Saturday 15th December 2018,
Freightera Blog

Freight Terms Glossary, Common Shipping Terms & Definitions


Freight experts and novices agree:

“Freight transport terminology is vast and complicated.”

And you don’t need to be Albert Einstein to second his words “Everything should be as simple as it can be, but not simpler.” At the age of information overload, simple is all we have space for.

We’ve created Freightera’s Glossary of Freight in simple visual format. It consists of freight terms with images and definitions. Simple as they can be, but not simpler.

Start here, enjoy and share with your friends, colleagues, customers, and students!

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  • 3

  • 3PL (3rd Party Logistics)
    3PL aka 3rd Party Logistics is a third-party company providing outsourced logistics services, such as integrated operation, warehousing, and transportation which can be adjusted based on customers' needs. 3PLs don't own vehicles or(...)
  • a

  • Adjustments
    Any inconsistencies between the actual shipment and what is stated on the BOL (aka bill of lading). They may result in additional charges for the shipper from the carriers.
  • Axle Load
    The transportation of freight has weight limit. When talking about axle load, it refers to the weight limit allowed for each axle over the highways.
  • b

  • Backhaul
    A carrier's return trip, where carrier can offer customers a lower shipping rate, or backhaul rate, to fill the empty truck. About 80% of truck on the roads are returning empty.
  • Bill of Lading (BOL or B/L)
    A Bill of Lading, also known at BOL or B/L, is a contractual document between carrier and shipper including details of shipment, often used as a receipt given to the person shipping the goods. More Details: The bill of lading or(...)
  • Bulk Freight
    Bulk freight is a commodity freight that is not packaged and transported in large quantities. It refers to material in either liquid or granular, particulate form, as a mass of relatively small solids, such as petroleum/crude oil,(...)
  • c

  • Call Before Pickup
    A request for the carrier to call ahead of pick up.
  • Carrier
    A carrier is a person or company that transports goods using their own assets: trucks, trains, ships, or airplanes. If you're a carrier, join us for free and get new orders now!
    Each product is given a class ranging from 50-400 (determined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association) based on its density and its assumed risk/liability for hauling.
  • Consignee
    Entity who is the buyer and generally the receiver of a freight shipment.
  • Consolidation
    When several shipments are combined to save on freight shipping costs.
  • Container
    A container is a large metal box used for the transportation of freight by road, rail, sea, or air. The standard length are 20ft (6.06m) and 40ft (12.2m).      
  • Crate
    A crate is a large container with four walls and a bottom, with or without a top, used for transporting and/or storing large, heavy or fragile items.
  • Cubic Capacity
    Total volume inside a truck, train, or ship, measured in cubic feet.
  • Customs Broker
    A customs broker is a licensed person or company responsible for clearing goods through customs on behalf of importers and exporters, usually businesses.
  • d

  • Dimensions
    Freight shipment’s length, width and height. Measure the largest dimension for every axis.
  • Drop Deck Flatbed
    A drop deck flatbed is a platform semi-trailer with no roof, sides and doors, and it has two deck levels. The floor drops down after it clears the tractor unit. The lower deck allows for hauling taller loads than a regular straight(...)
  • e

  • Expedited Freight
    Expedited freight refers to the transportation of goods that are time sensitive or perishable and need to be shipped immediately, such as frozen fish, fresh fruit or samples that need to be tested urgently.
  • f

  • Flatbed Truck
    A flatbed truck (or flatbed lorry in British English) is a type of truck which has an entirely flat, level "bed" body with no sides or roof. This allows for quick and easy loading of goods, to transport heavy loads that are not(...)
  • Forklift
    A forklift is a powered truck used to lift and move goods short distances. Indispensable in manufacturing and warehousing. Also called a fork truck, a lift truck, or a forklift truck.
  • Freight
    1. Goods to be transported by truck, rail, ship, or airplane Synonyms: goods, cargo, load, merchandise "freight carried by rail". 2. The system by which goods are shipped "shipped by freight" .
  • Freight broker
    A freight broker or broker is a person or company connecting businesses that ship goods (shippers) with trucking or other transportation companies for a fee.
  • Freight Class
    Freight class or freight classification is a number assigned to less than truckload shipments based on weight, size, density, handling, value and liability. There are 18 freight classes defined by the National Motor Freight(...)
  • Freight Forwarder
    A freight forwarder or forwarding agent, also known as a Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier (NVOCC), is a person or company that organizes shipments for individuals, organizations or businesses to get goods from the manufacturer or(...)
  • Freight lanes
    Lanes or carrier lanes, freight lanes or shipping lanes, are transportation routes from point A to point B that carriers run regularly. For example: Los Angeles to New York Toronto to Chicago
  • Full Container Load or FCL
    It is the transport of freight that fills up a full ocean shipping container to capacity (20ft or 40/45ft) or fills up most of the container at a better price than LCL.  
  • Full TruckLoad (FTL or TL) Shipping
    FTL or Full TruckLoad is the transport of goods that fill up a full truck, or a partial load shipment occupying an entire truck. Bulk foods are typically shipped by FTL. FTL is contracted to one customer. It’s faster and more(...)
  • g

