Acquisition of Kubatronik? A giant leap for us

It it's still one of the most remarkable pieces of news of this year in the field of printed circuit boards production. The Boskovice-based company Gatema announced the acquisition of a German-based company Kubatronik. It is still not quite usual a Czech company buys a German one. Let alone quite a significant one. Kubatronik is not any small fish but a traditional European player with its history reaching back to 1980. Moreover, the company has been focusing in the last couple years on the production of complex boards (especially flex or rigid flex) for high tech industries such as aviation, military for medicine. We have discussed the gradual takeover, integration and merging with the director of Gatema PCB a.s. company Mr. Zdeněk Cápal.

„Quite frankly the coronavirus pandemic has detoured our plans a little bit. Of course the integration is still ongoing, we have plenty of phone calls, video conferences, emails, but a lot of the issues or best discussed and solved face-to-face. Simultaneously we need to finish off the implementation of an information system and try it out on spot how everything is happening and fits together. As has always been the case, I am extremely excited about the cooperation with Kubatronik because this is exactly the partner that will be able to help us in areas where we have not yet been able to operate ourselves quite well,“ Zdeněk Cápal adds.

What areas are we specifically talking about?

Kubatronik company has been specializing in complex boards for a long time. And it has an outstanding reputation with its customers from the industries of aviation, scientific institutions, medical fields. We have been following trends in the market for many years and we perceive that flex, rigid flex or complex high frequency boards are fastest and a very stable segment within entire Europe. It was crucial for us not to enter the market unprepared as we aim to keep extremely high standards and quality and a good name in everything we do. Thanks to Kubatronik’s know how and previous long-term experience this is not the case. We are very well aware of the fact that today we are able to offer a complete portfolio with all our typical attributes.

What are these?

Quality higher than that of a standard level and above average speed. We base our reputation on that and the speed is for most of our partners still the main reason why they go with Gatema.

Do you want to keep the speed even in case of more sophisticated technologies such as flex or rigid flex boards? Wouldn’t it do you more bad than good?

No, it wouldn’t. Obviously, we cannot speed up the process of the production itself that much. All of a sudden it is not just about the production line, but also about the mechanical work and skills of our operators. But we do want everything around to work as fast as possible. We constantly innovate, push into automation and digitalization. And of course our great advantage is that we can really depend on our other company within the holding and that is Gatema IT a.s. company that develops information systems tailored exactly to our needs.

flexi deska

Have you already produced first rigid flex boards in Boskovice? 

Yes. We are making them already. The numbers now go only into tens of pieces and at the same time we constantly test the entire model. But we have already dispatched quite a few of them and they all seem to be working just fine the important fact here is that the demand is growing.

Did the transformation into the production of more complex boards mean to you some more essential investments to be made into technologies within the production?

The machines in the technology are not so pivotal. The boards can be produced on our current existing machines - perhaps with the exception of a laser cutting. It is just everything is difficult to set, the entire process is more complex. A higher volume of manual labor now enters the production process and this just cannot be automated. Some steps are special. Our target is also for all the operators to be able to performed that and that would make us not dependent on specific individuals or a specific working shift in our company.

And if you take the entire production into consideration - what investments have you made so far?

This year we have succeeded in finishing a large project for a new galvanic line and also chemical copper which are now the two lines that will be directly linked to one another. Even chemical coppering Open doors for us to more complex in advanced boarders. We also work with special materials such as Rogers, high frequency materials or flex. The fact that we now operate to galvanic lines is a very pleasant back up for us now. Every temporary interruption of operation in our company now costs us a lot of time and deadlines and as it stands to reason, our customers don't like that.

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Zdeněk Cápal