How Remote Work Affects Logistics

Working from home isn’t exactly a possibility for truckers. It is, however, becoming the reality for many behind-the-scenes workers in transportation. While the logistics industry as a whole may have been late to join the work from home model, 2020 showed us that it is indeed possible. Many dispatchers, sales associates, and analysts have been able to perform their jobs from their home. They still need to go to the office on occasion, but it seems that the future of transportation may switch to a hybrid model.

When it comes to operations at Zip Xpress we prefer a “hands-on” approach since every shipment needs to be optimized on campus. We have procedures and protocols that we wish to follow to ensure the proper documentation and optimization of every shipment, however we follow all guidelines pertaining to social distancing and mask wearing. We also prefer creating custom carrier solutions in-house as well since the ability to collaborate is more effective when our team members are a room or two away.

At Zip one area that does work remotely is our sales team, since companies are preferring to conduct sales calls remotely. We’re delighted to work with companies that wish to conduct business remotely and are able to answer any and all questions through a phone or virtual call. We still believe that a phone call is the best method of doing business since you have a direct line of communication and we can get the best understanding of a problem you have, which allows us to create the best custom carrier solution for your business.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that regardless of whether companies are remote or not, they want dedicated service in ensuring every shipment arrives undamaged and on time. Our goal is to provide that service through whatever means possible and we’re happy to work with any company virtually or in person. The means of communication aren’t important, what matters is dedication in getting the shipments to their destination undamaged and on time. To see this for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

A Look Back at Transportation in 2020

2020 shook up industries across the world, and transportation was not spared. Between the pandemic, natural disasters, and a Presidential election cycle, business was anything but “usual” throughout the year. Spikes in demand for PPE and perishable goods led to bullwhip effects all over the country, while some industries were forced to shut down entirely. This affected all aspects of the supply chain, including drivers, carriers, brokers, and manufacturers.

The big story of 2020 for the entire world was COVID-19. This carried into transportation, as do most international crises. With some companies shutting down entirely, many carriers were left with uncertainty about their own future. However, the need for relief meant that there was still a major need to keep trucks on the road. With the eventual release of the vaccine, there was a little bit more hope that things would normalize again sometime in 2021.

COVID wasn’t the only story of 2020, though. Throughout the US, natural disasters ravaged the landscape and led to even greater needs for emergency relief. Western wildfires, Hurricane Laura, and the midwestern Derecho, among others, left thousands without homes and power. It was essential that our trucks kept running, bringing food and supplies to these areas to help out our fellow Americans.

One silver lining to all of these situations is that it showed the true power of American resilience as well as the effectiveness of collaboration strategies. Despite the seemingly endless barrage of catastrophes, we were able to work together to bring relief and optimism for the next year. The transportation industry was at the center of that, and it shows just how important it is to take care of our supply chain.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the need for stability and the desire for predictability. We’ve helped many companies create stronger supply chains through our custom carrier solutions and our unmatched dedication to service. We’ll do everything in our power to help our customers get their shipments delivered on time and undamaged, period. We work closely with every customer to ensure their satisfaction and their customer’s satisfaction. To see how we can help create the custom carrier solutions that are right for your business, start today with Zip Xpress!

How to Improve Shipping Infrastructure

The way that we ship and fulfill orders – both large and small – is constantly changing. Many advances have been made in the products and technologies the industry uses, allowing the shipping process to speed up and a reduction in damages. However, there is one area that still handcuffs the transportation industry’s ability to perform to its highest potential – infrastructure.

The American interstate system may be one of the most impressive feats in infrastructure in modern times, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. Local roads, bridges, and tunnels all need to operate smoothly for transportation to succeed. Most of these infrastructure developments have fallen into disrepair and are in need of restoration. Without this investment, our infrastructure will continue to crumble and many areas will be unable to receive their shipments.

Investment in roads, bridges and tunnels needs to become a priority – and not just in the interstate system. Many rural roads in remote areas have become nearly unusable, and the inability for trucks to deliver to these areas contributes to the blight found there. Fixing roads and bridges across the country will not only speed up transportation, it will likely spur economic development.

Most importantly, and perhaps the most economic way to improve infrastructure is to optimize the space we already have. Optimizing shipments is one surefire way to reduce the number of “empty trucks” out on the road. By “recycling air” we’re able to reduce carbon emissions as well as reduce the number of trucks on the road, which helps prevent damage to infrastructure. It is our goal to help optimize all shipments and ensure our infrastructure can be preserved until reform comes.

At Zip Xpress, we understand your concern about infrastructure, which is why we’ve developed our headload solution to help vendors save space in the trailer. By optimizing every shipment, companies aren’t paying for “air” and reduce wasted space, which creates a reduction in emissions and empty trucks on the road. All of these efforts have a multiplier effect, and that is through just one of our custom carrier solutions. To see what other solutions we can offer your organization, start today with Zip Xpress!

