Germany is a hotbed of innovation. The German manufacturing and engineering industry provides refined, high-precision, and exacting industrial products to customers around the world. In fact, the country’s so called “hidden champions,” small- and medium-sized enterprises, dominate many niche markets globally.
Translation of relevant technical documentation is a core component of this industry, since most of its products are bound for export.
Companies are legally mandated to translate product catalogues, manuals, instructions for use and assembly, and other highly technical literature in often dozens of languages. Naturally, this is a difficult task. Creating and maintaining a product catalogue in over 25 languages, for instance, requires the highest level of language and formatting consistency that also adheres to relevant regulation.
The immediate concern is maintaining a very high quality level while actively controlling costs. Beyond the sheer balance between quality and cost, however, pain points of particular importance to the industry include time efficient translation processes, terminology management, internal review steps, order management, and technology integration.
Quality Vis-a-vis Cost
Striking a balance between quality and cost is a tightrope act across any industry, but manufacturers have a few more factors to contend with, such as strict international regulation. Products shipped throughout the European Union, for example, should adhere to EU regulation on safety and security, which includes translation requirements.
In legal terms, any documentation delivered together with a product is part of that product and may therefore become subject to liability in cases of misuse or incorrect handling.
Aside from legal compliance, manufacturers also have to ensure that their terminology and corporate language remain unique, recognizable, and consistent across languages.
Precise Content is Essential
“Some of our core clients publish product catalogues that use very specific file formats. The translations have to be desktop publishing-ready, and there are often multiple review steps involved in the process,” says John-Christopher Waack, Co-CEO at tolingo. “Not just any translation company can do this.”
German-based language service provider tolingo needs to meet the high level of quality expected by clients such as Diplo-Dokus, a provider of technical documentation and ISO-compliant professional risk assessment.
“The translations have to be desktop publishing-ready, and there are often multiple review steps involved in the process” — John-Christopher Waack, Co-CEO, tolingo
“In technical documentation, precise content is essential in order to convey technical content properly,” says Pedro Sanchez Stroeh, Managing Director at Diplo-Dokus. “In this context, a high-quality translation is essential.”
Diplo-Dokus partnered with tolingo, as they were “able to guarantee our customers the best quality at all times,” says Stroeh.
According to Waack, tolingo uses “translation memories, glossaries and style guides that are consistent across the enterprise to ensure legal compliance and highest quality throughout all different types of texts and departments of the company.”
“In this context, a high-quality translation is essential” — Pedro Sanchez Stroeh, Managing Director, Diplo-Dokus
To make sure the pursuit of quality does not break the client’s wallet, tolingo carefully creates, curates, and maintains client-specific translation memories and lowers spend through streamlining translation of recurring passages of text.
Bespoke Translation Processes
German manufacturing companies may share recurring issues, but each client will have unique process requirements. “These may comprise internal review steps on the client’s side, layout adjustments, file engineering or the creation and maintenance of glossaries or style guides that have to be integrated into the process,” Waack says.
Model and tool-making company Krämer+Grebe, for instance, had to acquire short-notice specialist translators to handle quick turnaround Chinese to German translations for tender documents.
The project was time-sensitive, required the highest degree of language fluency, and finally, deep expertise in a very specific vertical. Krämer+Grebe also needed to make direct decisions based on a binding ordering process.
“We need a partner who responds quickly, guarantees high quality and supports our project planning through binding commitments,” says Katrin Grebe, Managing Director at Krämer+Grebe. They chose tolingo.
“We rely on the responsiveness, capability and experience of our contact person there just as we do on the quality of the translations themselves,” says Grebe.
Another significant pain point for companies in the industry is transparency during the order journey and the availability of translated documents.
This was the challenge for Becker Sonder-Maschinenbau GmbH (Becker Group), a packaging technology and special mechanical engineering company which produces highly technical texts.
They lacked a consistent ordering process for translation that was efficient and transparent throughout, in terms of pricing and availability of documents and data. The process also had to accommodate time-sensitive projects, all within very technical and complex subject areas.“Our company’s philosophy is to find out what our customers’ goals are, understand them, and achieve them effectively,” says Tanja Joswig, from Technical Construction at Becker Group. She says these are the same qualities espoused by their partner, tolingo.
“tolingo now has a permanent specialist translation team in place to work for us.” – Tanja Joswig, Technical Construction, Becker Group
tolingo helped the Becker Group with the careful selection of designated translators as well as the implementation of translation memory systems for all language pairs. Through customized ordering processes via customer accounts, tolingo made pricing structures and approval thresholds transparent. This allowed the Becker Group to control cost and get good visibility on the entire process for all or specific stakeholders.
“tolingo now has a permanent specialist translation team in place to work for us. This is enormously helpful to us, especially when we need things to move quickly,” Joswig says.
Besides customized processes and tailored quality assurance measures, many of the common pain points of the industry can be remedied by deploying the right technology. However, different companies will naturally be in various stages of maturity in terms of tech stack.
According to Waack, for companies that have no technology in place but want to implement a solution, tolingo “advises them on what is best to use, which can be tough as it depends on what exactly and how much they want to do on their side.” He explains that tolingo prefers to keep most of the tech internal to maintain data integrity and avoid unauthorized access to glossaries and translation memories.
For companies that have existing systems in place, the goal is seamless integration with tolingo. Waack says they use client-specific content management systems (CMS) either via login or application programming interface (API) integration. This eliminates data security risks inherent in manual email communication and export or import functions.
tolingo can work across all standard translation software tools such as memoQ, Trados, or Across. “Our project managers can work with any system; the question is, how deeply integrated do they want be,” Waack says.
“We sit down with our customers in order to analyze available translation data, order processes, quality-assurance methods.”
“Do they want to send the files, get a quote, order, and receive the translation directly within their own integrated CMS in order to leverage cost reductions from fewer work repetitions? Or is a more traditional ordering process more appropriate because of lower technology costs?” Especially for medium-sized companies, this question might be difficult to answer.
Regardless of the current level of localization and tech maturity of a company, tolingo can help set up quality processes that can last a lifetime—but only if they are willing to put in the work.
“How can you get rid of all my pain points and create the perfect solution for me?” Waack asks from the client point of view.
He says “they need to be willing to answer a few questions, invest some time, and collaboratively work with us to develop the most suitable setup for their situation.”
“We sit down with our customers in order to analyze available translation data, order processes, quality-assurance methods and, if applicable, review tools and adjustment processes used,” Waack says. “Together, we identify potential cost savings, as well as possibilities for simplifying processes and making use of system integration. The result is a concept individually tailored to meet our customers’ translation needs in a holistic approach that saves time and money.”