Interview

Growing needs of people guarantee the printed circuit boards will continue to be in production

Mr. František Vlk is not really a typical business “shark”. He speaks calmly and carefully select select his words, is grateful for your questions and there is a 10 year old mobile phone on the table in front of him that he uses. And even in spite of that – or perhaps that's why – he has managed to built a company in Boskovice that employs around 200 people and has obtained a top class reputation for the production of printed circuit boards all over Europe. “Last year was tough but we managed to survive way above our expectations but it is too early to celebrating because the crisis that is going to hit this business is still ahead of us. The overall consumption is still suppressed by the coronavirus and especially the more expensive items are less in demand. People are still waiting, anticipating what's going to happen next. The companies have started to arm for the post-Covid period which results in developing and then ordering more complicated and complex boards. It is more interesting types of goods for us with higher added value” as he adds at the beginning of our interview.

The Year 2020 in PCB industry: fewer classic circuit boards, companies invested in development

The year 2020 will become part of history alongside the legendary years of 1968, 1989 or 2001, the years that have changed the rules in the world. A dramatic change is also happening at this time - the culture of work is shifting, people's habits are changing as well as global logistics, economic parameters, social conventions, technological possibilities. The development in many areas has managed to accelerate even more. After all, consider this, would you be able to imagine a similar pandemic 10 or 20 years ago? Without the possibility of home office, video conferences, high speed Internet, advanced automation or artificial intelligence, the course of such pandemic would be dramatically different. This was also one of the topics we discussed with Mr. Frantisek Vlk, Mr. Zdenek Capal and Mr. Ondrej Horky. The three gentlemen that are steering the wheel of Gatema PCB a.s., a top European producer of printed circuit boards that only in this year has managed to transform into a holding structure, to finish the acquisition of a well-known German company Kubatronik, to open up an Austrian branch office Katema Tec and to strengthen substantially its activities in Poland. This is not a bad result for a year which has been mostly negative for majority of people.

IPC Class 3 is still a luxury nowadays, but will soon become a necessity

Electronics - a field that has been a part of Mr. jiri Dostal’s entire life really. Ever since he was a little boy he used to go to the research and development center of Tesla where he would observe his father making radars. He obviously studied electronics at a higher level and since 2000 he has been working in RealTime Technologies, a company where he is currently holding a position of a Technical Director. He is responsible not only for making sure the production is managed smoothly but at the same time he's one of the major lecturers of the company for the area of IPC certifications. In reality this means one to two workshops and seminars every week and more than 500 of trained specialists in the area of IPC standards. He holds a certificate of a Master IPC Trainer for the area of IPC-A-610 (a globally most used standard for the installations of electronic sets), IPC 7711/21 (which corresponds to repairs, remodeling and modifications of customer sets), Master Instructor MIT for the area of IPC-A-600 (for the criteria of an attached printed circuit boards) and a WHMA-620 (for installation purposes connected to cable sets and bundles). The MIT status then guarantees that he can train other specialists and trainers

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.

Technology measuring photosynthesis. From Czechia all the way to Harvard, Princeton or NASA

There are great stories. And some are being written on very inconspicuous places. One of them is Drasov - a small town near Brno. And here, a company called Photon System Instruments (PSI) is headquartered, in one of the quiet streets of the town. The company supplies its measuring devices to the most renowned and prestigious institutions on the planet such as National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or Harvard or Princeton universities. The company has daughter companies and affiliates all over the world and distributors on all continents with the exclusive exception of the Antarctic. That is a good reason enough to interview Mr. Ladislav Hronek who has been working for the company since the beginning of the century.