Warehouse Automation Glossary

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Agenda is a term that refers to the topics and items that need to be discussed in a meeting.

Algorithm is a process or set of instructions that is used for calculations, problem-solving operations, or tasks.

American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the non-governmental group responsible for the development and standard character collection of optical character recognition (OCR). The ANSI is also responsible for standard bar code symbology specifications and other standards that are related to government and industry.

American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) is a type of coding system that is used to control the codes a computer is capable of creating and represent all text characters.

Amortization is the process of writing off the initial cost of an asset overtime, typically from depreciation. Amortization can also be used to refer to the reduction of debt through a series of payments or the period of time it takes for a debt to be reduced.

Analog Control is a data-transfer method that uses control signals that are processed by analog methods, which can be electronic, hydraulic, or pneumatic. An example of analog control is the transfer of data through telephone lines to transmit voice signals.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is typically described as intelligence that is shown by machines, not humans or other living creatures. AI is able to use prediction models to perceive new conditions and plan actions in response accordingly.

Aspect Ratio is the mathematical relationship between length and height. When referring to barcodes, the aspect ratio is the ratio between bar height and symbol length.  

Assembly Language is a type of computer language consisting of mnemonic code expressions that are translated by the computer into machine language.

Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) is a standard for high-speed data communications. ATM is also known as “cell relay” and uses fixed-length packets and can accelerate transmissions up to 155 megabits per second.

Attachment Unit Interface is a type of ethernet cable that has 15 pins and is shielded and twisted. An AUI can be used to connect between network devices and a multiple access unit (MAU). (Also see Multiple Access Unit.)

Auto Discrimination is a feature of some scanners that allows the system to distinguish a particular code that is being read by the machine from predetermined symbols.

Automatic Data Collection (ADC) refers to the direct entry of data into a computer system or other devices, such as a programmable logic controller (PLC) or any device controlled by a microprocessor, without the use of a keyboard or other form of manual entry. (Also see Programmable Logic Controller.)

Automatic Lubricator is a device that automatically lubricates conveyor components as they pass through, such as the chain, wheels, or other components.

Automatic Sortation is the process of sorting items by size or code into groups using electronic recognition.

Automated Guided Vehicle (AGV) is a robotic vehicle that uses an electromagnetic, optical, or other system for guidance and collision avoidance. AGVs can be programmed for path selection and position.

Automated Order Picking Machines are specialized machines that automate order picking and have been designed for high-volume small item picking operations. These machines are typically optimized for items that are consistently around the same size. Automated order picking machines are used for various industries, including cosmetics, automotive, and pharmaceuticals, to sort small items.

Automated Storage Retrieval System (AS/RS) is the equipment responsible for handling, storing, and retrieving materials quickly and accurately using a degree of automation. AS/RS systems may range from simple order picking machines operating in small warehouse or storage structures to massive storage retrieval systems that completely integrate into a manufacturing, fulfillment, or distribution process.

Automation is the process of converting manual tasks to automatic ones with equipment. In automation, the machinery is self-operated and many or all production operations are automatically controlled.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMR) is a robot that can perform actions, tasks, and specific behaviors using AI without human interference or assistance. (Also see Artificial Intelligence.)

Average Peak Staffing is a method of reaching the target number of people needed to staff warehouse departments. Average peak staffing is designed to balance staffing levels and is calculated from the relationship between average workload and peak demand.

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Backbone is a term used to describe the main cable in a network.

Background refers to the space of an area surrounding a printed symbol.

Ball Transfer is a unit consisting of a series of load-bearing spheres in a fixture that are supported by smaller ball bearings. A ball transfer unit is typically in groups and is used to move flat surface objects in any direction.

Bar is the dark element in a barcode.

Barcode is a symbol used for automatic identification technology that converts information into code that can be read through a combination of parallel rectangular bars and spaces.

Barcode Character is a single group consisting of bars and spaces that represent a number, which is often a combination of numbers, letters, or other symbols. A barcode character is the smallest form of a barcode that can contain data.

Barcode Density refers to the number of characters or amount of data that can be represented in a linear unit of measure and is expressed in characters per inch.

Barcode Label is a label attached to an item or object that contains a barcode symbol.

Bar Length (See Bar Height.)

Bar Height is the height of a bar in a barcode. The bar height is longer than the width. When a barcode is scanned, the barcode is read perpendicular to the height of a bar. Bar height can also be referred to as bar length.

Bar Width is the thickness of a bar as opposed to how long a bar is. It is measured from the edge that is closest to the start of the entire barcode and ends at the next closest edge of a bar.

Baseband LAN is a type of LAN that uses a single carrier frequency over a single channel, which is also called baseband transmission. Ethernet also uses baseband transmission. (Also see Baseband and LAN.)

Baseband is a type of transmission with an almost zero frequency range that transmits a single signal at a time. (Also see Baseband LAN, Broadband, and LAN.)

Batch Picking is a method where orders are grouped together while picking to maximize efficiency. This is done by totaling all the orders for a specific item together and picking the item during a single trip to the pick-front. Batch picking picks all the units of a specific item at once to fulfill multiple orders at the same time.

Baud is a unit of signal frequency that measures the number of signals per second. Baud is different from BPS since signals can represent multiple bits, as opposed to BPS which measures individual bits per second. Baud and BPS are only the same when a signal represents only one bit.

