Preparing for Tough Terrain

Driving a truck is no simple task, and it becomes exponentially more difficult when a driver encounters rough terrain and sub-par roads. You may picture the Rocky Mountains or Appalachians when you think of difficult drives, but the truth is that there are challenges everywhere in the country. Even flatter areas with moderate climates can suffer from road erosion and lack of maintained infrastructure. Nevertheless, shipments still need to arrive. For drivers embarking on these routes, it is imperative that proper preparation routines and maintenance schedules are practiced.

Maintenance is vital for any truck, but improper maintenance is easily exposed on sub-par roads and in tough terrain. Drivers and fleet managers should inspect tires, electrical systems, brakes, and lights on a regular basis. If they notice even minor issues such as worn tread or a faulty switch, they should be addressed immediately. Doing so will minimize the chance that something disastrous could happen out on the road. These routine maintenance schedules help protect the drivers as well as give them trucks they prefer driving since they’re well cared for and the driver will in turn care for the truck.

Ahead of the trip, drivers should ensure that they are familiar with the roads on which they will be traveling. They can map out the route and note which roads may be unpaved or uneven, and try to find detours around them if possible. It is important to ensure that communications devices are fully charged and that the truck is stocked with emergency equipment in case of a breakdown or if the truck gets stuck. This prevents drivers from being stranded and allows the carrier to notify the customer and work through a contingency plan.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of routine maintenance schedules in keeping our fleet in prime condition. Ensuring all minor maintenance issues are addressed prevents risks to the driver and the shipment, helping us to get every shipment to the customer on time and undamaged. Our drivers understand and appreciate the care we show for our vehicles, which makes them satisfied and able to provide great customer service. We believe that doing the little things right add up, which is why premium is the standard at Zip Xpress. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Outlining the NSFP

The US Department of Transportation recently unveiled the National Freight Strategic Plan to help make the movement of freight safer and more efficient for manufacturers, shippers, carriers, and all other stakeholders. The plan provides a blueprint for improvements in infrastructure and growth of the overall workforce. The main goal is to improve the country’s competitiveness in the international market, but that can’t be done without first addressing domestic issues.

The plan to improve infrastructure is exciting news for anyone involved in the freight industry. Modernized roads, stronger bridges, and more efficient railroads will go a long way in providing more reliable service across the logistics industry. This goes hand in hand with their goal of improving the national freight network, which should allow for faster, more streamlined routes between major transportation hubs.

It isn’t all about infrastructure, though. The NFSP intends to invest in research, technology, and analytics at both the federal and state levels. These analytics are designed to provide municipalities with the understanding where their inefficiencies lie and give them ideas for a stronger future freight network. While such investments may not show immediate results, the long-term implications are positive in building an optimized logistics network.

The NFSP will also work to eliminate restrictive regulations that put strain on the supply chain with no real benefits. There is still a deep concern for safety, so it’s unlikely there will be a change to Hours of Service rules, but it could open up opportunities for interstate and international commerce. Essentially, it wants to get rid of or re-evaluate transportation regulations that inhibit innovation or decrease efficiency.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the need for an optimized supply chain on all levels. The National Freight Strategic Plan is a great start at addressing these issues on the national level, however many other steps need to be taken in order to create a fully sustainable and optimized supply chain. We help shippers navigate these challenges by providing the custom carrier solutions they need to ensure that every shipment is optimized and that they’re aware of their contribution towards a sustainable supply chain. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Rising Costs Need to be Accompanied by Rising Service

It’s no secret that market rates for shipping have steadily increased. Due to increased production, harsh weather conditions and other effects on the market, carriers are having to adjust their pricing to accommodate these market forces. Yet while carriers are being inundated with shipment requests, shippers are finding that even though transportation costs keep rising, service levels are deteriorating. Shippers that don’t maintain any sort of relationship with their carriers are facing a falling level of service expectations, which only results in a lose-lose situation.

