and take down of CNC and manual machines such as mills, lathes, and grinders.

Machining – The process that removes material, usually metal, to create a part or piece of machinery for manufacturing or automation equipment for example, using machines like drill presses, lathes, milling machines and grinders.

Machine vision – Refers to use of hardware, software, processes and system integration used to inspect, analyze and guide materials and machinery (robots) in automation systems.

Millwright – A highly skilled tradesperson who assembles, installs, dismantles, maintains, and repairs machinery in factories.

PLC – Programmable Logic Controller is a rugged industrial computer that controls manufacturing equipment and processes and can provide fault detection and analysis.

Robot – A programmable machine (often in manufacturing environments) capable of carrying out actions automatically.

SCARA – Selective Compliant Assembly/Articulated Robot Arm is a robot with an articulated arm that operates in the XYZ plane.

SCADA – Supervisory control and data acquisition in a control system architecture for the control of machines, a line or several machines.

Simulation – When the imitation of an operation or process is created in order to model possible, different outcomes.

Systems integrator – A company (or person) who specializes in pulling together disparate components, which could include software and hardware, to create a functioning, cohesive system or automation line.

Tooling – The components and tools required for the creation of machining processes. Could include fixtures, jigs, gauges, molds, and dies.

Tool & Diemaker – A highly skilled tradesperson who makes jigs, fixtures, dies, molds, machine tools, cutting tools, gauges, and other tools used in manufacturing processes.

Transfer die – Used in a press process where the part usually has to be freed from the metal blank to continue on in a process (unlike in a progressive die); can be a single die, or number of dies in a row that form a production process or line.

Turnkey – Refers to a system that is designed, built and installed, and immediately ready to operate.

Tube bending – Process of metal forming where tubes and/or pipes are bent, using dedicated tooling and automation for a specific part geometry.