domestic freight service

Autonomous Trucks and the Future of Logistics

In Early February, San Francisco based tech startup Embark successfully completed a cross-country trip using an automated truck. The test run, which hauled an empty trailer from Los Angeles, CA to Jacksonville, FL, is said to be the first coast-to-coast trip involving an autonomous big rig. It still took the standard 5 day transit time, as there was a driver in the unit ready to take over if the vehicle experienced problems at any time. The goal for Embark, however, is to build upon this technology so that human interaction will not be needed for any of the highway driving – only for the final miles of the delivery as well as local and city driving. Too see their truck at work, watch the video below.

Embark is still probably several years away from their goal of completely driverless trucks. Still, there is much to be learned from their current success. The aforementioned truck used was a modified Peterbilt that was outfitted with sensors and guided by self-driving software. This means that for owner-operators and trucking companies with vehicles already on the road, purchasing entire new fleets may not be necessary to get into the autonomous game. With at least several years to go before reliable driverless trucks will be introduced, this would be one way to stay ahead of the competition in a rapidly changing industry.

The development of autonomous trucks does not mean the end of driving jobs as we know them. In fact, it could mean the opposite. As mentioned earlier, self-driving units currently require someone behind the wheel to monitor the truck and watch for disengagements. This could mean we’ll see a boom in tech-forward thinkers who want to be part of this revolution and experience the open road. Even down the line, with autonomous trucks potentially making cross-country trips in 2 days rather than 5, we will need more final mile and local drivers than ever before. With e-commerce driving the demand for just-in-time delivery, we will see an influx of freight which will in turn drive the demand for these jobs.

Here at Zip Xpress we’re always focused on staying ahead in innovation and state of the art technology. With expedited LTL services and inventive Headload solutions to optimize space, Zip Xpress has rapidly become a preferred carrier for high-profile companies across the nation. The team at Zip Xpress are constantly trying to stay ahead of the curve and and continually finding fresh new ideas to achieve higher customer satisfaction ratings. To increase your shipping satisfaction, start today with Zip Xpress!


Building a Community Through Giving Back

We do a lot here at Zip Xpress.

We’re really proud to provide best-in-class LTL carrier solutions and help our customers simplify their delivery experience. However, ensuring that we make the time to give back is just as important to us. No matter how busy we are or what business goals we are driving towards, we operate while actively think about how we can have a positive impact on our communities.

So, why does Zip Xpress equally weigh both customers and community?

I’ve always seen the value of building the community work. Myself, along with my husband, an ex-Marine, have been involved with Folds of Honor, an organization that provides scholarships for children and spouses of fallen or disabled soldiers. Further, I found that volunteering and making charitable contributions was actually a passion of mine and I wanted to share those fun and energetic experiences with the rest of the team. That’s why I’ve always encouraged the Zip Xpress team to get involved with nonprofits and charitable activities.

Over the years, Zip Xpress has been involved with the Make A Wish annual walk, both as donors and participants. We rally together and get deeply involved in both raising funds as individuals, as well as participating in company-run fundraisers. Together, we’ve been the number one Corp fundraiser for nine years – and we’ve had fun while doing it.

I am so proud to work with such amazing people and to be part of a company that is powered by the top minds and kindest hearts. We also take this one step further by ensuring that at the core of our business, Zip Xpress operates at the intersection of innovation and sustainability.

Zip Xpress was built around eliminating wasteful partial trailers and we do everything we can to minimize the amount of partial trailers on highways which is our way of helping to conserve resources. We are also committed to creating more jobs and, so far, I think we’ve really succeeded in both of these aspects.

We’re looking forward to continuing to bring communities together and to give back. Whether it’s through how we operate our business or our extra curricular activities, the Zip Xpress team always tries to embody what it means to make the world a better place. Does this sound like something you can get on board with? 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!

Respect truck drivers

Road Warriors: The Adventurous Life of Long-Haul Truck Drivers

Driving a truck across the country is not an easy task. Days can be long, routes can be difficult, and weather conditions can be grueling. It is, however, an extremely rewarding and inspiring experience for those bold individuals who take up the profession. There are new places to visit, people to meet, and obstacles to conquer. For a person looking for independence, excitement, and fulfillment, driving a truck can be the perfect career.

Traveling to every state at least once is a lifelong goal for many Americans, but this ambition often goes unfulfilled. Work, time and financial constraints alone can make it an unrealistic objective for many. But this is not the case for truck drivers. They get paid to drive anywhere that requires delivery of goods; that is to say, all of the continental United States (and sometimes even Alaska)! Some stretches can be long and monotonous, but the unbridled natural beauty that inevitably shows up throughout America makes it all worthwhile.

