Industry Information

Glossary for Warehousing, Transportation, & Logistics

3PL — A firm that provides outsourced logistics services to its customers for part or all of their supply chain management functions.  These firms typically specialize in integrated operations, warehousing and transportation services that can be scaled and customized to customers’ needs based on market conditions and the demands and delivery service requirements for their products and materials.
4PL — A 4PL (also sometimes called a lead logistics provider) is a non-asset based company (i.e. they don’t own their own trucks or warehouse facilities) that provides logistics consulting services to fully manage, design, and build supply chains.
ACCESSORIAL CHARGE —  Extra fees attached to transportation services for duties beyond simply shipping a good from point A to point B. Examples of services on which a company may attach accessorial charges include waiting time, storage, packing, extra fuel, and so forth.
BILL OF LADING — A shipping form which is both a receipt for freight and a contract for delivery of goods by a carrier.
BLOCKING OR BRACING — Wood, metal or other approved supports to keep freight in place in or on railcars, containers or trailers.
BONDED CARRIER — Transporter duly licensed (against a guaranty or surety) by customs to carry duty-unpaid goods.
BOOM LIFT ATTACHMENT — A boom attachment allows users to lift loads over a larger range, and provides a great deal of flexibility so that the forklift can be used for a wider range of applications. A forklift boom can be thought of as a combination between a traditional forklift and a small crane.
BREAK-BULK CARGO — Non-containerized general cargo stored in boxes, bales, pallets or other units to be loaded onto or discharged from ships or other forms of transportation. Examples include iron, steel, machinery, linerboard and wood pulp.
BRIDGE LAW — The Federal Bridge Gross Weight Formula, also known as Bridge Formula B or the Federal Bridge Formula, is a mathematical formula in use in the United States by truck drivers and Department of Transportation (DOT) officials to determine the appropriate maximum gross weight for a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) based on axle number and spacing.
BROKER — An agent who arranges interstate movements of goods by other carriers; arranger of exempt loads for owner-operators and/or carriers.
CARGO — Freight that is loaded into a container or on a trailer.
CARRIER — An individual or company engaged in the transportation of goods.
CARTAGE — Transportation of freight for short distances within commercial zones of a city. Also knows as drayage or haulage.
CHASSIS — A rectangular trailer with twist-locks that provides the framework on which a shipping container is attached for road transport. Chassis come in a variety of sizes and configurations depending on the weight and length of the container. They are owned by leasing companies, motor carriers, railroads, shippers, and some steamship lines.
CHEP PALLETS — CHEP is an international company dealing in pallet and container pooling services, serving customers in a range of industrial and retail supply chains. CHEP is owned by Brambles Limited. CHEP offers wooden and plastic pallets, small display pallets, crates and IBC containers.
CONSIGNEE — The individual or organization to which freight is shipped.
CONSIGNOR — The individual shipping the goods, more commonly known as the shipper.
CONSOLIDATION — Combining multiple shipments under one master bill of lading.
CONTAINER —  A large reusable rectangular box, generally constructed of steel or aluminum, designed to withstand the rigors of repeated travel from ship to truck to rail and back. Containers are designed to be interoperable with all modes of intermodal transport. Most standard dry containers are 20, 40, 45, 48 or 53 feet in length. Also known as a box.
CONTAINER DRAYAGE — Intermodal services to get your product to and from ports or rail ramps.
CONTAINER FREIGHT STATION (CFS) — The location designated by carriers for the receiving of cargo to be loaded into containers by the carrier or devanning of containerized cargo.
CUSTOMS BONDED WAREHOUSE —  A secured facility supervised by customs authorities, where dutiable landed imports are stored pending their re-export, or release on assessment and payment of import duties, taxes, and other charges.
CUSTOMS BROKER — An individual who clears goods through customs barriers for importers and exporters. This involves the preparation of documents and/or electronic submissions; the calculation and payment of taxes, duties and excises; and facilitating communication between government authorities and importers and exporters.
DEMURRAGE —  A penalty for exceeding free time allowed for loading or unloading at a pier or freight terminal. Also a charge for undue detention of transportation equipment or carriers in port while loading or unloading.
DEVANNING — The process in which a landed container is unsealed and all its contents are taken out. Also called stripping or unstuffing of the container. Devanning is one of the most demanding tasks of the logistics process.
DISTRIBUTION CENTER —  A specialized facility where goods are loaded, unloaded, processed and redistributed to retailers, wholesalers or consumers.
DIVERSION —  A change made in the route of a shipment in transit.
D.O.T. — Department of Transportation.
DRAYAGE — Transportation of freight between a cargo facility terminal and a customer's facility.
