The Surge in Automation & Conveyors

It is no secret that many manufacturers are turning to automation in an attempt to meet the challenges surrounding the increase in demand that we have seen year. Companies are pouring resources into robotics and conveyor systems in order to increase their output, but are the companies in these industries prepared for their own surge in demand? Are their supply chains designed to handle a large influx of orders? Robotics and conveyor machinery are not the easiest products to ship, and many companies may be unsure of how to handle delivery of such unique freight.

We always advise companies to do their research when it comes to selecting a supply chain partner and not rely on brokerages who only offer cut-rate service. We’ve seen this scenario many times: unique freight such as a robotics or conveyor system gets damaged in transport because it wasn’t secured properly. The customer is frustrated since they’re not able to get their new equipment running, which also costs them in delayed production. You need to file a claim for the damaged shipment and then while you wait for the claim to be processed, you also need to manufacture a replacement for the customer. That’s a lot of resources tied up, especially when you’re working hard to fulfill additional orders coming through.

The best solution for automation and conveyor manufacturers is relying on a carrier that handles unique freight and will ensure that your shipments will arrive undamaged and on time. Machinery such as this is simply too valuable to risk with a cut-rate service provider who sees your freight as just another shipment they need to get out the door. Why put your shipments at risk? Let’s focus instead on creating a reliable supply chain that can handle the increase in demand and help grow your business.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the need to ensure that your unique freight arrives undamaged and on time. We specialize working with manufacturers of automation and conveyor systems and we have a long history of satisfied customers who can attest to our service. When you’re working to fulfill your orders, consider working with a company that you can trust, one who will delight your customers and ensure your freight arrives undamaged and on time. That’s because premium is the standard with Zip Xpress. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

State of Manufacturing for 2021

As every sector of the economy recovers from 2020, the year taught many valuable lessons as we answered the challenges we faced. This year we’re providing an overview of the state of manufacturing for 2021, some of the challenges manufacturing will face as well as trends that will make manufacturing more resilient than ever before.

Focus on Supply Chain Collaboration

Starting in Q2 of 2020, manufacturers turned to their carriers in an effort to increase their supply chain visibility. With the uncertainty of whether or not plants would be shut down, manufacturing executives brought together demand and supply planners to share updates in real time and determine what must be produced. This collaboration helped both manufacturers and carriers navigate the uncertainty, which ensured the relatively quick recovery we saw in Q3 and Q4 of 2020. As a result, manufacturers will continue working closer than ever with carriers to create specialized supply chains that fit the needs of both companies.

Sustainability Efforts Will Increase

Manufacturing has proven to be one of the sustainable sectors in the economy, with a focus on reducing material waste, emissions and energy consumption. Manufacturing recognizes they have the most to gain with sustainability efforts and those efforts will only increase. A distributed network of smaller, localized and energy-efficient factories will shorten transportation routes which reduces carbon emissions from trucks as well as wear and tear on our national infrastructure. Combined, these efforts will create a more sustainable supply chain, and we will see more investment into this model in the near future.

Increased Focus on the Customer

Manufacturing business models will evolve to focus more on customer satisfaction since 2020 had a major impact on customer expectations with the supply chain. In short, consumers (both B2B and B2C) wanted their products to arrive on time and undamaged as well as ease with transactions. While this isn’t surprising, 2020 cemented the expectations customers have and manufacturers are turning to their carriers to ensure the customer is receiving a great experience. Manufacturers will continue to work with their carriers to ensure superior service for the customer, since any break in service will only result in a breach of trust with all parties.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the challenges manufacturers will be facing in 2021. We’re also prepared to handle these challenges and will work with any company to ensure superior service as well as ensuring your shipment will arrive undamaged and on time. This is done through our custom carrier solutions which will give manufacturers the edge they need in delivering a superior experience for their collaboration, sustainability and customer satisfaction efforts. To see what we can do for you, start today with Zip Xpress!

2020’s Impact on Manufacturing

2020 has changed how a lot of companies do business for the foreseeable future. One of the sectors that has been the most impacted is manufacturing, a sector that is having to reevaluate their supply chains to navigate a new set of challenges. Here are some of the key areas manufacturers are working on when it comes to redeveloping their supply chains.

