Building Resiliency into the West Michigan Supply Chain

There have been a lot of articles written about supply chain resiliency or building resilience into supply chains, but not much explanation into what resiliency means. Resiliency is about making your company less reliant on one supplier for all of your materials and components in a product, essentially diversifying your supplier base. While this is not a new or novel idea, the past two years have forced companies to adapt due to an increase in demand for products, while also creating a lack of supply in material components. Such market forces have called for companies to restructure their manufacturing processes and as a result, their focus is on building resilience.

Resilience however will only be as strong as the companies endeavoring upon it. Without keeping constant communication and collaboration with suppliers, companies may find themselves managing a supply chain that has become too complex. At the same time if we treat resilience as an excuse to treat suppliers poorly, then service from all parties will inevitably decline. However, if we treat this adaptation as a chance to build stronger relationships with all of our supply chain partners utilizing a win-win mentality, stronger businesses will emerge in the process that can adapt their production and logistics in response to just about anything.

Here in West Michigan, many manufacturers are in the process of sourcing new suppliers and finding new lines of production on a daily basis. West Michigan manufacturers have a strong regional advantage since there are so many manufacturers located throughout the midwest. Yet as manufacturers redesign their supply chains, they will inevitably need assistance from a trusted carrier to ensure that the shipments from these suppliers will arrive undamaged and on time. As manufacturers begin to localize their supply chains, seeking out a trusted carrier who specializes in local and regional logistics will be paramount for success for manufacturers within West Michigan.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of resiliency within the supply chain. We are always working internally to solve the logistical challenges of getting a shipment to its destination on time and undamaged. We work with both the shipper and the customer, coordinating pickups and deliveries in a way that most carriers simply don’t. We will guarantee satisfaction for every member of your supply chain while also building the resilience that will keep your company strong. No matter what logistical challenges your company is facing, we have a custom carrier solution that can help you overcome it. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

The State of Manufacturing for 2022

This year promises to be an interesting year for manufacturing as the sector plans to tackle multiple challenges surrounding production and the supply chain. In our State of Manufacturing for 2022, we believe that the biggest areas manufacturing will focus on are: further investment in automation technology, localized sourcing of suppliers and additional focus on getting shipments delivered on time and undamaged.

Continued Investment in Automation

One of the key challenges in manufacturing is the current labor shortage. Many of the sector’s most experienced workers are retiring and there are not enough candidates who will take their place. Manufacturers since have been investing in automation technology to keep up with demand from consumers and that trend is only going to continue since record numbers of orders are being placed. The investment in automation technology has helped create a boon in production, which will likely trigger additional demand for more automation investment.

Localized Sourcing

Another key trend that is likely to continue for manufacturers is the development of localized sourcing of suppliers. Localized supply chains come with a different set of challenges that many manufacturers may not be aware of, such as the types of delays that may occur on the local scene. Manufacturers will also be focused on finding multiple suppliers for critical parts, increasing inventory of these critical products, and sourcing raw materials from multiple suppliers, all in an effort to build resilience into their supply chains. With the redesign of the supply chain containing such a localized focus, manufacturers would best work with a carrier that maintains a localized/regional focus to advise and assist their shipping needs.

Getting Deliveries on Time

The final area manufacturers will be working hard at is getting all of their shipments delivered on time and undamaged. Keeping delivery schedules at a time where setbacks, delays and other changes in schedules is a challenge many manufacturers find themselves facing over and over again. With all of these delays posing risk to a shipment, the worst thing that can happen is when the shipment arrives damaged. Producing and sending out another shipment causes a further increase in risk and causes frustration with customers whose product is now delayed much later than originally expected. Manufacturers will work hard to ensure that their shipments arrive at their destination undamaged and on time.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the challenges manufacturers will be facing in 2022 and we’re ready to help the companies we have the privilege of working with face those challenges. With our unique focus on localized supply chains as well as our dedication to service, we can help you build resilience into your supply chain, ensuring that you have the right options when you need them the most. Our dedication to service ensures that every shipment we handle will arrive undamaged and on time, while we coordinate pickup and delivery with you and your customers, saving you time and energy while you focus on running your business. No matter what challenge you’re facing, Zip Xpress is here to help. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Keeping Great Service in Times of Congestion

As final shipments are being made for the year, everyone is rushing to meet the deliveries in the midst of congested supply chains everywhere. Now it is more critical than ever to remember the importance of keeping great service during times of congestion, since every member of the supply chain’s shipments may be taking longer to arrive than expected due to forces beyond their control. Here are a few ways we recommend keeping great service during times of congestion.

