How we at Gatema PCB reduced the lead time of PCB production

Implementing digital production means, among other things, thinking about the future. Automation is nothing new, but recently some technologies have matured - such as AI (Artificial Intelligence) or RPA (Robotic Process Automation) - that have the potential to change the way companies work. AI algorithms can save companies time, make operations easier and automate production processes.



Artificial intelligence can help manufacturing companies with volumes of data, technical documents and results evaluation. Data is a major development driver for companies and continues to be one of the major trends in digital transformation. But today, an integrated system is needed for bulk data collection, processing, consolidation, activation and execution from online and offline environments and machines, as well as data evaluation for prediction and also application to future production and company operations in general.



HELIOS Nephrite handles all this with ease. And the Production module is invaluable in production. The Production module enables online monitoring of production status. Imagine that you run production regularly at the end of each shift, which gives you daily updates on its actual status. You can see exactly the work-in-progress, which you put into context with order delivery dates. By optimising production processes in this way with the help of ERP HELIOS Nephrite, production lead times are significantly improved.

Thanks to the WMS, the associated integration solution for the Production module that monitors inventory management and the REVA MES system for monitoring and evaluating machine data, delivery times towards customers are accelerated.

We use the unique MES REVA for the production of Gatema PCBs. It collects up-to-date and accurate data from the production equipment, which it links to all the mechanisms and tools to manage and plan all related events and processes of the manufacturing company. Confirms Radim Vitek, Gatema PCB Production Manager, "Nowadays, the customer puts a lot of emphasis on the quality of the product, its purity, mechanical quality, but at the same time he demands very fast delivery of the product. And we have managed to do that by implementing this system."


The production of each board is a purely custom type of production and each production order is specific and reflects the particular requirements of the customer. The Production module of the HELIOS information system, including the MES system, has made production tracking more precise right from the start of its use. The order configurator, which can be found on our website, has contributed a lot to this. This configurator is directly linked to the HELIOS information system. The gradual optimization of production processes with the help of the information system has led to a significant reduction in the lead time for the production of printed circuit boards and thus to a faster delivery time to you, the customer.


The implementation took place under full production operation and was very fast and successful. Today, 90 employees of our company are working with the information system with the implemented module Production at the same time.


"Each customer order is unique, thanks to the web-based configurator the requirements of the board parameters are refined. The configuration is automatically loaded into the HELIOS information system and the workflow ensures that the information is sent to the data preparation department.
The time of the entire data entry process into production is reduced. In addition, the complexity of checking for data preparation in the TPV and creating the production flow is eliminated, as these steps are already stored and automated in the information system. There is certainly no risk of someone getting confused when transcribing customer parameter requirements and there is also no need to match customer data with production parameters. Everything is automated in the Production module"
, explains Petr Vareka, head of the implementation team of the HELIOS information system.

výroba DPS

During the actual PCB (printed circuit board) production on the shop floor, the Production module automates the loading of the program for controlling the technological line or machine (drill, press, milling machine or CNC). On the shop floor, the production operator then confirms the work and production by reading the barcode of the operation and this information is transferred to the Production module. On each job there is precise information about the start and end of the operation of the process. Material planning and material output to production is also linked to the workflow.

"For example, the drilling process for circuit boards: the drilling method, the countersinking, the specific drilling locations and the drilling depth are all recorded in the manufacturing process under a specific code. The Manufacturing module will offer the machine a program stored on the network with the drilling procedure. The operator just needs to confirm the program on the machine. This avoids delays because the Production module follows the work instructions of the production operation to the next workstation," explains Vareka.


The information system therefore tracks and records exactly at what stage of the production process a given board is, which significantly speeds up the orientation of the order status in production.


"We were able to streamline data preparation for production to a minimum. If an order comes in from a customer with the correct data, we can see in the information system the individual processing steps such as drilling, milling, motif checking, mask section and so on. If the information system and the production preparation technician do not report any limitations, the PCB can actually go into production in a few minutes. The chemistry takes its time to prepare, the physics takes its time, something of course falls into the processing of the whole job. But we can already produce a quality board in about 14 hours, which used to take 10-14 days without an information system," says Vaclav Ambroz, head of the technical preparation department.




Specific needs of the company in the production of printed circuit boards

"A great advantage of the HELIOS information system is the possibility of adapting it to the needs of the manufacturing company. For Gatema PCB, the Production module is customized in many places," explains Jiri Merinsky, the main programmer of the Production module.


Implementation of the Production module of the HELIOS information system

The gradual increase in the number of orders in production and the expansion of the number of technologies for the production of printed circuit boards led the company management to the decision to implement an information system. The company management decided to solve the unsustainable situation with manual production monitoring in 2000. The implementation of the system took place very quickly and without any downtime.

The complete implementation including the current support of the system operation is handled by GATEMA IT, a company belonging to the same holding as us.

What have we gained thanks to the Production module?

  •  Perfect overview of the status of the DPS contract from the creation of the offer, ordering,
     through actual production to dispatch.
  •  Evaluation of the profitability of the order.
  •  Reduction of non-conformities, prevention of non-conformities.
  •  Evaluation of downtime and prevention of downtime in PCB production.
  •  Planned maintenance of machines.
  •  Reduction of machine downtime.
  •  Speeding up communication with customer as through configuration,
     as well as automating the workflow in the ordering process.
  •  Accumulation of PCB production at the semi-finished goods level.


The ideal partner for the digitalisation of industry

The basis for the functionality of Industry 4.0 is the data that is transmitted by RFID technology. This proven technology can be used not only for information transfer and location recognition, but also for globally unambiguous identification of objects. Industry 4.0 requires digital identification of workpieces, tools, containers, machines and devices. In addition, these objects must exchange information. Using RFID transponders, the current machine data can be read and automated status messages can then be sent to a defined receiver. The bottom line is clear: Communication and know-how in the field of RFID technology is supported by HELIOS, including modules and integration solutions, and thus ensures the essential goal of Industry 4.0.


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Michaela Krňáková
marketing Gatema PCB