I recently worked on a Syncade manufacturing execution system (MES) project where the system was deployed in Danish. Emerson executes all its projects with a global team and this one was no different. Our customer was Danish and we had team members from Denmark, the US, India, Romania, England, and France. In a project like this, a single language must be selected for system design and the only practical language to use is English.
In this project, all meetings, meeting minutes, and design documents were developed in English, but we knew from the beginning the system would be deployed in Danish. When was the best time to make the translation?
Together with our customer, we made the decision to develop and complete informal testing in English then make the translations and perform formal FAT testing in Danish. So we had our strategy, but what should be the best mechanism to make the translations? We decided the best organization to make the translations should be the customer. While Emerson had Danish-speaking engineers on our team, the customer understood the audience (Operators) and the process best.
What process should we use to make the translations? Would we ask the user to enter the Recipe Authoring application and make the changes? Would we take data dumps of the configuration into word files or excel files and have the customer translate? Having the customer go directly into the configuration environment and make the translation is probably the most efficient method; however, it creates risk since those best able to make the translation are not the same people who would have the skills to use the Recipe Author tool. There are also contractual issues to consider. It is possible that unintended errors could be made by the customer when making translations and that could be a risk to the cost and schedule.
So what about outputting the English from the configuration in MS Word or Excel, then have the customer provide the translation, and Emerson re-enters the configuration information? This is a potentially viable method; however, it presents a couple of problems. First, all this text is XML and the raw text itself is not very readable with all the XML tags. The next problem is that the customer making the translation would have to be very careful not to accidentally delete or insert XML tags – it could be very easy to corrupt the formatting. So we elected not to use this method.
Ultimately, we decided on a process where Emerson mocked up electronic work instructions using PowerPoint. We typed in the English using editable text. These English-version mock ups were first used to be sure we had the English wording correct. In GMP manufacturing, the nuances of the language used are important and can have ramifications for regulatory compliance.
After a few iterations of passing the English language mock ups between the Emerson project team and the customer, we then created a Danish version of the PowerPoint slides that were initially copies of the English-language version. In the PowerPoint slide deck, each work instruction had two slides—the English version and the Danish version. The customer edited the English text to Danish to create the Danish version. The translation slide deck was maintained as an appendix to the Functional Design Specification.
Once translated, the Emerson configuration engineers copied and pasted the Danish text into the engineering tool to translate the work instructions in the system.
In hindsight, I can see there were pros and cons in using this method. On the Pro side, the mock ups enables those making the translation to see the exact context the operator would be seeing on the plant floor. This improved the ability for the words to communicate what they needed to – in both English and Danish. The other benefit is once we moved into factory acceptance testing (FAT)—non-Danish testers had a reference to use to understand a Danish display in English.
The downside of this method was that it did take more effort. It took effort to develop the mock ups and more effort to reconfigure the translations back into the system. A more direct method would have resulted in lower costs.
From Jim: You can connect and interact with other pharmaceutical, biotech and manufacturing execution system experts in the Life Sciences and Operation Management groups in the Emerson Exchange 365 community.