Investment in Automation

Manufacturers are becoming increasingly interested in automation technologies. Due to labor shortages and enforced shutdowns companies are taking a second look into conveyors, robotics and other technologies that will begin a transition to automation. This trend will likely continue since manufacturers are looking into reshoring initiatives. In tandem with this is renewed interest in apprenticeships, which will provide young talent with the skills to manage and diagnose these machines.

Localized Sourcing

Manufacturers have been forced to refocus on where they source raw materials, products and services. Many companies are taking into consideration not only sourcing them within North America but they’re choosing to look locally as well. As a result, manufacturers will be apt to source local supply chain expertise as well, since those companies will understand those routes the best. With new supply chain partners, manufacturers will need to work closer than ever to ensure

Increased Learning and Support through Collaboration

The influx of changes have caused many manufacturers to turn to their supply chain partners during this time. The increase in communication and collaboration across industries has caused an increase in learning and support for companies across the entire supply chain. While transitions of this magnitude are not quick, many companies see them as necessary and are adapting faster than ever before. They’re also turning to outside the box solutions, which can only be found when they collaborate with their supply chain partners.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the dynamic changes manufacturers are going through. Re-evaluating supply chains is a large endeavor, but it’s a process that will create stronger companies in the years to come. We’ve helped many companies develop custom carrier solutions that have revitalized their supply chains as well as provided unique solutions to all of our partners. To see how we can develop a custom carrier solution for your organization, start today with Zip Xpress!

The Latest Trend in Office Spaces

The past few months have certainly changed the world as we know it. Working schedules have shifted, new online tools are being utilized and the American economy continues to adapt to the changing circumstances. Logistics has proven its resilience, with trucks continuing on the road and freight handlers managing warehouses, but one lingering question remains: what about office staff?

With speculation rampant about the future of office work, what we’re seeing at Zip Xpress is an increased demand for partitions, workstation screens and dividers. This means that offices are moving away from the open office environment and placing these dividers so employees can adhere to social distancing practices. This also allows employees to sanitize their workstations as they see fit and provides the workspace necessary to be productive. Employees overwhelmingly believe that fellow employees will respect social distancing guidelines and each other’s work space. Productivity will likely increase in the future since employees will have their own space to work, but still be able to socialize.

In either case, communication will be more important than ever. Employees appreciated the compassion and understanding executives showed earlier this year, and wish for this to continue. Employees hope to hear encouragement from executives to take walks and small breaks and deeply appreciate the communication from executives on what their companies are doing to keep employees safe.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the need for companies to get back to business. Companies are adapting and changing their office spaces for the good of their employees because they understand that companies are made of people. They want their employees to stay safe, healthy and secure as they return to work. The trend we’re seeing as the office space evolves makes this very clear, and we’re proud to be a part of it. If you need help in ensuring your office furniture arrives undamaged and on time to your customer, start today with Zip Xpress!

Sustainability in the Furniture Industry

Sustainability was once confined as a lofty goal for the most idealistic of companies, but now it has been shown time and again that it is a necessity in order for companies to succeed. The furniture industry has proven to be one of the most willing to embrace sustainability initiatives. In this article we are highlighting the advances being made in this dynamic industry.

The first advancement has to do with the sourcing of sustainable materials. Manufacturers are performing incredible due diligence when sourcing sustainably harvested lumber, since this is one of the most difficult materials to source. They also perform numerous tests on lumber materials to ensure they can make sturdy furniture. Fabric is another material that’s changing how it’s being sourced, with a return to materials such as cotton, wool and feathers since synthetic materials are not perceived to be as sustainable.

