Shipment Tracking

Shipment tracking in the freight industry

An illustration of a truck on a map

Everything you need to know about tracking your freight shipment

Unfortunately, shipment tracking in the freight industry is still largely done manually. Instant online tracking is a thing of the future.

That does not mean we have to rely solely on phone calls and emails for shipment tracking. In fact, with every stop your pallet makes, there will be an online (automated ) update on it available.

While tracking each trailer instantly online via GPS is still a dream, the online tracking systems we currently have in place are, nonetheless, pretty reliable.

Below, we go into the nitty-gritty of shipment tracking.

So how does it work? Let’s break it down into a few easy steps.

When you book your freight shipment and the carrier confirms the booking, a pickup reference number is issued for your shipment. This number, more or less, represents a number on the carrier’s to-do list. 

Search shipping number


If you’re waiting for a shipment to be picked up, the pickup number is used instead of the tracking number to confirm whether your shipment is picked up, attempted, missed, or pending pickup. 

With Freightera, your Bill of Lading (BOL) number is all you will ever need when communicating with our staff. To avoid confusion and make things easier for you, we handle all the other numbers for you. 

When you hand over your shipment to the driver, they will place a sticker containing the tracking number onto your copy of the BOL. This is the actual number the carrier will use on their end to keep track of your shipment.

After that, the shipment has to get back to the carrier’s terminal to be entered into their system. Only then will the shipment be available for tracking. 

Instead of dealing with all of this, with Freightera, you can just enter the BOL number that you get when you book your shipment on our website and get instant tracking results.

For shipments crossing the border or simply going a long distance from the original pickup location, there will often be partner carriers involved. The process is largely the same, but that means that there might be two (or sometimes even three) pickup/tracking numbers available for your shipment. The key to easy and accurate tracking is knowing which one to use, when, and where. Again, if you’re our client, we’ll keep track of all of these for you!

Firstly, if the carrier you booked with does not service a point directly, their partner will pick up or deliver to that area. A partner’s pickup number will only ever come into play if the partner is the one picking up. If the partner is the one making the delivery, only their tracking number will be relevant. 

Once a shipment is transferred from one carrier to another, the new carrier will generate a tracking number for their internal use. The previous tracking number will become a reference number for the new carrier. 

If that doesn’t make sense, don’t worry, as I mentioned earlier, at Freightera you don’t have to worry about anything other than your BOL number for exactly this reason.

What’s important to remember is that the BOL number can be used to track anything through Freightera. The carrier’s pickup number can only be used prior to the pickup and their tracking number can be used only the day after the pickup (once the shipment is entered into the carrier’s system).

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