Five types of manufacturing translation that made your smartphone

Published on September 6th, 2019

It is easy to take for granted how much work goes into manufacturing modern products. Take your smartphone, for example, and all of the technology crammed into that handheld device. That is the work of multiple international technology innovators and manufacturing teams around the world.

Such processes simply would not be possible without an extensive range of translation services allowing the companies and teams to work together. To help illustrate this, here are five types of manufacturing translation that made your smartphone.

How the iPhone is made and sold around the world

We are going to focus on the iPhone for the sake of this article, purely because its manufacturing process is simpler than the complex hardware and software mix required to make Android phones.

This does not mean the iPhone’s journey through manufacturing is simple, though. Here are five key steps along the way that require extensive collaboration and flawless manufacturing translation:

  1. Contracts & negotiations: First of all, Apple has to negotiate deals and seal contracts with international suppliers, manufacturers and all kinds of other business partners.
  2. Core parts manufacturing: For example, Apple designs its own chips for iPhone models, but they are currently built to specification by a Taiwanese firm called Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC).
  3. Assembly: The majority of iPhones are then put together in China, where staff are required to assemble the devices, which requires documentation from Apple and every parts manufacturer, perfectly translated into a build specification process.
  4. Quality control: Every iPhone needs to pass quality control checks, meeting specifications defined by Apple, parts manufacturers and local regulations for each market.
  5. Documentation: Specification sheets, instruction manuals, troubleshooting guides, safety advice, marketing material and all kinds of documentation needs translating into local languages for each market.

Apple handles more of the design and manufacturing processes itself than its rivals in the smartphone market, but most of the key parts are still manufactured outside their “home” market of the US. The chips are built by a Taiwanese company to Apple’s design specifications, while the displays are actually built by Korean tech giant Samsung before being customised by Apple.

Even Apple’s Touch ID technology was built by Florida-based tech firm AuthenTec before it was bought out by Apple.

A huge number of negotiations are involved in securing these suppliers and manufacturers, which requires accurate translation every step of the way.

Safety first – no room for translation errors

In terms of actually assembling an iPhone (or any consumer device), specifications have to be followed to the wire. These tiny computers can overheat, explode, electrocute and cause all manner of injuries to consumers if safety regulations are not met. More commonly, companies like Apple can face lawsuits for failing to meet regulations, even if nothing goes wrong.

If Apple itself is not culpable (i.e. one of its suppliers or partners is), then the tech giant will then sue the company deemed responsible – so it is in everyone’s interests to understand exactly what their obligations are.

In global business, this starts with accurate translation.

The purpose of this article was to show how complex the manufacturing process of a smartphone can actually be. However, you can imagine how much more complex this becomes for products like cars, heavy machinery, medical technology, cargo transportation, military gear and space exploration equipment. The more complex the manufacturing process becomes, the more crucial the role translation plays in making sure things are built as they should be.

Posted on: September 6th, 2019