Glossary of Terms eBook

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By capturing the most important aspects of our assembly work, this Glossary of Terms guide is perfect for anyone joining the industry, customers who want a more profound knowledge of the process, and interested industrial workers who want to brush up on their intel! In that case, take the time to search for terms on your own time easily.

Additionally, with this Glossary of Terms downloaded, a quick flip through the pages will guarantee a better understanding of your products. Now that you have a high-quality resource; negotiate, plan, and discuss projects with the confidence of an assembly expert! 

Alternating Current (AC)

An electric current that switches direction periodically and changes its magnitude many times.

Analog Signal

Similar to voltage or electric current signals, these signals represent temperature, pressure, level, and more.

Automated Assembly

The use of automated devices to perform the various functions in an assembly line or cell. Control systems manage the automation of machines.


The raised portion at the front or back of the wire barrel crimp that creates a gradual transition for the attached wire strands.

Bill of Material (BOM)

A comprehensive list of the components, assemblies, subassemblies, parts, and raw materials needed to manufacture a product. This inventory also includes the quantity of each.

Box Build Assembly

Also known as systems integration, can be anything from a simple PCBA housed in a small enclosure to a cabinet housing a complex electromechanical system.


A type of shielding for cables and wires made from woven bare metallic or tinned copper wire.


Customers supply assembly drawings, instructions, and details for the contract manufacturer to build the products.

Burn-In Testing

The running of a system for an extended period to verify functionality.


A collection of insulated electrical conductors under a shared sheath in a twisted or parallel configuration.

Cable Assembly

A set of wires or cables arranged into a single product. It provides the power of several different cables while organizing them in a package that is easier to install, replace, and maintain.

Canadian Standards Association (CSA)

Canadian safety standards for electrical appliances, medical devices, and machinery.


A single device used to store and absorb an electrical charge. It consists of one or more pairs of conducting plates separated by an insulator.

Closed-Loop System

Also known as a Feedback Control System, this is a set of electrical or mechanical devices that uses automation to process variables of an operation.

Closed Wire Barrel

A sealed terminal that provides an electrical and mechanical connection to wire conductor(s).

Coaxial (Coax) Cable

A cable designed to have an inner conductor surrounded by an insulating layer, all surrounded by conductive shielding.


An element of a larger product, including the PCB and wires that make up the control panel.

Component Inspection Report

A comprehensive review of the item against design documents and verification of the item’s functions.

Computer Numerical Control (CNC)

The control panel for automated machine tools that utilizes a microcomputer and embedded software to operate.


A tube for insulated cables and wires to pass through.


A device that joins conductors physically and electrically.


The part of the connector that conducts and acts with another part to complete a circuit.

Control Panel

A combination of electrical devices that uses electrical power to control the various mechanical functions of industrial equipment or machinery.

Control System

A system of devices that commands and regulates the behavior of other devices or systems.


The bend or deformity in a piece of metal to join materials.


The joining of two or more materials of metal by deforming one or both of them to hold the other.

C-Track Cable

C-Track systems are designed to festoon round or flat cables used in various industrial environments.

Cut, Strip, & Terminate Machine

An automated machine that inputs a wire spool and outputs equal length wires with exact terminals.


The act of splicing wire to exact lengths for consistency and accuracy.

Data Link Assembly

Cable assemblies are used to move data from one operating system to another.

Digital Signal

A signal that represents data in discrete values as a sequence. It can mean electric current or voltage.

Direct Current (DC)

A flow of non-oscillating electric charge.

Disconnect Switch

A switch that energizes and de-energizes an electrical circuit.

Distributed Control System (DCS)

A control system with controller elements that are not central in location but distributed throughout the system.

Electromechanical Assembly

The process of constructing the equipment that controls the flow of electrical current needed to operate everyday mechanical equipment such as pacemakers, cell phones, and thermostats.

Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

The ability of electrical devices to function properly in an electromagnetic environment with no interference.

