The world is big: The Global World of Manufacturing

Last week I had the privilege of attending the bi-annual International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) at McCormick Place in Chicago. Let me start off by saying that this venue is absolutely massive, I mean there were entire wings that I did not know existed after spending over two full days on the show floor. Now imagine this massive space filled to the brim with machines the size of an apartment which perform different operations ranging from industrial / automated welding machines, 3D printing (a car!?), CNC’s to water cutting machines.

So what did a guy trying to talk about translations & localization potentially accomplish? Well, I learned that the Germans like to handle all of their localization processes in Germany, but more importantly: “Everybody’s doing it!”; this is not some solo run through the courtyard screaming all by yourself type deal, everyone, is figuratively streaking! Translation & localization in the manufacturing industry is not only present but thriving in sales, marketing, education and web.

Consider this:

“Manufacturing is being transformed from a traditional model of individual companies working with mechanical mass production systems to produce standard products for local markets. Now, companies are operating with flexible and highly automated production systems, producing customized goods and services, and are both part of and dependent on supply chains with global reach.” (Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, 2004)

This is a dated statistic and so the notion is currently our reality. With global production shifting to countries such as Brazil and consistent gains in China (largest industrial producer globally), local production has taken on new meanings. Globally sourced machines require multilingual software platforms, manuals and training tools to support their potential clients. Some are leading the charge, DMG Mori for example has their own ‘school’ which they offer in 9 languages to help train and educate potential clients as well as their machine software in 12 different languages! In stark contrast to DMG’s well-established localization procedures many clients are receiving content from APAC partners and engaging their own team to ‘revise’ content before releasing it – the semantics and my apprehension to this type of approach aside, it simply supports the need for strong translation & localization platform that can be duplicated and leveraged to help produce strong ROI.

So how do you access this untapped potential (potentially?):

Websites are a potential purchaser’s first foray into one’s willingness and ability to conduct business in another country, especially if their native language is not English.
Along with this, one needs to consider supporting marketing collateral.
As the process matures and sales are made, the machines require On Screen Text / Software localization. (The process should be established beforehand but the actual translation of the manual could come after the date of sale).
Next would be supporting operating material. (Same note as #3)
Long term, companies may want to consider multilingual customer support options.
The great news? None of this requires major internal changes or refocusing. The translation & localization industry is well supported to offer ‘IT-less’ website translation, technology that will lower costs, increase consistency across all mediums, over the phone interpretation for customer service, couple that with global reach and ISO certified production processes the future is bright with potential for the import and export of industrial machines globally!


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