Bay is a cubic space defined by physical or functional constraints. There are multiple types of bays, including a structural bay, which is defined by four columns, and a storage bay, which is defined by how much is stored in it.

Belt Conveyor is a type of system that is used as a carrying medium. A belt conveyor consists of two or more pulleys surrounded by a conveyor belt, which is a closed loop that rotates around the pulleys.

Benchmark is a standard of measurement that marks a point of reference in order to make comparisons or evaluations. Benchmarks are commonly used for job or performance evaluations, establish operating standards, estimate costs, and more.

Beneficial Use is a legal term that refers to the time allotted to be able to use software or other property.

Bill of Lading is a document that records the goods in a shipment that is transferred from the original provider of the goods, then to the carrier of the goods, and finally to the person or organization that is cosigning the goods. A bill of lading is also described as a document issued by a carrier to acknowledge the receipt of cargo prepared to ship.

Binaries are compiled or assembled code that are able to be read by a binary machine.

Bit is the smallest unit of information for data processing and is only valued as either one or zero.

Bits per Second (See BPS.)

Black Box Testing is a type of testing used to determine if a program complies with certain specifications or standards. Black Box Testing is also known as functional testing. (Also see Functional Testing.)

BPS (Bits per Second) is a unit of data transmission speed and measures the amount of data bits that are transferred in a single second. Typically, transfer speed is measured in KBPS (1000 bits per second).

Bridge is a type of network device used to connect LANs. A bridge transmits the data between two LANs based on their destination. (Also see LAN and Repeater.)

There are two types of bridges:

Transparent Bridge is a common type of bridge in an Ethernet network that operates transparently to the hosts connected to a network, meaning that a host is unaware if bridges are added or deleted from a network. Transparent bridges also monitor incoming traffic on a network to identify MAC addresses, which are used to direct packets to their destination. (Also see Media Access Control Address.)

Source Routing Bridge allows a data packet to have a defined route to a network that is created by a host by using a MAC destination address. (Also see Media Control Address.)

Broadband is a type of transmission that transmits multiple signals at a time and enables high-speed signals to share the bandwidth of a cable. Broadband differs from baseband since it transmits multiple signals as opposed to baseband, which only transmits a single signal. (Also see Baseband.)

Broadband Network is a network that uses broadband transmission and uses multiple frequencies to transmit multiple signals within a single cable. (Also see Broadband.)

Brouter is a device that combines the functions of bridges and routers by routing specific protocols and bridging others.

Brown Field Site is typically an abandoned or underused, already existing property that can be redeveloped for commercial, manufacturing, or warehousing uses. A brown field may take longer to develop than a green field, but is more cost-effective than acquiring new real-estate and has less of an environmental impact. (Also see Green Field.)

Bulk Storage is storage space in warehouses that is usually reserved for large quantities of items or items of large size.

Bus is a type of main cable or link that is used in a bus network. (Also see Bus Network.)

Bus Network is a type of network that uses LAN topology and connects to a main cable, which is also called a bus. (Also see Bus.)

Byte is a data unit consisting of eight bits. (Also see Bit.)


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CAD (Computer-Aided Design) is the use of software and computers to create, modify, analyze, or optimize a design or draft. CAD can be used for the design of products. CAD is also related to CAM; CAD focuses on the design of a product while CAM focuses on the implementation of a product. (Also see CAM.)

Cantilever Rack is a rack consisting of projecting beams that are only supported at one end, which are also called cantilevers. Cantilever racks are commonly used for storage that can be front-loaded without obstruction.

Capacity is the maximum amount of material that can be contained. Capacity can be used to refer to the maximum load, in pounds, that can be safely transferred by a truck or be stacked to a specified height. Capacity is also used to define the maximum number of pieces or maximum weight a conveyor unit can handle at certain speeds.

Capacity Rated is the maximum load amount of equipment that is designed by the equipment vendor. (Also see Capacity.)

Carousel Dwell Time is the amount of time it takes for a carousel to position. (Also see Carousel.)

Carrier is a device used to support a load and is attached to or hung from trolleys.

Cathode Ray Tube (See CRT.)

Catwalk is an elevated walkway or platform used to access equipment or other tools. A catwalk is typically designed to only support itself and the people using it; catwalks are not designed to support equipment or other resources.

CCD Scanner (Charged Coupled Device) is a device used to scan barcodes. A CCD scanner scans a barcode by flooding the code with light and using a CCD array to read the barcode.

Center of Gravity is the point where the weight of an object or person is concentrated the most and is thought of as the point where movement can be predicted.

Change of Elevation is the change in an area’s steepness defined by the change in vertical distance divided by the horizontal distance.

Channel is a path between two nodes where data passes.

Charged Coupled Device (See CCD Scanner.)

Check Character is the last character in a barcode that is used for confirming the validity of a barcode or for error detection. It differs from a check digit in that a check digit is only written as a number while a check character can be another symbol. (Also see Check Digit.)

Check Digit is the last number in a barcode. It is calculated by totaling all of the other numbers present in a barcode together and is used for confirming the validity or for error detection in barcode numbers. A check digit and a check character serve the same purpose; however, a check digit is always a number. (Also see Check Character.)

Chute is a slope or trough that is used to lower bulk materials or objects through the use of gravity or to convey bulk materials or objects to a lower level.

Circulation Loop refers to the time when objects or materials are on a conveyor and have not yet been removed.

