Want to know the meaning of a logistic term? You’re in the right place! Here you will find hundreds of terms from the world of transport and logistics clearly explained. Whether you’re new to the freight industry or just want to brush up on freight terms, our logistics glossary is your go-to resource. It covers the terms you need to know to understand the freight shipping process from start to finish.
A term used to describe the maximum length of a Trailer (Container or Van). The only exception to this is in Texas, where 57 footers are allowed. Trailers are also available in assorted smaller sizes.
Any amount of money paid to a Carrier or charged to a Customer above and beyond the actual agreed line haul rate. Examples of accessorials are: fuel surcharge (FSC), lumpers, detention, layover, etc
The license that all Trucking Companies must have to transport freight in the US. The type of authority a company has (Common/Contract, Brokerage) typically denotes how the freight is transported. A company’s authority can be located utilizing their MC number.
Structural component to which wheels, brakes, and suspensions are attached. There are DOT laws indicating how much weight each axle can carry. There are 3 different axles; each can scale only a certain amount: Steer (12,000lbs), Drive (34,000lbs) and Trailer (34,000lbs).
A load that bring a carrier’s truck from an area where they do not have Customers with freight to an area where they do have Customers with Freight. Backhauls vary by Carrier, and usually go for competitive rates as the freight is getting the carrier where it needs to be. Many backhauls are loads that get a carrier to its “home base”. Opposite of Headhaul.
See Swing Doors.
Another term for / See BOL.
Block and Brace
This is a method of securing freight to avoid movement during transit. This can be accomplished by using load locks, bars or straps. Sometimes 2 x 4’s are nailed to the floor of the trailer to secure the freight.
Driving a semi-tractor without a trailer.
Bill of Lading – This is the paperwork that accompanies a Load. It usually doubles as the “Proof of Delivery or POD.” It is the paperwork that the Driver signs to state that he has received the Load and is taking responsibility for possession of the trailer’s contents while in transit. When the receiver signs the BOL, the receiver takes responsibility for the Load having been delivered and accepted. At this point, the BOL becomes the POD.
The process of assigning a carrier to a load. Also known as selling a load to a carrier.
To take a Carrier off of a Load for any reason.
Driver’s compartment of a truck or tractor.
An actual van, this vehicle has dimensions which allow it enough height to clear pallets and is typically tall enough to reach the loading dock level. Most can typically haul 1-2 pallets, and are often used in expedited situations.
An organization that has the equipment, authority and license to haul freight.
Local hauling between locations in the same town or city or contiguous municipalities.
Commercial Driver’s License – The License which authorizes an individual to operate commercial motor vehicles and buses that weigh over 26,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight.
These are used to secure freight to a flatbed trailer. The straps are located on the sides of the flatbed and extend across to the opposite side where they can be tightened and secured. Different chains may also be used on tires during snowy weather. See also Straps.
This is a financial penalty assessed to the shipper/vendor if a load misses its delivery appointment. These are typically found at big box retailers and many grocers (i.e. Walmart, Staples, C&S Grocers, CVS, etc.).
This is a brand name pallet manufactured by CHEP; they are usually blue and are sometimes leased by warehouses for use. These pallets are more often found in a pallet exchange scenario, where a driver may be required to trade in (or purchase) pallets for the load he is hauling.
Used in reference to insurance, a claim may be filled by a company who suffered a loss as a results of an OS&D (Overage, Shortage or Damage) issue.
This is a designation for pricing freight that is used primarily for LTL shipments. It is determined based on weight and volume (density). The more dense the product, the lower the class and the rate. Short for NMFC (National Motor Freight Class).
A BOL signed by the Carrier and the Consignee for receipt of merchandise in good condition (no damage, loss, etc.) apparent. Clean bills mean no issues with the load!
The height of the ceiling of the lowest point of a trailer; the maximum is 110″. Another important dimension is the width of the trailer; the maximum is 102″.
Freight charges will be paid by the consignee. Abbreviation: col
A numbered code that AFN gives to Carriers that can be cashed like a check at most Truck stops.
The product being shipped; the freight being hauled.
One of the 2 types of motor carrier trucking authorities which are approved to booked.