DOOR-TO-DOOR — Retail drayage involving over-the-road movement of a unit to a customer location.
DROP & PULL — The dropping of a loaded or empty intermodal unit by a drayman at a shipper or receiver, hooking it up to another unit which was previously dropped and returning it to the ramp.
DROP YARD — This is a small area of land that trucking companies own and allows for drivers to park their trucks and trailers on it. Dry Freight Non-liquid.
DRY VAN — An enclosed non-climate-controlled rectangular trailer designed to carry general cargo. Also known as a trailer.
DUTY — A payment levied on the import, export, manufacture, or sale of goods.
DUNNAGE —  The material used to protect or support freight in containers or trailers.
ELECTRONIC DATA INTERCHANGE  (EDI) — The process of sending and retrieving information electronically, i.e., bills of lading, freight bills, etc.
EXPORT — To send goods and services to another country.
FULL CONTAINER LOAD (FCL) — Quantity of cargo, which fills a shipping container to capacity, either by weight or cubic measurement.
FLAT RACK — A piece of intermodal equipment used to transport items too large to fit inside a box.
FLATBED —  A trailer with a main deck that is free of walls or ceiling constraints accommodating a wide variety of unusually sized freight.
FORKLIFT — This basic piece of equipment is limited to handling only loaded 20-foot containers or empty containers of other dimensions.
FOREIGN TRADE ZONE (FTZ) — An isolated policed area adjacent to a port of entry where foreign goods may be unloaded for immediate transshipment or stored, repacked, sorted, mixed, or otherwise manipulated without being subject to import duties.
FREE TIME — Period between the time a ship is ready to load or discharge, having given notice of readiness, and the time that laytime commences in accordance with the Charter-Party, during which the carterer or receiver is not obliged to load or discharge. It is important to make provision in the Charter-Party for the effect of laytime should the charter or receiver elect to load or discharge during this period.
FREE TRADE ZONE — A port designated by the government of a country for duty-free entry of any non-prohibited goods. Merchandise may be stored, displayed, used for manufacturing, etc., within the zone and re-exported without duties.
FREIGHT FORWARDER — An individual or company who assembles small shipments into one large shipment which is then tendered to a regulated for-hire carrier. Upon reaching destination, the shipment is separated into small shipments and delivered.
FREIGHT OF ALL KINDS (FAK) — A shipping classification usually referring to three or more different commodities shipped as a single freight class.
HAZ MAT — An industry abbreviation for "Hazardous Material."
HEAVY HAUL — The transport of over-dimensional, often over-weight material. Generally, this freight requires a state permit and specialized trailer in order to meet DOT regulations. These shipments may also require special routings, as only certain highways allow extremely heavy vehicle weights.
IMPORT — To receive goods from a foreign country.
IN-BOND —  The status of merchandise admitted provisionally into a country without payment of duties, either for storage in a bonded warehouse or for transshipment to another point where duties will eventually be imposed and paid.
INCOTERMS — A list of standard terms for foreign trade contracts. The terms are created by the International Chamber of Commerce — ICC. Also known as International Commerce Terms.
INVENTORY CONTROL — The supervision of supply, storage, and accessibility of goods.
INTERMODAL — The movement of freight, in a container or on a trailer, by more than one mode of transportation. The movement can be made from rail to truck to ship in any order.
JUST-IN-TIME (JIT) — A type of cargo transport and/or delivery method in which the goods arrive as close to the time they are needed as possible.
LABOR/ LUMPERS —  A laborer who loads and unloads vessels in a port. dock worker, docker, dockhand, dock-walloper, dockworker, loader, longshoreman, stevedore. laborer, labourer, manual laborer, jack - someone who works with their hands; someone engaged in manual labor.
LESS-THAN-CONTAINER LOAD (LCL) —  An individual shipment that does not completely fill an entire container. When many shippers’ goods occupy a single container, each shipper’s shipment is considered to be LCL.
LESS-THAN-TRUCKLOAD (LTL) — A shipment that does not fill an entire truckload. Specialized carriers provide service exclusively for this type of shipment. These services are priced by weight, density, value and ease of handling in combination with distance. The National Motor Freight Classification standards are commonly used in order to identify the best pricing for a particular commodity on a particular shipping lane.
LINE HAUL — Transportation from one city to another as differentiated from local switching service.
LOGISTICS — The management of the flow of resources, not only goods, between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements on a bill of lading. Logistics involves the integration of information, lading via land transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, packaging and often security.
MULTIMODAL — Synonymous for all practical purposes with "Intermodal."
