How to Fill out the Bill of Lading (BOL)

A properly filled Bill of Lading is a necessary document for any shipment, providing all pertinent information about locations, parties involved, and specific shipping directions. Generally, a Bill of Lading seems pretty straightforward. However, a small error or oversight can cause major headaches down the line, so it is important to pay careful attention when filling out a BOL. New customers may be intimidated by filling out a BOL, but it is a relatively simple practice that becomes easier with time and experience. Just like any professional document, the most important part is to pay attention and double check all of the information.

The shipper and consignee addresses should be analyzed with care. One wrong digit in the zip code could cause delays in pickup or delivery, so they should be double checked every time, even if the software fills them in automatically. Moving too fast with auto-fill may accidentally bring up an entirely different location in another state. When left unfixed, this can mean there will be reconsignment delays and fees down the line. Taking a few seconds to scan the information is far easier than re-routing a truck and talking to angry customers or vendors.

A shipper does not need to fill out a PRO number – that’s the carrier’s job – but they should provide a PO number and BOL number that matches their records. Upon pickup of the freight, the carrier will provide a PRO number, and customers need to document this for tracking and billing purposes. Much like with shipper and consignee information, any reference numbers should be double-checked and recorded with care. This makes tracking, searching, and filing more efficient. A missed or incorrect digit means that the file will have to be searched manually, which takes much more time.

The Bill of Lading is very important, but it doesn’t need to be scary. Avoiding errors is as simple as double checking and paying attention to detail. Taking a moment at the beginning of the process will make for smoother sailing throughout the life of the shipment. It is important to remember that this is a binding document and should be treated as such. If you still need assistance with the BOL, feel free to reach out to our expert staff at Zip Xpress today!

 

Shipping Options for Small Business

Which Shipping Solution is Right for My Business?

In Part 2 of our New Business series, we go further in depth of the services that Zip Xpress provides to their customers. Our goal is to provide an overview, but if you wish to get the best recommendations for your business please contact Zip Xpress directly (1-800-889-8583) and one of our consultants will be happy to help you! To read Part 1, click here.

Whether you are a small business new to shipping or a large international company, it isn’t always clear which shipping solutions you should use for all of your loads. Zip Xpress is here to help make things clear with a wide range of customer-focused solutions. We want to give you a better understanding of these options and help you in choose the best for your organization.

Expedited LTL Solution

You may be preparing a shipment that you know has to be expedited once it’s finished. On the other hand, you might have an emergency that requires a truck immediately and needs to be sent cross-country as quickly as possible. In either case, you can benefit from using our Expedited LTL Solution. We will do everything in our power to get your shipment picked up and delivered in the timeframe that you require.

Blanket Wrap Solution

If you have fragile, expensive freight that requires special care in handling and transport, choose our Blanket Wrap Solution. Our experts are professionally trained at handling delicate freight. Every one of our blanket wrapped shipments is put on an air-ride logistics trailer, ensuring a smooth ride and extra protection from potential shifting. With door-to-door delivery, you can rest assured knowing that your freight is only being handled at the front and back end, reducing the chance of damage caused by multiple terminal stops.

Headload Solution

If you have an LTL or partial shipment that requires truckload service but don’t have the budget for a dedicated truck, our Headload Solution is the answer for you. You will pay only for the space your load takes up as you will be matched with similar shipments traveling in your direction. Whether your shipment is high-value, time-sensitive, or requires special handling, we can accommodate your needs with our Headload option.

LTL Solution

Standard LTL shipments are low-cost options for shipments that aren’t on a strict timeline. If you have a flexible schedule, you can receive great cost savings with our LTL Solution. Zip Xpress sets itself apart from other LTL carriers by offering faster transit times and reducing the number of terminals and handling that is involved in every shipment. If you need to save money but still want reliable, friendly service, try our LTL Solution.

No matter what your shipping problem is, Zip Xpress has an answer for you. With our professional, friendly, and courteous staff, you can expect to receive the highest quality service for any of your needs. We are available 24/7 and promise to provide you with the right solution in a fast, efficient, and effective way.

 

How to start shipping

I Just Got a Huge Order, Now What Do I Do?

This is Part 1 of a series which we’re dedicating to growing businesses who need help in setting up their supply chain. Other companies expect you to figure this out on your own, but Zip is dedicated to bringing you the best customer service the logistics world can offer.

