Stranded and Diverted: How Extreme Weather Disrupted Deliveries Across the West Coast

While this has been one of the oddest winters in recent memory for Michigan, our snowfall troubles pale in comparison to the mountain snow and high winds that were experienced in the Western part of the United States. This has been especially true in Wyoming, one of many states on the I-80 highway that we use to deliver shipments to the West Coast. While closures occur during the winter months, this year there has been a large uptick in the number of closures, including a period where the interstate was closed indefinitely which left drivers stranded for days with no safe route out of the area. 

Extreme wind has been the primary culprit, since it doesn’t take much snow to create drifts that make a highway impassable, even on the interstate. On top of that, wind gusts of over 50 mph cause an extreme risk of semis toppling over, especially if they don’t have enough weight loaded in their trailers. While I-80 is one of the main veins to the West, many trucks have had to be diverted to I-90, I-70 or I-40. However in the month of February there was a period when all four of these major highways were closed due to high winds. We here at Zip Xpress were able to make deliveries, but only by sending trucks all the way to Interstate 10 which had our trucks going through Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in order to make deliveries in California.

Heavy snowfall in the mountains has also made travel extremely hazardous where at one point meteorologists were begging people to stay off of mountain roads. During the winter there is a section of the road called Donner’s Pass and it’s the only place trucks can drive through in order to get into Northern California. Yet Donner’s pass has been experiencing record snowfall, even to the tune of 44 inches in one day back on March 1st. (For those who may be curious, a link to their snowfall tracker can be found here) This pass can close at a moment’s notice due to high winds or heavy snowfall, creating a maze through the mountains that carriers must navigate through in order to keep their drivers, equipment and freight safe from the weather.

While Zip Xpress is able to divert our fleet to other interstate highways in order to get shipments to their destination on time and undamaged, we must also keep in mind the safety and well being of other drivers as they try to navigate this winter environment. Just because the weather doesn’t look bad outside our window doesn’t mean that another part of the country isn’t experiencing rough weather conditions that drivers must navigate in order to make their deliveries. The safety of a driver is far more important than the contents of a shipment, especially when storms are hitting harder than ever.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of getting your shipments to their destination on time and undamaged, even in the midst of turbulent weather conditions. It’s why we devised our storm diversion solution which utilizes alternative routes that avoid road closures and harsh weather conditions. It allows us to reliably deliver all of our shipments on time, no matter what. To utilize this solution or see what other solutions we can offer you, start today with Zip Xpress!

Storm Proof Shipping Solutions

Weather can have a significant impact on the logistics industry. Storms can cause considerable delays and even possible damage to cargo due to closed roads or slippery conditions. When shipping your products, it is vital to choose a carrier that has a plan in place to minimize the impact that weather can have on your delivery schedule. Unfortunately, many carriers do not have a program in place that diverts their trucks in transit in order to avoid weather delays. This is where choosing the right carrier can make all the difference in getting your shipment to its destination on time and undamaged, especially when the weather looks hazardous.

Here at Zip Xpress, we’re constantly monitoring traffic and weather conditions nationwide and coordinating with our drivers to adjust routes when absolutely necessary. If we see a closed road or hazardous weather conditions on the horizon, we will divert our trucks on a different route to avoid these conditions. Our ability to adjust routes provides your business with additional flexibility and better quality of service while also protecting our drivers from unnecessary risk. Even if it means going a 1000 miles out of route to avoid severe weather, we will do so to ensure all shipments in our care will arrive on time and undamaged.

Another reason why we’re able to adapt to adverse weather conditions better than most carriers is because we’re able to utilize a network of repair trucks and facilities located across the country. This way if one of our trucks experiences a mechanical breakdown we’re able to get it repaired right away. Expanding on this, if our tractor cannot be fixed in a timely manner, we will request an immediate sub-truck to be put on the road, ensuring that any delays are minimal and that your freight will arrive at its destination on time, period.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of keeping your freight moving, even in hazardous weather conditions. That’s why we developed our storm diversion program as well as our fleet maintenance program. These two methods were developed to provide exceptional and reliable transportation service to our customers, because we know that they deserve only the best. These two programs are an example of the custom carrier solutions that we can provide to all of our shippers. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Revolutionizing Supply Chain Design: An Article for Forward-Thinking Executives

While it depends on the company, supply chains can often be seen as an area that may not be worthy of an executive’s attention. Or worse the executives are only to be called when something has gone terribly wrong with the supply chain. Yet such ignorance doesn’t allow companies to build a dynamic supply chain. In order to create a dynamic supply chain, a deep-rooted relationship must be fostered by the executives within each organization, creating a mutually beneficial partnership that is focused on win-win solutions.

