The Importance of Accuracy

Technology has continually made shipping goods more convenient, efficient, and reliable. From a single person sending a small-package gift to a friend cross-country to a major corporation scheduling hundreds of truckloads in a day, many shipping operations can be successfully carried out with just a few simple keystrokes. This has led to expansion and profit growth throughout the industry, but our tendency to rely on simplification can often lead to large problems down the road. Even with lightning-fast software and increasingly impressive AI making transportation more automated, we have to be sure to double check all of our work to guarantee accuracy during every step of any given shipment.

Because computers have become so central to the booking process for many transportation companies, the information in a shipment may pass through several systems and be relayed to multiple warehouses before a second human even takes a look at it. While these computers are highly capable of providing this information to each other, they cannot make up for any errors that were made during the initial data entry phase of the shipment. This means that the human operator at the beginning needs to make sure to double and triple check every line of data to prevent catastrophic problems down the line. Shipping and receiving addresses may seem rudimentary, but a single mistyped digit in the zip code could throw the entire shipment off. Failing to provide the correct PO number or dock door could lead to driver detention at the shipper, costing money for the customer and carrier. All of these could be prevented by simple accuracy checks and SOPs that ensure all workers are paying close attention to their data.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of accuracy in the logistics world. We know that time invested at the beginning of any process will most certainly save time in the long run, as backtracking to fix a problem requires far more work than preventing the error in the first place. It is inevitable to encounter mistakes in any industry, but our detail-oriented, hard-working philosophy allows us to minimize the number of simple mistakes, thus reducing the negative effect of larger problems down the road. To see our accuracy with your shipment, start today at Zip Xpress!

Looking Back at the ELD Mandate

When the ELD Mandate was originally proposed, many in the transportation industry were vehemently opposed to it. How could they continue to remain profitable while taking on fewer shipments? Why should they be regulated in a way that affects their ability to do business? When the mandate was approved, there was panic and anger across the field. But logistics is an industry made up of resilient individuals, and many people found a way to train, adapt, and eventually accept the reality of the ELD Mandate. Here are some changes made since December 2017.

While training has always been a vital part of logistics, many companies – especially smaller ones – invested more in training their employees on safety and compliance. It was necessary for drivers who had always used paper logbooks to understand the new system and be prepared for the changes. Those companies who trained found themselves at an advantage when the mandate was finally implemented. Other companies found themselves blindsided by the new rules, but they too eventually adapted and learned the rules, and violations dropped by almost half within the first year.

The mandate didn’t only affect carriers. Customers began to realize that they had to run their warehouses more efficiently. Keeping drivers detained for long periods of time became a bigger problem because it often meant they wouldn’t be able to make the transit without shutting down. This was especially true on the longer mile one-day shipments. While this also required training and preparation, it has proven to be a net positive for many manufacturers as they have been able to pump out more shipments in a shorter amount of time. It has also made for stronger relationships between carriers and customers. So, while the mandate still has its criticisms, many of them valid, one thing that most logistics professionals can agree on is that it showed the grit, determination, and never-say-die attitude that is prevalent across the industry. To stay ahead of the ELD mandate with all of your shipping needs, 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!

Minimal Skids

The Future of Packaging

In order for goods to be transported across the country, they must be held together in some sort of packaging. Whether these goods show up in plastic bags, cardboard boxes, or glass jars, it is likely that everything you purchase will come in a container. Packaging for food, electronics, clothing, and pretty much everything under the sun has made things extremely convenient for manufacturers and end consumers. However, as we become more aware of the problems that much of this packaging is causing for the environment, innovations are being made across the industry to mitigate these negative effects.

Manufacturers of biodegradable packaging have become major players in the game, and companies across the world are switching over to biodegradable or reusable packaging for many of their products. This, however, is just the beginning. Packaging companies have tapped into the scientific world, engineering new compounds that make for thinner and lighter yet stronger packaging that is still environmentally friendly. This has allowed shippers to load more freight onto every truck, helping to minimize transportation costs while maximizing profits. The investment in green packaging has been beneficial not only for our habitat, but also for business.

