The Ups and Downs of Team Driving

Driving a truck can be a lonely, stressful job. Long hours on the road and away from family can take its toll on people, and regulations can make it difficult to make deliveries on time. Fortunately, driving as a team is something that can take a bit of the sting out of all of these things. By switching drivers when one’s hours are up, a team can deliver more loads in less time, making more money by doing so and keeping each other company while on the road. There are many husband and wife teams that travel across the country all year long and thoroughly enjoy doing so.

While it can be nice to have a companion, team driving can also lead to some tension considering the close quarters people have to share. Hopefully your partner is taking his or showers whenever they get the chance, otherwise you may be in for some long, uncomfortable stretches! And if you don’t share the same taste in music, then you both better have some good conversational skills, lest you want to drive all week in silence. Fortunately, there are some pretty nice sleeper cabs out there that can help you keep at least a little bit of distance, and noise cancelling headphones might give you some peace during your break.

While there are challenges that come with driving as a team (as with any job that requires close cooperation with another person), it has become something that many drivers prefer. The ability to log more miles in fewer days and to share the driving experience with a friend or significant other is something that many people find invaluable. The good news is that you aren’t obligated to drive as a team at all times, so you can take on your own jobs if you ever need a break.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the value team driving can bring out on the open road. Our goal is to show appreciation to all drivers out on our nation’s highways and team drivers are another method we use to ensure our freight arrives undamaged and on time. To see how our drivers can ensure your product will arrive undamaged and on time, start today with Zip Xpress!

Preparing Trucks for Winter

It may only be October, but several parts of the US are already experiencing early snowfall and preparing for potential blizzards. For truck drivers, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve and be prepared, lest they caught in unexpected weather and need to shut down. From mechanical precautions to personal safety measures, there are a variety of steps that should be taken for the winter before a truck is sent on the road. Some of these simply make driving more comfortable, but others can save lives.

Test Batteries

Batteries take a lot of abuse over the summer, but can be drained quickly in extreme weather, so fall is the perfect time to test them to ensure that they are in good shape.

Check Starting Systems

The mechanisms that help a truck start are sensitive to weather changes and general wear-and-tear, so these should be checked thoroughly. Many drivers understand how they work and are able to perform a quality assessment, but it doesn’t hurt to have a mechanic check them out for some added assurance.

Ensure Proper Tire Pressure and Tread Depth

Tires are a key component of safe driving at any time of year, but they become even more important in the winter. It is vital to make sure that they are inflated to the proper level and that the tread is not worn down. While new tires can be expensive, it is worth it to prevent slipping and sliding on ice, as well as to improve fuel mileage.

Add Fuel Additives to Prevent Gelling in the Fuel Line

Diesel fuel is known to gel in colder temperatures. At 32 degrees fahrenheit, the wax in liquid form will crystallize and leave the fuel tank clouded. At 10-15 degrees, it will finally start to gel and clog the tank and fuel filters. Fuel additives will also boost fuel economy, make trucks run smoother and longer. It’s a small investment that prevents many timely delays.

Prepare an Emergency Kit

Every driver should have an emergency kit inside the cabin. At the very least, this should contain a first aid kit, extra clothes, non-perishable food items, flares, batteries, a radio, and water. These can be of utmost importance if the truck breaks down miles away from the next exit.

At Zip Xpress we understand the importance of reliability. This possibly more crucial during the winter months that at any time of the year due to the potential for weather delays, sudden snowstorms and other hazards that can occur. However, you’ll see that we take the time to optimize our trucks and ensure we’re checking them and preparing for the winter months ahead. Our aim is to keep our drivers safe and comfortable so they have the extra time they need to ensure reliable delivery. To see this for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Staying Comfortable on the Road

Temperatures are up across the country this summer, and that can make for some brutal driving stretches, even if you have great air conditioning in your cab. Other factors such as humidity, long sunlight hours, and unpredictable storm patterns can cause quite a bit of discomfort on long hauls across the country. Even after summer’s over, there are plenty of problems that can be caused by sitting in a cab for hours on end if you don’t set yourself up properly and consider your own well-being. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways for truck drivers to keep themselves comfortable and create an ergonomically sound environment for life on the road.

