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Terminology to Support Manufacturing Process Characterization and Sustainability Assessment



Ian Garretson, Mahesh Mani, Kevin W. Lyons, Swee K. Leong, Karl Haapala


Common terminology is essential for accurate communication between researchers, scientists, engineers, and other decision makers. For manufacturing process characterization, it is imperative for the related terminology to be harmonized to enable efficient communication in the manufacturing industry and to facilitate automation and interoperability of software tools. Manufacturing process characterization is a method that enables the assessment and improvement of unit processes, products, and manufacturing systems. Characterizing manufacturing processes provides a means to account for the impact of individual manufacturing processes, with applications in sustainability assessment. The development of sustainability-related standards internationally is evidence that the field is quickly maturing. To develop and transfer sustainability-related standards and best practices to the industry, naming conventions and definitions of common terms are needed. Presently, many terms used in practice are ill-defined, vague, or overlap in meaning. Although there are ongoing standards efforts related to terminology identification and definition, an identified common set is yet to be developed. The objective of this work is to facilitate such ongoing efforts by harmonizing a varying array of terms used to broadly describe manufacturing processes into a concise set, terminology omitted are those unique to individual manufacturing processes. Definitions of these common terms are then derived from a literature review of sustainable manufacturing and chemistry, process characterization and planning, organization standards, and life cycle assessment and management. It is hoped that the reported terms and definitions will facilitate sustainability-related standards development and enable widespread use of the concepts for manufacturing process characterization.
Journal of Cleaner Production


Process characterization, terminology, sustainable manufacturing, process modeling, unit process, manufacturing


Garretson, I. , Mani, M. , Lyons, K. , Leong, S. and Haapala, K. (2016), Terminology to Support Manufacturing Process Characterization and Sustainability Assessment, Journal of Cleaner Production, [online], (Accessed June 14, 2024)


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Created August 27, 2016, Updated October 20, 2023