Inbound vs. Outbound Freight

Most warehouses don’t just ship products out to their customers – they also receive finished goods and materials on a daily basis. While shipping and receiving operations may be similar in nature, there are many differences that set them apart. The preparation, processes, and personnel can be very different for inbound and outbound freight at any given warehouse. Once you’re aware of these differences, partnering with your carrier will become a much smoother process.

Although we often think about trucks picking up from a warehouse and shipping out, that usually can’t be done until the inbound logistics process has been completed. Even plants that put the product together cannot move forward with production until they receive raw materials or other parts that are required for the final product. In many cases, inbound shipments must stick to a stricter schedule because a missed delivery can shut an entire production line down.

Outbound freight, on the other hand, does not usually require as much just-in-time scheduling. Once the product is finished, the customer and manufacturer can agree on a delivery date ahead of time, giving both parties some wiggle room when it comes to scheduling transit. Freight handlers who are responsible for outbound shipments don’t necessarily need to stage the product right away. Inbound workers, however, must be ready to bring materials off of a truck immediately to the production line.

None of these are hard and fast rules, and there are certainly exceptions when outbound shipments must be expedited and when inbound loads have flexibility. However most freight handlers can expect a wide variance between the ways they handle outbound and inbound materials. Fortunately, we can utilize communication and collaboration to ensure that all shipments arrive on time and get out the door in an efficient manner.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that you want every shipment to be as effortless as possible. Every shipment should arrive undamaged and on time so that you can delight your customers. Communication and collaboration with your carriers can help make this possible and understanding the nuances in logistics can ensure a successful partnership. Here at Zip, we educate our customers and work to solve their problems for them, creating custom carrier solutions tailored to their needs. To see what we can do for you, start today with Zip Xpress!

How to Manage Expedited Shipments

The world of transportation is anything but predictable. Although the majority of shipments are planned ahead of time, it is inevitable that you will need to send something out at the very last minute – probably more often than you would prefer. Fortunately, we live in an age where communication is as easy as it’s ever been and where technology can help mitigate the stress of last-minute decisions. If you find yourself scrambling to get a shipment out, here are some ways you can help yourself out.

Get on the Phone – Quick!

A phone call is still the best way to see if a carrier can handle your shipment. If you can get a hold of a representative right away, you may just find a truck that can transport your shipment. Emails in this instance are ineffective since waiting for a response could mean that vehicle is already gone. The good news is that if you have partnered with a reliable carrier, then you’ll have no trouble getting in touch with someone who can help you.

Work Through Rates

If you have a time-critical shipment that absolutely cannot fail, you may not have time to focus on price. Carriers have a lot of customers they need to ensure delivery to and if you shop around for cut-rate expedited delivery, you’ll receive cut-rate service. That said, when you work with valued, long-term partners, they will accommodate you and provide great service.

Collaborate

Transportation is always a team effort, but for critical shipments, it is important to strategize and communicate with everyone – both internally and externally. Be ready to answer any questions your carrier has and make sure to provide accurate, reliable information about your freight. The more you take care of up front, the more likely you are to succeed in the end. This means keeping open lines of communication for both your customer and carrier and providing updates whenever new information is made available.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that there are instances when shipments need to be expedited. We help our customers by ensuring that anytime they call our office, they will speak with an individual right away, and won’t be forced to leave a voicemail. We can provide quotes over the phone, we don’t charge full tariff for this service and can still offer a potential discount to our customers. Our planners will work with you to find an expedited solution that works for you. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

What Mode Is Right For You?

Ground shipping seems pretty straightforward, but there are many decisions every manufacturer needs to make with every shipment. This is especially true with manufacturers whose products have an irregular shape, are larger or are in need of extra care. These shipments should not be “thrown in with the rest” in the hopes the product arrives undamaged and on time. Fortunately, we at Zip Xpress have a variety of options in these situations.

Less-Than-Truckload

Standard LTL service is used by thousands of manufacturers across the country. This is best for customers seeking a cost-effective option that does not have a critical delivery time or are prone to damage. For your smaller shipments that are running on schedule, Zip Xpress can provide superior service thanks to our methods that reduce handling by 75% over common carriers. This means less chance of damaged product arriving at your customer’s location, and that benefits everyone.

Expedited LTL

You may not usually associate LTL with time-critical shipments, but thanks to our Expedited LTL solution, we can deliver your product safely and on time without the need to dedicate an entire trailer. Whether you have experienced production line downtime or need to fulfill a last minute order for a premier customer, our expedited LTL service allows us to answer the call. We will get your shipment where it needs to go. Period.