Enclosure (Custom / Off-the-Shelf)

Also known as Enclosure Cabinet, this cabinet holds and protects all the electrical and mechanical components of a full assembly. Custom cabinets are usually metal or plastic and have many customization options. Off-the-Shelf come ready-made for electrical wiring.

Enclosure Assembly

Also known as Control Panel Assembly, this assembly represents the completed product with all electrical and mechanical components added to the enclosure cabinet.

Enclosure Wiring

The electrical components and wires of the Enclosure Assembly.


A product that is coming to the end of its functionality and distribution.

Explosion-Proof Enclosure

A specific type of Enclosure that is customized to contain any explosive event. It is able to withstand any pressure from explosions and prevent further damage.

Ferrule Crimping

Short tubes that are fitted to wire in order to protect the loose strands from damage that may be caused when fastening to block terminals.

Floor Mount

A control panel that has an Enclosure Cabinet touching the ground. Multiple customizations are available due to their large size.


Also known as electric current, this is a stream of charged particles through a conductor or system.

Free Standing

A control panel that has an Enclosure Cabinet that can either touch the ground or have elevation. Multiple customizations are available due to its large size.

Functional Test

A behavioral test of the Functional Prototype or First Article to determine potential errors and design quality.


A reference point of electrical current that connects to the earth.

Ground Loop

A condition in an electrical control system that includes many conductive paths for electric current between two nodes.

Ground Potential

The zero reference level used to apply and measure voltages in a system.

Hi-Pot Testing

Also known as a High Potential Test, it is a direct application of a high voltage to an assembly under test. The test voltage is typically much higher than the usual operating voltage in order to see how the assembly will operate under extreme conditions.

Human-Machine Interface (HMI)

A dashboard on a control panel that allows for a person to interact with a machine or system.

In-Circuit Test (ICT)

An example of white-box testing where an electrical probe tests a populated printed circuit board, checking for shorts, opens, resistance, capacitance, and other basic quantities which will show whether the assembly was correctly fabricated.

Injection Molding

A manufacturing process that uses injected molten material into a mold. Injection molding can be performed with a host of materials mainly including metals, glasses, elastomers, confections, and most commonly thermoplastic and thermosetting polymers.

Institute of Printed Circuits (IPC)

An institute that establishes regulations for PCB Assembly for companies to improve quality standards.


A nonconductive material within a cable’s construction. It resists electrical leakage, which prevents the wire’s current from coming into contact with other wires and cables nearby.

Insulation Crimp

The area of a terminal or contact around the insulation of the wire.

Integrated Circuit (IC)

An electronic circuit formed on a tiny piece of semiconducting material, performing the same function as a larger circuit made from discrete components.


The outermost layer of a cable that is used as protection for the insulation and conductor core from external physical forces and chemical deterioration.

Junction Box

An enclosure that protects a connection, or junction, of multiple wires. It is normally small in size and creates a communal spot for electrical wires.

Kiosk Control System

A separate construction used to store various electrical components, including switchboards, distribution systems, and other devices.

Knowledge-Based System (KBS)

A type of artificial intelligence (AI), or advanced control system, that makes decisions from capturing the mastery of a human expert.

Light Emitting Diode (LED)

A semiconductor device where light is produced when an electric current passes through it.


A circuit component that consumes power or energy.

Machine Information System (MIS)

A single reporting interface for a group of production machines.

Man-Machine Interface (MMI)

The software that the process operator uses to manage an operating system. See Human-Machine Interface (HMI)


A controller’s setting can be set to, such as remote, auto, or manual.

Modular Enclosure

An Enclosure designed to have adaptability and flexibility. It is built to be expanded.

Multi-Door Enclosure

An Enclosure that includes two or more doors to house a large amount of electrical and mechanical components.

National Electrical Code (NEC)

The most complete collection for electrical code requirements that regulate installation for safety of assemblers and components.

