Manufacturing Translation: What To Know In The 21st Century

The manufacturing industry has gone through some changes the last few decades.

Manufacturers have struggled with relocating manufacturing bases, which has caused resistance from customers who want goods manufactured closer to home.

Also, at certain times over the last few decades, the price of oil has risen and has stressed manufacturers that ship their goods throughout the world. Manufacturers had to deal with the rising costs and also with the effects of increasing their own prices.

Today, the world is becoming a smaller place. Manufacturers are now moving their products across the world into new markets. This is presenting new opportunities, but also problems for manufacturing businesses. It is made even more difficult when businesses are becoming more location-sensitive.

Global manufacturing companies aren’t just producing products in one place and shipping them out across the world. They are looking to develop international production and distribution channels with manufacturing centers closer to their intended audience.

These centers help manufacturers establish a presence in regions with high growth potential or significant influence. While this has good potential for profit generation, there are complex implications for business decision-making and management. It would require a balance between local execution, where the cultural demands and language barriers can be difficult, and central control for quality assurance.

A challenge for global manufacturing companies

A challenge for some businesses is not fully understanding how critical manufacturing translation is. It takes professional linguists to translate technical material appropriately. Many languages are classified as speaking the ‘same’ language, but each nation may have slight variances with their terminology.

For instance, if you wanted to translate your product descriptions from English to Spanish, you have a significant task on your hand. Spain has a population of about 36 million, yet it is not the only country to speak Spanish. There are 21 nations that list their main language as Spanish and it’s the second largest native spoken language (behind English).

Demonstrating the difference that can occur between nations with the same language, we can take a look at English. There are several words with different meanings in both the UK and US. For instance ‘pants’ in the UK refers to underwear. ‘Moot point’ is also significantly different in the UK and US. In the US it is a closed point and in the UK it means open for discussion.

Another difference is the word ‘muffler’. In the UK it is a scarf whereas in the US, ‘muffler’ is an auto part to silence an automobile.

What does manufacturing translation mean for manufacturers?

Language barriers, such as the examples above, are making it more challenging for businesses to communicate with potential investors and purchasers if they are not translating their technical material. Without manufacturing translation, there could be a misunderstanding in the content that could dissuade a buyer from making a purchase, or worse imply something that is not technically true for the product.

If it is the latter than this can have a disastrous impact upon your business’ reputation when customers find that the product does not do what they believe it should.

In addition, manufacturing in other countries can be made more difficult as workers fail to properly understand operating instructions.

Common documents that benefit from manufacturing translation:
  • technical information
  • user manuals
  • operating instructions
  • product descriptions and information
  • data sheets
  • legal documentation
  • training materials


The manufacturing industry is going through a significant change in the 21st century. Organizations are looking to sell their products across the world by using smaller operations that are close to the local market. This causes several language challenges– namely that the instructions must be entirely understood by the staff creating the products and to the local buying market. Otherwise products may be misrepresented or quality may be sacrificed.

To combat this, you need to employ a manufacturing translation services provider who can break down these barriers and remove the obstacles for effective communications