The first area in building this dynamic supply chain is understanding how much impact the supply chain has on the operations and the profitability for your company. While the goal is not to simply find faults or areas to improve, a concentrated effort needs to be made at finding real solutions when it comes to designing your supply chain. This is why working with an experienced carrier can help you optimize your supply chain, finding areas in both organizations and creating efficiencies that will help bring more satisfied customers to your doorstep.

The second area is to not be afraid to challenge assumptions and current methods involved in running the supply chain. While managing the supply chain is a highly technical process, there are often areas that can be improved. Asking questions and suggesting creative solutions will help foster real innovation that can be used going forward. Oftentimes many companies assume they can do it all without outside assistance when in reality they may truly benefit from the experience and expertise of a dedicated carrier. Test whether your supply chain is being run on facts or assumptions and then question any assumptions to find better solutions.

The final area is for executives to ask where they can deploy resources to ensure their supply chain is an asset rather than a ‘sinking cost.’ While many businesses will hesitate to take risks in developing their supply chain, those ‘risks’ will inevitably provide an immediate return on investment due to your ability to deliver goods faster and bring more satisfaction to your customers. A smoother supply chain experience will allow your business to grow due to customer satisfaction. When customers are delighted by how your supply chain fulfills their needs, they’ll inevitably tell others, which will help your business grow.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the need for executives to design their supply chain. While this may be a daunting task, we work very closely with our customers to build a supply chain that will help them grow their business, rather than just provide transportation services. We also work with our customers to devise custom carrier solutions for all of their shipping challenges, ensuring that all of their goods will be delivered on time and undamaged. Our dedication to service will leave you and your customers delighted, because we work with your customers to deliver all of their shipments in a timeframe that works for them. To see this for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Investing and Protecting in Your Industrial Robots

A recent report from the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), North American companies ordered 44,196 robots in 2022 which represented an increase of 11% over 2021 which set a new record in order volume. While orders in many industries slowed over the course of the past three years, more than 50% of these sales from 2021 came from the automotive industry. The investment in these automation machines comes at a time when many OEMs are pledging an increase in production of electric vehicles.

Yet while a majority of sales are being made to automotive manufacturers, there were still steady increases in sales from a number of industries, including: electronics & semiconductors, agriculture, construction and even retail. Multiple issues exist for manufacturers in regards to production, which include the procurement of materials as well as labor challenges. Automation technologies hold the promise to help alleviate these issues, keeping plants efficient by maintaining a standard level of production. However, there is still one challenge faced by all companies looking to add industrial robotics to their factory floor that is rarely addressed.

The key challenge that is rarely addressed when companies are making their decision on whether or not to purchase an industrial robot is: how will they get delivered? Getting industrial robots to your dock requires the expertise of a specialized carrier who has the capabilities of shipping such fragile freight. There is nothing worse to the manufacturer of one of these machines being shipped to the customer, only to find it arrived damaged due to the negligence of the carrier. This in turn causes a domino effect.

For starters, there is returning the machine and submitting a claim to the carrier for damages. Then the manufacturer has to take the machine back and make repairs or produce a new unit before it can be sold. This will prove challenging in the best of times, however electronics are suffering from high demand and low supply, which magnifies these challenges. Finally, the result of this process (which could easily take weeks, if not months) will result in the greatest damage of all: loss of trust between industrial robot manufacturers and their customers. Don’t allow your business to fall victim to a neglectful carrier, work with an experienced carrier that is capable of handling your unique freight and will get it to its destination on time and undamaged.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of getting your industrial robots to their destination on time and undamaged. We’re here to help you in coordinating your delivery, whether that be for pickup or dropoff and we’ll work with you and your customers on a schedule that works best for your businesses. Our experienced freight handlers will handle your shipments with care and experience, ensuring that every shipment will arrive undamaged while our friendly drivers will get it there on time with a smile on their face. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

Shipping is About People

It’s easy to get lost in the sea of data when it comes to shipping. Between spot rates, contract rates, percentages, fees and a variety of other numbers, it’s easy for manufacturers to believe they’re just a number to a carrier. The flip side is also true, it can be difficult for manufacturers to see their carriers as being little more than a line on their financial statements called “transportation expenses.”