First, communicate any and all delays to all members of the supply chain. Going out of your way to communicate with vendors and customers will help ease tensions between all parties, especially when they know why. While it can be hard to admit when production or a shipment is behind schedule, providing the reasons allows for understanding, especially when you call them over the phone. Everyone is more understanding when they speak to another human being and bringing each member of the supply chain into the fold allows for solutions to arise that didn’t exist before. 

Another key to providing great service in times of congestion is for companies to collaborate with their logistics provider to determine forecasting. Once companies have a greater understanding of their supply chain schedules, they can develop a flexible plan that governs when they order materials and coordinating shipping schedules with customers to ensure they can get products to their door when they need them. This also allows flexibility to be built into the supply chain which causes the supply chain to absorb any delays and still allow a shipper to deliver their products on time. Such collaborative efforts allow shippers to reap the benefits of improved satisfaction and more orders from faithful customers.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of great service. Everything we do is designed to provide greater service for our customers and it is a value of ours that never falters. Whenever you call our office, you will speak with a person, never a machine. When we work with you, we coordinate with you and your customer for pickup and delivery, maintaining a schedule that works with everyone involved. Our friendly drivers will greet your customers with a smile, because they understand how important an impression on a customer is. Everyone at Zip Xpress is dedicated to great service and it’s the key value that connects us as an organization. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Simplifying the Supply Chain

It is no secret that any supply chain can become complex. With so many articles and newsreels about backups, driver shortages, and congestion (both local and international), it would be understandable if a shipper found themselves wondering: will my customers receive their shipments on time? The supply chain is a key component of any business and what you want more than anything is to keep your customers satisfied by ensuring that your products arrive undamaged and on time.

One of the key ways to reduce complexity in your supply chain is to partner and work with a carrier you can trust. Working with a carrier directly removes the constant search for quotes and back-and-forth communication you will have with a freight broker. As an added benefit, you won’t be leaving your freight ‘up to chance’ to be handled by a random company where you have no idea how they communicate with customers (if at all), or some of their other policies pertaining to your shipment. The best option for mid-sized companies going forward is to partner with a carrier rather than spend countless hours on the hunt with brokers in hopes of getting a shipment to its destination on time.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the need of simplifying the supply chain. That’s why when we work with a customer, we partner with them and handle nearly every aspect of their shipment. We help schedule the pickup and delivery of your products, making phone calls and facing all of the problems along the way through the life of your shipment. We have specialized systems and processes for every level of our business, all guided under the premise of helping our customers get their shipments to their destination on time and undamaged. We have helped hundreds of companies over the course of 20 years build their supply chains and maintain a 99% retention rating as well. Want to see such dedication to your shipments? Then start today with Zip Xpress!

The Optimized Headload: Essential For Every Supply Chain

If this year has proven anything, it is the fallacy that selecting a full truckload is always the best option when it comes to shipping freight, especially when that shipment doesn’t fill an entire truckload. With the constant rising rates on the freight boards, it is becoming increasingly impractical for a shipper to always select full truckload, which means that shippers need alternative solutions if shipments are going to be delivered in a timely manner.

With skyrocketing shipping rates, the best way shippers can guarantee that a customer receives their full truckload shipment on time is by paying a (staggering) premium to do so. That’s why we at Zip Xpress created our Optimized Headload solution where we assist customers by optimizing their shipments and ensure they’re only paying for space they’re using. Our experienced freight handlers ensure that every shipment is treated with precision and care, while we assist in the timely pickup and delivery of every shipment we work with.

In addition to rising rates, companies need to be focused on sustainability efforts and when a shipment is marked as full truckload but only occupies 10% of the trailer space…that’s not exactly sustainable. All of the fuel consumed and extra trucks on the road increase carbon emissions as well as wear and tear on our nation’s highways. Our headload solution is a sustainable alternative where shippers are ‘recycling air’ and reducing the number of empty trailers on the road.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of options for your supply chain. If you’re not certain about whether your shipment should be marked FT or LTL, we offer our optimized headload solution where your rate is determined based on the space you’re using. This dedication to service and providing options to our customers is one of the reasons why we maintain a 99% retention rate with all of our customers. Rest assured that we will work with your business to find the best custom carrier solution that gets your freight to its destination on time and undamaged. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act and the Logistics Sector

Congress has recently passed the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) which has been signed into law by the President. Contained within this legislation are two provisions that are expected to go a long way in helping our national infrastructure and the nation’s supply chain. The bill has been celebrated by the American Trucking Association (ATA) as well as many within the logistics sector.