Client is software that requests access to run data and programs that are stored on a server.

Client/Server Computing is a process where a client requests data or information from a server and the server provides the information to a client. When referring to networks, clients, which in this case are systems, that are connected to a server, or a centralized computer. The servers provide files, information, and applications requested by clients and act as a storage space. When referring to a database, a client runs a front-end application that access information in a data management system located on a server, often referred to as the back-end. (Also see Client.)

Closed-Circuit Conveyor is a type of conveyor system where a conveyor circuit moves in a loop. A closed-circuit conveyor is capable of returning items back to a starting point if the items were not previously removed.

Coax Cable (Coaxial Cable) is an electric cable consisting of a solid wire conductor, commonly made of copper, in the center that is surrounded by insulation and conductive shielding. An electrical signal flows through the conductive center to transmit data communications, such as audio and video. A common form of coax cable, also called a coaxial cable, is an ethernet cable. Coax cables are better suited for transmitting data over short distances since coax cables can easily lose a signal and are less expensive than fiber optic cables. (Also see Fiber Optic Cable.)

Code 128 is a specific barcode that consists of a full 128-character ASCII set.

Code 39 (3 of 9) is a specific barcode that has 43 characters encoded (numbers zero through zero, A through Z, six symbols, and a space) with each character represented by five bars and four spaces.

Coefficient of Friction is a numerical expression of the ratio between the contact and resistant opposing force between the motion of two surfaces. The coefficient of friction is used for determining the necessary power required for driving a machine. It can also be used for determining the angles and slopes for hoppers, bins, chutes, and bunkers or to determine the maximum inclination angle for conveyors.

Common Carrier is a carrier who is involved in the business of transporting goods or persons indiscriminately for compensation.

Communication Server is a system that manages communication activities for other computers, acting as an individual system. (Also see Server.)

Computer-Aided Design (See CAD.)

Computer-Aided Manufacturing (CAM) is the use of software and computers to automate manufacturing processes. CAM is used to make products designed in CAD. (Also see CAD.)

Computer Controlled is a system managed by a computer without human intervention that handles product.

Contact Reader is a type of scanner that must touch, or contact, a barcode to read it.

Control Panel refers to an assembly of electrical components that direct the flow of power to or from a motor according to signals received from a push-button station, master switch, or remote control.

Control System is a type of hardware and software system that controls a given set of functions by collecting and analyzing feedback or information. A control system may control the functions by monitoring or modifying parameters or creating control reports to make necessary actions.

Conveyor is a horizontal, inclined, or vertical system for moving bulk materials, packages, materials, or objects along a designated path with points for loading, discharging, and selecting what is being transported. Conveyors can use many types of mediums or systems for transporting materials.  

Conveyor Belt is one type of carrying medium that is a part of a conveyor system. A conveyor belt is what holds the materials being transported within the conveyor system and typically is a continuous loop of fabric, rubber, or metal moved by the use of pulleys.

Conveyor Width can refer to the width of a belt in a conveyor system or the dimension inside of frame rails for unit handling.

Cost of Capital refers to the expenses required to borrow capital and is typically expressed as a percentage.

Counterbalanced Truck is a fork-lift truck equipped with rear-mounted batteries or weights to maintain balance while carrying heavy loads.

Critical Path is an order of jobs or activities within a network analysis project. The duration of a critical path consists of the duration of the individual jobs within the project, causing the time of an individual job to affect the entire sequence.  

CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) is a terminal used to access a computer to receive data or information by entering instructions. A CRT consists of a small visual display and a keyboard.

Cross-Docking is the process of transporting inbound freight to a distribution center, where it is then sorted and transported on outbound shipment to the next stage of the shipping process, which can be a next-level manufacturer or end consumer.

There are three primary methods used in cross-docking:

Continuous Cross-Docking is the direct movement of materials and products from an inbound shipment to a central distribution center or warehouse to an outbound shipment for the end-user. Continuous cross-docking typically involves minimal wait time between shipments.

Consolidation Arrangements is the process of merging smaller freight loads, or LTL shipments, and items from storage into one larger shipment at a cross-docking facility. (Also see LTL.)

Deconsolidation is the opposite process of consolidation cross-docking where a large freight load is broken down into smaller shipments which are then shipped to the consumer.

Cube is the product of length multiplied by width multiplied by height (L x W x H). Cube is often used to refer to the total space inside a truck trailer or building capacity.

Cube Utilization is a ratio between occupied and unoccupied space expressed as a percentage.

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Data Warehouse is a type of data management system that is typically used for analytic processing and decision support. A data warehouse can consist of many forms of technology, such as relational/multidimensional analysis, client/server architecture, graphic user interfaces (GUI), and data modeling.

Dead Reckoning is the process of navigating a data-array structure using indexing information. When referring to autonomous robotics, dead reckoning is used to reduce the need for sensors, such as ultrasonic sensors, to save on costs.

Decoder is equipment within a barcode reading system that interprets signals received from a scanner into data.

Dedicated Circuit is a specific circuit that supplies a specific computer with power and not to any other device. A dedicated circuit involves running wires and a ground from a main panel to an electrical input on the computer, eliminating voltage sags.

Depreciation is the decline in value of an asset over the span of the asset’s useful life, or due to obsolescence or attrition.

Depth of Field is the distance between the minimum and maximum plane a barcode reader is able to read a barcode and is expressed as a specific dimension.