The receiver of the freight. This is where the freight is being delivered.
The process of taking multiple orders (PO’s), or smaller (LTL) shipments and building 1 truckload.
A rectangular box used to transport freight by ocean, rail and highway. Containers are transported on public roads atop a Container Chassis towed by a tractor to/from ocean ports and rail yards. International shipping containers (ocean), are 20 or 40 ft. long. Domestic containers may get up to 53’ long, but are designed for rail & highway use only.
One of the 2 types of motor carrier trucking authorities which are approved to booked. Defined as a company engaging in for hire transportation of property under individual contract or agreement with one or a number of shippers.
Customer Pick-Up – This refers to any shipment that is routed by the end customer (typically the receiver) and not the shipper. This is also known as Collect.
To move freight from one truck to another. This is most commonly done at a warehouse, but can also be accomplished by backing two trailer tails together and shifting the freight from 1 trailer to another.
The process of maximizing the cubic capacity in a trailer.
Interior volume of a truck body, semi-trailer or trailer, measured in cubic feet.
Curtain Side Trailer
A Van with walls that are constructed of tarp-like materials rather than metal or wood.
A group that facilitates the intricacies of transporting freight across any national border. Normally responsible for obtaining and submitting all documents for clearing merchandise through customs, arranging inland transport, and paying all charges related to these functions.
The act of obtaining permission to import merchandise from another country into the importing nation.
Carton Weight. This is used when shippers and customers pay their freight charges per hundred pounds. This means that they want a quote on freight costs based on weight. It is typically used when moving agricultural products and refers to how much they pay per 100lbs.
This is an online load board (www.DAT.com) where shippers and carriers can post available loads and trucks.
A Tractor that does not have a sleeper compartment in the cab. They are usually used for local freight, especially in areas that make maneuvering standard tractors difficult (i.e., Manhattan).
The distance that a Driver has to drive his/her empty truck to pick up their next Load.
This term is used to describe a load that ships with regularity, and is promised to one carrier (and in some cases one driver) to haul.
This occurs when a driver has to sit at a Shipper or Consignee for longer than the industry standard of two free hours. This time is calculated starting from the appointment time (if the Carrier was on time for the appointment), to the time that he is signed out. In order to be paid for detention, the Driver must get the time in and out of the warehouse put on the signed Bills.
A person working at a carrier who is responsible for dispatching and/or planning loads for drivers.
A facility that consolidates large amounts of freight into smaller amounts to distribute to retail outlets. Commonly referred to as DC.
A loading/unloading area at a warehouse that is elevated to the same height as the back of a trailer. Docks allow for easy loading and unloading as fork lifts can drive directly on and off the trailers of the trucks.
Similar to (and sometimes also called) the landing gear of an airplane, they’re the support structure located on a trailer which allows it to stand freely when not hooked to a tractor.
Department of Transportation – The government agency that makes many of the laws to which the Trucking Companies and Drivers must adhere.
The unique identification number assigned to a transportation company by the DOT authorizing them to haul goods between states.
To move freight from a Rail yard to a Warehouse or vice versa.
An accessorial which occurs when a driver must aid in loading or unloading the Truck. Usually the Driver must operate a Pallet Jack to move the freight to the back of the trailer.
An accessorial which occurs when a driver must unload the entire content of the truck. This Fee generally depends on the amount of work the Driver must do to accomplish the unloading of the Trailer.
Drop and Hook
This means to take an empty trailer into a shipper’s facility and drop it. The trailer is then picked up once it is fully loaded. It saves a large amount of time and most drivers find a company that has a high percentage of drops and hook to be a big advantage because there is less dock time.
A term used to describe a 48’ or 53’ trailer with wooden walls and floors.
The material used to protect or support freight in trucks.
Electronic Data Interchange – This is the process for the business-to-business interconnection of computers for the rapid exchange of a wide variety of information from load tenders, load status updates, invoices, etc.
A racking system designed to be mounted on trailer walls and/or floors in order to tie down or secure freight inside the trailer.
A load which must pick up and deliver at specific times (i.e., production line, rush orders, other carrier failures, etc.). These loads usually charge a premium and require a carrier who will be accountable to this level of service.
