Technologies Reinventing Global Manufacturing

Are new technologies in the global manufacturing industry driving the next industrial revolution? The answer to this question will be on full display and central to many of the topics discussed at two big global manufacturing events taking place this week: M2M World Congress 2015 in London and Smart Manufacturing Summit in Indianapolis, USA.

Core to both event agendas, how manufacturing is being reinvented for the 21st century.  New technologies and movements such as additive printing, the Industrial Internet, the Internet of Things and M2M remote monitoring means new global expansion and new ways of doing business for industrial manufacturers around the world.  These along with the way we share information today via the cloud, mobile, wearables means languages, translation and localization play an important role for these innovations to take full effect.

As an example, manufacturing companies do face challenges in the areas of technological skills gap. Recruiting and training is global. The impact on the supply chain plus changing world economics means many manufacturers are having to face re-shoring production activities to make the books balance. In addition to training materials, translation of technical documentation and content must be localized when operating a multinational supply chain.

In this blog, I want to look at these key technologies that are changing the face of manufacturing, possibly driving a new industrial revolution and consider the impact on globalization.

3D or additive printing is the process of making a 3D solid object of virtually any shape from a digital model. “Manufacturing on demand” is now a production reality. Gartner analysts said worldwide 3D printer shipments are set to double, year-over-year. Advances in additive manufacturing technology indicate a growth in small, local production units, providing on-demand 3D printing which means increased demand for localization of user manuals and training materials. Manufacturing-heavy sectors, like energy, oil and gas, are seeing an increased use of additive production methods, leading to more specialist requirements in the translation of technical communications.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a well-known, heavily used media term used to apply to a system where microprocessors are in everyday items – cars, credit cards, domestic white goods (see: The Internet of Things and How it Affects Localization). From a localization perspective, the IoT has significant implication and opportunity. For example, more communications will exist on smaller screens, smart devices and rely more heavily on imaging and iconography – all of which have to be localized for local markets.

Machine to Machine (M2M) refers to technologies that allow both wireless and wired systems to communicate with other devices of the same type and is an important part of the overall IoT movement and enables the Industrial Internet.  M2M uses a device, such as a sensor, to capture an event like temperature or inventory levels, which is then relayed through a network to an application that translates the event into meaningful information. This meaningful information, relayed to an internet-connected IT infrastructure, must be understood by other machines and ultimately, humans.

Although the language between machines is universal, we don’t all speak the same language therefore information must be localized for the intended audience. As production sites shift, seeking lower cost alternatives or to a more local unit for on-demand 3D printing, each locale and every user and workforce must be considered.

For global manufacturers, translation and localization of data and information is crucial for all content types, including user interfaces, training materials, technical manuals, software localization and internationalization. All this content has to be localized by specialists, experienced translators and language service providers that are experts in working with global manufacturing leaders.

All these interconnected innovations – the IoT, 3D printing, M2M, the Industrial Internet – are all technologies that are driving the global economy towards a connected world with intelligent machines and processes. They will have a big impact on manufacturing supply chains and the skills required by the manufacturing workforce. We know universal computer codes and languages exist and can smoothly communicate with each other. However, even in this climate of innovation and change, one fact that remains is that humans will always speak different languages and will ultimately be managing and operating this intelligent machinery.

Even if machines become super-intelligent, global communications will be still fundamentally driven by people and not machines.


Louise Law is Global Communications Manager at Welocalize.

For more information on Welocalize services in the manufacturing sector, click here.

Influencing Technical Communications

by Christian Zeh, Welocalize Business Development

Christian at TEKOMThe big event in the European technical communications industry, tekom and tcworld conference 2014, took place this month in Stuttgart, Germany. I spent three days talking to delegates, clients and vendors and also delivered a presentation in German on the localization of user generated content (UGC) that you can reference below. Living near Stuttgart and in my role as Business Development Manager at Welocalize, I am primarily focused on the German market so this event is always a pleasure.

Over the course of the three day conference, this year’s event gave me the chance to meet many technical communication professionals and also speak with several technology and CMS providers that the tekom and tcworld conference attracts each year. It was my second time as a presenter at tekom and I was delighted that my presentation about localizing UGC attracted so many delegates. This is indicative of how people within the technical communication space are looking beyond the traditional methods of authoring, publishing and translating content and looking at emerging content types, like UGC and social media to improve technical content.

Technical communication materials are very different to other types of content, such as marketing and software materials. The localization of technical communications requires a high level of subject expertise including good terminology management, knowledge of required in-country standards (legal and otherwise) and high quality output to ensure the optimum end-user experience. A poorly localized technical instruction manual can result in the failure of a global product launch or even a lawsuit. Accuracy is of the utmost importance so these localization tools for technical communication must be carefully assessed for suitability.

I attended several excellent sessions at tekom. A very interesting presentation was given by Tony O‘Dowd from KantanMT, talking about measuring the performance of Statistical MT. This presentation was very accessible and provided good insight to how MT and training of the MT engines are currently working.  As an example, looking at how “fuzzy matches” in the MT output explained how automated utility scoring works in the real world. This aligned with my presentation materials. Special note:  Welocalize also hosted a presentation on The MT Engine Lifecycle that you can view here.

Historically, technical content may not have sat within the overall central content strategy at an organization. Separate authors and translators can result in an inconsistent customer experience, which can be confusing to the client. If the marketing materials promised a certain type of brand and customer experience and the technical instructions don’t look anything like that promise, you could be in big trouble!

Often centralizing the creation and localization of all content, including technical communications, ensures consistency. By developing a key relationship with a global localization provider, like Welocalize, we can together achieve consistency for the end users. We can maximize the return of investment made in technical content, by using trained and dedicated translator and reviewer teams and up-to-date technology tools. For companies in industries like manufacturing and automotive, who are producers of large volumes of technical communications, content could be one of their biggest business assets. Simple steps like setting up glossaries and terminology management programs can contribute significantly to the global content strategy and quality of localized technical content.

In a recent Welocalize survey, technical communications is one of the top five priorities in 2015.  Is it one of your priorities?  How are you thinking about UGC and social media in relationship to your technical communications. Let’s continue the conversation if you attended tekom or if you would like to discuss my presentation (in German or English) and how we can help you. Send me an email at


PRESENTATION:  Tekom 2014 – Nutzergenerierte Inhalte – kostengünstige Lösungen zur mehr… (User-generated content – cost-effective solutions for multilingual publication)