Wellgo Taiwan Factory Visit

Wellgo Taiwan Factory Visit

11/11/2014
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11/11/2014

All components on a bike are important, but the pedals are the first parts that connect our intentions with making the bike actually work. We push on the pedals and we move. Eighty percent of  high end pedals are made in one place, that is the Wellgo factory in Taichung, Taiwan. That includes clipless pedals and flat pedals. This represents around 10-20 percent of the pedal market roughly, although no exact numbers are forth coming, but this particular pedal factory turns out about 15 million pairs of pedals a year.

Taichung is the centre of bike production in the world with almost everything on a bike being made here.

The low end rest of the market is made in China or in other specialist places for example Shimano has it’s own production facility. All in all it means there are about 180-200 million pedals made every year, that is a lot of pedals. It also gives a clue to how many bikes might be made in a year, although not all pedals are sold with bikes. From a simple components like this it is possible to start to understand the magnitude of the bike market, it should be noted that it is still growing.

Wellgo showed us around their facility and what it takes to make pedals.

Wellgo Factory Visit

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Leaving our hotel in the morning we had this view.

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On the way to the factory, this city runs on scooters.

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It was sunrise here, the sun was setting in Europe, we were on there other side of the world, and it felt like it as we drove along the roads leading out to the factory.

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If you pedal, you have probably used something from here. Wellgo Factory

Wellgo is a family run firm that is deeply embedded as part of the bike industry production chain in Taiwan. The name came from the concept of pedal easily, thus Wellgo, it was conceived as a name easily understandable in the West.

The company started up 35 years ago after it’s owner was told to do develop pedals where he was working previously. He decided to start his own business and pedals was his thing. Highlighting the family element of the business, his whole family including his children now work at the facility and his kids grew up they said surrounded by pedals. To produce that number of pedals requires huge efforts and investments over the years, but all this has paid off with Wellgo seen as one of the leaders in pedal production, including their own pedal brands, they make many of the top brands of pedals. Due to client confidentiality they couldn’t go into which brands exactly, but rest assured many that we use and like come from there. They pride themselves on quality production with excellent quality control and good working conditions.

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The male lion on the right and the female on the left with her cub.

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The complex stretches out beneath us.

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Wellgo is upgrading and this will be their education centre for local school kids to learn about production.

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Their choice of tree signifies the growth of the company.

Based in Taichung their factory is up to date and had an incredible number of expensive machines in it dedicated to the task of pedal production. Once upon a time these factories were in Europe, but over the years the politics of cost and investment globally has lead to these types of factories being based in places like Taiwan. The Wellgo factory is only 10 minutes from the port where what they produce is shipped off to the rest of the world. We got to see the whole process up-close and shoot what we saw.

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We headed over to the production facility.

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These type of factories just don’t exist any more in Europe.

Materials in = Pedals Out

The first stage is material arrival and selection, before the first processes take place turning everything into components.

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Drawn alloy used for the base of pedals before CNC machines and other bits are added.

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These look like DMR vault pedals…

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Pedal spindle material before being drawn.

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Plastic mix before being formed.

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More raw materials, ready to go.

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Metal ingots ready to be melted for casting.

Making The Parts
Pedal bodies and spindles are formed from all the materials put together into one, with huge machines that heat compress and draw each component into it’s form, each machine costs around 100-200,000 dollars.

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Plastic is sucked into the injection moulding machine.

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These are some injection moulds.

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To produce so many pedals you need a lot of machines. Here is the line up of Injection moulding machines.

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These smaller machines also form pedal bodies, with people hand finishing.

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Pedal bodies exit the machine like this.

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Many of the pedals are hand finished to make sure all burs are cut off.

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John Chen, the factory owner, standing proudly next to one of his machines.

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This is were the casting takes place.

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Raw cast pedal bodies.

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A more intensive finish is required to these pedal bodies.

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Each bearing tube is cleaned.

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This machine casts pedals in alloy.

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Feed metal in get pedals out.

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It was very hot standing next to this, but was surprising how automated the process was.

