ULG's Language Services Blog

What Role Does Language Access Play in The Manufacturing Industry?



Manufacturing is an industry that is constantly changing in terms of the technology used, the industrial and consumer products created, and the countries where the factories are managed.

A recent study by Deloitte noted that United States, China, Japan, Germany, South Korea, and India are currently responsible for 60 percent of world’s manufacturing gross domestic product (GDP), but that even more countries from the Asia-Pacific region are expected to become manufacturing powerhouses in the next few years.

With the geographic diversity of these regions also comes linguistic diversity; all of the top six manufacturing countries have different native languages (English, Chinese, Japanese, German, Korean, and Hindi), and work with suppliers and customers in other countries that speak even more languages.

From working with suppliers in different countries, to training employees, to providing customer service help, manufacturing companies benefit enormously from translation and interpreting services. Here are some of the most compelling examples of how language solutions are essential to global manufacturing.


Translating Documents

Most companies require certain types of paperwork for their employees - HR documents detailing job descriptions, benefits, and employee expectations - which should be provided in the employees’ native language. Manufacturing is no exception, but also requires its own subset of documents that are unique to the industry.

Manufacturing documents tend to be highly technical, and include equipment user manuals, training materials, and operating instructions. Due to the technical and repetitive nature of the industry’s jargon, manufacturers would benefit from using translation memories and content management systems to reduce translation time and cost, and would also need to work with a linguist who is a subject matter expert in order to translate accurately.


Training Employees

In the manufacturing industry, safety is of paramount importance, especially when working with heavy industrial equipment and machines. As a result, employees must undergo rigorous training to conform to safety standards and minimize the risk of injury.

Training materials might include a manual, an in-person presentation, a series of videos, or any combination thereof, and should be provided in employees’ native languages to ensure comprehension.

In addition, as technologies such as cloud computing, robotics, and 3-D printing gain more of a foothold in manufacturing, it will be essential for employees to learn how to use these new tools. Using the equipment correctly can also increase production and lead to better quality control.

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Improving Service in Call Centers

Call centers usually handle requests for customer service and sales. If a manufacturer has operations globally, their call centers are likely to field inquiries from a variety of language speakers.

The call center should be equipped to communicate using languages in the target markets, as well as have the resources to speak any other language it comes across. For example, a manufacturer that has operations in Japan, the USA, and South Korea should work with a call center that has in-house Japanese, English, and Korean speakers. However, callers might not speak any of those languages.

In these instances, the call center should work with a language solutions partner (LSP) to identify an appropriate interpreter who can provide broader language access needs.


Communicating With Foreign Suppliers

The nature of manufacturing is that raw materials are sourced from the places that can make them for the least amount of money, and then compiled in a manufacturing plant so the end product can be created.

This means that individual commodities - which might be bolts and screws or materials like wood, steel, or plastic - can come from a variety of countries that may speak different languages than the employees in the manufacturing plant itself. Effective language services ensure that all suppliers and manufacturers involved in production can communicate about the proper quantity and quality of materials, minimize any issues related to billing, and develop strong working relationships.

As economies change and new regions become major players in the manufacturing industry, the importance of language access will remain a constant.