There are many challenges on and off the road for truck drivers, but they are more than ready to take them on. A driver may get bad or outdated directions from his dispatcher, and in an area with poor signal, be forced to take navigation matters into his own hands. This may sound like a pain to some, but to an experienced truck driver, it is a natural talent and a satisfying victory when the destination is found. Upon arrival, the driver may find himself having to back into a tight dock from a busy street – certainly a daunting task to the uninitiated. A skilled driver, however, sees this as another learning experience with rewarding results.

The adventure of the open road is one of the prime allures of becoming a driver. If scheduled correctly, a trucker can traverse all of the mainland states in just a few months. It’s hard work, but the gratification of finishing a long route can not be overstated, and the benefits of independently traveling the country are tremendous. Some people enjoy the comfort of an office job, but for the venturesome and determined traveler, life behind the wheel is a fruitful life indeed. To learn more about how our hard working drivers can serve you, go to Zip Xpress and get started today!

Touch truckers

No Cubicles Here – Step Inside the Office of a Truck Driver

Imagine finishing a late day of work at the office, logging off your computer, and securing a spot about five feet away from your desk to retire to for the night. The next morning you wake up, grab a cup of coffee, and sit down at your desk to get back to work. Imagine doing this for three weeks at a time before finally heading home. A few days later, it’s back to the office.

For most people, this may seem to be an impossible task to take on, but every morning millions of industrious truck drivers are willing to answer the call. A driver’s cab is his office, the dashboard his desk, and the road his daily task. Drivers can be on the road for up to 11 hours a day, riding through rain, sleet, extreme cold, and snowstorms. These conditions may seem daunting, but drivers have unwavering work ethic and determination. They are the backbone of our nation’s supply chain, and truly deserve to be some of the most appreciated workers in our country.

Drivers, especially those new to the open road, don’t always get paid proportionally to the number of hours they put in. Consider that they sleep in their cab and eat and shower at truck stops. Still, once they wake up with fresh hours, they carry on without complaint and push forward to their destination until they once again are legally required to shut down. Once that freight has been delivered, they eagerly head to the next shipper, ready and willing to travel to wherever that shipment may take them. It requires patience and perseverance to carry out these deliveries, and fortunately those are qualities inherent to truck drivers.

Many of us don’t think about the person driving the truck when we are passing them on the highway, but we should be thankful for them. They are the safest, hardest working, and most professional drivers on the road. They spend weeks away from their families delivering the freight that keeps our families fed and sheltered. While a truck driver’s portable office may be far from traditional, the man or woman inside is one of the key components of our economy. To learn more about how our drivers can service you, contact Zip Xpress today!

Ugly Freight

Unique Freight in Grand Rapids

Whether your freight is too big, too small, too heavy or too light, too dangerous or just plain awkward, it’s unique. It’s what drives your business It might not fit in a pallet space or in a box but it’s just as important as the standard box and pallet freight.   

Often times carriers avoid your unique freight because it does require special attention. Too small and it may require “inefficient” handling. Too large and it may need special equipment to handle the weight. Too big and it won’t fit nicely with other freight and transport assets. Does the phrase, “If it fits it ships” ring a bell?

Sometimes it doesn’t fit but it still needs to ship. Whether you’re shipping fragile computer or IT equipment, uncrated machinery or hazardous chemicals, it has to go where it’s needed. Most shippers choose not to deal in your unique shipping requirements because it’s not “easy.” Most things worth doing aren’t easy.

Fortunately for you Zip Xpress appreciates your unique freight Grand Rapids. Zip Xpress Inc. has a unique and user friendly business model that makes the tired old excuse of “inefficient” outdated. Zip Xpress has more options compared to the hub and spoke, break-bulk model which allows us to handle your unique freight more efficiently, reducing handling by 75%.   

But how do you know Zip Xpress can handle your unique freight? It’s a valid concern and one they welcome. Your freight is valuable above and beyond its dollar value. It’s your company’s reputation. It’s the difference between meeting expectations and exceeding expectations. Zip Xpress has the credibility and capability to help.

How do they know? Don’t take their word for it. Zip Xpress’ track record speaks for itself. They don’t have satisfied customers. They have raving fans. Customers used to look for the cheapest price per route but now they look for strategic alliances.

Let our alliance help you create raving fans. Zip Xpress helps businesses all over the Greater Grand Rapids area get their unique freight where it needs to go when it needs to be there.

Robotics Manufacturing

The Manufacturing Road Ahead

Predictions indicate that robotics and automation will make a huge impression on the global workforce in 2018.  Likewise, these modern trends will certainly have an impact on the manufacturing industry in Michigan. From smart machines, to smart technology, breakthroughs in science, automation, robotics and other manufacturing technologies will allow for a new era in the workforce. This new workforce, now more than ever, will include expensive, delicate, and fragile pieces of computerized machinery.