A Carrier that offers expedited pick-up & delivery services.
A lending institution that pays Carriers for their receivables as soon as a load is delivered. They pay a portion of the total amount due (typically 70%) once they receive the paperwork for the load. We then pay the Factoring Company for the load. Once the Factor has been paid in full, they release the balance of the funds to the carrier minus their service charge (typically 5-7%).
Freight of All Kinds – A generalization for freight meaning that it is “general freight” usually used when the shipment is many different products.
Coupling device attached to a tractor or dolly which supports the front of a semi-trailer and locks it to the tractor or dolly. The Fifth Wheel’s center is designed to accept a Trailer’s kingpin, around which the trailer and tractor or dolly pivot in turns.
A semi-trailer that has no walls, looking like a flat plank. Freight must be secured by either tarps or chains.
Food Grade Trailer
A trailer (either van or reefer) of high enough quality to haul food products. Trailers must be clean, free of odors, and cannot be used to haul certain commodities (i.e. plants, tires, etc.). Shippers will inspect trailers for quality and will reject those that do not meet the necessary requirements.
This is a directive given from shippers of freezable product (i.e. bottled beverages), during cold temperatures. There are two ways to accomplish this:
Using a van or reefer trailer (with reefer unit off) and leaving it attached to a running/idling tractor the entire time the freight is on board. The vibration caused by the idling tractor will keep the liquids from freezing at any temperature above zero Fahrenheit.
Using a reefer (with reefer unit on), keeping the temperature above freezing.
Fuel Surcharge – The additional charge added to a Line Haul Rate to account for the cost of fuel. FSC fluctuates based on the National Average cost of fuel for that week.
Full Container Load
A full container load (FCL) is an ISO standard container that is loaded and unloaded under the risk and account of one shipper and only one consignee. In practice, it means that the whole container is intended for one consignee. FCL container shipment tends to have lower freight rates than an equivalent weight of cargo in bulk. FCL is intended to designate a container loaded to its allowable maximum weight or volume, but FCL in practice on ocean freight does not always mean a full payload or capacity – many companies will prefer to keep a ‘mostly’ full container as a single container load to simplify logistics and increase security compared to sharing a container with other goods.
The Greenlock program provides stable carrier relationships that deliver competitive rates, available capacity where and when it is needed , and exceptional service and performance. The Greenlock program is a true partnership solution, providing insulation from market volatility in terms of cost and service, ensure service provider is aligned with the business needs of the client.
Hazardous Materials – as classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). A substance that poses a risk to health, safety, and/or property when transported. Transport of hazardous materials is strictly regulated by the US Department of Transportation.
Loads going outbound from a carrier’s city of origin / home base. Traditionally more expensive than a backhaul.
A dry van that has a heating unit which allows the product to be kept warm. They are used when a product cannot move on a reefer, but needs to be kept at a controlled temperature.
This is the total weight of a truck + trailer + load. The total heavy weight—also called Gross Combination Weight (GCW)—cannot exceed 80,000 lbs.
A trailer that is 110” tall and 102”. By definition, this type of trailer must have swing doors.
High Value Freight
Any load valued at greater than $100,000, which does not consist of the following commodities: electronics, Pharmaceuticals, liquor, precious metal, clothing/apparel, cosmetics/perfume, beer, or wine.
High Risk Freight
Any load consisting of electronics, pharmaceuticals, liquor, or any commodity containing any precious metal. Also, any load valued at greater than $100,000 consisting of clothing/apparel, cosmetics/perfume, beer, or wine.
A term used to describe a high profile or expedited load.
A Cargo Van that specializes in 1 or 2 pallet expedited loads.
Hours of Service
HOS. These are DOT regulations that control how many hours a driver can work in a given day and/or week.
A contract or agreement between 2 carriers authorizing Carrier A to utilize or take possession of equipment owned by Carrier B for load hauling purposes.
Transportation involving more than one mode, such as Rail and Sea.