One of the key provisions in the IIJA is a considerable amount of funding for American infrastructure. $110 billion has been allocated for roads, bridges and major infrastructure projects, which promises to go a long way in restoring our national infrastructure. Reversing the years of damage and neglect to our nation’s highways will improve the supply chain by reducing the wear and tear on vehicles as well as a potential reduction in the amount of time spent repairing our highways, thus speeding up delivery times. This will also help with driver retention, since many drivers are paid on a mile basis and the longer a driver sits in traffic, the less they make. Many cumulative delays can cause drivers to conclude the effort of a shipment is not worth the pay and may leave the industry, possibly permanently.

Another key provision of the IIJA is the bill makes 18-21 year-olds eligible for interstate driving, putting the first step in place of training a new generation of drivers. This legislation will be a huge help in getting more drivers their CDL endorsement. This also allows for many young adults to begin their rewarding career as a truck driver at the age of 18, since many young adults can’t afford to wait until they’re 21 to get started. By the time a young adult reaches 21, they have started on their career and are rarely looking to reconsider their career choice by this point. Allowing carriers to train drivers at a younger age will go a long way in helping alleviate the industry’s shortage of drivers.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of investing in infrastructure. One of our key missions is to build a more sustainable supply chain, one that focuses on preserving our nation’s infrastructure by reducing wear and tear on our nation’s highways. The investment through the IIJA will help rebuild our highways and bridges, while freight optimization will go a long way in helping preserve our renewed infrastructure. To see how we can help make your supply chain more sustainable, start today with Zip Xpress!

Logistics: A Promising Field For Young Professionals

There is absolutely no doubt that a successful and rewarding career can be found in the field of logistics. While it may not be the first choice for a lot of young professionals, that viewpoint is likely to change in the coming years, thanks to a recent survey conducted by Korn Ferry and Penske logistics. In this survey, there were many eye-opening findings, one of which stated that 99% of professionals aged 30 and younger say that working in supply chain is a quality career choice. It is reasonable to state that there are few other sectors which have such a high rating as a career choice, especially by a younger generation.

Another great finding is that 58% of respondents are pursuing a career in supply chain due to its beneficial societal impact delivering essential goods. Now this was during the height of 2020, however this is a steep increase from previous years, where respondents who believed supply chain careers were providing a societal beneficial impact didn’t reach 20%. If nothing else, the past few years have shown up and coming generations the importance of logistics and how valuable of a sector it is to the American economy. Instilling a sense of mission and importance like this will be crucial in bringing about change in the logistics industry, especially as we face so many challenges ahead.

With such optimism, the logistics industry can begin focusing on the issues that matter most. Sustainable packaging or better yet, the elimination of unnecessary packaging. Reducing carbon emissions from trucks as well as freight optimization to consolidate shipments and eliminate unnecessary full truckload shipments. These challenges will require a ‘can-do’ attitude and with so many promising candidates in the supply chain, there is no doubt that many of these will be accomplished.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of mission and purpose. We have a few ourselves – sustainability efforts, providing better service to customers, and optimizing shipments. All of our efforts are directed towards accomplishing these and we’re lucky to have a great team in place that believes in all of our efforts. We believe that any problem can be solved because we have the right people in place, ready and willing to help. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Supply Chain Challenges To Remain for Foreseeable Future

It’s hard not to be aware of the current challenges within the American supply chain. Every member of the supply chain is experiencing records – companies are facing record number of orders, manufacturers are at record output levels, carriers experiencing record number of shipments and so on. All of these records of production, combined with a reduction in truck drivers creates a record amount of constriction in the supply chain. This constriction has led to many organizations becoming nervous about shipment times and whether or not customers will receive their orders in a timely manner. These factors have left many companies wondering: when will all of this be over?

The truth is that each of these factors create long-term challenges that we will be facing for the foreseeable future. Manufacturers are responding to demand from consumers who are placing orders via e-commerce and there is a mad rush to find a carrier who will get these shipments to their destination in a timely manner. Since shippers want great service, they select a full truckload when creating their shipment, even if their shipment can’t possibly fill an entire truckload. Combine this with a reduced workforce of available drivers and we find ourselves in our current situation of supply chain congestion. This is a gross oversimplification of course, but each has long term effects. It will take years to find and hire new drivers. There are supply chain issues for physical trucks, which exacerbate the problem. There is however, a critical way in which we can respond to this congestion, a win-win solution to every member of the supply chain.