Digital is also referred to as digital data, and represents information in the form of symbols or as binary code, which is a series of on or off signals represented by 1s and 0s.

Digital Transmission is the transmission of data through the use of digital systems over analog systems. Digital transmission lines are more accurate, more flexible, and faster than analog lines. (Also see Digital.)

Direct Labor is work that is performed for a product or service with the goal of completing objectives directly associated with those products or services.

Direct Thermal Printing is a printing technique where heat-sensitive paper is passed under a print head that uses heat to generate images.  

Discounted Cash Flow is the estimation of the worth of an asset, or other entity, according to the time value of money.

Distributed Processing is a type of system where each computer or device that is a part of a network independently manages and processes its own data while the network enables communications between all of the devices.

Distribution refers to the range of activities involved with the movement of raw materials and finished products from the production line to the end destination of the consumer. Distribution includes activities such as, freight transportation, warehousing, material handling, protective packaging, inventory control, order processing, sales forecasting, market forecasting, customer service, and similar activities.

Distribution refers to the range of activities involved with the movement of raw materials and finished products from the production line to the end destination of the consumer. Distribution includes activities such as, freight transportation, warehousing, material handling, protective packaging, inventory control, order processing, sales forecasting, market forecasting, customer service, and similar activities.

Dock Leveler is an adjustable platform build into a loading dock to compensate for the varying heights of different trucks and the distance between a truck and the loading dock or delivery platform.

DOF (See Depth of Field.)

Down to Stock Time refers to the amount of elapsed time for an inbound item from trailer docking to be stocked.

Download is to receive information or data from a file transfer from one network device or point to another, such as transferring a file from a computer to a server or printer.

Downtime is a period of time when an operation comes to a complete stop due to machinery breakdowns, a shortage of materials, or a similar problem.

Drive-In Rack is a type of rack designed to only allow a vehicle or forklift to enter a structure from only one side to pick-up or drop-off pallets on continuous rails. A drive-in rack consists of upright frames, rails, and ties and designates a last-in, first-out (LIFO) method of inventory storage. (Also see Drive-Through Rack and LIFO.)

Drive-Through Rack is a type of rack designed to allow a forklift, or other similar vehicle, to enter a structure from more than one side to place or pick-up pallets on rails. A drive-through rack is built similarly to a drive-in rack, but is open at more than one end due to the structure being supported by an overhead structure, and allows for a first-in, first-out (FIFO) inventory approach. (Also see Drive-In Rack and FIFO.)

Duplexing is the ability to transmit data and receive data over a communications link.


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Ecommerce is the buying and selling of products using the internet. Ecommerce is a business model used commonly by many companies to offer convenience and increased inventory options to consumers and can be accompanied by a brick-and-mortar retail business.

Economic Life refers to the period of time an owner expects to retain an asset or other property, ranging from the date of the asset’s installation to the date an asset is retired.

Economic Return is the profit obtained from business operations or a project without factoring in obligations to creditors, financial contributors, or other claims.

Efficiency, Labor is the ratio between standard performance time and actual performance time, typically expressed as a percentage.

Eighty/Twenty (80/20) Rule is the theory that a large amount of warehouse activity is generated by a small number of SKUs or items.

End-of-Aisle Picking System is a high-density mechanized storage and picking system used to provide dense storage for inventory ad utilize the vertical height of a warehouse. An end-of-aisle picking system is ideal for operations that use an unacceptable amount of time manually picking or searching for items as it eliminates the time needed for an operator to search for items. This type of system also allows additional tasks such as checking, processing, or adding packaging to be done efficiently.

End Node is a device that can only process, send, and receive information for its own use. An end node isn’t able to transmit information to another node, or device.

Ergonomics is also referred to as human factors, and is the application of physiological and psychological factors and principles to the design and engineering of products, processes, and systems. Ergonomics also consists of studying and designing systems to better accommodate human capabilities and limitations.

Error Correcting RAM is a type of RAM (random access memory) that can correct single-bit errors. Error correcting RAM can’t detect errors. (Also see RAM and Standard Parity RAM.)

Ethernet is a baseband network consisting of thin coax, thick coax, and a twisted pair of fiber optic cables. Ethernet is currently the most popular type of LAN used. (Also see LAN.)

Ethernet Hub is a central device or hardware that connects ethernet devices, allowing them to function as one unit. (Also see Hub.)

European Article Numbering System (EAN) is the international standard barcode used for retail food packages.

Expert System is a computer program based on AI and machine learning that can make decisions and justify its reasoning, similar to a human being. An expert system is used in robots for high-level programming, assembly planning and control, and error processing and recovery.

Extended LAN is a network consisting of a series of LANs that are connected by bridges. An extended LAN can only have seven bridges at most. (Also see Bridge and LAN.)


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Facilitator is an individual who is responsible for planning a meeting and other tasks such as creating an agenda, inviting participants, and leading the meeting.

Family Grouping is a method where similar items are stored in a common area.

Fault Tolerant is a type of feature where a computer system still has the ability to operate after a system or component failure resulting from a fault.

Fiber Optic Cable is a cable used for transmitting types of data, such as audio and video. It consists of a structure similar to an electrical cable but contains optical fibers that carry light. Fiber optic cables are similar to coax cables but can carry signals and higher amounts of information for several miles before a repeater is used, unlike coax cables which are better suited for short distances. Fiber optic cables are more expensive and are not commonly used in residential areas. (Also see Coax Cable.)

