How CAF Supports Global Communication Processes with Straker Solutions

CAF is a multinational company with over 100 years of experience in the supply of comprehensive transit solutions. They are leaders of the railway industry offering one of the most comprehensive and flexible arrays of products in railway related markets, such as rolling stock, components, infrastructure, signalling, and services.

The Challenge: Localizing Tender Proposals

CAF is a major manufacturer of transport vehicles, a large part of their business is selling transportation goods and services to governments across the world. For CAF to thrive, their sales team must be able to efficiently and quickly respond to and present tender documents.

However, as with anything that crosses borders, bidding on an international tender comes with certain obstacles such as language barriers.

Translation plays a vital role in CAF and their sales team. Timing and quality are everything: if the proposal does not appeal language-wise. It won’t matter if you are the best supplier in your sector; the work will not be taken seriously.

In 2016, CAF reached out to Straker Translations for help with their localization needs. When we started working together, CAF’s localization process lacked the structure and technology required to translate vast amounts of volumes and produce quality results at the same time.

Thanks to Straker’s capacity to process and analyze data, we were able to recognize the most pressing language challenges. So we worked with CAF to develop a strategy that covered five critical steps to meeting tender deadlines effectively.

The Localization Plan

  • Plan to support large translation volumes

    Every month, the sales team needs to localize documents with thousands of words. Tenders have strict deadlines, and localization cannot hinder their process, so translations need to be delivered extremely fast. Capacity needs to be planned accordingly, allowing the translation team to scale up when needed.

  • Identify frequently translated file formats and optimize how we process them

    Tender documents may come in different formats, with the most common formats being PDFs — making PDFs editable for translation is a challenge without the proper tools. Other file formats frequently used in Tender proposals include Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, XML and technical drawings developed in AUTO-CAD. Thankfully we were able to adapt our teams, tools and processes to prep, edit and format all formats seamlessly.

  • Track changes in documents during the translation process

    Sometimes tender requirements are updated in the middle of the translation process. When this happens, we need to quickly track where those changes are located in the source document, translate them into English and update their proposal. Our ability to track changes quickly is a valuable asset for CAF, and also means we do not need to charge them for unnecessary translations.

  • Projects that have text with images

    Transportation is often associated with several symbols, but localizing images with text is more time consuming, given the text in an image is not formatted as editable text. We recommended the use of OCR technology to speed up the process of translating images with text. Thanks to our internal teams and tools, we can support any graphic formats.

  • Develop a term base to ensure technical language is translated consistently

    Tender proposals are highly technical documents, and demand experienced teams of technical translators. To ensure consistency across projects, we agreed to develop a terminology database, specifically for CAF, and to make sure it was correctly applied across all projects during the translation and review process.