Optimism for 2021

2020 has been a difficult year, and there is still much uncertainty ahead. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be optimistic, especially in the logistics business. While we can’t predict exactly what will happen to trucking and supply chain in 2021, we’re seeing trends heading in the right direction.

In September of 2020, new trailer orders exceeded 50,000 total units – the third highest monthly number on record. This suggests that many carriers are anticipating an increase in shipments, that is, if they haven’t already experienced it. The orders might be happening because carriers are struggling to keep up with demand, which is a good problem to have. It takes some effort to get things running smoothly, but the effort is worth it in the long run.

Although we seem to be in the midst of another COVID-19 surge, the marketplace has been adjusting to the “new norm,” and we shouldn’t run into as many bullwhip scenarios as we saw in the spring. This means that logistics firms can hope for more stability and reliability as they draw out forecasts for 2021. There will still be volatility, but the industry is better equipped to handle it.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the need for stability, especially for manufacturers. Companies are focused on what they can do to keep making deliveries on time and undamaged. The companies that are making it through this year have collaborated with their suppliers and supply chain providers. We’re very fortunate to have a solid base of stakeholders we can collaborate and communicate with, which gives us every reason to be optimistic about the future. If you want to see reliable shipments that arrive undamaged and on time, start today with Zip Xpress!

Keeping the Warehouse Clean

Last week we focused on the benefits of keeping a clean truck. This week we turn our attention to the warehouse space, how we keep ours clean and most importantly why it needs to be kept clean. Maintaining a clean warehouse speaks to the attention given to a customer’s shipment, reduces the chances of damaging that shipment and most importantly, prevents accidents from happening to freight handlers.

End of Shift Refuse Pickup

At the end of every shift, our staff performs a routine cleanup. We empty all of the trash cans, pick up refuse and run a dust mop across the floor at the end of every shift. We clean off the podiums and ensure there’s no outstanding clutter near any of the shipments. We also check the facilities for any poor lighting and create a list of maintenance issues which will be addressed.

End of Shift Warehouse Floor Scrubbing

Once our warehouse floor has been dry mopped we run our floor scrubber daily, to protect against dust and dirt. Once a quarter we perform a deep clean of the warehouse to ensure all contaminants are removed. Our staff also gives a touch up of paint everywhere it’s needed once a quarter, which keeps the warehouse looking fresh and up to date. We prefer to use white paint to create better visibility for our staff and prevent eye strain when reading documents.

Detailed Organization System

We believe in the phrase: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Our warehouse is arranged by the outgoing state to prevent confusion or the possibility of mix-ups. We also have an internal phrase called “Being Current” which means that the most current, up to date documents are stacked, ready and available for the next shift. We also tag every shipment with the correct destination as well as run through a list of our current shipments to ensure that every shipment that’s supposed to be there still is and that every shipment that was supposed to leave has done so.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that a clean warehouse is an efficient and safe warehouse. Our process was designed to keep our office neat and tidy to prevent lost paperwork and mixed up shipments. Taking a little bit of time every day to tidy up ensures we have more than enough time to focus on what matters most: providing custom carrier solutions for our customers. Any customer that sees their shipments in our warehouse knows it won’t be covered in dirt or grime and they see the pride we take in ensuring great service. To see this for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Keeping the Trucks Clean

A truck is a proud display of a logistics company’s brand. Taking regular steps in keeping the trucks clean shows a deep respect to customers and a commitment to quality. This also allows regular maintenance schedules to catch small repairs before they become large ones. Here we outline some of these processes we use to ensure our trucks are always clean and maintained.

Routine Cab Cleanout

Our drivers perform a routine cleanout of the cab to prevent any type of refuse buildup. Drivers are keen to respect their vehicles because they understand that a clean truck is a maintained truck. Keeping the trucks clean also incentivizes our drivers since none of them want to be the one to leave behind refuse for the next driver. We also encourage drivers to wipe down the dashboard and console on a regular basis since they can be breeding grounds for germs. This helps keep drivers healthy, which is especially important now.