Fiber Optic Data Distribution Interface (FDDI) is a standard interface used for data transmission in a local area network consisting of fiber optics or copper cable.

FIFO (First In, First Out) is a type of inventory management where products or materials that are made, purchased, or required are first are sold, distributed, or disposed of first.

File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a method for transferring information or files between systems using a TCP/IP network.

Filtering is a process in firewalls where network access is controlled by monitoring incoming and outgoing packets based on source and destination IP address, protocols, and ports.

Firmware is reprogrammable software that is stored permanently or long-term.

First In, First Out (See FIFO.)

Fixed Beam Scanner is a type of barcode scanner that uses a laser beam to read a barcode as it passes in front of the scanner.

Flexible Manufacturing System (FMS) is a type of production system consisting of manufacturing tools, AGVs or conveyor systems, and a centralized computer. (Also see Automated Guided Vehicle and Conveyor.)

Floorplan is an architectural drawing to scale that shows the physical features in a structure. A floorplan can be two or three dimensional. (Also see Layout.)

Floor Space Utilization is the ratio between unoccupied to occupied floor space.

Flow Diagram is a visual representation of a flow analysis, or process of moving materials and labor to and from different operations or locations. (Also see Flow Analysis.)

Flow Analysis is an examination of activities involved in the process of moving materials or labor from different locations or operations in order to determine the best use of time and materials.

Flow Process Chart is a visual representation of the actual or estimated work performance of the stages of an operation. (Also see Flow Analysis and Flow Diagram.)

Flow Rack is a structure used for streamlining the flow of materials. The material is loaded into one side and can be unloaded from the other.

Forklift Truck is a vehicle designed to move materials or pallets. A forklift truck, or forklift, has a platform attached to it that can move, lower, or raise materials and pallets.

Forwarding is a process where a bridge or ethernet switch reads a packet and sends it to the correct segment. (Also see Bridge, Ethernet, and Packet.)

Frequency Distribution is the way frequencies are distributed according to the values of the population members they represent.

Full-Duplex is the ability for information and data to flow in both directions at the same time over a communications link.

Functional Testing (See Black Box Testing.)


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Gate is a section of a conveyor system with a hinge that can be lifted to create a walkway.

Gateway is a device that connects two or more different networks together. (Also see Gateway Server.)

Gateway Server is a type of communications server that allows access between connected networks using different protocols. (Also see Gateway.)

General Contractor is a vender or additional party who makes an agreement to provide the necessary equipment, hardware, and software for an installation.

Glass Box Testing is a method of software testing that tests the internal structure of an application rather than functionality, which is accomplished through black-box testing. Glass box testing is also known as white box, clear box, and structural testing. (Also see Black Box Testing.)

Graphic User Interface (See GUI.)

Gravity Conveyor is a conveyor system that uses gravity to assist in the movement of materials. A gravity conveyor is typically a roller or wheel conveyor. (Also see Conveyor System.)

Green Field Site is typically an undeveloped area that is in demand for the construction of a warehouse, manufacturing site, or commercial project because it allows construction to be straightforward. A green field site has many advantages including, design flexibility, fast construction time, room to expand for growth, and can be easily owned or leased. However, even though a green field is convenient, acquiring new real estate and creating a new construction project is expensive and can pose negative environmental impact. (Also see Brown Field.)

Guard Rail is a structure around a conveyor that limits the movement of materials and objects to the path of the conveyor.

GUI (Graphic User Interface) is an interface that allows a user to interact with computers or electronic devices through visuals, graphic icons and audio rather than text-based interfaces, which require text commands.

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Half-Duplex is the ability to alternate transmitting data or receiving data over a communications link.

Handheld Scanner is a type of barcode scanner that can be held by an operator to scan a barcode.

Hand Pallet Truck is equipment used to lift and move pallets or materials between locations manually.

Header is an initial part of a packet of data or frame that contains control data, which includes information about the data’s source, destination, and length. (Also see Packet.)

Honeycombing is the inefficient use of space caused by incorrectly storing supplies or removing materials in a way that results in vacant space that cannot be occupied by other materials. Honeycombing is a major hidden cost in warehousing and is often expensive.

Horizontal Barcode is a type of barcode that’s overall length is parallel to the horizon and is read from left to right, as opposed from up to down.

Hot Swapping is a method of changing a component of a system while it is still powered on or operational. Hot swapping is a feature of USB devices and external drives or other adapters that allows them to be plugged in without powering down an entire system.

Hub is a central device that connects devices or signals across a network typically through wires. A hub can also have bridging, routing, communication, and internet functions. (Also see Ethernet Hub, Multiport Repeater, and Repeater.)

There are three types of hubs:

Active Hub is a hub equipped with its own power supply that can clean, boost, and relay a signal along with a network, serving as a repeater and wiring center. An active hub is used to extend the maximum distance between nodes.

Passive Hub is a hub that needs a power supply and only relays signals onto a network, unable to clean, boost, or relay signals along a network.

Intelligent Hub is similar to an active hub but also has remote management functionality and configurable ports. An intelligent hub provides flexible data rates to network devices and enables an administrator to monitor the data traffic present in the hub.


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Idle Time is the time when people, systems, or equipment are available to be productive but are not currently being productive. Idle time is also referred to as waiting time.

