3 A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y


In computer systems, ‘cache’ is short for ‘cache memory’, which acts as a buffer for transfers to and from memory systems. By building cache from very fast memory, performance is improved, especially when data or instructions are repeatedly required.

Capacity Utilization

Capacity Utlilization is usually expressed as a percentage which measures how much of a total manufacturing output capacity is being used at a given point in time. It can be used to measure a machine, production line, factory, company, industry or sometimes country.

Capital Expenditure

Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) is money spent by a company to acquire or upgrade physical assets, from trucks, to machinery, to whole factory facilities.

Capex is recorded separately from day-to-day costs, because tax authorities often encourage this investment with special allowances; and also because it is helpful to view the cost of a capital item as if it is spread over the useful life of the item. See also Capital Purchase.

Capital Purchases

Capital Purchases are investments in production plants, equipment, buildings, and other fixed assets. These assets are intended to raise the revenue-earning capacity of a company. A capital purchase can be paid for from cash reserves and/or by borrowing money. Either way, accountancy procedures will help show the value of the asset, and its annual cost to the business, spread over its useful life. See also Capital Expenditure.

Carbon capture and storage

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) refers to several technologies and techniques which allow companies to ‘catch’ carbon dioxide gas which would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere by industrial facilities and power plants.

In 2020, the Global CCS Institute identified 59 CCS facilities worldwide with a total capture capacity of 127 million tonnes p.a. (compare 2016 emissions due to human activity of 35 thousand million tons).

Carbon footprint

A carbon footprint is the total set of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions caused directly and indirectly by an individual, organization, event, or product (UK Carbon Trust 2008). An individual, organisation, or national carbon footprint is measured by undertaking a GHG emissions assessment.

Carbon Sequestration

Carbon sequestration is achieved when carbon is removed from the atmosphere (as CO2) and stored, or separated from fuels or flue gases and stored. Carbon sequestration is either technological (usually called carbon capture and storage) or biological (biological carbon sequestration). The viability of carbon sequestration depends on the cost of the process and the policy context that determines the value of sequestered carbon.


Carrier is the company that physically moves freight (the shipper is the carrier’s customer).

Cash-to-cash cycle time

Cash-to-cash cycle time measures the time from when a manufacturer pays its suppliers for material to the time it is paid by customers for the products that used those supplies or materials. This cash flow measure can range from many months in complex long lead-time industries to negative numbers for companies such as Dell Computers, which collects money from its customers before it pays suppliers for the parts in those products.

Category Management

A category in the retail environment is a group of similar products that may require in-depth knowledge and understanding. Management of the retail environment as a series of categories enables retailers to treat the business as a series of strategic business units which can be assigned a set of resources and managed on the basis of profit. Category managers may compete internally for additional resources such as floor area or marketing support for example.


CAx is a generic term for Computer Aided technologies including CAD – Computer Aided Design, CAM – Computer Aided Manufacturing, and CAE – Computer Aided Engineering. In many cases, CAx technology makes use of interactive computer graphics.

Cellular Manufacturing

Cellular manufacturing is a manufacturing approach in which equipment and workstations are located in a number of close-proximity groups (‘cells’). Each cell is equipped to make a component or sub-assembly, or complete a standard sequence of process steps. This concept can improve factory efficiency, both by reducing distance travelled by materials, also by making it easier for workers to communicate about problems, changes and plans.


Certification is the procedure which enables a responsible authority to confirm a product, process or service meets relevant standards. In aviation, certification is a regulatory obligation. 

A Certificate of Airworthiness is issued or validated by the state in which the aircraft is registered, and remains effective only if maintenance is performed according to approved standards.

Changeover Time

Changeover time is the time required to modify part or all of a production system to make a different product. Production systems designed for high volume standard products (food, consumer goods) are likely to have larger changeover times than production systems designed for smaller batch sizes and product variants.

Chapter 11

Chapter 11 is part of the US Bankruptcy Code which gives time to reorganise to a business facing bankruptcy. The intention is to allow the business to survive and pay creditors according to a reorganisation plan agreed at a confirmation hearing in a federal court.

Charge Coupled Devices

Charge Coupled Devices (CCDs) are silicon-based light detectors, widely used in astronomy for imaging of visible, ultraviolet and infrared radiation. They are also used in commercial digital cameras. The introduction of CCDs for astronomical imaging in the late 1970s, as replacements for the photographic plate, made possible many of the breakthroughs that have shaped modern astronomy.


