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Specifications & Language Barriers In Overseas Manufacturing

Clear, precise communication is one best practice of successful overseas manufacturing. Miscommunication is the monkey wrench. Clearly describing your product specifications can be a challenge in and of itself but that’s only half the battle. The challenge on the other end is the accurate comprehending and understanding of those specifications. For overseas manufacturing to be successful, the maker must be able to purchase the correct materials, create the proper jigs, shape the right molds, create whatever manufacturing processes are to be used, and proceed with an accurate understanding of what the item should be in the end. Factory personnel must thoroughly understand the specifications for these things to happen.

Miscommunication and misunderstanding cause manufacturing mistakes to happen when manufacturing domestically. These mistakes happen between people who were raised in the same culture and country and speaking the same language. Imagine how much higher the chances for miscommunication there are in a typical overseas manufacturing project. Different culture, different language, different part of the world, different priorities, and different view of life make overseas manufacturing more of a challenge than most people realize.

English is spoken literally the world over and it is said to be one of the most difficult languages to master. Recent figures indicate 73% of the Chinese people in mainland China “speak English”. That sounds like quite a lot but there are many levels of being able to “speak English” or any second language. There is no breakdown of the number of that 73% who can understand the nuances of the spoken and written English word and definitely no statistics of the number of factory workers who speak English at a level we need.

Often overlooked, Miscommunication is one of the most common reasons overseas manufacturing can be a challenge. Many companies wanting to manufacture their goods overseas get into trouble not realizing the challenges of being understood. For example, business owners or buyers can sit down or communicate via email and have a relatively fluid conversation with someone in China but then will be surprised when that same person is unable to thoroughly understand product specifications, testing criteria, inspection criteria, and functional specifications.

So what’s the solution to effective communication in overseas manufacturing? ITI Manufacturing. ITI has been representing American companies in Asia for over 40 years. We know that communicating effectively and thoroughly is one of the cornerstones of successful overseas manufacturing.

We hear the following phrases repeated over and over, “I can’t get this small change done right. I finally just gave up.” Or, “I’m on my fifth sample.” Or, “The sample looked good but the production run wasn’t even close.”

The main reason for most frustration with overseas manufacturing is lack of clear, precise, understanding of what’s being requested.

Even though international material standards, units of measure (two to choose from), and material specifications and testing criteria all can be defined and measured, everything is not that simple. Effective overseas manufacturing demands clear communication to describe exactly how to apply these standards.

Clear, concise communication is one of the reasons companies prefer to work through ITI when considering overseas manufacturing. Our staff consists of native-born Americans as well as native Chinese speakers at our headquarters in Texas. The level of understanding and communication internally is at a very high level. So much so that literally nothing gets “lost in translation”. Our full-time China staff also has a number of individuals who “speak English” – some extremely well. But they don’t have to. They communicate face to face with factory personnel in their native language – Chinese.

Let ITI help your overseas manufacturing project be a success by managing your communications, production, testing, and inspection.

By |2018-07-20T17:26:11+00:00February 9th, 2016|ITI News|