One of the most basic but most important things to do is to make sure that the driver’s cabin is set up correctly for your body. The seat should be set at the appropriate height to prevent your neck from craning or dipping. You should always be looking forward in a natural position, or you may experience nagging neck problems in the future. The steering wheel should be adjusted so that you can easily maintain a comfortable position that doesn’t have you reaching or slouching over it. The best way to ensure proper position of both your seat and steering wheel is to sit as naturally as possible and have them come to you until it is both comfortable and easy to drive. If you’ve adjusted correctly, you should be able to reach the gas, brake, and clutch with minimal movement.

Investing in inexpensive upgrades can also make a world of difference. Things like memory foam cushions or beaded seat covers are ergonomically designed to take some burden off of your most highly taxed muscles and joints. In addition, it can be useful to find light, loose-fitting clothing so that you can move freely and benefit from better circulation. Moving around as much as possible when you get the opportunity is also important, as sitting in the same position for too long can lead to a variety of health problems. If you take these precautions and do your part in setting up a comfortable cab, you will be far happier and healthier every time you set out for a drive.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of keeping drivers safe and comfortable. We do our best to stay conscious of these vital members of the supply chain so that they can do their jobs. To see the other ways we support our professional staff and our customers, start today with Zip Xpress!

Best Practices in Driver Management

Driving a truck is not an easy job. There are strict deadlines to meet, stricter laws to follow, and a lot of unexpected events that take place throughout the course of any shipment. Unfortunately, many of the difficulties of driving a truck go unnoticed by the people who rely on them the most. Dispatchers, brokers, shippers, and end customers often fail to understand the challenges involved with moving a load from point A to point B, and they’ll often blame drivers for situations that are entirely out of their control. When it comes to managing drivers – whether you work for the carrier, broker, or customer – there are several things we can do to better understand their needs and plan for our own successes.

Everybody who is involved with the supply chain needs to first put themselves in the driver’s position. If you have a shipment moving from Holland to San Francisco, imagine yourself pulling up to the shipping dock and waiting to load. Take a look at how many miles need to be traveled, and consider external factors such as weather and traffic. When you have an idea of how much work needs to be put into every shipment, you’ll be able to communicate more naturally with the driver and set realistic expectations for the route. If a driver feels uncomfortable with the amount of time he or she has been given to make transit, it is vital to listen to their concerns, even if it means changing your plans for the load. These are people, not machines, and we need to put their safety first, as well as the safety of everyone else on the road.

At Zip Xpress, our concern is always first and foremost on the driver. It is important to realize that as members of the supply chain, we are on the same team with the driver that interacts with our shipments. Whether someone is sitting at a desk entering orders, managing inventory on the warehouse floor, or analyzing packaging trends, we all need to support each other, and must work respectfully with all of our drivers to encourage efficiency and safety. When you treat the people who haul your freight with respect, you will benefit from stronger relationships and higher rates of success. To see how we can help optimize your supply chain, start today with Zip Xpress!

Remember the Safety of Drivers

Since we’ve been hit with another blast of winter weather across the Central U.S. this week, it is crucial to remember the importance of communication and safety within the supply chain. Drivers across America navigating the Midwest and other regions will have to combat severe weather and ensure that their deliveries arrive safely. Even more importantly we want those drivers to arrive at their destinations safely and without injury. As such, we hope that all members of the supply chain will have patience with their drivers who are carefully managing their cargo as they traverse the harsh roads.

Communication during this time will be vital to ensure that deliveries are made as efficiently as possible. Inclement weather can strike at any time and we must put the safety of our drivers at the forefront. We make communication a top priority and adhere to our delivery schedules as best as possible. We make the safety of our drivers our top priority and never try to rush a shipment at the expense of their safety. We understand that they are the handlers of every shipment across our supply lines.

At Zip Xpress, we focus on putting a premium on people to ensure the safety of all parties involved when it comes to your shipment arriving undamaged and on time. We will communicate with our partners every step of the journey, so please take a moment to remember those drivers who are traveling across the country. They are invaluable to us and we must remember to put their safety above all else. Proper communication and safety protocols will help all of us get the shipments to the end customer in an appropriate time frame. To see how we can manage your shipment with such care and precision start today with Zip Xpress!

Trucking Safety

Safety on the Road

Logistics can be a demanding profession, and everybody involved in the supply chain is aware of the importance of staying on schedule and meeting performance goals. However, the issue of safety is often overlooked unfortunately. This is a major mistake, whether it’s a driver, a warehouse worker, or a supply chain manager neglecting to perform their due diligence. With a polar vortex bringing freezing temperatures and dangerous driving conditions to the Midwest and parts of the Northeast, we should look at what we can do to ensure that drivers are staying safe on the road.