Chlorine is a greenish-yellow gas which is toxic and corrosive. It irritates and can damage the respiratory system and the eyes. Used carefully and in suitable amounts, it disinfects drinking water and keeps swimming pools clean. Chlorine chemistry is used to make thousands of products, from plastic foams to contact lenses. Even when not part of the finished item, it is vital in many production processes – for example, titanium is purified using chlorine.


Classified information is sensitive information to which access is restricted by law or regulation to particular classes of persons. A hierarchical system with several levels of sensitivity is used by virtually every national government.

Closed loop control

Closed loop control is a method of automation in which part of the output is fed back to the input to achieve a regulatory action. For example, a closed-loop heating controller might measure a room temperature and switch heating on if the temperature is below target. In contrast, an open control would switch heating on for preset time periods without measuring the temperature.

Cloud computing

Cloud computing delivers computing services such as servers, databases, networking, and software over the Internet.

Providers of cloud computing have built many large data centres around the world, equipped with banks of networked computers. They have developed technology to give customers access via the Internet to buy and use capacity as needed, usually on a ‘pay-per-use’ basis.

To access cloud-based systems, all that is needed is a PC or phone and an Internet connection, so businesses can reduce investments in servers and other IT equipment.


A co-product is a product that is usually manufactured together or sequentially with another item because of product or process similarities. For example, an oil refinery produces a number of co-products such as gasoline, kerosene and naptha.

CO2 Equivalent Emissions

CO2 Equivalent Emissions is a standard which allows comparison of different amounts and types of greenhouse gas and particulate pollution. A figure for CO2 Equivalent Emissions is calculated by determining the global warming impact of each type of emission, and converting this to the amount of CO2 which would have the same impact. Adding these CO2 equivalent numbers gives a single CO2 Equivalent Emissions figure to enable legitimate comparisons between processing facilities, industries, and countries.

Coaxial cable 

Coaxial cable (often ‘coax’) offers high-data rates and high immunity to electrical interference. It is used to connect data and communication devices. It consists of (1) an inner wire surrounded by (2) a layer of insulating material, then (3) a concentric layer of conductive material, then (4) an outer cover. The conductive material (3) shields the wire (1) from interference.

Collaborative Planning Forecasting and Replenishment

Collaborative Planning Forecasting and Replenishment (CPFR) is a concept which aims to lower costs and improve efficiency by enabling cooperation between participants in a supply chain. Best known in retail environments, CPFR requires shared or networked IT systems to link trading partners. This enables continuous update and visibility of inventory and supports rapid response to changes in demand. Efficiencies come from lower inventory, logistics, and transportation costs for all trading partners.


A commodity is a product that is the same no matter who produces it, such as petroleum, copper or milk.

Component Supplier Management

Component Supplier Management (CSM) is an approach in which organized product information supports choice of standard parts and production processes, and reuse of existing designs. Widely used in the high-tech industry, CSM encourages use of parts which have more than one supplier, and helps avoid proliferation of components and suppliers.


Composite materials (or composites for short) are engineered materials made from two or more constituent materials. There are numerous composites, but common composites are advanced thermoset systems, usually incorporating aramid fibre and carbon fibre in an epoxy resin matrix.

Compound Annual Growth Rate

Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is used both for historic review and future business planning. CAGR converts the up-and-down nature of most investment and market value curves into a single figure. The CAGR is the annual percentage growth rate which, if it occurred every year over the time period being reviewed or forecast, would convert the initial value into the final value.

Computational Fluid Dynamics

Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) uses mathematics and software to simulate and visualize the behaviour of gases and liquids. Most practical problems can only be solved by treating the fluid as a large number of connected cells, calculating a small step change for each cell, and repeating the calculation for the next step.

Computer Aided Design (CAD)

Computer Aided Design (CAD) is the use of computer technology to help design engineers develop and specify a component or product. Some CAD systems are specific to particular disciplines, for example, shipbuilding, or process plant. General purpose systems support both two dimensional (2D) and three dimensional (3D) representations, and are often linked to other systems which use product information.

Computer Aided Engineering (CAE)

Computer Aided Engineering (CAE) is the use of computer technology for analysis and error-checking of a design. This may include strength performance and manufacturability assessment.

Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM)

Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM) systems use computers to help develop instructions and programs for automated manufacturing equipment. Programs are downloaded to the equipment, and, due to historic pre-network capabilities, are sometimes referred to as ‘tapes’.

Computer Aided Process Planning (CAPP)

Computer Aided Process Planning (CAPP): Software-based systems that aid manufacturing engineers in creating a process plan to manufacture a product whose geometric, electronic, and other characteristics have been captured in a CAD database. CAPP systems address such manufacturing criteria as target costs, target lead times, anticipated production volumes, availability of equipment, production routings, opportunity for material substitution, and test requirements.

Computer Aided Production Engineering

Computer Aided Production Engineering (CAPE): Software used to model the factory, production line or work cell layout to simulate production processes and generate efficient operations plans and train operators.

Computer Integrated Manufacturing

Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM) refers to a variety of approaches in which computer systems communicate or interoperate over a local-area network.

Typically, CIM systems link management functions with engineering, manufacturing, and support operations. In the factory, CIM systems may control the sequencing of production operations, control operation of automated equipment and conveyor systems, transmit manufacturing instructions, capture data at various stages of the manufacturing or assembly process, facilitate tracking and analysis of test results and operating parameters, or a combination of these.

Concurrent Engineering

Concurrent Engineering seeks the optimum way to save time by performing multiple engineering tasks in parallel. Mainly used in product development and production engineering, the potential scope of concurrent engineering is large, covering development, manufacturing planning, maintenance, environmental impact and recycling planning. All these functions can potentially start in parallel with only partial information, especially when the specialists involved are organized into one team.

Configuration Management

Configuration Management is a discipline applying technical and administrative direction and monitoring to:

(1) identify and document the functional and physical characteristics of a product or process as defined in its specification;

(2) control changes to those characteristics;

(3) record and report changes to processing and implementation status. This is typically implemented via a Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) system.


Configurator is a rule-based system which allows the user to specify the configuration of a product required by the customer.

Product information is coupled with a set of rules that specify, for instance, which combinations of options are possible. Advanced configurators allow the user to specify only some options, then optimise the remaining options for lowest cost or earliest delivery etc.

Configure to Order

Configure to Order (CTO) means assembly of standard products in a way that matches a customer’s specifications.  CTO is generally done at the last step of production on the final assembly line. Up until final assembly, products are built to forecast and at final assembly they are assembled to customer order or to a forecast of products with unique configurations.

Connected Applications

Connected Applications use the internet and/or other methods of connectivity to receive and/or send information to sensors on ‘things’ such as devices, products or other equipment.


The consignee is the company or person with legal and financial responsibility to receive goods being transported from sender to receiver.


In business, consolidation refers to the mergers or acquisitions of many smaller companies into larger ones.


Consortium is a group of individuals or companies formed to undertake an enterprise or activity that would be beyond the capabilities of the individual members.

Constraint-based planning

Constraint-based planning is a method of planning that takes account of all constraints in the production system, including supplier, material stock, factory capacity, warehousing, and transportation.

It is used to make plans and schedules as realistic and achievable as possible. Advanced planning Systems usually offer this capability.

Consumer Packaged Goods

Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) covers a wide range of products available in packages suitable for the individual consumer or family. The category includes food and drink, health and beauty, household cleaners and many other items. The term is in widespread general use and in some cases the context may imply a more specific definition.

Content Management System

A Content Management System (CMS) is a computer application used to create, edit, manage, search, and publish various kinds of digital media and electronic text. They are used for storing, controlling, versioning, and publishing industry-specific documentation such as news articles, operators’ manuals, technical manuals, sales guides, and marketing brochures.

Continuous Acquisition and Lifecycle Support

Continuous Acquisition and Lifecycle Support (CALS) is a United States Department of Defense strategy and set of standards for use by the military and their industry partners. CALS is intended to enable more effective generation, exchange, management and use of digital data supporting defense systems.

Continuous Flow Production

Continuous Flow Production (CFP) is achieved when materials move through the production process without stopping. This is often possible for packaging steps in high-volume production, for example, food and beverage. It is almost built-in to many automated production lines. It lowers inventory levels (no materials are waiting for the next process).

Continuous-Replenishment Programs

Continuous-Replenishment Programs are arrangements with supplier companies in which the supplier monitors the customer’s inventory and automatically replaces used materials, eliminating the need for purchase orders and related paperwork.

