Industry 4.0 does not mean people will be replaced with machines

If a printed circuit boards manufacturer claims his key and unfair competitive advantage is production speed, then make sure he is going to be the first one to begin implementing automation and digitalization of all its activities within its own internal processes. Because what is most costly is human error. That is just a pure fact that 10 out of 10 production companies will confirm. But the fact is that even in spite of this highly expected arrival of the 4.0 industry it does not mean that human labor will not be needed any longer. “People will not be replaced by machines, they will only be transferred to positions where their creativity will be at better use form us. We see this on a daily basis.” as Ondrej Horky, a Commercial manager for Gatema PCB a.s. adds. Gatema PCB a.s. company belongs to one of the fastest producers of printed circuit boards within the European scale.

“it will definitely never be the case of just entering data into a machine on one side of the production plant and end up getting a finished product on the other. It is our effort to automate most of all such processes that can automatically be controlled and managed and reduce error rate. On the other side, Gatema PCB a.s. company is moving towards a more sophisticated and multi-layer boards. This only means one thing in practice - that the entire production will be in need of more people again. Only these people will not be doing recurring manual labor, but they will be watching the entire process“ as added by an energetic 30 year-old who has been experiencing an extraordinarily turbulent year as much as the entire industry.

The same trend is appeared to be observed within the printed circuit boards field. The Coronavirus pandemic and various quarantine restrictions related to the pandemic have forced all companies and corporations even more fiercely follow up on the automation and digitalization which has led to be well translated into the requirements upon the production. The customers, more than ever before, have invested into various prototypes of more sophisticated boards. And because the current times are revealing further needs of additional development whether the reason being the arrival of really fine parts or because of requirements and demands upon the precision of production of HDI, VF and even boards with guided impedance.

There is no more space for manoeuvring. Neither on the map, nor with prices

Zdenek Capal, a director of Gatema PCB, adds. “If you want to be successful these days, not only you constantly need to follow the trends but you also have to be ready to make investments. This year several producers in Western Europe have had to close their gates. Even though they had work to do they became too expensive and uncompetitive. This same case happened to several other producers who have had to close business due to their lack of getting technologically behind. Even this is the impact of the Industry 4.0 in which you simply need to tirelessly follow-up on your orders and make sure they go through your production process as fast as possible.”

He simultaneously swiftly adds that the world has slowly gone through all the possibilities of where to move aside or manoeuvre. Whereas in the past the substantial part of the production moved to Eastern Europe in large bulks and even further away all the way to Asia, now this time period has practically finished.


“We have found ourselves on the edge where there's no more space to move to. This has perfectly been demonstrated by this year's crisis when we had a dramatic increase in orders in the first quarter of this year when there was a outage of China. It has shown that many companies do not practically care where they buy their boards from - they need quality in the shortest amount of time possible. In today's world you can practically order from anywhere in the world but you do not get to shorten the transportation times yet.” as Zdenek Capal says.

Higher price for labor that you get to pay in Europe can that be compensated by acquiring even better technologies. They will guide you throughout the entire process absolutely without any flaws and mistakes. “The customer is not always ready to except a higher price. And as there are ever increasing expenses on the input, we have to seek further savings in details. Fortunately we are able to do that. Besides this there is a great opportunity to transfer to a more sophisticated boards with which you will be able to sell also hours of expertise,” as Zdenek Capal comments.

Gatema has been able to make a giant leap in this field as well. Instead of eight or ten layer boards it is quite common these days for it to make even sixteen-layer boards, that are furthermore equipped with a combination of other technologies. These are gradual lamination, blind vents, filling in or various flex or rigid-flex materials. As a paradox, human labor is again needed for its production. And perhaps in even greater quantities than before the industrial revolution with the serial number four. I would really be glad if we could use human resources and labor for creative work that will always be here and will always be needed and necessary. And if we could put our machines in charge of the automatic control, reduction of error rate.

Care to know more on the subject?
Connect with our specialists
Zdeněk Cápal