Manufacturing practices are also advancing with a focus on using recycled alloys if the furniture piece requires metal – even nuts and bolts can be formed using these materials. Water based adhesives are being used to bond fabric instead of chemical-based adhesives that can harm the environment. Furniture manufacturers are increasingly re-using excess materials during production and working harder than ever to reduce excess waste. The last method of creating a seamlessly sustainable product is the elimination of packaging materials used when shipping the furniture to customers. Working with a sustainable carrier will ensure that your products will arrive undamaged and on time.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that consumers and businesses want to see their furniture be manufactured sustainably. We also understand that furniture manufacturers don’t want to see their products damaged during transit which is why we offer our blanket wrap solution which eliminates the need for packaging and protects the finished product for the customer. Furniture manufacturers are one of the leaders in sustainability and it’s our privilege to help them create a more sustainable economy. To see how we can help your business become more sustainable, start today with Zip Xpress!

What to Expect in Quarter 4

2019 has been another great year for freight, and there is much to prepare for as we enter its final months. The fourth quarter is always interesting, but it can be especially hectic in the logistics world. Although most companies start planning their holiday shipments and inventory in the middle of the summer, there are always a few surprises during the holiday months, and the stress that comes with those surprises can be mitigated by working with an effective and committed logistics provider. It’s important for manufacturers and transportation providers to set their expectations for the next few months but to also be flexible, as there will certainly be some unexpected snags along the way.

Manufacturing is still going strong and the fourth quarter promises to keep freight moving. As companies review their quarterly/annual budgets, they’ll likely to move forward with large capital purchases, which means freight will keep moving. For manufacturers that are looking to make their operations more efficient, consider opting into our partial and consolidated shipments. When it comes to planning out a leaner supply chain, be sure to work with a carrier that is experienced in customizing your carrier solutions. The fourth quarter is a hive of activity for everyone in the logistics world, but with careful planning everyone’s shipments can be delivered on time.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the challenges inherent with getting product to the customer on time but we ensure that every delivery will be made on time with respect to our schedule, regardless of the season. We also offer our headload solution and optimized shipping, which means we can handle all of our customer’s freight needs. We understand the challenges of shipping in the fourth quarter, but we’re planners and work to ensure every shipment gets to where it needs to go on time, every time. To see for yourself and finish the year strong, start today with Zip Xpress!

Specialized Freight – Highlighting Automation

Over the past few years, we’ve seen an industry transform itself and become explosive with innovation. From humble origins of stands and conveyors, the automation industry is now on the cutting edge with sensors, lighting units and robotic arms that look like they belong in a science fiction book. Those machines are fueling a new industrial revolution, but in order for progress to be achieved, those machines need to get to their final destination.

Manufacturers everywhere can imagine the horror of seeing a truck arrive with a dozen robotic arms and three of them have their paint chipped. Two more had their sensors ripped off due to a box falling on top of them. Three others even had a finger knocked off of the wrist joint. Now the customer needs to file a claim with the shipper, who needs to transport the defective units back to the manufacturing plant. The original shipper won’t be satisfied because they need to refurbish, replace and diagnose any unseen issues from being damaged in transit. The result is loss of revenue for all three, from making repairs, transporting an additional trip and loss of time in production. All of this in a rushed effort to ship with a carrier that isn’t experienced in handling such delicate machinery.

Manufacturers in the automation industry never have to worry about such horror stories when they partner with Zip Xpress. We’re experienced at handling every piece of automation equipment – from conveyors to industrial robots. We understand how precise the equipment must be, so our dockworkers take extra care when loading and strapping the machines into place. We provide automation companies with the custom carrier solutions required to ensure that these machines arrive in the same condition we found them in. To see for yourself how carefully we can handle your machinery, start today with Zip Xpress!

Specialized Freight – Highlighting Furniture

For some manufacturers, packing and loading freight is a simple, uniform process that doesn’t require a whole lot of planning. If you are shipping a single type of food or beverage product, you can package the boxes neatly on a standard size pallet, and easily load the pallets side by side on the truck. However, not all manufacturers produce such uniform products, and a significant amount of planning is required for each particular shipment. Office furniture is one industry where careful dedication and planning for each shipment is needed.