The ultimate goal for many is to eliminate the need for disposable packaging altogether. Clearly you can’t just ship a load of ball bearings with no sort of containers, but minimizing the usage of wasteful, non-recyclable materials is a major win for customers, manufacturers, and everyone involved throughout the supply chain. At Zip Xpress, we encourage our customers to eliminate unnecessary packaging, and even ship their freight with no packaging whenever it is possible. This ensures that we can maximize our efficiency to move the largest amount of freight while leaving behind a smaller carbon footprint. It may not seem much on a shipment by shipment basis, but it truly adds up, and if we can influence others to follow our initiative, we will be happy that we had a positive impact on cleaning up the world that has provided us with so much. To show you how we can save on packaging with your shipment, start today with Zip Xpress!

Making the Most of Partnerships

Between the time somebody comes up with an idea for a new product and the second it finally arrives in the hands of the consumer, there are a myriad of operations that take place. Supply chain professionals are involved in every part of the production and sales process, and in many cases, multiple companies must work together to ensure satisfactory production and timely delivery of the finished goods. The raw materials suppliers need to work with the manufacturing plants, who in turn must communicate with warehouses and distributors, who then need to coordinate shipping and delivery schedules with brokers and carriers. This is, of course, a greatly simplified breakdown of the process, but it shows how important it is to cultivate strong, reliable partnerships in every level of supply chain management.

Without strong relationships between different companies involved in logistics processes, communication often falters, leading to production delays, maintenance problems, and missed deliveries. By working together to tackle these problems and come up with a common goal, organizations can set realistic expectations and prepare each other for any potential problems. This means that manufacturers should tell their carriers their schedules ahead of time, and carriers in turn should be straightforward about their capabilities and potential time restraints. When a strong relationship has grown between these companies, it is far easier to understand each other’s nuances and collaborate ahead of time to eliminate delays.

At Zip Xpress we firmly believe in forming long-term, transparent partnerships with both our partners. By treating every professional relationship with care, understanding, and an open-mind, we can work together with our partners to provide a seamless supply chain experience for all parties involved. This helps every organization to grow and makes for a respectful, enjoyable working environment. In an industry as fast-paced and busy as logistics, we believe that this helps us stand out in a large crowd of transportation providers. We provide the dedication and customer care to all of the freight which comes through our doors. To see how we can handle your freight in our partnership, start today with Zip Xpress!

Securing a Shipping Partnership

The world of logistics is exciting, fast-paced, and, to the dismay of many, often wildly unpredictable. A shipper may have no problem securing trucks to haul their freight on a daily basis for weeks at a time, but one day, seemingly out of nowhere, they may find that the pool of available equipment has quickly dried up and that rates have skyrocketed. There are a variety of factors that can affect capacity in different markets, including produce season, changes in the construction industry, and even weather patterns. While shippers can try to plan for some of these spikes and lulls in capacity, it is impossible to predict these with 100% accuracy. That’s why creating a partnership with a reliable carrier can go a long way in alleviating the stress of market volatility.

Strategic Partnerships don’t just lock in rates for a specified period of time – they also guarantee an agreed upon level of capacity and service. When shippers and carriers enter into a partnership, they create a symbiotic relationship where both companies rely upon and respect each other. There is a team mentality between the two that helps to not only improve communication but also increase dependability and predictability. Rather than relying only on transactional relationships and often shuffling at the last minute to find a truck, securing a reliable carrier partner helps a shipper to better plan their production schedule and stay within their budget.

Zip Xpress places a strong emphasis on partnering with our customers. These partnerships allow us to provide the highest level of service and to develop long-term strategies that help to keep the supply chain running smoothly. By partnering with Zip Xpress, you can expect total dedication and high levels of customer service on every shipment, while eliminating much of the volatility and unpredictability that occurs in the spot market. If you are interested in learning more about how we can improve your shipments, 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!

Cutting the Fat: The Benefits of a Lean Supply Chain

Certain organizations require complex, highly-involved supply chains in order to perform at their highest level. Think of multi-billion dollar big box retailers, international electronics manufacturers, and even the US Army. All of these institutions call for a heavily layered supply chain operation with hundreds or even thousands of employees who all play different but significant roles. For these large, high-revenue firms, an agile, complex supply chain makes perfect sense. However, most small or midsize companies should not try to emulate these large conglomerates, even if they have their sights set on being the next billion-dollar enterprise.

