What is behind the abbreviations OEM, EMS, PCB and PCBA

Are you in innovation or start-ups? Do you have your own vision of selling a brand new product that includes electronic components? Perhaps terms like OEM, EMS, PCB and PCBA are confusing to you at the moment. Alternatively, you don't know who to contact to place your order. Today's article will help you navigate the terminology. Electrical engineering has technical terms just like other industries, and it's a good idea to understand the specifics to avoid misunderstandings between customers and suppliers. At the same time, we'll tell you who to approach to ensure that your expectations are met.



The term Original Equipment Manufacturer is often understood in two different ways. Probably the most common idea involves a manufacturer that markets its own product. We can say that in this concept we perceive an OEM entity with a strong brand and a significant market position. 3D printers Průša, Foxconn CZ or Meopta-optics. Companies that we do not need to introduce further. These manufacturers belong to the OEM group.

The second, more common in our environment, interpretation for the abbreviation OEM is a company offering complete product realization as a service to third parties. The business model is based on experience, innovation and in-house development of the project. Often the development includes proprietary or patent rights, which are retained by the OEM. However, nowadays even these companies outsource a significant part of the process. The letter M in the name can therefore be considered somewhat outdated.


EMS, or Electronics Manufacturing Services


Represents a contract manufacturer in the electronics industry that manufactures products for the aforementioned OEMs, but also offers assistance with a wide range of value-added services. For example, support with device design, PCB delivery, components and parts. Of course, there is capacity for actual assembly, outbound logistics and handling any repair claims. EMS typically manufactures for multiple customers who have multiple products in their portfolio with the need for a much wider and more global supply chain.


EMS companies are divided by size. Under the Tier 1 designation we find the giants working for the most well-known brands. They have a range of high-volume production and a selection of technology assembly equipment. Initial production setup takes more time, but subsequent production is fast. Companies are able to build separate production lines for individual customers. This is usually in the consumer electronics sector.


On the other side stands EMS offering prototype and so-called pre-series production with considerable complexity of the final product. EMS has to be agile in this case. SAFIRAL has experience with such developments. It invests in equipment that supports much faster changes and provides flexibility. Customers also demand expertise in final product testing.




The name Printed Circuit Board is the traditional name for a bare board that is used to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways. Today, printed circuit boards are used in all electronic devices.

We can come across types such as single layer, double layer, multilayer, flexi or rigid-flex.

One of the most reliable manufacturers in our country is Gatema PCB, which specializes in producing samples in perfect quality. Continuous improvement and experience is backed up by annual investment in new machines.




PCBA - Printed Circuit Board Assembly

By enriching the previous mark with the letter A, we draw attention to the PCB board assembly process.  This is a service offered by a supplier who has an assembly line and the necessary personnel and technological equipment.



It may seem at first glance that the production of complex prototypes takes much more time than the EMS Tear 1 portfolio. The largest Czech customer of Gatema PCBs is Safiral in Kunštát. Our companies build on cooperation and inspire each other in technological progress. Due to efficiently set processes in production procurement and fast mutual communication, customers in both companies can be offered express production within days, which is not standard in the custom electronics manufacturing market.

The Helios information system and the long-standing form of cooperation on a human level, which is based, among other things, on industry-specific knowledge, help us in the process on both sides. We know how the production data is to be processed, we also know the technological limits, and in return we receive fast business and technical support, which we can immediately address with the customer if necessary.


On behalf of the EMS production representatives

Pavel Nejedlý, SAFIRALs.r.o.



On behalf of the PCB supplier

Radim Vítek, Gatema PCB a.s.




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Pavel Nejedlý, SAFIRAL s.r.o.
Sales Director