IEEE 802.3 is an IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers) standard that defines specifications of a local area network or wired Ethernet connection, such as the physical layer and data link layer access control. The IEEE 802.3 is the most commonly used standard for data communications and computer networking. (Also see Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.)

Indexing is controlled spacing or feeding.

Indirect Labor refers to labor that supports the production process of a product, but does not add to the value of the product and is not directly involved in the conversion of raw materials into finished goods. Examples of indirect labor are production supervisors.

Industry Standard Architecture (See ISA.)

Infant Mortality Period refers to the period where an electronic component is first used and is the most likely to fail at this point. After being used for a period of time after the first use, an electronic component is unlikely to fail.

Input/Output (see I/O)

Inspection is a process conducted to ensure new or incoming products meet required quality standards. An inspection can also be referred to as quality control. (Also see Quality Control.)

Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) is a professional association for computer scientists, software developers, information technology (IT) professionals, and similar professions in addition to electrical and electronic engineers.

Integrated Services Digital Network (See ISDN).

Interleaved Barcode is a type of two-width barcode where characters or symbols are paired together using a combination of bars to represent the first character and spaces to represent the second character. A common interleaved barcode is interleaved 2 of 5.

International Organization for Standardization (See ISO.)

Internet is the extensive network that connects computers and devices all over the world to share and access information.

Internet Protocol (See IP.)

Internetworking Packet Exchange (See IPX).

Inventory Control is the management of stock to ensure the necessary amount of supply in a business to meet customer demand while controlling the costs associated with having stock. It includes the management of stock levels and locations, physical item description, re-order points, and similar activities.

Inventory Turnover Ratio measures the ROI (return on investment) of inventory and provides an indication of how well materials are moving in and out. An inventory turnover ratio is typically expressed as a ratio between annual sales and the average level of inventory on hand.

I/O (Input/Output) refers to the types of activities in a storage and retrieval system, or an Automated Storage/Retrieval System (AS/RS). In computing, I/O refers to the activities involved in transferring data in and out of a processor.

IP (Internet Protocol) is a protocol, or a set of defined rules, that is used for controlling how packets of data are sent and received across networks to the correct destinations. IP is similar to Internetworking Packet Exchange (IPX). (Also see IPX).

IPX (Internetworking Packet Exchange) is a network layering protocol that controls the processing of secure data and how data is sent and received between different devices. IPX is similar to Internet Protocol (IP). (Also see IP).

ISA (Industry Standard Architecture) is a standard bus, or computer interconnection, architecture specification used for 16-bit systems that defines the slots used for expansion cards. (Also see Bus and Bus Network.)

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) is an international organization that develops and publishes technical, industrial, and commercial quality standards that are agreed upon by industry experts to reduce product failure and improve efficiency.

ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) is a defined set of communication standards for a digital communications network, including the transmission of video, sound, and data, over digital circuits connected over a physical network, such as a public switched telephone network.

Item is a product that has different identifiable qualities than all other products, such as a name, package, label, or material. An item is also referred to as a SKU. (Also see SKU.)

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Just-in-time Inventory (JIT) is a type of inventory management strategy where products and goods are only produced as they are needed in order to reduce inventory storage costs and waste while increasing efficiency.


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Kernel is the core part of an operating system that manages a system’s resources, such as memory. A kernel functions similarly to a bridge, providing a connection between applications and computer hardware. (Also see Microkernel.)

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LAN (Local Area Network) is a type of computer network that connects devices within a limited or local physical area through cables and software.

Laser Scanner is a type of barcode scanner that optically reads a barcode by using a low-energy laser.

Last In, First Out (See LIFO.)

Layout is a visual representation of a facility’s footprint that shows the way a space is being used. (Also see Floorplan.)

LED (Light Emitting Diode) is a semiconductor light-source that emits light when an electric current flows through it. LEDs are a common light source in electronics and are more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs.

Level of Automation refers to the extent an operation or process has been made automatic and the number conditions that require human or manual intervention.

LIFO (Last In, First Out) is a type of inventory management where products or materials that are made or purchased last are sold, distributed, or disposed of first.

Light Directed Picking (LDP) is a Warehouse Management System (WMS) software feature where an operator is directed by the use of light or similar visuals to carry out actions, such as picking an item for an order or packing a completed order.

LIN (Local Interconnect Network) is a low-cost multiplexed communication network that is commonly used in automotive or vehicle networks where high-bandwidth and error-handling networks aren’t required.

Line Item is also referred to as a unique item or SKU listed on a transaction document. (Also see Item and SKU.)

Line Speed is the maximum rate data can be transmitted at and is expressed in bps (bits per second).

Local Area Network (See LAN.)

Local Interconnect Network (See LIN.)

Location Analysis is the consideration of the details regarding the placement of warehouse and material handling equipment, workstations, and other necessary systems, such as costs, transportation, dimensions, and capacity limits.

LTL (Less Than Truckload Shipping) refers to the transportation of a small load with weight and space dimensions lower than the maximum truckload. LTL is commonly used for companies that ship frequent, smaller batches of product.


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MAU (Multiple Access Unit, Multi-station Access Unit, or Media Access Unit) is a hub that connects multiple computers and devices to a network. (Also see Hub.)

Machine Language is the lowest level of computer programming language used by a computer, machine, or system and acts as instructions a computer can respond to. Machine language is typically binary or hexadecimal language and can also be referred to as machine code.