Routine Wash/Maintenance

We have professionals who comes on a regular basis to wash the trucks and trailers to prevent any buildup of dirt, grime and dust. They also go through a list of inspections to ensure everything is in working order. This allows us to replace air filters, change the oil, repair surface damage and any other minor maintenance issues to ensure they never become major ones. We pride ourselves on keeping a well maintained fleet, which keeps our staff satisfied because they’re able to focus on keeping our customers happy.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that cleanliness is a key component to great service. By staying true to our rigorous standards of cleanliness we’re able to keep problems small before they become big ones. This attention to detail goes into everything we do, especially in the service we provide all of our customers in ensuring every shipment arrives on time and undamaged in equipment that represents your business well. To see how your business can benefit from this level of service, start today with Zip Xpress!

Expanding Your Supply Chain

Supply chains are complex and often fickle parts of doing business, but they are integral to the success of any manufacturer. The quality and efficiency of an internal supply chain can make or break a company, so it is important to run a well-oiled machine. However, there are many challenges when it comes to expanding your supply chain. Moving too quickly could lead to unnecessary costs, but waiting too long could put a lot of stress on your operations.

Expanding your supply chain could come with a variety of actions. Perhaps you need to build new warehouses to accommodate increased inventories or new product lines. It could also mean adding more back office workers to set up and operate newer, sophisticated IT systems. In any case, you want to do so only when the time is right. Inventory forecasting and analytics can help you determine whether or not you need to expand well ahead of time. And while you can’t expect 100% accuracy, you can get a good idea of where your company is headed by taking a proactive approach.

In addition to knowing when to expand your supply chain, you also need to know how to expand it. A trusted carrier can assist with this since they can help you expand into markets you wouldn’t normally have access to. Expanding your supply chain may focus more on an improved internal and external trucking network as well as extended hours to accommodate more dock shifts. You may even have a need for additional warehouse space if you’re increasing production, but as you can see many of these circumstances are a case by case basis.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that great service is the key to expanding a supply chain. A trusted carrier can help you expand and compete in distant markets as well as provide for you the options that will work with your business in expanding your supply chain. At Zip Xpress, we refer to these options as custom carrier solutions and we’ve helped many companies go from regional to national supply chains, providing access to the West Coast and beyond. To see what custom carrier solutions we can create for your business, start today with Zip Xpress!

How 2020 Has Changed Logistics

2020 has been a strange year for the entire world. Individuals, economies, and entire industries have had to adapt to a world full of uncertainty and constant changes. Logistics is no exception, and we have already begun to see major changes to the industry in response to a virus that will change the way we do business for years to come. Let’s look at some of the ways that logistics and supply chains have been affected in the last nine months, and how they will continue to adapt.

Increased Volatility

Volatility has been a major factor during the pandemic, as demand for certain products (such as essential items) spiked initially but eventually fell sharply. Some industries slowed down drastically in the wake of the virus, but spiked in the middle of the summer, only to fall back to normal levels in more recent months. This means that supply chain partners can’t rely on predictability as much as they may have in the past. Manufacturers and carriers have had to allow for more flexibility in their supply planning. On top of this, there has been a large reduction in drivers, which has caused capacity to become very tight and inflated truckload rates.

Heightened Sensitivity

Time-sensitive shipments have become even more so, especially if we look back to the beginning of the pandemic. The need for everything from food to medical supplies became increasingly urgent, and supply chain partners needed to work together to ensure that deadlines could be met. Shipments that may have had more leeway in the past now needed to be ensured to deliver on time.

More Collaboration

As a result of increased volatility and sensitivity, collaboration has become key among supply partners. While the most effective organizations already prioritized such collaboration, it has become evident that the entire industry needs to focus on these efforts. There is a need for transparency, communication, and cooperation at every level of the supply chain – sometimes even among competitors. While the current situation may be keeping us physically apart, we are learning how essential it is to work together to remain successful.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the need for stability. That’s why we communicate with our supply chain partners every step of the way. We collaborate internally and externally to ensure that every shipment will be delivered undamaged and on time, every time. 2020 has proven that our way of doing business is the right way and we’re ready to help our customers however we can. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Metrics that Matter in Logistics

When it comes to selecting a supply chain partner, you want a company that will develop an innate understanding of your business. Every manufacturer is different, however there are a few universal metrics companies can use to evaluate a supply chain partner. We’ve outlined what we believe are the most important metrics when selecting a carrier for your business.

