Despite living in the age of AI and robotics, language barriers are still a prevalent issue that never seemed to disappear but increased as the world became more globally connected. Often, translation isn’t prioritized or given much attention, leading to some problems in the quality of the multilingual content in the manufacturing sector.
As someone who manages a translation agency, I will discuss the global manufacturing sector, its current state, and the role language plays in ensuring that information in this sector is distributed properly.
Let’s get started!
CURRENT STATE OF INTERNATIONAL MANUFACTURING SECTOR IN 2022
According to Automation, the international manufacturing sector was able to generate an output of 41.9 trillion USD in 2021. It showed that, despite hurdles in the production and distribution of materials and equipment due to international restrictions due to COVID, the manufacturing industry still remained strong.
To give you a more in-depth perspective on the present affairs within the manufacturing industry, we’ve listed some information that you might be interested in learning more about:
- Priorities in the Managing Workforce: about 38% said attracting new talent, and about 31% said retaining existing talent. (Deloitte)
- 43% of E&C executives said they would invest more in advanced design processes. (Deloitte)
- The pandemic exposed some issues in the global supply chain. If nothing is to be done about the lack of supply chain integration, it could stall 3 out 5 manufacturing smart factory initiatives by 2025. (FAIST)
- 45% of manufacturing executives have reported that they would increase operational efficiency through the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) that would connect with machines efficiently. (FAIST)
- 22% of manufacturing companies have stated that language barriers were the reason why they lost their business in 2020. (Industryweek)
- In the US alone, about 46% of immigrant workers are categorized as Limited English Proficiency (LEP). (US Census Bureau)
- 76% of international customers prefer products that have their information in the customer’s native language. (CSA Research)
As you can see in the last part of the trends and data presented, three priorities for international manufacturing companies are: 1.) integrating technology, 2.) skilled workforce, and 3.) language barriers. Of the three, language barriers can be seen as part of the problem of training and retaining skilled workers and efficiently integrating technology in production.
Later on, we will discuss why language barriers are an issue that fundamentally affects the production line of manufacturing sectors and how professional translation agencies assist in overcoming these barriers.
HOW CRUCIAL LANGUAGE IS IN THE MANUFACTURING SECTOR
As someone who has been a part of the translation industry and worked with manufacturers for 15 years, I've noticed that cultural and linguistic barriers are recurring issues that have become prominent with the rise of globalization and the piling demand for multilingual content.
To accommodate the high demand of some sectors, like the manufacturing industry, a translation agency combines state-of-the-art Machine Translation (MT) with the expertise of translators who act as post-editors. Despite the advancement of MT, the quality of translation isn't a hundred percent accurate, which is why post-editors are needed.
In the manufacturing industry, there are a lot of jargon and technical terms that need the expertise of technical translators who have worked years in honing their skills to ensure that nothing ends up lost in translation. One mistranslation can change the meaning of an entire message, which can negatively affect your production or technology implementation.
Cultural and language barriers are especially hard for global manufacturers who need to train and retain employees. It is common knowledge that people can learn quickly if the medium of communication is in their native languages, such as proactive equipment maintenance and workspace safety.
Cultivating multilingual talent in your manufacturing company forms a functional and internationally competitive workforce, yielding long-term positive results. Even though policymakers should prioritize the issue of language gaps in the industry, it can give your manufacturing company an edge compared to competitors as they haven't paved the way to gain access to the global talent pool.
DIFFERENT WAYS TRANSLATION IS PART OF DAY-TO-DAY MANUFACTURING OPERATIONS
Because of how globally connected our markets have become, simple things like multilingual software and translated documents are overlooked. I have listed below some of the ways a translation agency facilitates ensuring that experts in technical writing do translations.
MANUALS AND INSTRUCTIONS
Manuals and instructions have two primary target audiences: customers and employees in the manufacturing industry.
More and more manufacturers are integrating AI and IoT manufacturing technologies in their production processes. At a global level, employees need to develop the skills to keep up with what many consider the fourth phase of the industrial revolution. I have noticed an increase in projects for translated manuals for AI, IoT, and software over the years, which could be because of this sudden demand.
If your intentions for translating manuals and instructions are for your international customers, it’s one way of establishing trust with them. As mentioned, 76% of global customers prefer information in their native language because it’s more convenient and easier for them to understand. Many manufacturers work with a translation agency if they’re planning to make their manuals and instructions accessible in various languages.
RECORDS AND REPORTS
During international meetings, Multinational manufacturing companies have to present and consolidate their records and reports. It's where language and communication are crucial because the information stated in these records and reports has drastic consequences on the decisions of many key figures in the company.
When more than three languages are being used, most often, they employ the assistance of a translation agency rather than hiring freelance translators as they have more resources and manpower to translate the technical text of records and act as interpreters during meetings.
MANUFACTURING SOFTWARE TOOLS OR APPS
As noted, we’re going through the fourth phase of the industrial revolution. Because of this, many manufacturers are using software tools and apps like manufacturing inventory management systems to organize the flow of your production line. Tech-oriented developers coordinate with a translation agency to facilitate MT to ensure that the international manufacturing sector for their technological integration is in production, regardless if they’re English proficient or not.
The global manufacturing industry is currently addressing several issues as the COVID lockdowns have affected chain supplies, and the workforce adjusts to changes in technology. Even though language gaps won’t be resolved quickly any time soon, professional translation agencies will continue to aid the manufacturing sector in bridging the gaps to increase global interaction and assist in training international skilled workers.
Ofer Tirosh is the CEO and founder of Tomedes, a tech-driven translation services company that provides multilingual and technological solutions to local and international manufacturing companies worldwide. For 15 years, he has managed several translation projects for the manufacturers. By incorporating the expertise of native translators and advanced Machine Translation, from manuals and instructions to manufacturing software, Tomedes has assisted in ensuring fast delivery of multilingual content that's up to ISO standards of quality.