Backhaul

(1) in logistics, backhaul refers to the practice of maximising efficiencies through the use of return truck loads. For example, a factory might use a truck to collect new parts from a supplier after it has completed delivery of a batch of finished products to a distribution center. (2) in telecoms, the backhaul network is the part of the network which connects the ‘core’ (or ‘backbone’) network to the edge networks.

Balanced Scorecard

The balanced scorecard is a widely used strategic planning and management system. The original concept identified four perspectives (Customer, Process, Financial, Learning&Growth) as a structure for strategic metrics to cover an entire business. Balanced scorecard systems have built on this concept to help align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization, improve internal and external communications, and monitor organization performance against strategic goals.

Bar Coding

Bar Coding uses machine readable patterns to label items. The first barcodes, consisting of varying width bars and spaces, remain very significant in the market, even though new formats have been proposed.

Barrel

A volumetric unit of measure which when applied to oil is equivalent to 42 US gallons or 34.97 Imperial gallons. Note that a barrel has different definitions when used for materials other than oil.

Barrel of Oil Equivalent

(BOE)

The Barrel of Oil Equivalent is an energy unit that is convenient for expressing the quantity of oil or gas in common terms. It is equivalent to 5.8 million BTU or 6.1 GJ. In terms of oil, a BOE is the energy released (approximately) by burning 42 US gallons (one barrel) of crude oil, and in terms of natural gas is the energy equivalent of about 6000 cubic feet.

Base Inorganics

All inorganic chemicals used in industrial production can be classified as either Alkali Chemicals, or Base Inorganics. Base inorganics are widely used as additives to petrochemical feedstocks, and also in applications such as papermaking, electroplating and batteries.

Batch Process Manufacturing

Input materials are divided into distinct batch quantities. Each batch is processed and tracked individually  to account for variations in recipes and customer attribute requirements. Processing can be through automated systems twenty-four hours a day, or by different steps for each batch.

Batch Production

In batch production, a quantity of ingredients, or a number of identical parts, are grouped into a batch which travels through the plant as one unit. This can improve efficiency and simplify scheduling. The choice of the optimum quantity of materials or number of parts in a batch (the batch size or lot size) is important. It depends on the capacity and machines in the factory, the mix of orders received, and the extent to which parts need to be customized.

Bauxite

The ore from which aluminum is extracted.

Benchmarking

Benchmarking is the process of comparing the cost, cycle time, productivity, or quality of a specific process or method to that of similar companies. The aim is to find the industry standard or best practice, as well as to demonstrate to investors how well their company is performing in key areas.

Benzene

Benzene is a colourless liquid used in production of many chemicals including polystyrene. It is a volatile hydrocarbon which can be extracted from coal but since 1950 is mainly extracted from crude oil. It is toxic and  a known carcinogen, so there are strict controls on benzene emissions.

Bid-to-win ratio

The bid-to-win ratio measures the success rate of a company’s attempts to win sales. Bid-to-win is an important metric for businesses where substantial costs are incurred before a contract is awarded. This is often the case for sales of high value capital goods (for example, production machinery), engineer-to-order businesses (for example, power generation equipment), and project oriented businesses (for example, heating and ventilation installation).

The sales cycle can include extensive planning, design and configuration work, often with multiple versions to track changing specifications. To manage risk, selling companies can treat custom design work as a paid service, and can structure products for configuration.

Big Data

The vast amount of unstructured business data that exceeds convention processing power. Big Data can be characterized by the 3Vs – high-volume, velocity and variety. Volume and velocity refer to the speed at which data is generated in real time from each and every aspect of operations. Variety refers to the diverse sources of this data: sensors on machines and many other assets, unconnected software applications, employee emails, social media etc.

Bill of Materials

(BOM)

A listing of all the subassemblies, parts, and raw materials that go into a parent assembly. A Bill of Material is held in the organization’s ERP system and provides a link to relevant costing information held by the F&A group. The document is finalised when a new product is released to production at the end of the product development process.

Biobutanol

Biobutanol is produced from renewable biomass sources. When produced from oil sources, it is called butanol. Biobutanol has demonstrated potential to reduce automotive carbon emissions, for example, as an additive or blend with gasoline. Recent advances with “”designer microbes”” enable use of lower-cost biomass feedstocks – for example, those with tough cellulose fibers – for biobutanol production at gasoline-competitive costs.

Biofuel

Biofuel is any liquid, solid or gas that is obtained from living (or recently living) materials and that can be processed or ignited to provide energy. In contrast, fossil fuels are ancient organic materials that have built up eons ago and can now be mined as oil, gas or solids (coal).

Biologics

Biologics are biological products used in medicine. Unlike drugs which are chemically synthesized, biologics are created from natural source materials. Biologics include vaccines, blood, and blood components as well as products based on genetic and other biotechnologies.

Biotechnology

The use of biological processes or organisms for human benefit. Genetic engineering and the bacteria used in sewage treatment are two examples.

Bottleneck

A bottleneck in a production system is any point where demand exceeds capacity. It is important to identify and maximize use of bottlenecks – but only if the system is producing the right products.

Brand extension or Brand Stretch

This is a marketing strategy used by CPG companies who seek to extract maximum value from established brands by using the same brand name in a new product category. For example, the Virgin family of companies started as a record shop, then became a record label and now has businesses in a very diverse set of markets from transport to services.

BRIC

An acronym for Brazil, Russia, India, and China. In 2003, these countries were identified as developing nations with large growth potential. At that time, economic forecasts indicated that BRIC together would become wealthier, and control a greater proportion of global manufacturing and services, than the traditional leading Western economic powers at the time.

Broker

A broker is an intermediary between buyer and seller. A broker facilitates and enables a buyer and seller to complete a sales transaction. In strict legal terms, this is different to an agent, who acts on behalf of either buyer or seller. Brokers earn the fees and commissions they charge in many different ways, ranging from research, market knowledge and contacts to promotional programs, product management and sales administration services.

Business Intelligence

(BI)

Business Intelligence describes a category of software products that is capable of analysing data sets, that may be very large, and identifying patterns or relationships within the data that would not otherwise be apparent. BI offers significant benefits for manages or executives trying to understand data that describes complex and often changeable behaviour.

Business Jet

Business jet describes an aircraft, usually of smaller size, designed for transporting groups of business people. The more formal terms of corporate jet or executive jet tend to be used by the firms that build, sell, buy and charter these aircraft.

Business Process

A business consists of a set of interconnected business processes. Each business process is a group of related tasks and activities. Visualization of business processes (for example, as a flowchart) helps management teams analyze, improve and optimize performance, and make changes to support strategic initiatives.

Business to Business

(B2B)

This term describes a very common business model adopted by many manufacturers who sell primarily or exclusively to other manufacturers, rather than to consumers. In contrast, a Business to Consumer (B2C) company sells its products direct to consumers.

By-product

A by-product is an incidental or secondary product made in the manufacture of something else. A by-product can sometimes be useful and marketable, or it may be considered waste.