Man-Up Turret Truck is a type of fork truck or forklift that is equipped with an operator platform that can be raised along with the forks to pick items for orders.

Management Control is a type of system that provides operational control.

Manufacturing Cell is a set of machines that are grouped together according to the part or product they produce or function they carry out.

Material Control is the control of material and information flow through the use of a warehouse management system (WMS).

Material Handling is the movement, protection, storage, and control of materials and products throughout the manufacturing, warehousing, distribution, consumption, and disposal processes.

Media Access Control Address (MAC) is a unique network address given to a network interface controller that is commonly used in Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. 

Methods Analysis is an analysis performed in methods engineering where the parts of an operation are examined to make changes that improve performance.

Microkernel is the minimum level of software that can provide process and memory management. (Also see Kernel.)

Micro Fulfillment is a strategy where small-scale distribution centers or warehouses, also called micro fulfillment centers, are placed in urban locations to improve shipping and delivery times for consumers while reducing last-mile delivery costs. (Also see Micro Fulfillment Center.)

Micro Fulfillment Center (MFC) is a small-scale distribution center commonly used for ecommerce order fulfillment and local pick-up options for consumers and may utilize automation to increase operational efficiency.

Minimum Pressure Accumulating Conveyor is a type of conveyor that minimizes pressure build-up between packages or cartons that are next to one another.

Mirroring is also known as shadowing and is the process of creating multiple copies of a database and data in a different location than the original database to create a back-up that can be restored in the case of a system failure.

Misread is a condition that results from a reader incorrectly identifying data in a barcode symbol or when the reader disagrees with the data encoded in the barcode.

Modem is networking hardware that converts data into signals in order for data to be transmitted.

There are two types of modems:

Internal Modem is a modem that is an internal part within a computer that allows access to the internet and operates using the computer’s power supply.

External Modem is a modem that is separate from a computer that allows access to the internet and connects to a computer with a USB or serial cable, needing an external power supply.

Moving Beam Scanner is a type of non-contact barcode reader that reads a barcode by moving an optical laser beam through its field of view. A moving beam scanner is commonly used for barcodes that are moving and when manual scanning is impractical.

Multiple Access Unit (See MAU.)

Multiplexer is a data selector that allows multiple connected devices to transmit or receive data from a single master communication output. A multiplexer is also known as a port concentrator and is a type of data communications output.

Multiplexing is the process of transmitting multiple data signals on a single output. (Also see Multiplexer.)

Multiport Repeater is also called a hub and connects up to eight Ethernet devices together. (Also see Hub.)

Multitasking is the ability for an operating system to work on or use more than one program at a single time by passing control back and forth from the operating system.

Multithread is an operating system that can execute multiple threads that can be from different programs at one time to speed up processing and efficiently use computing resources. (Also see Thread.)

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Narrow Aisle Truck is a type of forklift that can be operated safely in smaller aisles that are typically less than 11 feet across

Network is an interconnected system of computers and devices with the ability to communicate and share files, data, and information with each other.

Network Address is a unique physical or digital identifier consisting of numbers or letters that is used to distinguish a network device or computer from other devices on a network.  

Network File System (NFS) is a protocol developed by Sun Microsystems in 1984 that allows users to access files over a network similarly to how local storage files are accessed.

Network Interface Card (NIC) is a hardware component that gives a computer the ability to connect to a computer network and can establish a LAN.

Network Management consists of the administrative functions involved with a network, such as configuring, maintenance, performance monitoring, and diagnostics.

Network Operating System (NOS) is an operating system for network devices, such as routers, servers, switches, and firewalls that controls user access to files and resources, providing security.

New Release refers to a new version or an update of a software application or product that includes changes or improvements.

Node refers to any device that is connected to a network


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Object Linking and Embedding Database (OLE DB) consists of a series of component object model (COM) interfaces that provide software applications with the ability to access or store data.

Object-Oriented Software is also known as object-oriented programming and is based on the concept of using objects that contain data and code rather than functions.

Obsolescence is the state of being outdated where products or property are no longer maintained due to new developments that result in new products or property.

Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) is a standard software application programming interface (API) that allows software to connect and interact with multiple database management systems while remaining independent. (Also see API.)

Open Systems is an application that used to be provided exclusively by one vendor but can now be provided by vendors other than the original.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is a government regulatory agency under the US Department of Labor that sets health and safety standards for workers.

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) is a law passed in 1970 that established the Occupational Health and Safety Administration to enforce health and safety standards in the workplace.

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Packet is a small segment of data that is transmitted over a TCP/IP network and is the smallest unit of communication. Data is divided into packets by network devices to allow a network to accommodate different bandwidths, use multiple routes to a destination, or to retransmit data that has been interrupted or lost. A packet includes the data being transmitted in addition to control data that provides information for delivery.

Principles of Material Handling:

Adaptability Principle refers to using equipment and methods that can perform various tasks in the best way possible and using applications or software where special purpose equipment is not necessary.

Automation Principle refers to implementing automation for production, handling, and storage functions.

Capacity Principle refers to achieving desired production capacity through the use of handling equipment.

Control Principle refers to improving the control of production, inventory, and other forms of material handling through various activities.

Dead Weight Principle refers to reducing the ratio of mobile handling equipment dead weight to the weight of the load carried.