It is vital for carriers to provide a high level of service to their customers, providing guidance, ensuring shipments are delivered on time and communicating with their customers if anything goes wrong. What this trend shows is that when manufacturers only rely on the spot markets, they’re often found to be dealing with brokers that pair them with a company that sees the freight as “just another shipment.” Freight ends up damaged, claims need to be filed, and manufacturers have to produce replacements, all while dealing with a dissatisfied customer. It’s the all too familiar domino effect of cut-rate prices leading to cut-rate service and is not a viable long-term strategy,

As we’ve stated several times, the solution here is for manufacturers to build long-term, sustainable relationships with their carriers. These partnerships will allow both companies to provide an increased level of service to the stakeholders that get lost in these discussions on rates: the customer. Manufacturers who have partnered with their carriers have flourished through these challenging market conditions and have a much higher level of satisfaction both personally and with their customers. Once both sides go in with a partnership mindset, neither will be at the mercy of market forces.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of service better than anyone. We work hard to ensure that every shipment will arrive on time and undamaged, and we provide our customers with the custom carrier solutions that will work for their business. Whenever a customer calls our offices, they’ll speak with a person who will help however they can, never with a machine. Our customers have a higher level of satisfaction than the average carrier, but that’s because we operate at a level where premium is the standard at Zip Xpress. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Why Trusted Carriers Matter to Manufacturers

We’ve all experienced delays in shipping. Mechanical breakdowns, inclement weather, and traffic are unavoidable parts of life. Experienced manufacturing and logistics professionals understand that these are problems that they will face on a regular basis. What’s harder to understand is when these delays aren’t communicated to the customer. Sometimes, a simple phone call might be all it takes to avoid a catastrophic production line shutdown or retail storefront shortage. However, many transportation providers still seem to think that proactive communication is not an important service offering.

Large national carriers are undoubtedly successful, and they provide wide-ranging services that help many customers reach their delivery goals. Yet they experience the same inevitabilities as other carriers, and sometimes their customers suffer more because of it. When a breakdown happens, it’s likely that the customer won’t know until they call in to inquire about a delay. Larger, corporate customers will be given priority on the recovery because they provide more volume. Smaller customers simply get a new delivery date without much effort to correct the error or you’re told to check their website, only to see a product hasn’t moved in three days.

This is all part of big business, so we can’t blame these mega carriers for making decisions that help their bottom line. That said it’s important for manufacturers to remember that national carriers are not their only option. Logistics managers would be wise to build relationships with dedicated carriers who would value their business. Many of these providers know the importance of communication and will go the extra mile to ensure your satisfaction. Working with a specialized carrier will open new opportunities you may not have even realized existed, creating a more robust and effective supply chain. When something goes wrong, customers can expect to speak with a real representative who understands the issue rather than sitting through multiple phone prompts only to be told that there is no way to fix the delay.

At Zip Xpress, we understand what it takes to be a trusted carrier for our manufacturing partners. Every time a customer calls, they will speak with a person who will do whatever they can to assist with the shipment or direct the customer to someone who can help. Either way, customers who call Zip Xpress always get a person, never a machine. Our experience with our customer’s industries has familiarized us with the unique challenges associated with their freight, which is how we’re able to create a custom carrier solution for every company we partner with. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

How the Stimulus Can Help Transportation

Congress recently passed a $1.9 trillion relief bill, and it has been signed by the President. While the main focus is on the economic relief for millions of Americans and businesses, $56 billion of this is expected to go towards transportation. And while much of that will be used for airlines and public transit agencies, it is still a benefit for the domestic transportation and trucking industries. An additional $59 billion will be going to help small businesses, many of which are local and regional trucking firms.

The much-needed aid can help many smaller trucking firms who are still feeling the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. While trucking is an essential industry and drivers were able to stay on the road over the last year, many carriers still lost revenue due to losing the business of non-essential customers. While the package may not offset all of those losses, it is certainly a welcome relief for many companies and individuals.