On-Time Delivery

You want to ensure that every delivery is made when it’s said it would be. If delays occur, are they communicated with your customer? Or is your customer left in the dark? While delays can occur for any reason, there needs to be communication with the entire supply chain so adjustments can be made and that no one is left in the dark.

Carbon Footprint

Manufacturers have proven to be one of the most sustainable industries in the American Economy. They’re reducing material usage and waste, along with electricity usage, so it makes sense that manufacturers would seek out supply chain partners who are dedicated to reducing their carbon footprint as well. Providing information regarding fuel efficiency, as well as equipment age and maintenance schedules can go a long way in showing a manufacturer that a carrier is focused on their carbon footprint and takes the matter seriously. Paying attention to route optimization is also crucial to ensure carriers aren’t driving empty miles, which reduces fuel consumption and wear and tear to infrastructure.

Trailer Utilization

Empty trailer space is wasted space. Trailers that are loaded to 100% capacity ensures shippers aren’t being charged extra and also contributes to sustainability efforts. Fully loaded trailers also ensure that carriers are not putting extra trucks on the road which are hauling empty space, which reduces fuel consumption and damage to infrastructure.

Claims

There are many considerations that need to be given for your unique freight. Ensuring a carrier is able to handle your products is crucial because the last thing any manufacturer wants is to file a claim due to cut rate service. There is a domino effect of costs associated with filing a claim, not to mention the loss of customer satisfaction in receiving a damaged product. Carriers can walk you through their claim process as well as tell you how many they process. You need to perform your due diligence, but the reduction in headaches will be well worth it.

Ease of Communication

You want to be able to get a hold of your supply chain partner when you need them. Do they use an answering machine or do they take your calls? Do they respond quickly or make you wait while you try to arrange your shipment? Keeping notice on how a company communicates with you is crucial because it’s hard to work with a company that doesn’t respond to you.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that you need your products to arrive undamaged and on time. Protecting yourself when selecting a supply chain partner is vital to your success. A great supply chain partner can help you grow your business by providing you with the logistics network to ensure you can handle all of the orders that come your way. You’re looking for a partner who can provide you with the guidance you need to become successful. If you’re looking for a quality carrier that can provide you with your own custom carrier solution, then start today with Zip Xpress!

Finding Your Niche in Transportation

Transportation is a wide-ranging industry, with opportunities for all types of people. However, it can be a challenge to find the exact position that you’re looking for. The advantage of having such a diverse group of positions is that you can learn transferable skills which may help you find success even if you switch into a different role. As you gain more knowledge about logistics and transportation, there’s a good chance that something will open up for you, even if the fundamentals of the job are vastly different.

Some people may start with driving a truck but realize that life on the road isn’t right for them. Others may find that life in an office is tedious and want to see the open road. The good news is that the time spent in these positions allows them to learn many skills that could translate into becoming successful dispatchers, operations managers, mechanics, or even sales representatives. Every new set of skills provides an appreciation for the other jobs within the company and the acquired knowledge will prove incredibly valuable in the long run, making these individuals prime employees.

Another key for success is to keep an open mind and a willingness to communicate with others in the industry since they can help you find the resources to succeed, whether in your current position or if you seek to advance. Most companies allow some form of job shadowing so you can see for yourself if a role interests you. Others can recommend courses you can take. Whether this means shadowing a truck driver to start your new job on the road or taking some supply chain courses at a local university, there are a world of opportunities out there, and most of them are here to stay for the long run. Logistics offers an amazing opportunity with lots of potential for the long run.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of a highly trained staff. We pride ourselves on being able to provide you with a quote within minutes, since most members of our staff are trained on how to provide one. Every member of our staff provides input in solving the problems we encounter on a daily basis. As a result, we’re able to create the best custom carrier solutions for every business we work with. Want to find out for yourself? Start today with Zip Xpress!