Equipment Selection Principle requires that all aspects of material handling, such as the movement and use of materials, should be considered when selecting equipment.

Gravity Principle requires that gravity should be utilized to move material when it is the most practical.

Maintenance Principle requires that a plan and schedule for preventative maintenance and repairs should be in place for all equipment.

Mechanization Principle refers to mechanizing handling operations.

Obsolescence Principle requires that obsolete handling methods and equipment should be replaced when more efficient methods and equipment are available to improve operations.

Performance Principle requires that the effectiveness of handling performance should be determined in terms of expense per unit handled.

Planning Principle states that all material handling and storage activities should be planned to achieve the overall maximum operating efficiency.

Safety Principle requires that methods and equipment should be provided in ways that ensure safe handling.

Space Utilization Principle requires that cubic space should be fully optimized.

Standardization Principle refers to the standardization of handling methods and equipment to maintain consistency.

System Principle states that handling activities should be integrated as much as possible into coordinated systems of operations, covering vendor, receiving, storage, production, inspections, packaging, warehousing, shipping, transportation, and customer.

Unit Size Principle refers to the increasing the quantity, size, or weight of units, loads, or flow rates.

Utilization Principle requires a plan to be in place for optimizing the use of handling equipment and labor or manpower.

Programmable Logic Controller (PLC) is a type of industrial computer designed to control manufacturing processes, including any robotic devices, assembly lines, or machines. A PLC also controls any activity that requires high accuracy, reliability, or diagnosis.


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Quality Control is a process where the stages of production and products are reviewed to ensure the quality meets specific ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards. (Also see Inspection.).

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Recognition is the identification of data or information.

There are three major types of recognition:

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is a program that can convert printed text and characters from a page into a document that can be read by a word processing program.

ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) is an advanced form of OCR. ICR is a handwriting recognition system that converts manually written text into digital characters.

ICR (Optical Mark Reading) is a recognition process that captures data from documents, such as questionnaires or surveys, by reading marks made in pre-defined locations.

Repeater is a two-port networking device that regenerates a signal over the same network to extend the signal’s length, allowing it to be transmitted.

Router is a networking device, similar to a switch, that routes and transmits data packets based on the IP address of each packet and connects LANs and WANs together. (Also see LAN and WAN.)

Reverse Logistics refers to the movement of goods from the end-user back to the seller or manufacturer, which is the opposite of a standard supply chain, and includes eCommerce and retail returns or products that may need to be refurbished for disposal or resale. (Also see Supply Chain.)


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Shadowing (See Mirroring.)

SKU (Stock Keeping Unit) represents a distinct type of inventory item that has specific attributes associated with the item and visible differences that distinguish it from other items. (Also see Item.)

Stock Keeping Unit (See SKU.)

Supply Chain refers to the network of organizations, people, suppliers, and resources that are involved in the processes necessary for supplying products or goods to consumers. A supply chain may include producers, suppliers, vendors, warehouses, distribution centers, fulfillment centers, micro fulfillment centers, logistics providers, and retailers.  In a standard supply chain, goods move from the manufacturer or seller to a consumer or end-user.

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Time Value of Money (TVM) is an accounting concept where a sum of money is worth more now than the same sum of money would be in the future because of its earnings potential from investing over time. If the sum of money is not invested at the time it is held, the sum would become less valuable due to inflation decreasing its worth.

Thread is the minimum piece of a program that can function independently.


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Vertical Barcode is a type of barcode that’s overall length is perpendicular to the horizon and has a pattern similar to the rungs of a ladder.

Voice Recognition is the ability of a computer or device to accept and interpret data from spoken commands.


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WAN (Wide Area Network) is a type of computer network that connects devices over a large physical geographical area using common carrier transmission services.

Wand is also known as a light pen and is a handheld scanner used for reading barcodes on contact.

Warehouse is a building or facility used for storing merchandise or other commodities.

Warehouse Control System (WCS) is software that directs the activities of a warehouse or distribution center to achieve the maximum level of efficiency. A WCS differs from a WMS is that a WCS communicates with equipment and automated systems, controlling speed and throughput levels. (Also see Warehouse Management System.)

Warehouse Management System (WMS) or warehouse management software, is software that supports and optimizes warehouse and distribution center management. A WMS differs from a WCS in that a WMS is the highest software level in a warehouse or distribution center and focuses on inventory management, tracking, visibility, and labor. (Also see Warehouse Control System.)

Wedge Reader is a device that scans and transmits data to a display or computer screen.

Work Measurement refers to the systemic application of industrial engineering techniques, such as work sampling, time study, time systems, and standard data. (Also see Work Sampling.)

Work Sampling is the application of random sampling techniques to activities to estimate how long a task will take. (Also see Work Measurement.)

Workstation is a designated space that is used for a task or specific tasks, processing, or operation. A workstation may also contain equipment necessary for certain tasks.

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X Dimension is the height and width measurement of the narrowest bar and space in a barcode


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Z Dimension is the average width of the narrow elements in a barcode that is measured. A z dimension is calculated by taking the average of the narrow bars and narrow spaces in a barcode.

Zero Pressure Conveyor is a type of conveyor that completely removes the pressure build-up between packages or cartons that are next to one another. (Also see Minimum Pressure Accumulating Conveyor.)

Zone is an area with a specific designation or work area.

Zone Picking is a method where a warehouse is divided into order selection and picking areas.