By Zachary Backmon, lead warehouse technician, Herbalife
February 21, 2017
There might be another way to say it, but I think of myself as the gatekeeper of Herbalife Innovation and Manufacturing (H.I.M.) Winston-Salem. As the lead warehouse technician, I’m in charge of every ingredient and shipment that comes into our plant from our suppliers.
At the other end of the process, when we’re ready to ship our powders, liquids and teas made here all over the United States and to 55 countries around the world, I’m the person to “okay” the final release of our products.
It all starts with shipping and receiving. We have to make sure that everything is correct. We hold the ball on quality and we have to make sure that we are on top of the situation.
Believe it or not, my day starts at 3:15 a.m. My early shift team gets up way before dawn to be ready for the 5 a.m. shipments of components, raw materials and super sacks (of soy protein, for example) that arrive by truck.
At our 5:10 a.m. daily team meeting, we determine what still needs to get completed from the second shift working overnight. Then we review the list of all trucks coming in that day and get assigned to various areas in preparation for the incoming traffic.
When a truck arrives, there’s a process that we follow. We review and verify the paperwork from the supplier. Then we unload the truck and move everthing on wooden pallets to the green pallets at the facility. After we switch everything to green pallets, we label the lots.
My job requires attention to detail. I’m constantly verifying and cross referencing lists and using a scanning gun to read barcodes. Part of our responsibility is to pull items from every lot for testing by the lab. Once our onsite lab verifies the item is approved, it gets released from quarantine for use – this process can take anywhere from a couple days to a couple weeks. But we don’t rush it or skip steps because we want to make sure that everything is okay from a quality perspective before we put new raw materials into production.
In this job, we have to get it right the first time. I love that responsibility and challenge – that’s what really captivates me. I usually finish the day around 3:30 then I like to hit the onsite gym. It’s a nice facility and I like to use the free weights.
H.I.M. Winston-Salem is an impressive place to work. It’s huge and the largest facility in the company with a functional area of more than 800,000 square feet (big enough to host seven professional soccer games at one time). The inside perimeter wall measures 1.2 miles and the more than 550 employees we have here output an estimated 150 million products units per year – that’s 600,000 per day!
But apart from the scale of the building, what’s really interesting about working here is that you see how everything is developed in one place. All of the phases of product manufacturing, from blending to testing, are here. And seeing it all come together is really exciting!