Loads shipping from one state to another. (e.g. TX-PA)
Loads shipping and delivering within the same state. (e.g. TX-TX)
Just in Time – JIT minimizes inventory investment by providing timely, sequential deliveries of product exactly where and when it is needed, from a multitude of suppliers. This type of freight usually requires an extremely high level of Customer Service.
A metal plate at the base of a door or panel to protect it from damage or wear. These can sometimes run along the interior floor of a trailer and reduce the interior width.
A vertical bolt that joins the tractor to the trailer and acts as a pivot between the two.
This is an accessorial that occurs when a truck is detained until the next shipping day.
A power operated tail gate capable of lifting pallets from street level to the level of the floor of the trailer. Used in locations where there is no dock for loading/unloading, and often found on LTL truck fleets.
This is the weight of an empty truck + trailer, without a load.
The cost of a load before FSC (Fuel Surcharge) has been added. This can be calculated as a flat rate (lump sum) or rate per mile (RPM).
A shipment of freight moving from point A to point B
A removable pole/bar that spans the width of a trailer and is used to keep the freight from shifting while in transit.
A book that each Driver must keep showing the number of miles he has driven and the number of hours he has worked over a certain period of time. These are required by the DOT and drivers can only work a certain number of hours per day and per week as dictated by law. Controls HOS. Soon to be replaced by electronic logging device (ELD).
The management of an organization’s supply chain from raw materials used for production/manufacturing to executing delivery to the end user/customer.
A van equipped with E-Track racking which allows for loading multiple rows of cargo inside the trailer.
Open flatbed trailer with a deck height very low to the ground used to haul construction equipment or bulky or heavy Loads.
Less Than Truckload – any load consisting of 6 skids or less, or shipment weights under 10,000 lbs are ideal to be shipped on a LTL Carrier. LTL uses product density to determine the cost of the shipment – the more dense the product, the lower the rate.
An individual at a warehouse that a driver may hire to unload his/her truck. AFN will pay the carrier and charge the customer as an accessorial, provided the driver sends in a receipt.
Must Arrive By Date: For shipments required to deliver by a specific date.
Motor Carrier Number – This is the number assigned to a motor carrier or broker by the FMCSA, denoting the type of Authority (Common, Contract, or Brokerage) that organization has. This should not be confused with the DOT Number. AFN’s MC# is 446639.
Any Load with more than three stops.
The method used to transport the goods. Sea, Air, Over the Road (OTR) and Rail (IML) are the various types.
Any Load with more than one delivery.
Any Load with more than one pickup.
Overage – More product was shipped than was ordered (1000 cases ordered, 1100 received).
Shortage – Quantity received was less than quantity ordered (1000 cases ordered, 900 received).
Damage – Product arrived in poor quality; receiver/end user cannot sell or use.
Any amount of freight that exceeds what was stated on the BOL. In some circumstances, the consignee may still receive all the freight, in some circumstances the overage may be rejected.
An individual that owns and drives (operates) his/her own truck. They are responsible for all costs associated with owning a truck: insurance, fuel, maintenance, repairs, etc. They are also responsible for booking their own loads.
A platform usually made of wood, on which merchandise can be stacked in order to facilitate handling by a forklift and used as a foundation for loading a truck. The standard size is 42″x 48″ but they are very often 48″x 48″. 26 Pallets fit on a 53′ and 24 fit on a 48′ straight-loaded.
The Shipper and/or Receiver requires the truck to bring in as many pallets as they are shipping/receiving of the same quality that they use to exchange with them. This keeps their pallet inventory stable. If there are no trucks with pallets to do a particular load, they can usually buy them either at the Shipper or nearby.
A piece of equipment used to move pallets by hand. Acts as a manual forklift.
A term used to describe a load smaller than a full truckload, but does not qualify as an LTL shipment, usually because the load is too large for traditional LTL standards. These loads are quoted on a per-pallet cost, instead of density classification.
Freight subject to decay, rot or deterioration. Refrigerated freight and produce are example commodities.
An order confirmation from a Customer to a warehouse, indicating exactly what they want pulled and shipped.
The act of turning Pallets to allow for more skids on a trailer. Pin-Wheeling works with standard sized pallets as it allows a change of depth from 48″ to 42″ allowing 2 extra Pallets to be loaded. Also referred to as Turning
A trailer with thinner walls to allow for greater interior space; typically ~100 inches vs. the standard trailer which is 98.5-99 inches.