Other trends that continue to impact the nation is the movement among manufacturers and industries to Go Green. Every sustainable measure taken helps the world around us in some way. Zip Xpress prides itself on being part of the Responsible Green Manufacturing Movement by focusing and directing attention toward not only what they can do within their company to be more sustainable, but what they can do to assist your company in being more sustainable as well. Additionally, Zip Xpress is built around eliminating wasteful partial trailers; they strive to keep partial trailers off the nation’s highways and in doing so, save energy and protect our environment. There’s a famous quote that reads “Try to Leave the World a Better Place Than When You Arrived.”  This, in a nutshell, is what Zip Xpress does every single day!

Whether your manufacturing company specializes in robotics, batteries, furniture, conveyors or conveyor systems, Zip Xpress wants to network with you to get your products where they need to go! They’re watching out for you, and know that all who participate in the manufacturing industry are part of one big team who rely on each other.

The professional team at Zip Xpress has provided a superior overall experience for Michigan shippers since August of 2001. They have the knowledge and expertise to ensure that all of that sensitive machinery will arrive undamaged, and on time as scheduled. Their premier Blanket Wrap Service is a great investment when considering the transport of fragile products and equipment that must be handled and moved in a delicate manner. Some of the highlights of the Blanket Wrap Service offered by Zip Xpress include the following:

  • 15 Years of successful Blanket Wrap LTL service
  • All Blanket Wrap is direct door-to-door delivery
  • Clean 100% air-ride logistic trailers
  • Appointment delivery available
  • All pieces labeled and identified
  • Professionally trained freight handlers
  • Team service available

Additionally, Zip Xpress Inc. is one of the few time-specific LTL carriers providing commercial LTL Blanket Wrap service to markets in the West Coast, Southwest, Southeast, East Coast, and New England. Give them a call at 800-889-8583 or go to their website and click the Start Today Button!

zip xpress

Challenges and Trends of West Michigan Furniture Manufacturers for 2018

Over the past year optimism in the future of the manufacturing industry has reached new highs. Tax reform and a pro-business environment have increased confidence in the economy strengthening the labor market and bringing unemployment down to 4.1%, the lowest rate since 2000. While the current growth is slow overall, wages have risen by 2.5% over the past year, and increases among low-income earners outpaced those with high-paying jobs. According to Elise Gould, Senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, both of these benchmarks are signs of a stable economy.

The manufacturing industry has shown significant gains this decade, adding nearly 200,000 jobs in 2017 alone. The industry has increased its workforce by over a million employees since 2009 and reached the highest employment levels since the end of the Great Recession that same year.

Consumer confidence in the economy and its continued growth, along with increased job creation in manufacturing, has given U.S. furniture manufacturers reason to remain enthusiastic about future sales predictions. This optimism is especially welcome in communities such as Grand Rapids, Michigan, which has a history of furniture manufacturing that dates back to the early 19th century. Grand Rapids and the surrounding area is host to over 150 furniture companies, an additional 225 suppliers, and employs more than 15,000 workers in the industry.

While the furniture industry in the U.S. is expected to grow in the future, manufacturers must respond to a changing marketplace and changes in the retail buying habits of U.S. consumers. Manufacturers will face new challenges as the retail market continues to change, and those that remain well informed of current trends will increase their ability to capitalize on the opportunities the current economic situation offers.

Increased Renting and Smaller Households

Pew Research Center statistics show that in 2016, 36.6% of families rented their home, the highest in over 50 years. Renters are more inclined to invest in lower cost furniture and have also fueled the growth of furniture rental companies. Apartment dwellers also have to deal with space restrictions, limiting the size and types of furniture that fit the space.

Changing Demographics

Current data suggest that single-person households will increase over the next decade as many millennials delay the decision to start a household. Even with a lower disposable income and more debt, millennials accounted for 37% of the furniture and bedding market in 2014 and have demonstrated a willingness to support sustainable products, even at premium prices.

Online Retailing

The internet has dramatically changed consumer buying habits, becoming a preferred shopping platform for many people. Online retail shopping has given consumers nearly endless options when it comes to any product, and furniture is no exception. The presence and influence of virtual stores will continue to grow and is a challenge that furniture manufacturers must address.

Manufacturers can respond to these consumer needs by developing lines of low-cost furniture, as well as space saving and multi-purpose pieces designed for smaller living spaces. A push for the manufacture of sustainable products and a well thought out online strategy will open up untapped markets. Manufacturers that embrace technology and available services such as professional web design, less than load (LTL) freight, and sustainable practices will grow and prosper in the coming years.