Our furniture industry partners can’t rely on shipping boxes of pieces and parts to their destination. They don’t want to see office chairs or desks chipped during transport, which is why they don’t work with most carriers. An entirely different process is needed to handle the non-uniform shapes of office furniture, including load bars, straps and e-tracks which help secure the freight during transit. Office furniture requires meticulous care, which is why many carriers don’t wish to handle this highly specialized freight. Since office furniture happens to be one of West Michigan’s largest sectors of the economy, we focused on providing these companies with the care and attention they deserved.

Zip Xpress specializes in handling office furniture better than other carriers. We utilize load bars, straps, and blanket wrap to ensure safe delivery to the customer. The result is excellent customer service for everyone involved. Our meticulous handling and experienced dock workers ensure that every shipment is treated with care, and our shipments are able to arrive undamaged and on time. No company wants to see chipped office desks or ripped chairs. Let Zip Xpress find the custom carrier solution that works for you. When you see for yourself how we handle your freight, you’ll understand why so many shippers trust Zip Xpress. To see what custom carrier solutions we can create for your office furniture, start today with Zip Xpress!

Manufacturing in West Michigan 2019

Manufacturing in West Michigan for 2019

When you think about the economy of Michigan, Detroit is probably the first thing that comes to mind. While Detroit has been experiencing a renaissance of its own, there is far more to Michigan’s success than just Motown. West Michigan has quietly become a vital artery for the state’s economy, and this comes as no surprise to the people who live here or those who have visited over the years. In fact, the Grand Rapids metro area has an impressive unemployment rate of just 2.6% – almost a point and a half below the national average. This means that people are finding gainful employment and contributing greatly to a booming economy across the region.

One of the area’s largest industries is the office furniture manufacturing industry, with fresh startups and established giants alike continuing to push for innovation in both the design and production aspects of the industry. This forward-thinking mentality is prominent among workers in West Michigan, leading to an influx of new, creative ideas and helping to boost images and profits for many organizations. This positive trend, however, brings with it a new challenge for many companies – it is becoming harder to find skilled workers who need jobs in the region, so these businesses must put forth more competitive offers and work to create more effective supply chains.

While all of this is a net positive for the region, uncertainty still looms large. The midterms saw a major shift in political power in the state, steel and aluminum tariffs put in place by the Trump administration are controversial to say the least. Still, Zip Xpress believes the overall outlook for West Michigan is positive, and will continue to provide certainty for our manufacturing partners. Our optimism and can-do attitude have helped build West Michigan and we’re excited to see what lies in store for 2019. To see how we can provide certainty to your supply chain, start today with Zip Xpress!

Filling the Gap – How to Cope with Talent Disparity in Manufacturing

Manufacturing in the US is continuing to boom, bringing with it a reinvigorated job market and plenty of opportunities for gainful employment. Fears that improved technologies and increased automation would eliminate jobs have been alleviated by the fact that these new technologies, more often than not, require people to keep them functioning. Automation has improved efficiency, but the need for tech-savvy employees has also improved the job market. It’s a win-win situation, right? Well, it might not be quite as simple as we may think.

While job openings are up, the supply of qualified workers to fill these positions isn’t keeping up with demand. This means that many manufacturers are facing major challenges in finding the right people in a highly competitive job sector. This talent gap can put a significant strain on the operations of a manufacturing company who is trying to embrace new technologies while remaining efficient and profitable. Investment in quality training and recruiting programs is a must, but there are other ways to soften the blow caused by this new talent gap. One of those methods is to work with strong, capable supply chain partners who can contribute to a more streamlined manufacturing process.

Transportation and logistics companies have long been well-prepared for major shifts in the market. If a manufacturer is still in the process of filling important roles, they can lean on their supply chain partners a bit and let them take the reins on certain initiatives. This can alleviate some of the growing pains caused by the manufacturing boom, and should be beneficial down the line as the positions become filled. A strong partnership with a supply chain service provider can go a long way in moving the transition along.

At Zip Xpress, we are committed to providing top-notch service so that all of our customers can benefit from the current manufacturing boom. The less our customers have to worry about delayed shipments or damaged freight, the more they’ll be able to focus on improving their own internal processes. To see how we can help you as our partner, start today with Zip Xpress!