Proof Of Delivery – The paperwork signed by the consignee indicating receipt of a load. AFN requires this paperwork in order for a carrier to be paid on a load. In many circumstances, the BOL becomes the POD once signed by the receiver.
Power Only Moves
This refers to a load where only the tractor is required. This usually occurs when a customer has their own trailers preloaded with freight, therefore only the tractor is required in order to complete the move.
Another term for Truck/Tractor.
PowerBroker is the most advanced software solution available for freight brokers. PowerBroker offers a fully integrated freight brokerage operations management system and a complete accounting software solution all in one package, from one company.
Feight charges will be paid by the shipper. Abbreviation: ppd
A Business that operates trucks primarily for the purpose of transporting its’ own products and raw materials. The principal business activity of a Private carrier is not transportation.
Short semi-trailer, usually between 26′ and 32′ long, with a single axle. Typically found in LTL transportation.
A price given to a Customer or Carrier for a specific load
Return Authorization – the code or number given by the customer when a product or shipment is rejected by a consignee and needs to be returned to the shipper. This number is needed in order to redeliver the product to the original shipper.
The charge for transporting Freight. This can be the cost of the line-haul (Point A to Point B before fuel surcharge) or all-in (both line-haul + fuel)
A grid that lists a carrier’s rates (before fuel surcharge or FSC) based on origin city/state to destination city/state (called point-to-point) or origin state to destination state (called state-to-state).
Required Arrive By Date – This is the date by which product is required to be delivered to the customer, usually a big box retailer like Walmart, Target, etc. If this date is missed, there can be financial penalties assessed to the shipper. These financial penalties are often called charge-backs.
An individual sheet of paper containing all the general information and requirements of a load. It also has all the payment information for the load being described. No Carrier will haul a Load without first getting a Rate Confirmation.
A Software Program used to fulfill a Customer’s LTL rate request. It requires the zip code of the Shipper and the Consignee and the weight and class of the shipment.
Refrigerated Trailer – A specialized type of truck with aluminum walls and floor, and a built-in diesel power generator engineered for the transportation of refrigerated and perishable commodities.
Relay Driving – A common practice in the LTL Industry, in which one driver takes a truck for 8 to10 hours then turns the trailer over to another driver, Pony Express style. Relaying has become much more common within the TL industry in recent years, as carriers are moving more towards regional fleets.
To “Roll” a Load means to change the pick-up date of a load from the current day to the following day (i.e., moving from pick Monday to pick Tuesday). Rolled loads may occur as a result of not finding a carrier to cover it, late bounces, tight capacity, etc.
Truck doors that roll up similar to a garage door. These doors remove a small amount of interior height inside the trailer, making certain freight impossible to load.
A spreadsheet from a warehouse indicating orders that are ready for shipment. Also called Ready Sheet.
The total weight of a load that a truck can legally haul. A fully loaded truck with two axles cannot legally haul over 80,000 pounds. Most trucks can Scale between 42 and 46 thousand pounds.
A piece of plastic (resembling a zip tie) which is placed around the locked trailer when loading is complete. Each seal has a unique code/number which is documented on the BOL by the shipper once the load is sealed. When the truck arrives at the consignee, they will check the seal number against what’s written on the bills (BOL) to determine the freight was not disturbed while in transit. If the seal is intact (still on, undamaged), it is safe to assume the freight was undisturbed. This is again noted on the bills as “Seal Intact” and helps to declare whether the shipper or driver is responsible for any shortage.
Any location that ships freight.
Any amount of freight that is less than what the BOL lists. IF there was a seal on the trailer and it’s intact, it indicates a shortage of freight was loaded on the truck.
Single Axle Trailer
A trailer that looks the same as a regular semi but that only has one axle in the back. These trailers can only scale about half the weight of a normal trailer.
Another term for pallet.
A unique identification number associated with a specific product on a truck. If there are multiple products on an order, each product will have its own SKU #.
