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What role do translation services play in the manufacturing industry?

Translation services in the manufacturing industry are hugely important. With manufacturing largely having been globalized for some time now, it’s been a necessity for a niche area of translation services to be carved out, in order to support it.

Why? There are many reasons, but foremost among them is the specificity of the language in the manufacturing field, and how it is applied across different national and local contexts. Industry-trained professional translators can make a huge different to a business in light of this. Read on to find out how.

Why do manufacturing materials have to be translated by professionals?

Those working in the manufacturing industry might sometimes forget how esoteric a great deal of the language involved with their work is. For the layman, technical terms and contextual usages of normal language might not be fully understood.

Despite knowing a language, it’s quite another thing to know the language of a particular industry. This is why technical translators exist, and why it’s advisable to employ their services over a standard translator, or simply someone who is bilingual.

What documents need to be translated?

brochure patent translation for manufacturing industry


  • Brochures are often the first point of contact for manufacturing companies. Given out at trade fairs, sent to clients, presented in the office and reception rooms, they are a vital part of the gaining prospects and showing them what is on offer. It’s vital that they show professionalism and clarity, because in the words of Will Rogers, “You never get a second chance to make a good first impression.”

Employee handbooks

  • For teams that work internationally, it can be a difficult task setting clear expectations – both on the side of what’s expected of the employee, and of the employer. Simple mistakes in the translation of employee handbooks can lead to incongruence between teams, but accuracy can ensure international consistency.

Health and safety documents

  • No company wants their employees to be put in unnecessary risk. Especially in an industry like manufacturing, where heavy machinery and potentially dangerous equipment is used frequently, it’s vital to get this right. A mistake in these documents might also open companies up to liability issues.

Data sheets and patents

  • It should go without saying that if data is incorrectly labelled, it can lead to huge mistakes in any aspect of the product lifecycle. A simple mistake at the step of manufacturing can cause cost overrun or stall the rollout of a product.There’s an increasing number of worldwide patent applications, and an increasing need to file for local patents, in order to protect IP, in individual countries. Before sending molds abroad, or designs for molds to be produced by a third-party operator, it’s vital to have the patents secure, lest they be claimed by others in the manufacturing process.

Technical reports

  • It is likely that only technical translators will be able to accurately translate technical reports, simply because of their nature. Technical reports are brief and precise; translators require up-to-date knowledge of different manufacturing technologies, and an ability to grasp exactly how a given report relates to them.

Product labelling, packaging and catalogs

  • Everyone who’s bought cheap alternative goods online will know the comedy factor involved with badly translated labeling, packaging and catalogues. No serious manufacturing company would want to be the butt of that comedy.

Technical manuals & manufacturing manuals

  • Whether a small factory with less than 20 people, or a large factory with thousands, the details included in manuals must be correctly and easily understood by everyone from managers, to supervisors, down to those on the shop floor. Small mistakes can lead to big problems.

User instructions and user manuals

  • Consumers might not read a single word on a product’s packaging, or its websites, or its brochure. What they are very likely to read, however, is the manual. This makes it one of the most important B2C communication touchpoints; one in which the professionalism of the brand is there for everyone to see.


What are the benefits of professional translation services in the manufacturing industry?

why manufacturers need professional translation services

Translation helps expand your business worldwide

International manufacturing may be changing, as a result of automation, but it is still growing. As more and more countries seek to develop their manufacturing sectors as a way of driving economic growth, this trend is forecast to continue.

There may be a whole raft of new suppliers and distributors across the globe, offering services at a competitive rate, but without professional translation they remain out of reach. There may be huge workforces newly available to start producing goods and widgets, but without appropriate manuals and instructions, the opportunity to work with them is lost.

Moreover, with rising global prosperity, comes swathes of tertiary goods consumers, all of whom will respond better to marketing that is culturally and contextually attune to the way they’re used to communicating.

Translation helps train employees

The task of training a workforce in the manufacturing industry can be a daunting one. Often, teams are huge, and their functions are specific and varied. Frequently, the workforce might need training in a new skill, or a new procedure, which can require some very particular instructions.

These problems are compounded when attempting to train staff across different languages. The power of mime can only get people so far – professional translation can alleviate the burden and frustration associated with trying to get complicated messaging across.

It helps communicate during expos

Trade expos are more and more popular across much of Asia, especially in the world’s manufacturing hub, China. There are the more established expos, held in Shanghai, Beijing and Yiwu, but also some newcomers – one to watch especially is the Hainan Consumer Products expo.

These expos are huge, and full of competitors. Visitors are often tired after having walked around all day, in need of sleep and food; they have no time for sloppy marketing material. Having slick brochures, posters, banners, business cards and additional information can be a company’s way of offering expo-farers an oasis of calm professionalism. It is this moment where one stands out from many.


How to choose the right agency to translate your manufacturing-associated materials

how to choose translation services for manufacturing materials

Human translation

Maybe one day AI-powered translation will be able to do as good a job as a human. Even the most fervent tecno-optimist would have to admit that that day is yet to come. Any agency that offers an automatic, machine-powered translation service should be avoided. There is still nothing better than a native speaker, trained in translation related to a specific field. That’s not to say that digital tools can’t be useful though, when used by a human translator. Translation Memory, for example, is a tool that can greatly assist human translators.

Complete language services options

Decent agencies should have a diversity of services available, including not only multiple languages, but also different standards and certifications of translation. For example, sworn, legal or certified translation, in accordance with the laws and regulations of any given country in which the translated material is required, should be available. Note that some countries give accreditation to agencies for particular legal translation services.

Quality control

An agency should assign a personal project manager, who is able to oversee and proofread all translation projects. By providing double-factor assurance that a given translation is correct, clients can be sure that there won’t be any embarrassing mistakes, or less-than-professional wording. By maintaining the same project manager over time, it’s possible to achieve consistency, in line with the specific client needs.

Industry translators

Any agency working in the translation of technical fields, and specific industries, need translators who are trained in those fields. They should be able to show a network of native-speaking, experienced technical translators. The important things here are both depth and breadth – more than one translator in a given field gives the client more options in terms of style, communication methods and forms of working relationship.


Further reading:

Top industries that need a professional technical translation in 2021

Not sure if you need technical translation? This guide might help!

Working in the manufacturing industry and in need of translation services? Check this page out!

HI-COM is a multilingual translation agency dedicated to providing professional translation and interpreting services to businesses around the world. Working with more than 40 language pairs, HI-COM is the go-to localization partner of hundreds of companies and brands!  Contact us for your free consultation today!

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