Bob Wellsbury, managing director of Donghua Limited, has clocked up over 40 years in the industry and has no plans to retire any time soon.
Bob cultivated his knowledge of the chain industry working for Iwis Drive Systems and Flexon, before setting up a UK subsidiary for what was a relatively unknown brand of chain called Donghua.
Donghua chain is made by the Donghua Hangzhou Chain Group, which is one of the world’s largest chain manufacturers producing in excess of 30 million metres of finished chain per year. However, what many people don’t realise is that Donghua chain had been supplied to the European market for over 20 years, but was sold under more well-known western brand names.
“One of the reasons for our success,” believes Bob, “is that we only sell direct to OEMs and Stockists, unlike other chain manufacturers who also sell to end-users. Our ethos has always been and always will be to never sell direct, but to promote our products to end-users via our network of stockists. Our stockists value this which is why they use a chain supplier they can trust.”
Bob has always harboured an ambition to bring chain manufacture back to the Black Country, a region of the West Midlands which has a long tradition of metalworking. Following expansion of their technical workshop
and investment in a range of engineering tools and equipment in 2015, the production of bespoke Attachment Chain is now being undertaken at their premises in Wolverhampton.
Donghua is one of only a few manufacturers in the UK with their own Chain Measuring Machine which accurately measures chain to within 10 microns per metre; and whilst chain is already manufactured to extremely close tolerances, this can be further improved with chains supplied matched in sets +-0.5mm. An on-site Pre-Loading Machine enables Donghua to minimise the initial elongation often found in in-house built chain by pre-loading (pre-stretching) all Attachment Chain; and their Hot-Dipped Lubrication system ensures lubrication penetrates into the bearing areas of Attachment Chain providing the ultimate initial chain lubrication.
In 2017 Donghua moved to a larger building on the same site which tripled their warehouse capacity to 25,000 square feet and added further technical capabilities to their workshop including a Laboratory which includes a Component Measuring Machine to accurately measure components and grain structure. The facilities can test for conformance, concentricity, bore size and parallelism of made to measure Sprockets as well as the hardness of chain components.
Bob said: “Our customers now have greater choice and reduced delivery times for bespoke Attachment Chain as we can assemble it right here in the UK. There are only a few manufacturers who can boast such innovative technical capabilities direct in the UK and when customers visit they’re surprised by the facilities we have on site.”
Bob’s innovative approach to chain manufacture doesn’t stop there. In 2017, he spearheaded the creation of a Chain ID
App, the first of its kind in the market, specifically designed for mobile engineers who need help identifying replacement chain, fast – Donghua guarantees a response within 1 hour*.
What will the next few years hold for Bob Wellsbury and Donghua? Bob enjoys being part of a global chain manufacturer who, like him, have aspirations to continue to bring fresh ideas into an established industry; so we’ll just have to wait and see!