Yet in order for all of us to create a dynamic supply chain, one that can grow all of the businesses involved, we would do well to remember that shipping is all about people. There are people who build/grow the physical products. There are people who package and prepare these products for distribution. There are people who handle these shipments and move them aboard for transit. There are people who drive these shipments, overcoming long distances and numerous hurdles to get them to their destination. Then there are people who unload these shipments from the dock, unbox/unpack them and ready them for the final person: the end customer who will use these products for their intended purpose.

In every step of the way, there are people working on, with or handling every shipment as it makes its way through the supply chain. The supply chain creates jobs, feeds families and gets goods into the hands of the people that need them. While it is vital to remember that shipping is made of people, we’d also do well to remember the businesses that provide exceptional service. The individuals who show care and concern for your shipments are the people who want to help your business succeed. Exceptional service means fewer damaged products and fewer dissatisfied customers which means a more reliable supply chain they can order from in the future. The end result of this? A business that grows thanks to the power of their supply chain. But not only does your company grow, all of your stakeholders will grow as well, creating a cycle of success and a legacy that will endure.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand that shipping is all about people. We work hard to provide exceptional customer service to all of the organizations we have the privilege of working with. Our experienced freight handlers will treat your shipments with care, providing precision as we optimize every shipment that is in our care. Our staff is also willing to help you with any shipping needs you may have and we guarantee that we have a custom carrier solution that is right for your business. It’s because of this willingness to serve that we’ve been able to maintain a 99% satisfaction rating with all of our customers for more than 20 years. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

A Strong Supply Chain Will Make Your Plant Nursery Bloom

Michigan’s plant nursery industry is one of the largest in the nation, with a bright future ahead of it. Our favorable climate, ample rainfall and fertile soil make Michigan an ideal location  for growing a variety of plants, trees, and shrubs. The industry has also been boosted by the increasing popularity of gardening and landscaping, which provides a fresh look to the outdoors, relieves stress and increases happiness by helping to improve air quality.

Yet one of the greatest challenges for plant nurseries is getting their plants to their customers without harming the plant itself. Plants require a certain temperature in order to thrive and nurseries even have a percentage of plants they expect to not arrive at the destination. There’s also ‘timing’ the shipment, which means that nurseries have to know the weather conditions and determine the ‘right’ time to send out their product. All of these factors make shipping more a game of chance, especially when shipping dry. There are solutions that help such as masterboxes, which provide insulation, but they’re still a far from ideal solution when it comes to plant care.

One of the ideal solutions for plant nurseries is to ship in a temperature controlled trailer which ranges from 35 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit, creating an optimal temperature for most plant species. This will also eliminate the need for masterboxes as well as the games of chance with your shipment. Your plants will arrive healthy and hydrated, helping you profit more from your plants and reduce or even eliminate the number of those that don’t make it. Don’t leave your plant shipments up to chance, especially this time of year when the temperatures can swing on a dime. Utilize a temperature controlled trailer to protect your plants and watch your business bloom like the flowers in your customer’s gardens.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of keeping your plants safe. Plant nurseries should not have to play games of chance when it comes to getting their plants to their customers. They should be able to ship with confidence that their plants will arrive healthy and hydrated at the customer’s dock. We have provided our temperature controlled trailer solution to a number of reputable plant nurseries for several years and this has helped all of them grow their business and provide them with the peace of mind that their plant shipments will arrive on time and undamaged. To see how we can help your plant nursery bloom, start today with Zip Xpress!