Contract Research Organisation

Contract Research Organisation (CRO) is an organisation to which pharmaceutical companies can sub-contract activities, for example clinical trial work.

Contrail Cirrus Clouds

Aircraft flying in cold and humid air masses induce contrails that take the form of cirrus clouds which warm the Earth’s atmosphere by reducing terrestrial radiation into space. The clouds also help to cool the Earth by increasing its albedo, but studies have shown that the warming effects dominate.

Core Competency

Core Competency refers to the processes, functions, and activities in a plant or company that are its lifeblood, namely, the source of its differentiated added-value. Usually, these are the activities for which the enterprise derives the greatest return for its investments or those that intrinsically align the enterprise with its core market.

Corporate Governance

Corporate Governance are the set of processes, customs, policies, laws, and institutions affecting the way a company is directed, administered or controlled.

Corporate governance also includes the goals for which the corporation is governed including the relationships among the many stakeholders.

Stakeholders include the shareholders, the management, the board of directors, employees, customers, creditors, suppliers, regulators, and the community at large.

Cost of Goods Sold

Cost of Goods Sold (COGS) are the costs directly associated with making or acquiring products for resale. Costs include materials purchased from outside suppliers and used in the manufacture of the product, as well as any internal expenses directly expended in the manufacturing process, e.g. labor costs.

Cost of quality

Cost of quality is the sum of all costs associated with conformance and non-conformance. Cost of conformance includes prevention costs (employee training, tooling maintenance, planned preventive maintenance, suggestion awards) and appraisal costs (inspection, testing, gages and instrumentation, audit expenses).

The cost of non-conformance includes internal costs (unscheduled maintenance, pre-shipment scrap and rework, workers’ compensation) and external costs (warranty, customer complaint investigation, rework of returned goods, and product liability insurance).

Crack spread

Crack spread, used in the oil and gas sector, compares the prices of just one or two refinery output products to the cost of the crude oil used to make them. Like Gross Product Worth, crack spread can be used to estimate refining margins, however crack spread is intended as a simple, quick measure.

Crack spread is often based on a single product, typically gasoline, but multiple products can be included. The 3:2:1 crack spread is well known in US oil refineries, which generally produce about 2 barrels of gasoline for every barrel of distillates (distillates include diesel and home heating oil). The 3:2:1 crack spread is calculated by subtracting the price of 3 barrels of oil from the total price of two barrels of gasoline plus one barrel of distillates.

Critical Path

In project management, a critical path is the set of tasks which define the shortest possible time to complete the project.  Any delay in critical path tasks will delay overall project completion. To identify the critical path, it is essential to know dependencies between tasks, that is, which tasks must be complete before another task can start. For tasks away from the critical path, there may be room to start late, or take longer than planned, without any impact on the overall project completion.


Cross-docking is the logistics practice of transferring materials from an inbound source to outbound transport with little or no storage in between, i.e. across the loading dock.

Cross-Functional Teams

Cross-Functional Teams are the teams of employees representing different functional disciplines and/or different process segments that tackle a specific problem or perform a specific task, frequently on an ad hoc basis.


Cross-Training is a skill-development practice that requires or encourages production workers and other employees to master multiple job skills, thus enhancing workforce flexibility.

Customer churn

Customer churn is a short version of ‘customer churn rate’, or ‘customer attrition rate’, and it measures the percentage of customers who stop buying from their existing supplier in a given period. Customer Retention Rate measures the same characteristic by measuring retained rather than lost customers.

These metrics are especially important in market segments dominated by subscription sales. Customer churn – the percentage of customers lost – is usually analyzed into those customers lost to competitors, and those who simply stop using a service.

Customer Leadtime

Customer Leadtime is the time elapsed from receipt of an order until the finished product is received by the customer.

Customer Reject Rate

Customer Reject Rate is a quality measure, expressed in parts per million (ppm), reflecting the number of completed units rejected or returned by external customers. Calculation should include parts reworked by customers. The term applies to all shipped units, including parts.

Customer Relationship Management

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are IT systems which manage customer information. CRM systems may: track orders, analyze sales performance, manage customer details (like contacts, discounts and billing information) and automate many routine aspects of marketing – like customer segmentation, follow-up emails, monthly newsletters, and other promotional mail outs.

Customer Retention Rate

Customer Retention Rate (CRR) is the number of customers active at some point in the past and still active, divided by the total number of customers at the same point in the past.