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These pedals came out of the machine and are also hand checked before being cut from their injection mould elements to be free pedal units.

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15 million of these pedals are made every year.

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More hand finishing.

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Most people think hand made doesn’t come from a factory, where from what we saw you would be wrong to think that.

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These units have had some CNC work done on them.

CNC Process

Not all pedals are formed some are machined from raw material that has been preformed. Again huge investment has been made in the latest machinery from Germany and Taiwan that cuts the pedals to shape.

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One of the many large CNC machines.

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This machine or Lathe, is drilling axle units.

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Each operator is responsible for making sure each machine functions without fault.

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Lots of cutting fluid is used to cool and added the CNC process.

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Once ct some hand polishing is carried out.

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We thought that we would call many pedals hand made after we saw how much hand finishing takes place.

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After each process there is a strict quality control regime.

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Pedals in x,y,z numbers.

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Finished metal pedal bodies ready to be assembled.

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Many examples of different forms of pedals.

Making Axles

The other major part of the pedal is the axle, an it starts off as a large roll of metal which is then cold forged into an axle.

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Axle material is drawn into the first forging machine.

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The axles are chopped up and then start their rolling and forging process.

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The axles pass through about 5 rolling machines.

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Each stage ensures they are true to form and uniform.

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This machine picks up the axles and drops them into the conveyor for their next rolling process.

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This unit is for hardening and treating the metal surfaces.

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Once the axles are formed they are checked and bushings are added.

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Quality control on each axle is high. Each part of the axle is measured to make sure the batch is correct.

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Axles awaiting another process.

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Axle end caps used for pre-load on bearings.

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Up close another quality control inspection.

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So many axles it was hard to see what was happening always, here they were lubricated and collected before final assembly.

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Details of one rolling machine, here you can see the axle is rolled between two large plates.

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Last rolling check, the threads need to be added.

Pedal Assembly

Once all is correct parts wise, the components are put together.

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Pedal units are ready to be assembled here we can see the frames.

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This production line has more people working on it.

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now we have some more pedal looking objects ready to go.

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No doubt some jobs are boring, this girl was responsible for putting a rubber washer on every pedal, 15 million times a year.

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Some pedals are pressed together.

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These pedal units are being screwed together.

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Finally they are packed and ready to go.

Finished products

Wellgo produce for many companies, but have their own range of pedals as well, which they showed us in their product display room.

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The fashion in Asia is for small platform pedals.

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This cool design which caused lots of excitement doubles as a bike lock! Only available in Asian markets though.

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The axle is quick release and the idea is to put it around the wheel spokes.

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The locking mechanism, simple but interesting idea.

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Wellgo showed us their power meter pedals with strain gauges built in.

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More small pedal platforms.

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This pedal has inbuilt elastomer suspension

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The idea is to remove vibrations and make the contact feel more comfortable.

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Another pedal quick release system, a good idea for press camps?

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The bottom of their power meter pedal where the electronics are contained.

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John Chen, owner of Wellgo showed us his commemorative plate and product display, he was proud of his achievement in pedal production.

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Wellgo gave us a sneak peak of their new head office.

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Wellgo is very much a family business with the wife running accounts, and the daughter who was educated in America running the public relations and sales department. There is no doubt to why factories like this have been successful. Every one works hard.

Seeing the production of pedals up close drew our attention firstly to the process and secondly to the fact that the investments made in Taiwan and the machinery needed to build and assemble pedals is huge. Once these types of facilities existed in Europe and the USA, but with a more effiecint and cheaper production cost it gradually moved to Taiwan. Interestingly though as noted by Wellgo, production costs have increased their as well, and now factories like this only produce the higher end components, with lower quality components being made in China in factories owned by Wellgo.

Many of the techniques and processes though are kept and guarded closely by the factories as it gives a competitive edge to their production and means that when we buy a pedal we know it will work as the quality control that has been applied is pretty high.

We would like to express our thanks to Wellgo for letting us see their facility up-close, with no restrictions.