Companies shipping thousands of loads from hundreds of warehouses on a daily basis absolutely need to have a large, diversified supply chain. However, most manufacturers aren’t in need of a massive, diversified supply chain with dozens of employees to manage a complex operation. Oftentimes it’s best for manufacturers shipping 2 or 3 daily truckloads from a single warehouse to achieve success and maximize efficiency by employing a single carrier to provide customized solutions. Working with such an experienced carrier can help keep your operation lean, clean up communication and reduce redundancies wherever possible.

The same can be said for technology systems and even physical space required to run a manufacturing operation. Walmart does itself a favor when it invests in the newest technology and implements expensive systems throughout the organization. However, a smaller shipper may not need to spend the money on a program that can analyze thousands of truckloads a day when the shipping manager already has a firm grasp on the performance. Likewise, consolidating all operations from multiple warehouses into a single central location may make more sense for a smaller firm that is spending too much money on transfers between plants.

At Zip Xpress, we understand how to provide the best service in finding the right supply chain for your business. We understand all of the nuances in the supply chain with our team of professional experts and can partner with you to build the perfect system for your needs. Ultimately, every organization has different logistics requirements, and to help you find yours, start today with Zip Xpress!

Blocks of People in Logistics

One of the common themes being talked about logistics is the arrival of blockchain technologies and how it promises to “revolutionize” the industry. The truth of the matter is is that most of the problems that blockchain intends to solve have already been solved by software currently being implemented in the industry. While new technology is always important, we also cannot forget the importance of great customer service and solving a manufacturer’s problems. That is something technology will likely never be able to do.

Many executives are actually skeptical of some of these new technologies arriving. Even using “Blockchain” in the name causes suspicion. There is no doubt how important data is for analysis along the supply chain, but we can’t forget that the analysis should be about helping shipments arrive on time and undamaged. At Zip Xpress, our data analysis is also focused on showing customers how much carbon dioxide they’ve saved through our sustainability reports. Data certainly has its place in the supply chain, but none of these factors come into play without the human touch. Technology is being designed to enhance the human ability, not replace it.

At Zip Xpress, we pride ourselves at being the most customer-oriented carrier, providing custom carrier solutions for every shipping situation. We understand that there’s a lot of hype and hope that machines will replace humans in the workforce, but that will never be the case. The next time you read an article about how blockchain might revolutionize the industry, remember that many of the proposed solutions are already in place. We also understand that a simple phone call can clear up more than a complex software algorithm ever could. We work with our customers, not hide behind our screens from them. The most successful technologies are the ones that help people succeed. To see how we can help your business succeed, start today with Zip Xpress!

Beat the Breakdown

Every year, automobiles becomes more and more reliable. Everything from mopeds, sedans, and commercial trucks have reached a level of quality that we’ve never seen before. Still, it is inevitable that we will experience breakdowns at some point in time, especially when it comes to frequently used long distance trucks. A breakdown on a critical shipment can be a nightmare for the shipper, manufacturer, carrier, and end consumer, and despite being out of anybody’s control, these mechanical failures always seem to come at the worst times. Fortunately, there are some steps that all parties can take to alleviate the pain caused by these situations.

Planning ahead is the most crucial step when it comes to accommodating a breakdown. Carriers should perform routine maintenance and keep their fleets updated to ensure the most reliable equipment is on the road. Manufacturers should do their best to allow some wiggle room when it comes to production and delivery times (although this isn’t always possible). This will help to minimize the likeliness of a breakdown as well as provide more buffer time for solutions. When a mechanical failure does take place, communication is key. Even if it’s something as simple as a flat tire, the carrier should inform the customer immediately. The customer can then relay the message to the manufacturer or receiver, giving the warehouse time to plan for the delay. In critical situations where the load absolutely cannot be late, all parties can work together to find a capable truck that can haul the freight the remainder of the distance.

The most important thing is to remain calm and to avoid placing blame on other supply chain partners. At Zip Xpress we understand a breakdown is nobody’s fault – it’s just an unfortunate fact of life in the transportation industry. We perform routine maintenance on all of our trucks and constantly communicate with whoever is going to receive the shipment. Letting tempers flare and accusing others of service failures only serves to exacerbate the problem and put a strain on the relationship between parties. We understand that we’re in this together with our shippers and will work closely with them to create a solution that will minimize the damage done. To see how we can ensure delivery of your next shipment, start today with Zip Xpress!