Acronyms 21 to 30


This is our 3rd installment of “50 Acronyms Used in Electronic Contract Manufacturing”.  In this article we’ll look at the meaning of 10 more acronyms.  The start of the series can be found here.

21. ESD = Electrostatic Discharge

Electrostatic discharge is the flow of electricity between objects that are at different voltage levels.

Most of us have had experiences with ESD – for example, getting shocked when you touch a doorknob after walking across carpet on a dry winter day.  Many electrical components (especially integrated circuits) are extremely sensitive to ESD.  ESD can permanently damage electronics.  EMS companies must have very good protective measures in place so as to minimize the potential of an ESD event.

Most know that the shock one feels when shocking a doorknob on a winter day is bad for electronics, but most do not know that some electrical components are so sensitive to ESD that it is possible to damage them without even feeling “shock”.

22. FAI = First Article Inspection

Before a supplier will produce more of a new or revised part, the supplier would like to get the purchaser’s agreement that the supplied part will meet the purchaser’s expectation.  For such parts, the supplier will provide a First Article Inspection document that lists – among other things – the supplier’s part number, the customer’s part number, the description of the part and a signature block for the purchaser to sign, which would indicate approval.

In the EMS industry, it is most common for programmed IC vendors to provide a FAI report for the initial samples of a programmed IC.  The purpose of this is so the supplier can be confident that they programmed the IC correctly.

23. FCT = Function test

A function test tests the functionality of an electronic assembly.  The purpose of this test is to see if the assembly will behave (or function) in a way that the customer expects.

24. FG = Finished Goods

Finished goods are items that are done (or finished) with the manufacturing process.  Finished goods are typically stored in the warehouse, awaiting shipment to the customer.

25. IC = Integrated Circuit

An IC is a type of electronic component that is assembled onto an electronics assembly.

26. ICT = In-circuit Test

An in-circuit test is a test that tests a circuit board to make sure that, to the greatest extent possible, correct components are placed on a circuit board and that they are oriented the correct way.  That is, an ICT is basically a parametric test and not a functional one (see FCT above).

Most manufactured circuit boards are functionally tested.  Some customers (such as those in the automotive, medical, and aerospace industries) require an EMS to also perform in-circuit testing in addition to function testing.  Why is that?  The answer is that it is possible for a circuit board to pass functional test with a wrong component on it.  This would result in a test escape – a wrongly built circuit board will be shipped to the customer.  While a circuit board may function correctly with a wrong part on it, there could be other negative consequences, such as reduced life, or less noise immunity.

Because ICT is an additional manufacturing step that takes time, it adds to the manufacturing costs of an electronics assembly.  While it might seem dangerous to not use ICT, an EMS typically has plenty of controls in place to help assure that a circuit board is not manufactured with an incorrect component.

27. IMDS = International Material Data System

The IMDS was created by the automotive industry to be a tool that records the material composition of items within a vehicle, to help facilitate vehicle disposal.

Electronic contract manufacturing companies that provide circuit boards to automotive customers must submit the chemical composition of their manufactured circuit boards.  This typically involves the EMS reaching out to their suppliers and getting the required IMDS info of the supplied components.

28. IPC = Institute of Printed Circuits

The IPC is a non-profit organization that creates standards for the electronic manufacturing industry.  They seek to help manufacturers build better assemblies.

29. LF = Lead Free

There are 2 main categories of solder: leaded and lead-free.  Typically, solder, electrical components, and tools (such as soldering irons) will be marked with “LF” (or “Pb free”) to indicate that the solder or the component does not contain lead.  In the case of tools like soldering irons, it means that they are to be used on lead-free components.

30. MO = Manufacturing Order

Electronics manufacturers maintain a build schedule.  This schedule list the various assemblies that they will manufacture.  The schedule will contain the assembly part numbers, quantities to be built, and dates the builds will take place.  The individual builds are typically assigned unique Manufacturing Order numbers.  Some EMS companies refer to these as Job Orders.