The first response needed is a coordinated effort from carriers to implement optimization strategies for their customers. We have a responsibility to educate our customers on the benefits of partial shipments as well as handling their freight in a careful manner to ensure that every shipment arrives on time and undamaged. As carriers band together and begin the process of optimizing their shipments, they’ll find that it’s often a win-win solution for everyone involved. We have had the opportunity to work with multiple carriers that believe in optimization like we do, and it has proven effective at reducing congestion. As companies prepare for the coming year, they’re going to find that many of the supply chain challenges are not going away. It’s time for us to work together and use optimization as a means to overcoming these supply chain challenges.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of overcoming challenges for a customer. It’s in our nature due to our dedication to solving a customer’s problems as though they were our own. As a carrier, many of the customer’s issues become our issues and we have a responsibility to see that their shipments arrive on time and undamaged. Even though there are many challenges now, there will always be challenges in the logistics world and we’re ready to help our customers overcome them. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Is Your Freight Getting The White Glove Treatment?

A lot of companies pay lip service when it comes to White Glove Treatment in logistics. There is a clear understanding that shippers want their freight to arrive undamaged and on time, yet it should not be an add-on service shippers are forced to pay a fortune for. There are a few indicators to look out for that ensure a carrier provides white glove service. The first of which is that it’s a state of mind held by the carrier, where the customer’s needs are the most important, assisted by associates who are trained to handle every shipment with precision and care.

Another important indicator is attention to detail. It’s important to be able to check in with the carrier to ensure they know where your shipment is every step of the way, as well as making sure every I is dotted and every T is crossed. Attention to detail is a vital indicator of white glove treatment. Shippers would be wise to ask about procedures and guidelines the carrier follows, including how a carrier handles delicate items, oversized freight or any other indicator of unique freight. All of those details add up to a wonderful experience for the person who needs it most: the customer.

Speaking of which, white glove treatment will also involve getting in touch with the customer to accommodate any special delivery needs or scheduling tailored-time slots that work for the customer. Keeping communication lines open with the customer will keep them satisfied and let you know that you’re dealing with a carrier who gives white glove treatment. You can also see this in whether or not the carrier coordinates the pickup with you. The more involved the carrier is in this process, the more assured you can be that your shipment is getting white glove treatment.

If your shipments are not receiving the white glove treatment, then now may be a time to consider revising your supply chain. At a time of serious congestion, if a shipment gets damaged, this will likely make a bad situation worse. Getting ahead of the problem and ensuring your shipment will be treated with the utmost care will help you gain trust with your customers, a vital part of business at a time like this.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of white glove treatment. Customers and shippers want their freight delivered on time and undamaged, period. We also believe that shippers don’t need an upcharge in order to receive quality service. We believe that in treating our stakeholders well, in training how to carefully handle every shipment that comes through, we’re able to provide a seamless experience that few shippers believe until they see it for themselves. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Time To See If You’re Paying For Air

As we continue our efforts at relieving freight congestion, one of the areas where shippers and carriers can make the biggest impact is reducing the number of shipments marked as full truckloads when they are, in fact, partial truckload shipments. The marking of full truckload has caused a rising cycle of prices in the freight board marketplaces, as well as a reduction in the number of drivers who are available to deliver shipments. Yet we’ve continued to see many shippers mark “full truckload” even though this selection may not be in their best interest.

Why does this occur? In general, full truckload shipments get better service. The reason for this is shipments marked as partial loads need to be brought to a terminal and packed into another trailer, thus increasing risks to the freight. Shipments marked as full truckload are sent directly to the customer, with few to no stops in between. Another issue is cost. Most LTLs have set prices based on footage, which in some cases has resulted in 30 feet of trucking space to cost the same amount as a full truckload. Combine these perceptions and it is no wonder why shippers are more likely to opt for a full truckload selection for their freight. However, what many shippers don’t realize is how much they’re paying for all of that wasted space. In essence, they’re paying for air. On top of this, the congestion over the past year is making full truckloads less feasible as an option, that is unless you’re willing to pay top dollar for it.

Utilizing optimization is the best way to alleviate the congestion we’re seeing. Shippers would be wise to consider selecting ‘partial’ for their shipment. Many carriers out there are skilled at handling sensitive freight and can combine shipments while also ensuring they will arrive undamaged and on time. As always, we recommend that shippers perform their due diligence when considering these types of carriers which will take time, but it’s far better than the alternative of dissatisfied customers who have not received their shipments. As shippers explore their options in redesigning their supply chains, they may often find themselves preferring shipment optimization, even after all of this is over.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of optimizing shipments. Optimizing shipments helps reduce wear and tear on our nation’s highways as well as prevents customers from paying for ‘air’ inside of trailers. All of this leads to a more sustainable supply chain, which customers can see through a monthly carbon emissions reduction sheet we provide them with. The latest benefit is that customers who ship with us will see their products arrive undamaged and on time every time. If you want to see all of these results for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!