Translation’s Critical Role in Manufacturing

It’s rare to find a manufacturer who has no ambitions to sell their products on a global scale. Global expansion is the natural next step once you’ve had success in the local market. It’s also a bold move for manufacturers who want to step outside their comfort zone and discover possibilities internationally. Expanding your business to other countries is an exciting opportunity to tap into a whole new market and find new buyers.

As a manufacturer, you may find it challenging enough to be successful in one language. However, before a business can connect to the world, it needs to be prepared to communicate accurately in the language of its target audience. Language barriers can keep you from effectively tapping into a new market. And if you can’t communicate with the locals, you will lose out to manufacturers who can. For this reason, manufacturing translation is integral to your global success.

However, translation in manufacturing isn’t just about having an interpreter translate what you say to decision-makers and buyers; manufacturing translation is much bigger than that.


What is manufacturing translation? 

Manufacturing translation is the process of translating any manufacturing documents into the language used by the target market. Manufacturing translations typically include:

  • MSDS material safety data sheets
  • Software localization
  • Apps
  • Websites
  • Training material
  • Marketing materials
  • User guides
  • HR materials

Machine translation for manufacturers 

Manufacturing translation is best performed by trained professionals who are highly experienced in not only linguistics but the manufacturing industry, including industry-specific terms and jargon. In addition, translators require an in-depth understanding of the cultural differences of the target audience.

It is where machine translation often fails. Word-for-word translation is prone to error; it doesn’t take into account manufacturing-specific jargon that could potentially alter the true meaning of the text.

And because manufacturing is process-driven, these errors in translation could ultimately lead to miscommunication or cause costly mistakes. Incorrect translation could even affect the safety and security of employees. In fact, you put your people at risk when you take the shortcut in manufacturing translation.

Imagine if safety manuals, guidelines for conduct, and employee manuals were not accurately translated. How would workers carry out tasks, follow directions, and know what actions could likely damage machinery when guidelines aren’t expressed correctly in their language?


Human translation for manufacturers 

As mentioned earlier, manufacturing depends on processes precisely executed as described and in the correct sequence. Without accurate step-by-step directions, the procedure becomes prone to error as employees could misinterpret the instructions.

When a trained human translator with specialized technical skills and a manufacturing background translates the text, they will consider everything from industry-specific terms to cultural differences. For example, not all countries use the same units of measurement. In the US, it’s customary to use inch, foot, and mile. Measuring the weight, ounces, and pounds is commonly used. In most regions of the world, the metric system is the norm. If you are operating in a country that uses liters or grams to measure, you can confuse workers who have to stop what they’re doing just to convert units.


Final thoughts 

With all the competition out there; it’s hard to differentiate yourself. To remain competitive, manufacturers need to strengthen their global presence. To do this, they must effectively communicate their message so that their buyers relate to their brand. Everything from their marketing material to labeling to website should speak directly to their target audience. And to guarantee the safety of employees, all training materials and signs in the facilities should be in their native language.

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