Welocalize Guide to Localization in the Global Manufacturing Sector: Five Tips for Success

Hannah Brady is based at the Welocalize office in the UK. She has worked at Welocalize for six years as a project manager. Hannah works closely with some of Welocalize’s biggest manufacturing clients and over the years has built up considerable knowledge about this industry sector. In this blog, Hannah shares key localization challenges faced by global manufacturers and offers her five tips on how to successfully localize in this industry sector.

hannahManufacturing is a growth sector. According to the Financial Times, at the end of 2013 global manufacturing activity delivered its fastest growth in almost three years. As well, the global manufacturing sector is a tough environment. Heavy competition has driven production processes to be more streamlined and automated, bringing with it rapid technological advances and shorter product life-cycles. This rising production growth has resulted in increased content volumes to support product roll-outs on a global scale. Manufacturers are therefore faced with the task of providing localized content at an increased pace to keep up with the increased production speed.

The specific requirements of the manufacturing industry mean there are certain pitfalls which need to be avoided. With high impact translated content, quality is imperative. Accuracy is critical: all manufacturing content must comply with the standards, directives and regulations imposed by the authorities of the target local market. Manufacturing content often contains high volumes of technical data and product specific information. Content must be understood by the end-user, whatever language they speak, to ensure safety and compliance. Use of correct, consistent terminology is essential. In addition, in an unstable economic climate, costs must be kept to a minimum.

These requirements pose quite a challenge to localization managers and language service providers (LSPs). With the need for ever tighter delivery schedules, there is neither time nor margin for error. The key to successful management of translation projects, including but not restricted to the manufacturing sector, is therefore efficiency. Ideally, use the principles of operational excellence (OPEX) to underpin the localization strategy and drive efficiency. A streamlined process is not a “nice-to-have”, it is critical for a successful outcome.

Based on my experience working on localization projects for the manufacturing sector, here are my five tips for ensuring a smooth localization process from start to finish, with the desired results:

  1. PLANNING/EVALUATION: This is the first step that should be taken with any localization project. When files are received for translation, the localization team must access not only which tools are needed to complete the finished product (for example, desktop publishing software), also whether the tools can handle the required target locale. It is at this stage where potential problems are identified, for example graphics which contain text which cannot be edited, and solutions are found well in advance. Timely and accurate delivery depends on correct handling of issues at the earliest opportunity.
  2. TALENT MANAGEMENT and RESOURCE ALLOCATION: Manufacturing content is highly specific and requires a degree of knowledge to create. Translators of such documentation, as well as being native speakers of the target language, a requirement for ALL translation projects, must therefore have the relevant subject matter expertise (SME). A project manager’s role is to liaise with the appropriate talent management and ensure that the appropriate resources are found – this includes language quality assessments and similar tests. Selecting the best resources at the beginning not only ensures top quality, it is also more efficient to the workflow. It helps to only ask the necessary content-specific questions.
  3. TERMINOLOGY: Technical documents are usually rich in highly-specific terminology, which must be translated consistently and accurately. Although the content is handled by linguists who know the subject well, availability of an optimized terminology base is beneficial to any project. This is also helpful for projects involving a team of linguists and reviewers. For example, with a large-scale project requiring a faster turnaround – a comprehensive term-base can be distributed to the entire team, ensuring the quality and consistency is maintained. Regular review and expansion of glossaries is also important for efficient handling of future projects.
  4. TECHNOLOGY: Knowledge of and use of the various tools and technology available brings many advantages to a manufacturing translation project. CAT tools are an obvious starting point – Translation Memory (TM) and Machine Translation (MT) offer a streamlined translation process and stores content for future use, resulting in high-quality, consistent translations as well as reductions in cost and time. The benefits of technology are not limited to translation quality and cost.  There are also technologies available to streamline and eliminate waste from other aspects of the workflow. Welocalize’s GlobalSight TMS automates the critical tasks associated with the project management cycle, and query management in JIRA reduces the “back-and-forth” between the project manager and reviewer teams.
  5. GLOBAL TEAMWORK: A global sector requires a global team. The complex nature of many manufacturing projects requires a dedicated team committed to driving the account to success. Achieving this sense of teamwork is beneficial not just within the LSP. Developing and maintaining an excellent working relationship with both vendors and clients is the way to achieving localization goals.

Localization in the manufacturing sector can bring many challenges; however,  following these five tips can produce good quality, timely localization for any global manufacturer. For me, the right attitude and belief in global teamwork is the essence to top quality and efficiency, from receipt of request to delivery to a very satisfied customer!