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!

State of Manufacturing for 2021

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

Focus on Supply Chain Collaboration

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

Sustainability Efforts Will Increase

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

Increased Focus on the Customer

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

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

Inbound vs. Outbound Freight

Most warehouses don’t just ship products out to their customers – they also receive finished goods and materials on a daily basis. While shipping and receiving operations may be similar in nature, there are many differences that set them apart. The preparation, processes, and personnel can be very different for inbound and outbound freight at any given warehouse. Once you’re aware of these differences, partnering with your carrier will become a much smoother process.

Although we often think about trucks picking up from a warehouse and shipping out, that usually can’t be done until the inbound logistics process has been completed. Even plants that put the product together cannot move forward with production until they receive raw materials or other parts that are required for the final product. In many cases, inbound shipments must stick to a stricter schedule because a missed delivery can shut an entire production line down.

Outbound freight, on the other hand, does not usually require as much just-in-time scheduling. Once the product is finished, the customer and manufacturer can agree on a delivery date ahead of time, giving both parties some wiggle room when it comes to scheduling transit. Freight handlers who are responsible for outbound shipments don’t necessarily need to stage the product right away. Inbound workers, however, must be ready to bring materials off of a truck immediately to the production line.

None of these are hard and fast rules, and there are certainly exceptions when outbound shipments must be expedited and when inbound loads have flexibility. However most freight handlers can expect a wide variance between the ways they handle outbound and inbound materials. Fortunately, we can utilize communication and collaboration to ensure that all shipments arrive on time and get out the door in an efficient manner.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that you want every shipment to be as effortless as possible. Every shipment should arrive undamaged and on time so that you can delight your customers. Communication and collaboration with your carriers can help make this possible and understanding the nuances in logistics can ensure a successful partnership. Here at Zip, we educate our customers and work to solve their problems for them, creating custom carrier solutions tailored to their needs. To see what we can do for you, start today with Zip Xpress!

How to Manage Expedited Shipments

The world of transportation is anything but predictable. Although the majority of shipments are planned ahead of time, it is inevitable that you will need to send something out at the very last minute – probably more often than you would prefer. Fortunately, we live in an age where communication is as easy as it’s ever been and where technology can help mitigate the stress of last-minute decisions. If you find yourself scrambling to get a shipment out, here are some ways you can help yourself out.

Get on the Phone – Quick!

A phone call is still the best way to see if a carrier can handle your shipment. If you can get a hold of a representative right away, you may just find a truck that can transport your shipment. Emails in this instance are ineffective since waiting for a response could mean that vehicle is already gone. The good news is that if you have partnered with a reliable carrier, then you’ll have no trouble getting in touch with someone who can help you.

Work Through Rates

If you have a time-critical shipment that absolutely cannot fail, you may not have time to focus on price. Carriers have a lot of customers they need to ensure delivery to and if you shop around for cut-rate expedited delivery, you’ll receive cut-rate service. That said, when you work with valued, long-term partners, they will accommodate you and provide great service.

Collaborate

Transportation is always a team effort, but for critical shipments, it is important to strategize and communicate with everyone – both internally and externally. Be ready to answer any questions your carrier has and make sure to provide accurate, reliable information about your freight. The more you take care of up front, the more likely you are to succeed in the end. This means keeping open lines of communication for both your customer and carrier and providing updates whenever new information is made available.

At Zip Xpress, we understand that there are instances when shipments need to be expedited. We help our customers by ensuring that anytime they call our office, they will speak with an individual right away, and won’t be forced to leave a voicemail. We can provide quotes over the phone, we don’t charge full tariff for this service and can still offer a potential discount to our customers. Our planners will work with you to find an expedited solution that works for you. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

What Mode Is Right For You?

Ground shipping seems pretty straightforward, but there are many decisions every manufacturer needs to make with every shipment. This is especially true with manufacturers whose products have an irregular shape, are larger or are in need of extra care. These shipments should not be “thrown in with the rest” in the hopes the product arrives undamaged and on time. Fortunately, we at Zip Xpress have a variety of options in these situations.

Less-Than-Truckload

Standard LTL service is used by thousands of manufacturers across the country. This is best for customers seeking a cost-effective option that does not have a critical delivery time or are prone to damage. For your smaller shipments that are running on schedule, Zip Xpress can provide superior service thanks to our methods that reduce handling by 75% over common carriers. This means less chance of damaged product arriving at your customer’s location, and that benefits everyone.

