All industries struggle with language barriers and translations in this increasingly globalized economy. However, some industries have it worse than others. The manufacturing industry is expanding rapidly into global markets and engaging with international supply chains in new ways. This sector is particularly troubled by language due to the demographics of its overseas workforce and other issues.
Problem: Many overseas manufacturing workers do not speak English.
As recently as 2016, researchers concluded that more than nine out of 10 manufacturers in the English-speaking world understood that they would be required to enter new markets to remain competitive. But, the simple fact is that the English-speaking ability among overseas manufacturing personnel is very low compared to other industries and sectors. The Harvard Business Review rates the global manufacturing industry’s English proficiency at only 54%. Once you factor out the workforces of primarily English-speaking countries, the numbers are far lower. The same report confirmed that almost no non-English speaking countries had a manufacturing workforce that could be said to have an advanced level of English ability.
Problem: Most manufacturing content has not been translated from English.
More than 95% of manufacturing communications and documents only ever exist as English versions among primarily English-speaking companies. This is natural for a company that does almost all of its business in English-speaking countries, of course. But, this can cause real problems when they attempt to expand on an international level.
Problem: A non-English speaking workforce won’t perform well without skilled technical translators to provide them with instructions and documentation in their own language.
• The first and most obvious problem, in this case, is worker safety. If a sizable percentage of your global workforce cannot understand your procedures and safety messaging – or just barely understands them – there is a much higher risk of workers becoming injured or suffering health issues on the job. This goes double if the safety signage or the instruction manuals for your machines haven’t been translated or were translated by someone without technical knowledge of your industry.
• The next most glaring issue is product quality. If a portion of your workforce doesn’t understand your quality standards or quality control procedures, they are not likely to produce products that meet your quality standards. The same is true if your documentation is poorly or non-technically translated.
• The final big problem is that of regulatory compliance. Suppose a good portion of your workforce and their boots-on-the-ground managers have a relatively poor level of English and you have not provided them with good technical translations of the laws and regulations to which your products need to comply. In that case, you cannot have meaningful confidence that your goods are in compliance. You don’t need me to tell you how expensive something like this can be for your company to fix.
Using top-quality technical translation providers who take the time to familiarize themselves with your industry’s terminology is the best way to avoid all three of these issues. You need to communicate effectively and completely with your global workforce. Partnering with a skilled technical translation service is the best way, and possibly the only way, to do that with confidence.
Think of it this way: The sheer amount of scientific, technological, and technical terminology in your key documents could easily flummox a native English speaker without any technical background. The compliance documents you deal with every day could confuse an industry pro the first few times they have to interact with them. What chance does a translator without technical understanding have of getting all of that language right?
Technical Translation for B2B Marketing
The problem isn’t just with your technical documents. Patents, operating instructions, product specs, and user manuals will, of course, need a skilled technical translation. Your marketing materials will also require translation, especially if you’re in the B2B space. The only way to make sure you are communicating with your workers, customers and technical partners around the world effectively is to use a high-quality technical translation provider who speaks the language of your industry, as well as the language of your target audience.
Technical Translation for B2C Marketing
Finally, manufacturers are as dependent on clear communication as any other industry, in regards to building their brand in new markets. Normally, a non-technical translator would be enough for this task, but things are never easy for the manufacturing industry. Much of your messaging will center around how your products are technically better than the competition.
Think of it this way: If your beautifully written English copy talks about the amazing 90-degree flexibility of your widgets, and the Lithuanian translation boasts about how it operates at temperatures of up to 320C, you won’t sell many widgets.
Globalization and localization have always depended heavily on translation. However, the more technical your industry, the more you’ll need skilled technical translation services to make it all work. High-quality, expert technical translation makes it possible for manufacturers to communicate with customers, partners, and workers in new markets and ensure that the products you manufacture abroad are built and sourced in ways that fully comply with the regulations of the countries you sell to.
That’s why Protranslating is the ideal technical translation and localization specialist to take your brand global, opening up new markets all around the world. Contact us today to find out more.