OPEN TOP CONTAINER — An intermodal box without a steel roof to facilitate the loading of heavy or oversize cargo. Many open tops feature a tarp to protect the freight from the elements.
OVER THE ROAD (OTR) —  The movement of freight for long distances by truck.
OVER WEIGHT CONTAINER — A container or shipment can be considered overweight in one or all of the following ways: Gross weight: A truck and its cargo cannot exceed a total gross weight, including tractor weight, chassis, container and cargo. Axle Weight: This is the allowed gross weight on a single axle of the truck, or a set of axles.
PACKING LIST — A detailed specification as to goods packed into a container or trailer.
PALLET — A wooden, paper or plastic platform, usually with a top and bottom, on which packaged goods are placed to facilitate movement by some type of freight handling equipment.
PAPER CLAMP ATTACHMENT — Allow you to grip, without damaging, large cylindrical loads like very large rolls of paper. On a standard forklift without this attachment, these loads would be impossible to carry without either tipping, falling, or simply rolling away.
POD — Abbreviation for: Port of Discharge, Port of Destination, and Proof of Delivery—A document required from the carrier or driver for proper payment.
POL — Abbreviation for: Port of Loading or Petroleum, Oil, and Lubricants.
PORT AUTHORITY — A state or local government that owns, operates or otherwise provides wharf, dock and other terminal investments at ports.
PORT OF LADING — The port where goods are put on a ship. The document gives details of the shipment, its ownership, port of lading, etc.
PULP — A mixture of old paper, plant fibres, and wood mixed with water until they form a soft wet mass, used for making paper: wood pulp in a pulp mill.
QUARANTINE — A restraint placed on an operation to protect the public against a health hazard. A ship may be quarantined so that it cannot leave a protected point. During the quarantine period, the Q flag is hoisted.
QUOTA — The quantity of goods that may be imported without restriction during a set period of time.
RECEIVER —  Party who receives the cargo at the place of destination in the contract of carriage.
REEFER — Refrigerated container.
RO/RO — A shortening of the term, "Roll On/Roll Off." A method of ocean cargo service using a vessel with ramps which allos wheeled vehicles to be loaded and discharged without cranes.
SHIPPER — Person or company who enters into a contract with a liner conference, shipping line, or shipowner for the carriage of goods.
STEAMSHIP LINE (SSL) — A shipping company that operates container cargo vessels. Many are international corporations that facilitate intermodal transportation around the world. These companies own, operate and lease equipment, as well as operate marine terminals through subsidiary entities, and they partner with shore-side providers to ensure seamless intermodal service to inland destinations.
STORAGE CHARGE — A charge assigned to shipper or consignee for holding containers or trailers at an intermodal terminal beyond the free time allotted to them.
STRIPPING — The process of removing cargo from a container.
STUFFING — The process of loading cargo into a container.
SUPPLY CHAIN — A system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer.
SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT — The management of the process and flow of goods from origin to destination.
THIRD-PARTY LOGISTICS PROVIDER (3PL) — A firm that provides outsourced logistics services to its customers for part or all of their supply chain management functions.  These firms typically specialize in integrated operations, warehousing and transportation services that can be scaled and customized to customers’ needs based on market conditions and the demands and delivery service requirements for their products and materials.
TARE WEIGHT — In railcar or container shipments, the weight of the empty railcar or empty container.
TARIFF — Schedule of charges, such as the freight tariff of a shipping line or conference, in which are published freight rates, generally for a wide varitey of commodities.
TRACTOR — A heavy-duty motor vehicle with a powerful engine and a driver's cab, designed for hauling a trailer.
TRACTOR-TRAILER — A tractor and semi-trailer combination.
TRAILER —  A rectangular box with permanent wheels attached for the transport of goods on rail, highway or a combination of both. Also known as a Dry Van or Semi-Trailer.
TRANSLOADING — The process of transferring goods from one transport mode to another by the consolidation of multiple ocean containers into larger domestic containers.
TRANSPORT — To move cargo from one place to another.

TRI-AXLE — A tri-axle vehicle refers to the number of driving axles the vehicle possesses, not including the steering axle. This type of axle configuration is commonly associated with large trucks and heavy equipment. The most common tri-axle arrangement consists of a tandem drive axle assembly with an air-lift third axle to allow for greater load weights to be transported on the roads.
TRUCKLOAD —  A quantity of goods that can be transported in a truck. Full truckloads — FTL or sometimes TL — generally utilize van trailers.
TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) — A Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Coast Guard program that uses a biometric card to control access to marine terminals for improved security.
VESSEL — A ship.
WAREHOUSING — The storing of freight.