To learn how Zip Xpress can handle your LTL Freight needs in Grand Rapids, contact us today!

e-commerce and logistics

E-Commerce and Sustainability in Logistics

The latter part of 2017 was characterized by robust growth in the e-commerce sector, with many stores offering holiday discounts from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday. Statistics obtained during this period indicate that consumers in the US alone spent more than 19.62 billion dollars within the five-day shopping period.  This marked a 15 percent increase (equivalent to 2.6 billion dollars) compared to the same period in 2016.

A survey conducted during this period showed that more than 64 million Americans participated in the shopping frenzy. Out of this number, 58 million shoppers chose to shop online as opposed to physical stores. With such a high number of people shopping online, what does this mean for effective sustainability efforts, given all the shipping that had to be done during this period alone?

Traditionally, sustainability has always been applied by ascertaining that operations don’t have a negative environmental impact. Nevertheless, in a bid to achieve sustainability, many actions have revolved around reducing instead of eliminating factors associated with environmental concerns. As an alternative, a viable solution in the transport sector ought to focus on enhancing the individual movements of goods in a bid to make transportation more efficient. Given that shippers may not be in a position to control the manner in which products are shipped from one location to another, there is a need to take a look at how sustainability can lower the carbon footprint left behind by firms.

Reduction of Emissions

Reducing emissions should take priority as transportation involves the shipment of goods from location to location. Today, many vehicles are running on fossil fuels, but the implementation of a green solution in the fleet can assist in making a difference in the carbon footprints left behind by the shippers. Transportation experts need to take measures to reduce the total number of miles that are traveled in a bid to reduce the emissions to the environment.

Enhancing Customer Awareness

The modern consumer is very conscious of the products they buy, as well as the packaging it arrives in. Consumers don’t want excess packaging, and they want the product packed with recyclable materials. Social media advancement has made it easier to share information on company operations, making it important to maintain a proper image by ensuring that you are honest and you play an active role in helping achieve a future that is more sustainable. Failure to be transparent has led to numerous businesses facing a backlash from their clients. The clientele wants to know whether the people they are buying from actually care about the environment and is they are taking measures to enhance environmental sustainability.

Are you looking to play a part in environmental sustainability? Zip Xpress can help recycle air in underutilized shipment trailers for vendors based in Michigan. Contact us today!

West Michigan Shipping

6 Reasons to Select a Custom Carrier Instead of a 3PL Provider

Your company’s reputation and prosperity hinge upon your ability to deliver your products swiftly and accurately. With the expertise of an accomplished custom carrier, you will increase your percentage of timely deliveries while conserving costs and resources. Below are six strategies to help you find the right custom carrier for your business.

1) Seek a well-connected carrier that can add value to your business. Choosing a custom carrier that can offer innovative solutions is vital to helping your company grow. As you compare potential partners, ask them about the technology they use to increase delivery efficiency and accuracy while controlling costs for clients. Top custom carriers will be eager to share their strategies for efficiency.

2) Ask potential providers how they can help you consolidate your shipments. This strategy will help your company maximize time, resources, and profit margin. In addition to preventing loading dock congestion, you can save on fuel charges and other shipping costs.

3) Select a custom carrier with a desirable location. Before committing to a carrier, take a look at your customer base to determine whether your customers are concentrated in a particular area of the country. Also, if you have customers in Canada or other countries, you should ensure that you choose a carrier with a location in the northern region of the United States to facilitate shipments.

4) Choose a carrier who will listen to your goals and objectives. Selecting a partner who is interested in helping you achieve your goals is critical. The custom carrier you seek should be readily accessible and responsive to your requests.

5) Be sure to provide sufficient information when requesting an estimate. This measure helps to ensure that you are comparing apples to apples when evaluating carriers. For instance, if a customer requires lift-gate and inside delivery before 3:00 P.M., be sure to note this on your request.

6) Ensure that your custom carrier has the scalability to handle future growth. As you evaluate potential carriers, be sure to outline your plans for future growth and confirm that prospective partners have the resources to grow alongside your company.

The Bottom Line

Finding a trusted custom carrier for your business is the key to minimizing delivery errors and optimizing customer satisfaction. At Zip Xpress, we think that every customer deserves to receive their orders safely, securely, and ahead of schedule. In addition to offering scalability, freight consolidation, and personalized service, Zip Xpress offers a plethora of solutions designed to facilitate delivery of your orders quickly and efficiently. We encourage you to contact our team of industry experts to learn why Zip Xpress is Michigan’s top provider of custom carrier solutions.