Shipper Load and Count – Indicates that the shipper loaded and counted the freight, but that the Driver was not allowed to check or verify that what was loaded matched the BOL.
A Tractor that has an area designed for sleeping.
Slider – A mechanism that allows a tandem axle suspension to be moved back and forth at the rear of a semi-trailer, for the purpose of adjusting the distribution of weight between the axles and fifth wheel.
A piece of plastic or cardboard that goes under the product and on top of the trailer floor to protect the product from the floor. It also saves the height of the pallet to create more space in the container.
Sort & Segregate
Upon delivery, as the freight is being unloaded, the consignee will break down the contents of the pallet to sort and count the product. This can be a long and tedious process, which might cause drivers to be detained for longer than the standard 2 hours.
A term used to refer to any additional pick-up or delivery on a Load.
A truck with the body and engine mounted on the same chassis.
These are used to secure freight primarily to flatbed trailers; sometimes used in vans. The straps are located on the sides of the flatbed and extend across to the opposite side where they can be tightened and secured. See also Chains.
A charge above the usual or customary charge.
Doors on the back of the trailer that swing open. The alternative is a Rollup Door. Swing Doors allow for taller pallets and/or fork lifts to fit within the trailer. These are becoming more common than roll doors as new trailers are manufactured.
When a driver needs to move the product on a trailer, usually with a pallet-jack, from the front of the trailer to the back. This helps the warehouse by not forcing them to drive the forklift into the trailer every time, reducing unloading time.
A term used to refer to commodities which are commonly stolen by cargo thieves. Electronics, liquor, high-end apparel are examples of targeted commodities.
Tariff and Pricing
A document issued by an LTL carrier establishing applicable rules, rates, and charges for the movement of goods. The document sets up a contract of carriage between the shipper, consignee, and carrier.
These are often required for use on flatbeds, step-decks, and other uncovered trailers to cover & protect the freight. They are secured with chains or straps.
Similar to Comcheks, but offered by CH Robinson.
Two certified drivers that alternate between driving and resting. Teams are typically used to shorten transit times, especially for hot or expedited shipments. The drivers alternate operating the truck to account for HOS breaks that would be needed by a single driver.
A satellite location for a trucking company (not their home office). Terminals can be used for truck maintenance/repair, as well as storage or delivery of freight. These are very commonly found in LTL carriers and larger, nationally based OTR/FTL trucking companies.
The twenty-foot equivalent unit (often TEU or teu) is an inexact unit of cargo capacity often used to describe the capacity of container ships and container terminals. It is based on the volume of a 20-foot-long (6.1 m) intermodal container, a standard-sized metal box which can be easily transferred between different modes of transportation, such as ships, trains and trucks.
Third Party Shipment
Any Load that is paid by an entity other than the Shipper, Consignee or the Customer that tendered the load.
A Trucking Company which dedicates trailers to a single shipper’s cargo, as opposed to an LTL Carrier which transports the consolidated cargo of several shippers and makes multiple deliveries. TL carriers haul full truckload shipments.
An acronym standing for, “Truck Ordered Not Used.”
A plastic container similar in size to a pallet that is designed to haul liquids or powders.
To know the status and location of a load is during its entire life cycle.
A device used to track the location of a specific trailer. AFN works directly with carriers, shippers, consignees, and customers to provide this service. These devices are often called covert when the carrier hauling the load is not aware the device is on the truck.
A term used to describe the truck.
A term used to describe a “traditional” semi-trailer. The walls and floor are usually made of wood.
A standard van with vents in the front and rear to allow airflow through the unit. These types of vans are typically used for certain types of produce
Heavy & Light – These are issued at truck scales to determine the gross weight of a truck. Light tickets refer to the truck’s weight without a load; Heavy tickets are the truck’s weight with a load. Certain shippers require that drivers obtain light & heavy weight tickets to ensure they are not over-loaded. Exceeding the gross vehicle weight of 80,000 lbs. is not legal.
A Load where an additional Movement has been created to accommodate for more than one payee. The two most common Y-Split occurrences:
Cross-docking/redelivery on different carrier
A person who operates a yard tractor.
A Tractor used to maneuver trailers within a DC’s yard.