In the world of transportation, it can be difficult to handle large, unexpected orders. This is especially true if the freight is specialized or fragile. Shippers must determine what the most effective route to take is when it comes to their supply chain. Packaging for specialized orders can be expensive, but if they skimp on costs there, they may end up with damage claims that will cost them more in the long run. Fortunately, Zip Xpress is striving to do everything it can to take some of the pressure off of new businesses who want to streamline their supply chain processes.

The packaging concern is one that must be evaluated by each and every customer. It is beneficial to do a cost analysis to see if the prevented damage is worth the increased cost in packaging. In some cases, a shipper may decide that the small amount of damage they incur will actually be cheaper than putting expensive packaging on every shipment. Zip’s door-to-door delivery model helps to reduce the likelihood of damage thanks to the fact that they don’t handle the freight through break bulks. The reduced amount of handling and transferring of freight allows Zip to keep their customer’s freight intact from beginning to end. Still, it is important for customers to determine the proper dimensions and weight of their shipments in order to give an accurate representation to the carrier. This helps Zip to better plan, prepare, and execute their shipments in the most efficient and cost-effective way possible.

Once Zip has this information, they make it a priority to coordinate the shipping and receiving schedules based on their customer’s needs. A customer can help move this process along by having all the pertinent information available when they send an order Zip’s way. The professionals at Zip will start the planning process and do everything they can to route the freight quickly and correctly.  Whether the shipment is a single pallet or an entire truckload, effective and proactive communication is vital to forming a working and successful relationship between the carrier and the customer. To learn more about what solutions we can provide your business, get started with Zip Xpress today!

West MI CDL School

The Rising Importance of CDL Training

Many colleges offer programs in logistics and supply chain management. As the industry continues to grow, we will continue to see more universities creating and improving their supply chain programs. However, one thing lacking from these programs is training for Commercial Driver’s Licenses or CDL. With more jobs in the business end of the supply chain, we cannot afford to lose the influx of truck drivers in the economy. There is already a shortage in the industry, and the efficiency of a supply chain system or logistics operation will not succeed without plenty of drivers. These workers serve as the backbone of the industry, providing the service of physically delivering the freight after it has been routed and agreed upon.

In order to drive a semi-truck, one must first obtain their CDL. Many companies offer the training, and third parties can be utilized as well. However, with so many universities offering degrees in Supply Chain Management, it may be beneficial for them to also offer training for the CDL. In this regard, it may be smart for other states to take after Georgia’s High Demand Career Initiative, which allows residents of the state to take CDL courses at local colleges free of charge. This may be the extra push that many people need in order to pursue their career as a truck driver.

A CDL is not the right path for everyone but encouraging an increase in the amount of truck drivers will benefit the economy as a whole. Demand for products continues to rise and with that demand the country needs more hard workers to transport our goods. Not only will an influx of truck drivers alleviate capacity issues, it may also improve pricing and reliability across the industry as a whole. As supply chain solutions and logistics technology becomes more efficient, we need truck drivers to deliver on the final step of our transportation processes. To learn more about smarter shipping, get started with Zip Xpress today!

Michigan – A Central Hub for Logistics Education

A recent article boasted about Georgia’s innovative logistics environment, so we did some research on what Michigan had to offer the field. We learned a lot about logistics and supply chain management college programs and that Michigan State University scored as the top school in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. This makes sense when one considers that Michigan is a transportation hub in general, with many leading logistics companies providing their services throughout the state. Midwestern states provide a central location for shipping companies, and as a result, provide innovative schooling on the subject.

In addition to Michigan State University, the University of Michigan also boasts a top 10 supply chain program, coming in at number 10 on Michigan Business’s list of top nationwide schools for the subject. With so many jobs available in supply chain efficiency and logistics operations, these schools can have a major impact on not only Michigan’s economy but also the health of the entire nation. Michigan serves as a major center for cross-border shipments with Canada, which means there’s a lot at stake for international trade as well.

With a strategic focus on the development of its own logistics and supply chain program, Michigan is providing top-tier education for many young people looking to get into the field. These students represent the future of the industry, so it is encouraging that they are learning from the top programs that the nation has to offer. Because Michigan’s economic development relies so heavily on an efficient transportation network, these future logistics gurus could be key in creating new jobs and helping the state maintain its status as a transportation stronghold. The continual improvement of supply chain education in Michigan is helping to establish our state as a true leader in the industry.

