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Off topic: Requirements of foreign manufacturers
Thread poster: David of Acuity
David of Acuity
English
Apr 1, 2008

My company produces industrial laser sensors. See www.acuitylaser.com

My distributor insists that we must provide User's Manuals in the German language if we sell the product in Germany. She says it is mandatory. No other country or language requires this.

Is this mandatory or just preferred?

Thanks.


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 19:03
Mandatory Apr 1, 2008

For the same reason the translation of the operating manual into Chinese must be finished before the machines are shipped to China. To sell the machines in the target country, you need to apply for official permission in that country. For this purpose you have to provide the manual with the necessary technical data in the language used in that country.

A few weeks ago, a German guy, who brought a cheap scooter from China to Germany was looking for a translator to translate his user manual from Chinese into German. The German office in charge wouldn't register his scooter because they couldn't decide if the technical standard of the scooter meets the German requirement. He couldn't drive his scooter without a registration.

The scooter had cost him only a few hundred euros, the translation more than one thousand if done. I didn't know what happened to his scooter later. He probably has bought himself a German scooter with a German user manual.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:03
German to English
EU Machinery Directive Apr 1, 2008

David of Acuity wrote:
My distributor insists that we must provide User's Manuals in the German language if we sell the product in Germany. She says it is mandatory. No other country or language requires this.
Is this mandatory or just preferred?
Thanks.


I suggest you take a look at the EU Machinery Directive: 1.7.4 reads:

"1.7.4. Instructions
All machinery must be accompanied by instructions in the official Community language or languages of the Member State in which it is placed on the market and/or put into service.

The instructions accompanying the machinery must be either ‘Original instructions’ or a ‘Translation of the original instructions’, in which case the translation must be accompanied by the original instructions.

By way of exception, the maintenance instructions intended for use by specialised personnel mandated by the manufacturer or his authorised representative may be supplied in only one Community language which the specialised personnel understand.

The instructions must be drafted in accordance with the principles set out below."

You'll find the full English text of the directive here:

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/site/en/oj/2006/l_157/l_15720060609en00240086.pdf

Of course it means translations for all EU countries in which your company's equipment will be used, not just German.

To be honest, I'd have thought that word of these requirements would by now have spread globally. The potential liability consequences of non-compliance are enormous.


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Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:03
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes, and why not? Apr 1, 2008

AFAIK, there's an EU directive/regulation concerning this. In Sweden, for example, all products (potentially dangerous or not) have to include instructions in Swedish.

What's your problem with this? Would you be happy to use a product with a manual in French or Chinese only?


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David of Acuity
English
TOPIC STARTER
EU Machinery Directive Apr 1, 2008

I don't mean to be too specific, but I'm not certain that our product would be described as "Machinery". It is a laser measuring sensor, bascially a piece of electronics. There is nothing mechanical about it. No moving parts.

David

[Edited at 2008-04-01 21:13]


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 19:03
English to Portuguese
+ ...
In Brazil it's mandatory Apr 1, 2008

David of Acuity wrote:
My distributor insists that we must provide User's Manuals in the German language if we sell the product in Germany. She says it is mandatory. No other country or language requires this.
Is this mandatory or just preferred?
Thanks.



From the Brazilian Consumer Protection Code:
ART. 31 - A oferta e a apresentação de produtos ou serviços devem assegurar informações corretas, claras, precisas, ostensivas e em língua portuguesa sobre suas características, qualidade, quantidade, composição, preço, garantia, prazos de validade e origem, entre outros dados, bem como sobre os riscos que apresentam à saúde e segurança dos consumidores.

Translating:
Both offer and presentation of products or services shall ensure the provision of correct, clear, accurate, and visible information, in Portuguese language, on their features, quality, quantity, composition, price, warranty, validity term, and origin, among other information, as well as the risks they may pose to consumers' health and safety.


There is a whole issue about Brazilian and European Portuguese, more info about it at http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/1675 , however for legal purposes, it's one and the same language, according to both Brazilian and Portuguese constitutions.

My previous car - here in Brazil - had been imported from France. So its user manual was all in European Portuguese. Many things there were not as easy for me to understand as I would expect them, but this was absolutely legal. There were no grounds for a complaint. Now I have another car from the same manufacturer, however it's locally made. Of course, its manual is all in Brazilian Portuguese. But importing the first one here would not have been allowed if its accompanying user manual were in French (or any language other than Portuguese for this matter).


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 16:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
No instructions needed? Apr 2, 2008

David of Acuity wrote:
I don't mean to be too specific, but I'm not certain that our product would be described as "Machinery". It is a laser measuring sensor, bascially a piece of electronics. There is nothing mechanical about it. No moving parts.


I don't follow your argument. Are you saying that the use of your compány's devices is intuitive, and the operators can employ them without manuals? That would be the only justification I could see for the manuals not needing to be translated.


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Daina Jauntirans  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:03
German to English
+ ...
Check the definition in the Directive Apr 2, 2008

David of Acuity wrote:

I don't mean to be too specific, but I'm not certain that our product would be described as "Machinery". It is a laser measuring sensor, bascially a piece of electronics. There is nothing mechanical about it. No moving parts.

David

[Edited at 2008-04-01 21:13]


The Directive Robin linked to above spells out in great detail the definition of "machinery" for the purposes of the Directive as well as what does not fall under the Directive. You should be able to tell from that. However, it seems logical that the manual would need to be translated. I have never bought anything imported in the States from a toaster to a car that doesn't include an English manual.

[Edited at 2008-04-02 01:34]


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Marina Soldati  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 19:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Same for Argentina Apr 2, 2008

Hi David,

Any device, machinery, car, food or whatever imported into Argentina must have all documentation, guarantee and even packaging translated into Spanish, together with the originals.

Regards,
Marina


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Steffen Walter  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:03
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
Translation is required Apr 2, 2008

David of Acuity wrote:
I don't mean to be too specific, but I'm not certain that our product would be described as "Machinery". It is a laser measuring sensor, bascially a piece of electronics. There is nothing mechanical about it. No moving parts.
David


Hi David,

I agree with all previous contributors saying that a translation of the manuals into the language/s of the country/ies in which the product is going to be used is mandatory.

On a related note, what I seem to be reading between the lines (and perhaps this is too much of a speculation - please feel free to respond and correct me if I'm wrong) - are you trying to avoid translation cost in this case?

Steffen


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:03
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Try the IKEA-approach Apr 2, 2008

If you can put the user instructions into pictures that are understood by any human being (even engeneers!) you could avoid translation of text-material.
Its true that every country requires instrucktions in the official langauage(s), but it is also true that most people never read them.
Cheers
Heinrich


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:03
German to English
Seek professional advice Apr 2, 2008

David of Acuity wrote:
I don't mean to be too specific, but I'm not certain that our product would be described as "Machinery". It is a laser measuring sensor, bascially a piece of electronics. There is nothing mechanical about it. No moving parts.


The fact that there's nothing mechanical in the device is, I think, irrelevant. But that's something that only a lawyer specialized in this area can advise on, after receiving appropriate input from your technical people. If your company already exports to the EU, I presume you have counsel there to advise on all the various areas of EU (and national) law that affect your company and its products.

When I worked in export sales and marketing management many years (decades!) ago, getting professional advice on regulatory issues was something we did before exporting our products, i.e. during the feasibility study stage!

Robin
PS: As a matter of interest, what would be the response of your company if it bought some piece of manufacturing equipment vital to produce your laser sensors, and all the documentation was in German? (or Chinese?)


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