Drivers themselves should make it a point to practice the basic rules of safety while driving. Minimize any distractions during transit and make sure to only take calls or read text messages when not driving. They should also get their truck tuned up regularly and address any issues that need to be fixed. Minor maintenance problems may seem like they can be pushed off, but whether or not a disaster is avoided can often be a matter of mere seconds, so it is vital to make sure that everything is working as best as it can.

Regular maintenance will better prepare a truck to handle sub-zero temperatures, but drivers should prepare themselves as well. This means packing a bag with extra winter clothes for any trip that will travel through winter weather. Drivers should also familiarize themselves with all emergency outposts and points of contact in the regions in which they are driving. Paying attention to dangerous conditions ahead of time may allow the driver to re-route their trip and avoid hazardous situations.

Drivers aren’t the only ones that should be paying attention to safety. Shippers and manufacturers should also be aware of the weather across the country so that they can adjust their expectations when a storm may hit. Nobody wants their shipment to be late, but it is far more important to ensure that it arrives in one piece rather than pushing for an on-time delivery in impossible conditions. Everyone involved in the supply chain needs to understand the human aspect of the work involved – this will help all parties maintain a fair level of understanding and will ultimately lead to a more successful business relationship. To learn about how we pay attention to the human side of the supply chain, start today with Zip Xpress!

west mi trucking

The Healthy Road: How Truckers can Stay Fit

Driving a truck can be a grueling, physically taxing job, but that doesn’t mean that it is always healthy. Truck drivers face many challenges when it comes to staying healthy on the road. Long stretches of sitting make it difficult to exercise, and the on-the-go nature of the job means that lean, nutritious meals are hard to come by. However, there are some tips and tricks that truckers can follow to promote a healthier overall lifestyle.

Exercise, Even in Small Bursts

Drivers may not have many opportunities to exercise, which is why they should make the most of those that they do get. Even going for a long walk around a truck stop when parked for the night can promote better circulation and a stronger cardiovascular system. Keeping workout clothes in the truck can be a smart decision, allowing drivers to go for a run whenever they get the chance.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration is one of the keys to a healthy body, but it is often neglected by people on the road. Instead of soft drinks or coffee, truck drivers should bring plenty of water with them on every trip. Doctors suggest 1-2 liters a day, but more may be required if the weather is exceedingly hot. The added benefit is that water is calorie-free and can help stop cravings for unwholesome sugary beverages.

Plan Meals

Unhealthy foods are scattered about truck stops and highways across America, making it especially difficult to follow a healthy diet while on the road. The best way to avoid the fatty, salty food trap is to meal plan before every trip. Truckers should make sure to bring plenty of fruits and vegetables with them and make it a point to opt for lean meats such as chicken and turkey whenever possible. It will take some willpower at first, but it will be highly beneficial in the long run for overall health and well-being.

At Zip Xpress, we care very deeply about each and every driver. We know the hard work they put in and want to ensure that they’ll succeed. To see how we bring such care to all of our stakeholders, start today with Zip Xpress!

West Michigan Trucking

Everyone Wants to Work in Logistics, But Not in Trucking

With a strong economy driving a manufacturing boom across the nation, logistics and supply chain jobs are flourishing. New workers are entering the field all over the country as the needs for jobs such as logistics analysts, supply chain managers, and even sales reps continue to increase. As such, people are eager to take on these new roles in the expanding industry. However, we aren’t seeing as many people interested in taking on the most important job in the supply chain – trucking. This is a trend that must change if logistics companies want to maintain this growing level of success.

Truck drivers are the reason that the supply chain works – they are the final piece of a long, complex puzzle that allows us to receive our goods all over the country. Without them, survival would be a lot more challenging, if not far more inconvenient, as we would not be able to easily access food, clothing, and other vital products. We need truck drivers now more than ever in order to make deliveries to our urban centers and our smaller, remote towns. They are truly road warriors who are willing to do a job that not many others are.

Logistics and shipping organizations need to place a strong focus on recruiting truck drivers and allowing them to grow in their careers. These are some of the hardest working individuals in the workforce, and they deserve any accolades that we can give them. Despite the difficulties of the job, it can be a highly rewarding experience that perfectly suits individualists who enjoy the freedom of the open road. As a country, we often overlook these workers who make it possible for us to purchase our goods in a quick and easy manner. We need more drivers in the workforce, and that starts with showing our appreciation for their unwavering dedication to the job.