West Michigan: King of Automation

With a long history as the automobile production capital of the United States, it’s no surprise that Michigan ranks as the most highly automated state in the nation. In fact, the state accounts for 12 percent of the country’s industrial robots. While Detroit remains the leader in the automation with 8.5 robots for every 1,000 workers, Western Michigan is experiencing an automation boom of its own. In Grand Rapids, there are 6.3 robots for every 1,000 workers, making it the most automated of all mid-size cities.

With automation sweeping across Western Michigan and robotic technologies continually improving, there are many changes taking place across various industries. Increased manufacturing output creates a need for more quality control and places a heavier burden on the supply chain. As more businesses flock to West Michigan, there is an amplified need to bring in their machines as well as ship out the items they produce. Supply chain managers must make changes to ensure they are keeping up with the improved efficiencies of automation.

Zip Xpress, a full-service provider of custom carrier solutions, has a long-standing reputation as one of West Michigan’s finest logistics companies. The experienced and professional staff at Zip Xpress is dedicated to creating the most efficient solutions for all of their customers. Because Zip continually strives to be a leader in supply chain management, they are sufficiently adapting with the changing climate of West Michigan’s manufacturing. This means they have the expertise and resources to fill in the gaps in any organization’s supply chain.

From office furniture to medical machinery, Zip is here to reliably transport their customer’s goods, providing the highest level of service throughout the process. Clients can focus on manufacturing and increasing automation while the specialists at Zip Xpress take over the shipping and supply chain functions. At Zip Xpress, problem-solving and transportation efficiency are prioritized, giving customers peace of mind that their products are safe and on time. If you are a manufacturer in West Michigan seeking a committed custom carrier solution, get started with Zip Xpress today!

Zip Xpress: A Custom Carrier for Every Circumstance

The month of April has seen spot rates continue to climb for the transportation industry, and this trend isn’t slowing down. With a new trade war being fought and economic uncertainty looming across many industries, capacity has tightened accordingly. Manufacturers are constantly battling each other to secure the trucks they need to move their freight, and they are rightfully worried about the current trends. Some industries, in particular the furniture industry, have been handcuffed by new tariffs and rising material costs, making the trucking trends an even harder pill to swallow. Fortunately, Zip Xpress is here to help.

Zip Xpress provides comprehensive supply chain solutions to help their customers overcome any challenges that may arise during transport of their product. With an experienced customer service team dedicated to providing accurate updates and solving problems with full transparency, Zip Xpress can eliminate many of the worries that are currently plaguing customers of the transportation industry. Whether a customer needs assistance with warehousing operations or last-minute capacity for a critical shipment, the experts at Zip have the ability to take over and relieve some of the burden in these stressful times.

Zip Xpress believes in quality service as well as adapting to industry trends in order to maintain their reputation as a high-end carrier in Western Michigan. One of the industries that Zip specializes is office furniture, and they have proven to be reliable during these difficult times for furniture manufacturers. They are aware of the price increases in everything from raw materials and chemicals to spot rates and storage costs. They are committed to providing their customers with affordable and dependable logistics solutions to offset some of the losses experienced with the new economic turbulence. If you are a manufacturer and you are suffering from reduced capacity and skyrocketing rates, get started with Zip Xpress today!

 

The ELD Mandate and its Effects on Carrier Behavior

The first quarter numbers are out, and the transportation industry has seen major changes since passage of the ELD Mandate. While load-to-truck ratios and shipping rates have reached record highs, productivity has been drastically reduced. The new laws and requirements have had a dramatic effect on carrier behavior. This has consequently made it more difficult for shippers to get their products delivered according to their desired schedule. It is important to understand why certain decisions are being made on the carrier end as a result of these changes.

The electronic log books generally provide little room for error, so drivers are being far more discerning in the loads that they are willing to haul. Because they must meet tighter deadlines or risk being shut down and losing their next load, they are avoiding shipments that are susceptible to detention issues and longer loading times. This is a major problem in the grocery and produce sectors, so shippers in those parts are seeing rates go up and capacity decrease. Some drivers will flat-out refuse grocery shipments from certain shippers based on their reputations for detaining drivers. Increased rates on that shipment may not be enough to offset the potential loss of their next shipment as a result of detention.