More Hope for Aspiring Logistics Professionals

The world of logistics is always evolving. For those looking to make a splash in the industry, a quality education is invaluable. The good news is that there are hundreds of colleges that offer logistics and supply chain education, and the better news is that the DOT just granted $4.9 million dollars to four new university transportation research centers. This opens up even more opportunities for the next generation of logistics professionals and transportation innovators.

These grants, designed to support research and development of transportation technology, have been awarded to Ohio State University, Northwestern University, University of Pittsburgh, and Georgia Institute of Technology. These schools will work in conjunction with University of California (Berkeley and Irvine), University of Texas, University of Tennessee, and University of Kentucky to study and develop programs involving automated transportation systems and vehicles, communications technologies, public transportation, and mobility services.

This is excellent news for anybody looking to start a career in logistics, as there will be opportunities to work on these programs at schools throughout the nation. Even if a student doesn’t attend one of the schools mentioned, the implications are clear – the DOT understands the importance of logistics and will continue to invest in such programs at schools across the country. That said, while a quality education is vital in this field, there is no substitute for great service. To the next generation going into this great field, we advise to remember the human side of logistics and to help the people involved every step of the way in any way you can.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of a great education. We hope that the DOT continues investing in logistics programs – especially into schools here in Michigan. We also hope that the next generation doesn’t forget about the importance of service. We have many young professionals who have not forgotten so when it comes to ensuring your shipment will arrive undamaged and on time, start today with Zip Xpress!

Bouncing Back in Shipping

While many challenges lie ahead in the coming months, companies have shown just how resilient they can be. These challenges have already created new solutions and innovations in a number of industries. The logistics industry is composed perhaps of the most resilient workers in the world. Their ingenuity and strong work ethic are paving the way for future success during a critical time when innovation is needed most.

Non-essential industries that were shut down at the height of the pandemic took a big hit earlier this year. Loss of revenue as well as loss of products that couldn’t be shipped are not easy obstacles to overcome. However, shipping volumes have increased, and more people are going back to work. Companies that communicated with vendors and customers about what they were up against will manage to see this through. Embracing innovation, communication and transparency have allowed companies to weather the storm and will provide solutions for the future. While every company is different, communication, transparency and the encouragement of innovation will surely help during times of uncertainty.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the need to embrace these three values. We focus on communication by ensuring that anyone who calls our office will be answered by a human being, not a machine. We create innovative solutions because we solicit ideas from our staff. We’re also transparent with all of our stakeholders because we understand the current challenges we all face. There will always be a need for goods to be delivered, but every company faces a different challenge. If you would like to see how we can develop a custom carrier solution that suits your needs, start today with Zip Xpress!

Keeping the Customer Happy

We always see companies claiming that they put the customer first, but catchy taglines and slogans don’t mean much if they aren’t followed through with action. There are many facets to customer satisfaction, and a quality organization will be aware of these in every department. A functioning supply chain is a major part of this, and it is important for logistics employees to make sure they are doing their part throughout the life of any product or shipment. In short, customers want to know that their logistics and transportation providers are invested in the success of the orders.

In logistics, the simplest way to keep a customer happy is to ensure that all shipments arrive undamaged and on time. Nothing can ruin a company’s reputation faster than damaged products arriving at a customer’s location. Companies don’t want to file claims and manufacturers don’t want the added cost in labor and materials to remake their product. When it comes to a shipment arriving on time, online portals and tracking are useful, but people can get impatient when watching a screen for all of their shipment updates. Customers are far more satisfied when someone calls and coordinates all of their shipments with them and keeps them up to date with any and all changes along the way. Having a human connection improves customer satisfaction because then companies are viewed as partners, rather than transactions.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the need to keep the customer happy. We do this by ensuring that every shipment will arrive undamaged and on time. We also keep customers happy by ensuring that every phone call will be picked up by a human being, not an answering machine. Whether you’re looking for a quote or checking on the status of your order, our staff will be delighted to help you. We recognize the importance of great service with every customer and treat your supply chain problems as though they’re our own. To see this for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!