  • Gross Vehicle Weight or GVW
    Total weight of the vehicle including its cargo.
  • i

  • Intermodal Transportation
    Intermodal Transportation is the shipping of freight using more than one mode of transportation such as truck-rail shipments. Learn(...)
  • j

  • Jigger/Pallet Jack
    A tool used for lifting and moving pallets.
  • l

  • Less than Container Load or LCL
    A shipment that does not take up the entire available space of a 20ft. or 40/45 ft. ocean shipping container. LCL freight combines shipments from multiple shippers at a lower costs.      
  • Less Than Truckload (LTL) Shipping
    Less Than Truckload shipping aka LTL shipping is the transport of goods that do not take up the entire available space on the truck. LTL freight combines shipments from multiple customers. Typically slower delivery time; less(...)
  • Limited Access Location
    Any area where pickup or delivery is restricted. Typically includes commercial or non-commercial sites that may have gates or security inspections, and don’t have access to loading dock or platform. Examples: military and(...)
  • n

  • Nested
    Nested are goods that are stacked inside each other to reduce space taken during shipping.
  • o

  • Oversize / Heavy Haul Load
    Every state/province has regulations about the dimensions and the weight of loads that can be shipped on open deck trailers (flatbeds and stepdecks). If a shipment exceeds the legal height, width or weight limit, it may require(...)
  • p

  • Pallet
    Pallet or Skid is a wooden (or sometimes plastic) platform on which boxes or cargo are stacked and sometimes shrink-wrapped. More details: A(...)
  • Pallet vs Skid
    A pallet is a flat structure with both a top and a bottom deck, consisted of three or four stringers that connect several deck boards. A skid only has a top deck. Pallets are used for transport, while skids are usually used for(...)
  • Pickup by Appointment
    A request for an exact date and time or a window for pick up.
  • Procurement
    Procurement is the process of acquiring goods, services or works from an external source, often via a tendering or bidding process.
  • Proof of Delivery (POD)
    Proof of Delivery or POD is a document signed by the freight recipient or consignee, confirming time, date & condition of delivery.
  • r

  • Reefer
    A refrigerated truck, railroad car, or ship. A refrigerated container or reefer is an intermodal container (shipping container) used in intermodal freight transport that is refrigerated for the transportation of temperature sensitive(...)
  • s

  • Shipper
    A shipper or consignor is a person or company like a manufacturer, retailer or distributor that needs to ship goods. They are usually the supplier or owner of the goods. If you're a shipper, sign up as a shipper to get access to(...)
  • Special handling
    Special services provided by the carrier. For example, Call Before Delivery.
  • Straight Truck
    A truck that can fit into narrow streets, e.g. streets in residential areas.
  • Supply Chain
    A supply chain is a network of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in handling or distributing and moving a product or service from the supplier to the customer.
  • t

  • Tailgate / Liftgate
    A platform at the rear of the truck, used for loading and unloading heavy freight at locations without docks or forklifts.
  • Tanker
    A tanker is a vehicle or vessel carrying liquid or gas cargo in bulk like petroleum, milk or natural gas. It can be a truck, train, ship, or freight aircraft.
  • Tarping (for Flatbed)
    Covering of the flatbed load to protect it from elements.
  • Transit Time
    The total time of transit from pick up to delivery of the cargo.
  • Transportation Management System (TMS)
    Online platform, application or on-premises system that offers shipment booking and management, documentation, data storage and reporting as well as integration with carriers and other systems.
  • w

  • Warehousing
    Warehousing is the storage of goods and materials in a commercial building (warehouse) for a certain period of time. Warehouses are used by manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesalers, transport businesses, customs...
  • Weight per Item
    Weight per pallet, box, crate etc.