There has also been a decrease in capacity for “borderline” lanes, or routes where the mileage is right on the cusp of the one-day or two-day barrier. ELD restrictions mean that drivers can’t make the mileage overnight, and their load may spill over into a second day on a shipment that used to take only one day. Major lanes like Chicago to Nashville, Philadelphia to Atlanta, and New York to Cleveland have all been affected by this. Carriers are asking for rates that are sometime more than double what they used to receive in order to make up for lost revenue while waiting around to finish these shorter lanes.

Another major change is in the market for dedicated runs. With pricing on the rise and capacity decreasing, carriers can pick and choose from the spot market and make more money than they used to with static runs. Market volatility has contributed to this, and it correlates heavily with the passing of the ELD mandate. Shippers should do themselves a favor and brush up on the spot market if they haven’t already, as these trends are likely to continue into the future. It may be a difficult time to adjust to these changes in the market, but as carriers have felt the effects of the mandate, they are more aware of what they need to do in order to remain profitable. If you need guidance on how the ELD mandate can affect your supply chain, start today with Zip Xpress

Zip Xpress ELD

The ELD Mandate – Findings for First Quarter of 2018

The US Government enacted its long-awaited Electronic Logging Device mandate on December 18, 2017. Many changes were expected to come of this, including a significant number of drivers and trucks leaving the roads. However, there was actually a 1% increase in active carriers between the time the mandate was enacted and February 18th, 2018. Despite many truckers saying that they would leave the industry due to the new mandate, a decrease in drivers has not come to fruition in the first quarter of the new year. Still, there is much speculation as to what will happen on April 1st, when all trucks not utilizing ELDs will be put out of service.

One major finding from January of 2018 is that capacity has been drastically reduced. In fact, load-to-truck ratios were just under 10 to 1, which is a record high. This is a dramatic year over year change from 2017, when the ratio was approximately 3 to 1 (2016 was 2 to 1, for reference). It may be too early to tell if this is directly related to the ELD mandate, but the correlation is certainly there. With drivers being under stricter rules and on tighter deadlines, they are likely not able to service as many shipments in a short amount of time as they have in previous years.

In addition to record-low capacity, the industry also saw record highs in rates. Again, it can’t be said with certainty that this is linked to the ELD mandate, but the numbers are there to support it. This is especially true when considering that van rates were still 32% higher in February 2018 than in 2017. There was not a major increase in loads year over year, so the significant rate increases are intriguing. If they are linked to this mandate, it is likely due to decreased productivity, especially on borderline trips. 500 to 600-mile trips that used to take one day have now become two-day trips due to legal requirements. This could mean that carriers are charging higher rates to make up for lost time. Confused about how to navigate the ELD terrain? Start Today with Zip Xpress – we’ll help find the best shipping solution for your company’s needs.

Warehouse Manager

Improving Customer Service in the Logistics World

The logistics and transportation industry in the US is enormous. It’s so large that it totaled $1.48 trillion in 2015, accounting for 8 percent of the GDP for the United States. As the economy continues to grow, this number will only grow. What that means is that there will be more startups, an increased workforce, and ultimately more problems to solve. These inevitable problems, both from external and internal factors, are what make exceptional customer service so important.

Anybody who has worked in logistics knows that anything can go wrong at any time. They know that the only way to plan for the movement of goods is to be as well-prepared as possible for these mishaps. Still, even the best planners experience unwanted setbacks on a regular basis. This is why it’s so important for logistics companies to employ quick-thinking problem solvers who understand the needs of their customers. Many shippers get frustrated at the lack of communication between their brokers, carriers, and vendors. This is often due to a lack of proper training in the customer service realm, and it is something that more companies need to take seriously if they want to continue to grow.

The ability to build creative partnerships between levels involved in the supply chain is a key distinction that sets the elite companies apart from the average carriers. At Zip Xpress, we believe that these partnerships form the backbone of our organization and contribute to our ability to maintain excellent service ratings and high levels of customer satisfaction. When we work together with our partners to solve unique and significant problems every day, we are creating a cohesive environment where everybody continues to learn and experience mutual respect. This focus on teamwork and constant innovation is what makes Zip Xpress the best and most admired problem solver in the West Michigan LTL freight market.