Recalibrating Our Fee Structure

Every year we here at Zip Xpress have to perform an adjustment to our fee structure. While this is common practice across the industry, many manufacturers are likely to experience an increase in their transportation fees, primarily due to the increase in costs associated with shipping products. While our hope is to increase these fees as little as possible, we cannot deny that we have experienced an increase in our cost structures just like every other business as well as the average consumer.

The cost of the materials we use to provide you with great service have gone up dramatically over the past two years. Just one of our load bars would cost $29 at the end of 2021. Now we’re fortunate if we can find them for $45 a bar which is a drastic 55% increase. Diesel prices have risen at a much faster rate than gasoline and while they have remained stable for this winter, there are no signs that they’re likely to decrease in the near future. Other costs have risen as well across the industry – tractors & trailer leases (27.8%), as well as insurance. Maintenance supplies, forklift leases, and labor costs are all 53.5% higher too. This doesn’t even mention the occasional shortage experienced when it comes to these vital supplies.

Yet while we need to adjust our fee structure, we do this to continue providing our customers with the best service possible. Our focus is on investing in the essential equipment as well as people that we need in order to ensure that every shipment we tender will arrive on time and undamaged. Our commitment to providing you with the best service possible still stands, and we share these adjustments in the hope of keeping your trust by providing you with the transparency you deserve. At a time when there is so much uncertainty, you can be assured that Zip Xpress will continue to provide you with the best service a carrier can provide.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of transparency and great customer service. All of our efforts go into providing great service for our customers, ensuring that their shipments will arrive undamaged and on time every time. We’re here to help you with all of your transportation needs, creating the custom carrier solutions that will help your supply chain grow, as well as a safe delivery of your products. This dedication to our customers shows in our results – where we’ve been able to maintain a 99% customer satisfaction rating for more than 20 years. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

The State of Automation for 2023

The State of Automation for 2023 continues to be a promising area in the coming future for manufacturers. The promise of increasing productivity while assisting manufacturers in overcoming their greatest challenges still holds true and many organizations are looking to expand the implementation of these machines onto the shop floor. While automation did experience a (slight) setback for 2022, we’ll see that this was an anomaly, not a reversal. 2023 holds tremendous potential for the implementation of automation technologies.

Automation Installations are Still on the Rise

An IFR World Robotics Report stated that industrial robot installations reached an all time high in 2021. Installations from 2015 through 2021 have more than doubled. While there was a slowdown that occurred throughout 2022, the reason for this was due to global uncertainties and part shortages, not a lack of demand. With supply chains becoming more consistent, 2023 looks to be a promising year for automation installations due to the challenges many manufacturers face when it comes to production. Organizations are making investments into automation their top priority in an effort to fulfill demand as well as increase productivity while also controlling costs. Automation is becoming a need more than a want, and the only thing holding manufacturers back are budgets.

Robotics as a Service

While automation technology holds incredible potential to help manufacturers in addressing their production challenges, one of the biggest hurdles for implementation is the cost of these machines. Purchasing an entire production line of robots requires a substantial financial investment, one that many companies may not be able to afford at the moment. This has given rise to Robots as a Service where manufacturers can ‘lease’ these robots for production and use them for smaller production runs. This presents a more affordable solution to a wider range of companies, but this also presents additional shipping challenges in getting these robots from their manufacturing base to the customers. This will truly highlight the importance of partnering with a reliable carrier that is experienced in transporting these valuable machines with care.

Preservation of Units

Speaking of transporting robotic units with care, while there is ‘less’ of a shortage of the individual parts that construct these automation machines, this means that many manufacturers are looking to reduce the risk of damage occurring while transporting these machines. With the challenges of securing parts fresh in their memory, many of these companies don’t want to spend any additional time on repairs than is absolutely necessary. This is why many automation companies are looking to carriers who can provide them with the exceptional service necessary to ensure that these valuable machines arrive on the production floor on time and undamaged. Many automation companies are looking to protect their products from damage, especially when the needs of their customers are at stake.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of protecting these valuable automation machines from the hazards of transport. We work diligently with you and your customers to find the right solutions necessary when it comes to getting these machines to the customer’s dock on time and undamaged. We have devised a number of custom carrier solutions that will protect your products at all times while they’re in our care. While you build the factory of the future, we’ll be there to help you protect it. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!