National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)

A North American association that determines standards for electrical enclosures used in industrial applications. The enclosures are rated to display their level of protection against hazardous materials and environmental conditions.

Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

A company that builds sub-assemblies to make up a larger, sellable item.

Open-Loop Control

A system where the action from the controller is independent of the “process output”.

Open Wire Barrel

An open-ended terminal that provides an electrical and mechanical connection to wire conductor(s).

Point-to-Point Wiring

A manual method of construction of electrical circuits.

Printed Circuit Board (PCB)

A laminated structure of conductive and insulating layers. Semiconductors, connectors, resistors, diodes, capacitors, and radio devices are mounted to, and “talk” to one another through the PCB.

Printed Circuit Board Assembly (PCBA)

The completed product of assembly on a PCB board. The final stage that includes all components and inspection.

Programmable Logic Controllers (PLC)

An industrial computer that is programmed to control various manufacturing processes in automated operation via a series of inputs and outputs.

Quality Management Systems

A group of business processes aimed to meet customer requirements and product quality through documenting procedures and individual responsibilities.


A controller changes the output variable to move the process variable back to the set point.

Relay Control Panel

A control panel that is designed to use relays for operator control and monitoring.


A device with a resistance to the passage of an electric current.

Ribbon Cable

A cable with many conducting wires that run parallel to each other on the same plane. The cable is wide and flat.


The Restriction of Hazardous Substances. Most commonly referred to with lead-free soldering.

Set Point

The desired value of the process variable.

Silicon Controlled Rectifier (SCR)

A four-layer, solid-state, unidirectional current-controlling device.

Single-Door Enclosure

An Enclosure that includes a single door to hold its components.

Solid Conductor

A conductor constructed of one, single piece of metal. It is tougher than a stranded conductor and more rigid. Solid conductors are more capable of breakage if subjected to frequent flexing compared to stranded conductors.

Solid-State Relay (SSR)

A non-mechanical electronic device that switches on or off when an external voltage is applied across its control terminals.

Stranded Conductor

Stranded conductors are composed of uninsulated “strands” of wire twisted together. They are far more flexible than solid conductors.


The process of removing the outer protective layer of insulation while making certain to not slice the components beneath.


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


A board with layout details such as tapped holes that allows an assembler to easily install electrical and mechanical components into an Enclosure Cabinet.


A class of connectors that are used to transfer electrical current from a power or grounding source to a user.


An electrical resistor that controls and monitors the temperature of a device.

Transient Circuit Protection

Protection against short duration, high voltage spikes.


A set of equipment that is used to generate and transmit electromagnetic waves that carry signals.

Turnkey Application

An application that is managed by one company from infancy to maturity. Starting at proposal (concept) and ending with debugging.

Underwriters Laboratories (UL) Standards

A set of standards for product safety that lists companies who comply with the high-quality practices.

Upscale Break Protection

A form of detection of breakage for burned-out thermocouples. It signals to the operator that the thermocouple has burned out.

Visual Inspection

A common method of quality control, data acquisition, and data analysis using a trained eye to determine accuracy and conformance.

Voltage (V)

Pressure from a power source that pushes current through a conducting loop, enabling them to do work. A differential between two electrical points.

Wall Mount

An Enclosure that allows for mounting on the wall to hold all electrical and mechanical components.


A unit of power.


A slender rod made from drawn metal.

Wire Conductor

A material that allows electrical current to easily pass through. This component is usually made from a metal such as copper.

Wire Diameter

The thickness of the combined conductor and insulation.

X-Ray Evaluation

A testing method that simplifies the inspection process of control panel components by looking through the device to see the parts underneath, easily identifying errors.

Yellow-Wired Circuits

Wires that signify voltage coming from another source.

Zero Cross

Action that provides output switching only at or near the zero-voltage crossing points of the AC sine wave.

Zip File (PDF, GIF, DWG)

A compressed file that may contain important information detailing the design for the control panel including the component placement and layout.