The hope is that the stimulus will boost the economy as a whole, which should have a positive effect on the trucking industries. As more people become able to buy things, more orders will be placed, hopefully providing a boost to manufacturing across the nation. As we all know, more manufacturing means more shipments, and that is beneficial for anybody in logistics and transportation.

While the stimulus will do a lot to help logistics companies, the best way to help them is for manufacturers to partner with carriers in handling their shipments. A trusted carrier will be able to find the best solutions for any shipment, and provide your business with the best service possible. Partnering with a carrier will get your shipments where they need to go, ensuring that your customers are satisfied and you’ll be satisfied as a result.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the need for partnering with a carrier. Each of our customers is a trusted partner that we do business with, and we’re able to provide them with unmatched service through our custom carrier solutions. Every shipment with our partners is unique, but we provide our guarantee that every shipment will arrive undamaged and on time, every time. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

The Future of Sustainable Packaging

Packaging is an often-overlooked part of the supply chain. We often think of production, manufacturing, transportation, and distribution, but packaging is right up there in terms of importance. It’s assumed that every product must be placed in some sort of box, bag, bin, or container before it can be loaded onto a truck and moved around the country.

Innovations in packaging are also overlooked by many. While technological advances in robotics can create flashy headlines for trucking and manufacturing, changes in packaging are usually more subtle. However, the development of new materials and production methods requires years of research and hard work and are no less important.

Today, packaging is being made out of broken down plant fibers, which can lead to longer shelf life while being easier on the environment. Smart packaging has become more popular, helping with a wide range of packing issues from theft to supply chain replenishment. Smart packaging can also contribute to sustainability efforts as it allows manufacturers to track where packaging is being disposed of or recycled.

Yet for all of these innovations, the best packaging of all is: none. The most sustainable companies are able to utilize zero packaging when shipping their products, especially when they manufacture larger products that don’t fit neatly inside a box. It is imperative that we also seek new, innovative ways to ship without packaging for all of the companies that don’t absolutely need it.

At Zip Xpress, we encourage and assist companies in their goal towards shipping without packaging. We can advise on how companies can ship their products without packaging to ensure their contribution to a more sustainable environment. Every case will be different, which is why we advise companies through our custom carrier solutions which help companies understand how they can achieve a more sustainable supply chain. To see this for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

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!

A Great Time to be a Trucker

The world will always need truck drivers, but now may be as good of a time as ever to get into the industry. With economic optimism ramping up thanks to the new vaccination, there are bound to be plenty of shipping opportunities throughout the country. However that isn’t the only reason any interested parties should jump at the chance to get their CDL today.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced on January 29th that there would be a two-year delay on a rule that is intended to make it more difficult for entry-level drivers to obtain their CDL. Known as the Entry Level Driver Training Rule, this rule was supposed to be passed on February 7th of 2020, but last minute talks between the FMCSA and USDOT ended with an agreement to delay the rule’s implementation until 2022.

This extension allows the Training Provider Registry and individual state licensing agencies to update their systems to provide for a smoother transition when the law is enacted. The extension also means that potential new drivers can take advantage of a smaller learning curve in order to obtain their CDLs. This isn’t to say that the new requirements aren’t worthwhile – they will certainly contribute to the safety and experience of drivers in the near future – but it should signal to hopeful drivers that now might be their best window to get certified.

With so many things happening in the world of trucking – and global commerce in general – the field could become saturated rather quickly. If you’ve dreamt about life on the road, there is no better time than now to start your training – especially with the recent extension from the FMCSA. With freight orders up across the nation, you are bound to have regular, consistent work, no matter where you prefer to travel.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the desire to become a truck driver. It is a noble profession, one full of opportunity and it is these professionals who are the face of a logistics company. Their expertise, attitude and interaction with customers are vitally important, and drivers need to be treated with the utmost respect. Here at Zip Xpress, we do our best to make our drivers feel appreciated for their hard work and ensure that every customer is well cared for. To see for yourself, 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!