The State of Plant Nurseries for 2023

One of the industries that we have had the privilege of expanding into providing solutions for would be the Garden & Plant Nursery Industry. Plant nurseries have a real need for additional care in getting their shipments to their destination undamaged since these plants are alive and are sensitive to temperature. This week, we’re highlighting some of the trends of plant nurseries for 2023 and how these trends will affect your business.

Gardening is Good for the Mind

There is no shortage of studies which state that gardening is good for mental health. Other studies have shown that being around and caring for plants helps reduce stress, which has been vital for many people over the past few years. This trend has shown no signs of slowing down, as people and offices want more plants in these spaces. The demand is so great that many plants which aren’t even traditional houseplants are being brought inside. Expect a diverse range of orders this year and develop a transport plan that will protect these plants until they get to their destination.

New Victorian Style

While the result is likely from popular television series set in Victorian Britain, there has been a remarkable resurgence in demand for roses, hydrangeas and lilacs. Many gardeners are in search of the ‘cottage look’ for their gardens and they’re returning to plants they likely saw in their mothers or grandmothers gardens. Expect an increase in demand for all of these inherently delicate flowers, with a plan to ensure their safe transport so that they’re ready for planting this spring.

Temperature Controlled Transport

The latest trend for plant nurseries from our perspective is that many nurseries are looking to reduce the loss they experience from shipping their plants ‘dry,’ that is on a truck without any form of protection. Nurseries aren’t just looking to minimize their losses, many are looking to eliminate them altogether. Nurseries have been turning to temperature controlled trailers which provide the optimal temperature for all of the plants inside the trailer, rather than gambling against the elements or hoping for protection within a masterbox. A temperature controlled trailer helps eliminate unnecessary damage to the plants and is a far more sustainable solution in the long run for nurseries.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of helping your customers develop a beautiful garden. That’s why we provide nurseries with a variety of solutions that will help their plants get to their destination on time and undamaged. We can provide a temperature controlled service from the time of pickup until the plant’s arrival at its destination or we can even provide temperature control for the entire duration your plants are within our care. These solutions will help ensure your plants will arrive hydrated and healthy, right on time for spring planting. To see all of the custom carrier solutions that we can provide your nursery, start today with Zip Xpress!

Office Furniture & Working From Home

Last week, we created our state of the industry to provide our partners in the office furniture sector a glimpse into the trends that we believe will be affecting their business in 2023. There was one area that while we knew it was part of a larger trend, it was an area that we wanted to address as its own article due to the unique nature of shipping.

The trend is: working from home and its impact on office furniture shipments

As many associates and organizations develop work from home policies that work for their businesses, a trend we’ve noticed is there has been a rise in smaller furniture orders requiring shipment to residential addresses. This is no doubt due to a desire to provide a better work from home experience by having office furniture shipped directly to a valued associate’s home office. While this trend has admirable intentions, it has proven to be a tricky challenge to navigate for many carriers. The reason why it’s so tricky? Many may not realize that we as carriers can only deliver using semi trucks, and it can be quite a surprise for everyone when one of our semi trucks arrives at a residential address for a delivery.

These shipments to residential addresses put a lot of strain on carriers compared to deliveries to a commercial building with a dock. Shipments to residential addresses will likely incur additional fees based on the carrier, and oftentimes carriers can’t get to a residential address due to local laws inhibiting a semi truck ability to deliver the shipment. Yet as the situation continues to evolve, there is little doubt that solutions will present themselves, whether that be coordinating a pickup location at a terminal for the customer or some other means. It is important to remember the value of coordinating and communicating with your carrier when it comes to work from home office furniture shipments.

Here at Zip Xpress, we understand the importance of protecting office furniture. We will work with your organization to provide the guidance you need in order to navigate this trend and provide you with the custom carrier solutions that will get your shipments to their destination on time and undamaged. We are one of the best carriers in West Michigan when it comes to shipping office furniture and have maintained a 99% satisfaction rating with all of our customers. To see for yourself, start today with Zip Xpress!