Both translation and international logistics present special challenges. Logistics, defined as the process of efficiently transporting and storing goods from their point of origin to where they will be used, are instrumental throughout all phases of international supply chains. From international laws to customs regulations, several measures and a multitude of languages are involved in helping to successfully facilitate the transportation of raw materials, products, supplies, and even people across international waters, borders, and languages. Every single stage of supply chain management is considered in the logistics industry.

This includes the five elements of logistics:

  • Storage, warehousing, and materials handling
  • Packaging and unitization
  • Inventory
  • Transport
  • Information and control

In the logistics and supply chain industries, communication is critical to ensuring all involved parties are equipped with the correct information to meet customer demands, stay on track with delivery schedules, adhere to laws and regulations, and more. Logistics management is already complex enough with so many moving parts. These factors are even more critical under current economic conditions where the supply chain is stretched thin by increased demand, limited supplies, and the labor shortage. 

A single communication problem can have a domino effect on supply chain management. As globalization increases and more goods are purchased and shipped worldwide, companies must keep up with the growing need for multinational operations. Additionally, they must identify ways to establish themselves in international markets. As a result, international logistics requires effective communication between parties to enable greater efficiency and streamlined workflows. Companies can overcome communication issues and disruptions that often negatively impact transportation, deliveries, and more by tackling translation and localization approaches. Let’s discuss how translations can have an impact on the different components of international logistics and how companies communicate with a global audience. 

Documentation and Procedures

While international shipping can open the door to new markets and increase growth for your business, it also requires more involved parties, including warehousing and shipping, which means documentation will be needed for supporting the process from beginning to end. Some of the documents involved include:

  • Purchase orders
  • Commercial invoices
  • Bills of lading
  • Export packing lists
  • Air waybills
  • Letters of credit
  • Dock/warehouse receipts
  • Certificates of origin
  • Insurance certificates
  • Export licenses

These documents need to be read and understood by all parties involved in the transaction, including sales, packing, and shipping. Each step of the logistics process involves its own set of procedures and documents that need translation into the language of the destination company. With that in mind, quality and reliable translation services can be used to avoid any discrepancies and misunderstandings that could potentially lead to disruptions in the logistics chain. 

Professional localization can ensure accurate translation of all documents for the recipients. Such expert service must consider industry-specific terminology and determine when it’s necessary or unnecessary to opt for literal translations, which in some situations can harm the messaging by triggering changes in the logistics documentation. Fortunately, professional translators can pick up on key nuances and ensure compliance with relevant laws in the industry. 

Additionally, it’s important to consider the human-resources and marketing side of logistics. Expanding into a global market requires you to establish your presence. This includes effectively communicating what your company has to offer to potential clients and partners, which can be done through website copy, brochures, and sales materials. Likewise, to reach your target audience, it’s imperative to accurately translate your website and marketing materials, which demands a clear understanding of local laws and regulations. Appropriately qualified translation and localization services enable your company to reach new markets and effectively position your business online while maintaining your brand’s image. 

International logistics may also require your company to hire new employees in global markets. Translation and localization services can help you translate recruitment and training materials that are key to attracting and properly training new staff. These translated materials should take into account all cultural nuances relevant to the target audience and any labor laws and regulations for the recipient’s region.

Laws and Regulations

Customs laws differ between countries, and companies are responsible for familiarizing themselves with applicable laws and regulations. When shipping materials, goods, or supplies internationally, compliance is critical for avoiding disruptions in delivery and staying clear of any legal liabilities. Legal and technical documents, including customs declarations and certificates of origin, must be adequately translated to ensure adherence to regulations and minimize the time shipments are delayed at customs. 

Some countries rely on a standardized numerical system called the Harmonized System. It’s designed to streamline taxes and customs. While these codes are uniform across most countries, there are some notable exceptions which require necessary adjustments during the translation process in order to ensure nation-specific compatibility. If there is a failure to properly understand and follow national customs laws and regulations, and if record-keeping practices are improper for particular countries, the result can be costly delays, hefty fines, lost privileges, and even the seizure of merchandise.

Process Optimization

International logistics relies on organized processes to meet tight timeframes and critical deadlines, whether you’re dealing with aerospace, maritime, or railways. Linguistic optimization can support streamlined workflows and ensure business continuity when dealing with such complex processes. Companies and their employees have to be on the same page to effectively collaborate, which requires information to flow smoothly from one party to another. Translation services can be critical in establishing and developing productive conversations and processes. 

Computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools like translation memory (TM) support improved consistency and accuracy throughout the text. Translation services that rely on these innovative solutions can accelerate the translation process by eliminating the need to retype recurring phrases and words within the logistics copy, leading to faster turnaround times. This helps to ensure an optimized workflow that enables companies to maintain shipping schedules. 

Translation Services for International Logistics

These past two years have shown the importance of resilience in logistics and the supply chain. Current circumstances call for thorough planning and well-thought-out processes to withstand disruptions and minimize misunderstandings. Language barriers can pose a real challenge to international logistics. TrueLanguage’s robust translation and localization services are the strategic piece of the puzzle you need to make well-translated content accessible to all. 

Our team of skilled translators has years of experience in translating logistical documents. We streamline and improve your operations by providing qualified translation and localization services supported by industry-specific technology. Reach out to our team today to learn how our services can best suit your business needs.