Expedited LTL

You may not usually associate LTL with time-critical shipments, but thanks to our Expedited LTL solution, we can deliver your product safely and on time without the need to dedicate an entire trailer. Whether you have experienced production line downtime or need to fulfill a last minute order for a premier customer, our expedited LTL service allows us to answer the call. We will get your shipment where it needs to go. Period.

Headload

For those “in-between” loads that could ship as LTL or truckload, our headload solution is a time-tested, reliable option that provides advantages over both modes. Headload (or partial truckload) shipping is similar to partial shipping, but you will only be paying for the space that your freight is taking up. For longer distance shipments, we employ team drivers, ensuring that every load will meet their deadlines.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of options when it comes to getting your shipments to their destination undamaged and on time. Not every shipment requires a full truckload, which is why we created our custom carrier solutions to ensure that every shipment will get to your customers. To see which custom carrier solution is right for your business, start today with Zip Xpress!

Truckers to the Rescue (Again)

Although there was plenty of bad news throughout 2020, a glimmer of hope emerged at the end of the year that may allow us the possibility of normalcy. What we’re talking about of course is the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine brings about logistical challenges, since it won’t be available for every individual – it must be distributed through a tiered system. However, we’d like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the Truck drivers stepping forward and manning the logistics of getting those vaccinations where they need to go. 2020 was a year where truck drivers proved to be as crucial on the front lines as many other professional heroes.

In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 saw a lot of hardship across the United States, as panic buying and natural disasters left store shelves ravaged and distribution centers struggling to keep up with demand. Nobody could have predicted that this would happen, but what we did know was that we would be relying on truck drivers to continue to deliver the goods that we need to survive. Our nation’s carriers certainly lived up to and even exceeded expectations. With so little time to get shipments delivered when panic hit, drivers were still able to answer the call for last-minute emergency service and keep our country moving forward in the face of adversity.

The same can be said with the rollout of the COVID vaccine, as pharmaceutical companies, medical workers, and citizens will be relying on large shipments to help get the public immunized. It won’t be an immediate fix, and there will likely be thousands of truckloads of critical vaccines in transit over the next year. Fortunately, we have a skilled, hard-working population of drivers who are willing to work the frontline, albeit behind the wheel, as the country continues the healing process.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the challenging times we live in. We also understand that there are many individuals who will rise up to those challenges – one group being the drivers that represent all of the great carriers of our nation. We believe that drivers deserve the recognition for their hard work and ensuring our logistical needs are met. If 2020 showed anything, it showed that logistics was crucial in providing stability during a time when many needed it most. We’re here to help with whatever challenges you have and to see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Happy Holidays from Zip Xpress!

2020 has been a challenging year for all of us. Yet in spite of those challenges, we found a lot to be grateful for. We’re grateful that our team rose to the challenge by providing great service to every customer and providing solutions in the midst of a pandemic. We’re grateful for our customers who collaborated and communicated with us to ensure their supply chains faced as little interruption as possible. During this holiday season we hope that you find what you’re most grateful for and are able to treasure that time together.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from Zip Xpress!

Sustaining Sustainability

Trucking and other supply chain operations were not always leaders when it came to sustainability, however many sectors of the American economy are seeing the benefits of sustainability initiatives. This is a trend that will only continue since the benefits include: cutting costs, reducing waste, and a net positive impact on the environment. By staying focused on sustainability initiatives, logistics companies can help maintain our nation’s infrastructure, reduce carbon emissions and be viewed as a shining example for the rest of the economy.

Sustainability isn’t a branding campaign that supply chains must commit to in order to improve their image. Instead, it is a cohesive strategy to lower costs, waste and increase efficiencies for the long run. While certain green efforts may require an upfront investment in resources, they will inevitably lead to reduced costs over time. In order for such efforts to be effective they require the buy-in from executives and must be put front and center for a company’s goals.

Some sustainability recommendations for logistics companies would include: creating routine maintenance schedules for all vehicles to maximize fuel efficiency. Suggest and advise ways manufacturers can reduce or better yet, eliminate packaging from all shipments. Eliminate all empty space within trailers by optimizing shipments and reducing the number of ‘empty’ trucks on the road. These are only a handful of steps companies can take in creating sustainability initiatives. By creating your own, the logistics sector can make an incredible impact towards sustainability and set an example for the American economy to follow.

At Zip Xpress, we understand the necessity of sustainability initiatives and strive to do our best in this area. All of our services are directed towards eliminating packaging, reducing space within our trailers and providing customers with Carbon Summary Reports which show the amount of carbon emissions a customer has eliminated. These are only a few examples of the ways we sustain sustainability, and to see the rest for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!