Translation and Industry 4.0

Translation Hands World Map Globe Countries Supply Chain International - image courtesy of Pixabay.

The manufacturing and translation industries are undergoing similar technological revolutions, as Capita Translation and Interpreting (TI) explains.

Industry is undergoing a fourth “revolution”. The first three stages were steam and machines, electricity and mass production, closely followed by computers and the initial trappings of automation in manual processes.

Now we’re in the advanced stages of what has been dubbed ‘Industry 4.0’ or the ‘Smart Factory’. Advanced Industry 4.0 technologies essentially help create the Internet of Things, in which computer systems communicate with each other to make simple or autonomous decisions to speed up processes.

World Trade Export Europe Supply Chain - image courtesy of Pixabay.
Translation will be a hugely important factor as manufacturers look to export to more remote parts of the world in the event of leaving the EU – image courtesy of Pixabay.

Believe it or not, comparisons can be drawn between the development of both the manufacturing and the translation industries in reference to the above, since at a very philosophical level, they have more commonalities than you’d first expect.

Translation 4.0

What has started to be coined and explained as “Translation 4.0” is a similar process, in which translation has developed from as far back as what is widely referenced as the first translation in 2000 BC, the translation of the Sumerian epic “Gilgamesh” into Asian languages.

Fast-forward to the modern day, and we can now see a more advanced and efficient commercial translation model. The different stages are: the development of written language and paper, then electricity and computers, followed by the development of machine translation such as Google Translate and Babel Fish.

Translation 4.0 is the deployment of automation of manual human tasks and the smart linking of different functions, alongside the training and integration of machines within the translation workflow.

But what is it that drives both of these quests for a better solution? Everybody wants a higher quality output, on a more consistent basis, for less money and in less time.

Past experience shows, there are five key areas to focus on to achieve the complete 4.0 package in industry or translation. Those are to automate processes wherever possible, pick up lots of small efficiencies here and there (they all add up), smart source for required resources (materials or linguists), involve machines for manual tasks wherever possible, and lastly, implement enough Quality Assurance processes and dip samples to keep the whole thing ticking over nicely.

So how are each of these principles applied to both manufacturing and translation?

Industry 4.0 Translation 4.0
Automated processes Automated processes
Using robots, scheduling of machinery operation, deciding when a machine should carry out certain tasks. Linking Translation Management Systems with the jobs of project managers, connecting Content Management Systems with the translation workflow.
Efficiencies Efficiencies
Time savings in a process, making sure materials are located in an easily accessible place, less time taken to move items from one part of production to the other, less humans in the factory meaning better cost efficiencies. Less time spent carrying out document typesetting, proof-reading translated documents, writing emails to different functions within a translation workflow.
Smart sourcing Smart sourcing
Configuring smart systems to automatically order more of a certain material when it senses the stock getting low, software automatically waking up your staff in the painting department when they need to spray the base layer on the lorry cab. Systems can automatically select the most appropriate linguist for the right jobs based on past performance on projects, subject-matter relevance, language pairs and availability.
Machine involvement Machine involvement
Robotics doing a range of tasks such as cutting, welding, painting, bottling, shaping, suction, product movement and processing. The linking of all of these and maximisation of application leads to a well-oiled machine of a production facility. Gone are the days of traditionalists believing that machines cannot step into the translation process; we now harness machine translation to its optimum usage. Language assets can also be used to build a base engine which can be “trained” to produce content that only has to be changed by one human instead of two. This often produces the same quality output but for half of the cost.
Human overview Human overview
Ensuring both products and workflows are adequately checked by expert humans is very important; nobody wants their facility to produce cars with 3 wheels (unless you work for Reliant!) or bottles with a hole in the bottom. Having multiple QA checks and opportunities for random dip samples is the same in Translation 4.0 – quality must be checked on every project, and sampled for random tests along the way.

The quest for the holy grail in both manufacturing and translation efficiency brings us invariably and hopefully now, unsurprisingly, to the same place. How has this benefited everybody involved? It’s simple, in both situations the product or service is produced more consistently, to a high quality, with a quicker time to market, and all while decreasing costs.

There is no doubt that Industry 4.0 and Translation 4.0 have been, and will continue to be a huge success, especially with manufacturing being such a strategically important factor in the UK economy while we transition to a more outwardly facing international trade plan.

How do we continue to improve ourselves and our processes? It’s key to keep developing and integrating new technologies, connections and updates to the systems, software and product lines to keep moving forwards.

On a side note, translation will also be a hugely important factor as UK manufacturers look to export to more remote parts of the world and truly benefit from adopting Industry 4.0, hopefully a mutually appreciable drive for increased productivity will bring these two interesting sectors together to create an unstoppably efficient force.