Headload

For those “in-between” loads that could ship as LTL or truckload, our headload solution is a time-tested, reliable option that provides advantages over both modes. Headload (or partial truckload) shipping is similar to partial shipping, but you will only be paying for the space that your freight is taking up. For longer distance shipments, we employ team drivers, ensuring that every load will meet their deadlines.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of options when it comes to getting your shipments to their destination undamaged and on time. Not every shipment requires a full truckload, which is why we created our custom carrier solutions to ensure that every shipment will get to your customers. To see which custom carrier solution is right for your business, start today with Zip Xpress!

Logistics Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of

When it comes to logistics jobs we all know about truck drivers and dispatchers, which are integral parts of the supply chain, although they are not the only parts. There are hundreds of logistics jobs that take place behind the scenes; many of which you may have never even heard of. These crucial employees play an important role in keeping our freight moving and our drivers busy, and provide a lucrative opportunity for those seeking to get into logistics.

Route Analyst – This operations role is responsible for compiling data about routes that are currently being serviced and for identifying opportunities to make them more efficient. Route analysts often work with dispatchers and driver managers to come up with ways to maximize driver loaded miles and increase overall profitability for carriers.

Logistics Analyst – Logistics analysts are responsible for maximizing efficiency across the entire supply chain – not just within the routing. This means they evaluate data that pertains to materials purchasing, production, and manufacturing as well as modes of transport. By keeping up with industry trends, logistics analysts can make recommendations on how a company should be operating throughout every step of a product’s lifetime.

Pricing Manager – Pricing managers work with shippers to quote freight shipments, analyze pricing, and prepare RFPs. The pricing manager builds rapport with shippers and helps them identify the best way to meet their customer’s needs in the most economical manner.

Customer Service Representative – Customer Service Reps help shippers and consignees in a variety of ways including tracking shipments, setting up delivery appointments and producing custom reporting for shippers. They also work behind the scenes to ensure shipments are running on schedule and deliver on time.

Procurement Manager – A procurement manager is in charge of choosing suppliers to facilitate supply chain operations. These suppliers can be raw materials providers, warehouse facilities, or freight carriers. In this role, the manager evaluates the services provided and negotiates rates with sales reps.

Load Planner – Load Planners work hand in hand with shippers and consignees to build efficient routes which also meet all of the customer’s expectations. This role requires great flexibility and the ability to make changes in a fast paced work environment to accommodate customer needs and last minute shipments.

Logistics Engineer – This is a highly technical job requiring strong math and science skills. A logistics engineer uses data from the logistics analyst to come up with ways to streamline all processes throughout the supply chain. This can be through implementation of new software, development of more complex distribution funnels, or by creating algorithms to choose the best suppliers for a particular product line.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that people are what make a company successful. It is because of our dedicated employees we’re able to provide great customer service and ensure that every delivery reaches its destination undamaged and on time. Our hope is to show others the opportunities available in logistics and to enhance the supply chain with great people. It’s because of great people that companies can offer great service. To see our services for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

The Future Supply Chain

When we think about the future of an industry, several things come to mind. We can almost always say that there will be technological advances, more automation, and a more global approach. Those things are all likely to be true for the future of Supply Chain, but they aren’t the only certainties that we can look to. In a year that has inevitably changed the world, there is no doubt that supply chains will focus on technological advances and cutting-edge ideas, but we will also see changes in attitudes and strategic planning in the upcoming years.

Supply chains across the world were shocked by the COVID pandemic in the early part of 2020, but in time they adapted and are running smoothly again. As we look forward, any organization with a sophisticated supply chain knows that it can’t run in the same fashion as it did in previous years. Pandemic planning will become an integral part of training and implementation in order to prevent bullwhip effects as well as drastic losses due to unforeseen circumstances. We may not have seen it coming the first time, but we now know that we must be prepared for anything in future forecasts.

A more positive takeaway from the COVID crisis is that there has been an increased focus on collaboration and relationship building. Shippers who had strong supply chain partners were better equipped to handle the pandemic than those who didn’t, and smart shippers will continue to pursue these partnerships. The ad-hoc model of simply matching freight to a random truck when it is needed is already losing favor among many customers, and we can expect that trend to continue. If we’ve learned one thing from 2020, it’s that we are all in this together and that we need to build strong relationships in order to succeed in the future.

At Zip Xpress, we understand what the future supply chain looks like. Our focus on communication and collaboration allows us to provide the best service possible to our supply chain partners and provide the custom carrier solutions they need to ensure their products arrive undamaged and on time. Shippers who collaborate with their carriers will find themselves far ahead of the competition and able to adapt to new circumstances quicker. To see how a custom carrier solution can be applied to your business, start today with Zip Xpress!

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!