Kitting and Assembly Services Key Terms

Getting comfortable with kitting and assembly services terminology

Kitting and assembly are essential functions of any manufacturing operation. Often times, manufacturers decide to contract out the kitting or assembly operation to improve the company's bottom line and concentrate solely on its core competency. If you're considering starting your own kitting and assembly business or even if you're thinking about bringing your kitting operation back into your manufacturing plant, familiarize yourself with the terminology relevant to kitting and assembly before you take on the task.

This guide focuses on six terms to get you started. It starts with the basic definition of kitting and then defines acronyms and different pieces of equipment. Terms include BOM, SKU, pick-to-light system, vertical carousel and vertical lift system.


Kitting refers to the process of grouping individual-but related-components and parts together and then packaging them for production assembly or shipping.


BOM is an acronym that stands for bill of materials. It's the list of everything required to produce a finished product and the quantities needed. A BOM includes raw materials, sub- and intermediate assemblies, components and sub-components and all parts. BOMs are used throughout the manufacturing cycle, including kitting operations.


SKU stands for stock keeping unit. It's the method of identifying every product and part with a unique number. In kitting and assembly, workers assemble and package multiple SKUs to form a new product that carries its own SKU. The SKU itself is a string of letters and numbers. A SKU is also known as a part number or product number.

Pick-to-light system

Pick-to-light is a technology that improves cost efficiency through improved accuracy and productivity. A pick-to-light system incorporates lights that light up each pick site and LED displays that display the amount to be picked. These systems work well with horizontal carousels and carton flow rack applications.

Vertical carousel

A vertical carousel is essentially rotating shelving that operates round a conveyor loop moving in a vertical direction and is designed to speed up processes like kitting and order picking.

Vertical Lift Module (VLM)

A vertical lift module is an enclosed, automated retrieval and storage system useful in kitting, assembly and other warehouse applications.