To see how much we appreciate our drivers in being a part of the supply chain, start today with Zip Xpress!

hotshot freight

How to Help Truckers Stay Motivated

In any field of work, there are going to be periods where it is hard to stay motivated. Driving a truck is no different, but sometimes motivation can be even more difficult to find. Driving long hours and long distances every day can result in burnout, and many truckers feel as though they are not appreciated enough to continue to put in the hard work. Some drivers are able to find inspiration from within, but there are ways carriers can encourage their drivers to stay on the road.

One universal motivating factor is good pay. Some carriers continue to shortchange their drivers and offer minimal compensation packages. This is no way to keep employees motivated. Coming up with a fair payment plan is the first step a carrier can take to inspire their drivers and prevent employee turnover. With many boomers retiring from the profession, carriers will need to entice millennials to become their replacements, and the promise of a strong income is something many younger workers are looking for.

Companies should also focus on providing a good work-life balance. It can be difficult for drivers to be away from their families for long periods of time, and carriers should not abuse their willingness to be on the road. Drivers should have the flexibility to be able to come home and spend time with their kids if that’s what they value. Of course, a driver knows that he will be on the road when he signs up for the job, but he is more likely to continue performing at a high level if his job doesn’t interfere with his ability to enjoy life.

Other small incentives can work wonders. A hundred dollar reward to drivers for getting a load delivered quicker than expected is a great incentive. Gift cards or tickets to sports events also show truckers how much you appreciate their hard work. Little rewards go a long way to keeping morale up.

It’s important that driver motivation should come from within. However, the more carriers can align their goals with those of the drivers, the more successful they will be. The more prepared drivers are for the future, the more they’ll understand the importance of hard work. When they realize the reward at the end of the road, they may find more motivation throughout their career. At Zip Xpress, we treat our drivers with the utmost respect, and we do everything we can to ensure they can have time to be with their families. We take the extra steps in coordinating the delivery to make our driver’s job as simple as possible. To see how our drivers can help with your next shipment, get started with Zip Xpress today!

Recruit Truckers

The Empty Road: Where Have the Truckers Gone?

Over the past years, shippers have found it increasingly more difficult to secure the trucks they need to move their freight across the country. In fact, industry analysis shows that at the beginning of 2018, only one truck was free for every 12 shipments that needed to be moved. This is a sharp and frustrating decline in availability from just over a year ago, when the ratio was one in four. With e-commerce at an all time high in a continually strengthened economy, there are many challenges faced by both shippers and carriers. One of the biggest struggles facing the transportation world right now is the lack of truck drivers.

Driving a truck is a tough job, and with the average age of drivers at 55 years old, it is an aging profession with many workers approaching retirement. As these drivers retire, the industry is not seeing an influx of new drivers, at least not at a pace sufficient enough to offset the number of workers lost to retirement. This means less trucks on the road and more headaches for shippers. Low wages, long hours, and a life away from home are all deterrents for many people that may consider this career. How can an industry thrive if its backbone – the labor force – is  diminishing at such a rapid rate? There are several changes that can be made across the industry to fix this.

Many companies are realizing that increased wages can help alleviate their capacity challenges. National carriers are increasing the rate-per-mile paid for long haul drivers, and local companies are raising their hourly pay to entice newcomers to the profession. Higher pay is always a welcome change, and executives know that a well-compensated workforce is a happier and more productive workforce. If we continue to see wages that are competitive with other industries, we may see the lack of drivers turn itself around into a surplus.

One way to start working towards this surplus may be to focus on millennials. Currently, you must be 21 to secure a class A CDL, but that doesn’t mean the training can’t start earlier. Carriers have numerous jobs in dispatch, customer service, and safety that could be appealing to a younger employee who eventually wants to get behind the wheel. This can also prepare them for the challenges and opportunities presented by life on the road. Studies have shown that millennials have deviated from previous generations when it comes to priorities in life. They value experience over material possessions and many are choosing travel over settling down and buying a home. Driving provides an opportunity to travel while earning income that could potentially be used later in life for a home.

Carriers should be focusing their efforts on recruiting adventurous millennials who want to see the country and make money while doing it. The current aging drivers are retiring soon, and it would be very difficult to groom new truck drivers from the boomer generation or Generation X. Millennials have shown that they are willing to work, but they want jobs that are satisfying and exciting. Driving a truck is the perfect fit. To learn more about our services handled by our amazing truckers, get started with Zip Xpress today!