(13 years at) Bell Woven Labels
When I first started work I had a desk, numbers to crunch and occasional to a calculator which I used on my number crunching. I calculated loom efficiencies. To those not familiar with textiles, looms are machines designed to weave fabric using warp and weft. I worked in a business called Bell Woven (also commonly called Belwoven) which made labels to go into garments: jeans, shirts, jackets, ties, underwear and the like. These were ‘woven edged’ which meant they were unlikely to cause irritation in contact with the skin (a unique selling point!)
My day job was collecting production records, which were filled in by shift foremen on a document known as a Pick Sheet, and touring the looms to collate stopped time which was filled in by weavers. This was used to assemble a daily production record which was disseminated to the shop floor notice board, the foreman’s office, the engineer’s office, the production manager and the managing director. Its importance stemmed from the fact that loom activity correlated pretty well with future sales. It was the key element in the bi-annual bones calculation.
Stopped time meant lost income (so galvanise the salesmen) production glitches (keep production planning informed) mechanical issues (ensure the engineer knew about overnight / late shift work breakdowns) and low efficiencies. Crunch time was every May and November: how much was bonus going to be? Was there enough for a summer vacation? What about Xmas?
Bonus tended to be around 10% of basic pay and so quite a boost at the time of year when it was needed. There was pressure on the office wallahs (including me) to get their collective fingers and out and keep those looms working. A virtuous (or vicious if you were the hangover type) circle.