Logistics Terms Dictionary

ACCESSORIAL SERVICES: Additional services provided by the carrier for an extra fee.

AIR CARGO: Freight shipping using airplanes instead of trucks, boats, or trains.

BACKHAUL (INBOUND): A shipment picked up near the point of the original delivery, allowing carriers to avoid driving empty and generate additional revenue.

BILL OF LADING (BOL): A document provided by the shipper, serving as proof of receipt for shipment details, with the driver signing it upon pickup and assuming responsibility for delivering the goods in the same condition.

BOBTAIL: A truck (tractor) traveling without a trailer, incurring a fee when picking up a non-​owned trailer.

CAPACITY: The availability of equipment in a specific region.

CARRIER ARRIVAL NOTICE: Document sent by the freight carrier or agent to inform the consignee or Notify Party about the shipment’s arrival at a specific location.

CHASSIS: Essential equipment in drayage, connected to the truck to transport containers over the road.

CHASSIS SPLIT: A fee incurred when the container and chassis are not in the same location.

CLAIM: Request for compensation due to product damage or loss.

CONSIGNEE /​ BUYER: The party to whom ownership of the goods transfers upon cargo release at the destination.

CONSIGNOR /​ SELLER: The sender of a shipment in a contract of carriage.

COMMERCIAL DRIVER’S LICENSE (CDL): Required to operate a commercial motor vehicle, obtained by passing a written test and demonstrating safe operation.

CONTAINERS: Constructed of corrugated steel, shipped by rail or ocean vessels.

CROSS DOCK: Unloading, sorting, and directly reloading products onto outbound trucks or rail cars.

CUSTOMS BROKER: Represents importers/​exporters in dealings with customs, handling document submission, inland transport arrangement, and related charges.

DEADHEAD: Miles covered without hauling a load.

DEMURRAGE: Fee charged by the terminal if cargo remains at the port after the last free day.

DETENTION: Accessorial fee for waiting more than two hours past the scheduled loading or unloading time.

DISCHARGE: Unloading a container from the vessel into the port.

DISTRIBUTION CENTER (DC): Facility for storing and distributing goods.

DOC CUT OFF: Information sent to the Steamship Line for the container; indicates when the empty container needs to be at the warehouse.

DOMESTIC TRANSPORTATION: Freight movement within the United States.

DRAYAGE TRANSPORTATION: Short-​distance movement of goods within the larger intermodal transportation process.

DRIVER ASSIST: Loads requiring driver assistance with loading or unloading.

DROP TRAILER (DROP/​PICK OR DROP/​HOOK): Carrier leaves an empty trailer for loading, replacing it with a new one for transport to the destination.

DRY RUN: Unsuccessful completion of pickup or delivery, with the trucker charging full price for the extra trip.

DRY VAN: Most frequently used trailers in the U.S. for hauling various freight.

ELD: Electronic logging device monitoring a driver’s duty status, location, and hours of service, federally mandated since December 2017.

ERD: Earliest return date; the earliest a loaded container can be gated into the port.

ETA: Estimated time of arrival.

ETD: Estimated time of departure.

EXPORT: Shipment going outside of the U.S.

FIRMS CODE: Code on the Arrival Notice identifying customs clearance location and where the freight will be available.

FLATBEDS: Trailers for hauling bulky or heavy items, secured with tarps or chains.

FMCSA: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, regulating the U.S. trucking industry.

FREIGHT BROKER: Sells transportation services, connecting freight that needs to be moved with available trucks, trains, planes, or boats.

FULL CONTAINER LOAD (FCL): Ocean shipment with cargo occupying a full container.

GATE IN: Entering a full or empty container into the port/​terminal.

GATE OUT: Exiting a full or empty container from the port/​terminal.

GROSS WEIGHT: Combined weight of tractor, trailer, and loaded materials.

HAZMAT: Endorsement required for drivers handling hazardous materials.

HEADHAUL (OUTBOUND): Load carried away from the carrier’s home base.

HOT LOAD: Time-​sensitive shipment with ASAP delivery requirements.

HOURS OF SERVICE (HOS): Legal limit to consecutive hours a driver can be on duty before resting.

HRHV: High-​risk, high-​value shipments requiring expedited handling.

IMPORT: Shipment coming into the U.S.

INTERCOMPANY: Business dealings between different divisions within a company.

INTERMODAL: Freight shipped using two or more modes of transportation.

INTERSTATE CARRIER: Authorized to operate between U.S. states, Mexico, and Canada.

INTRASTATE CARRIER: Operates entirely within a single state.

IN-​GATE: Returning containers to the port.

LAYOVER: Load where the driver, on time for pickup or delivery, must wait until the following day to be offloaded.

LAST FREE DAY: The final day a container is at the port before accruing storage fees.

LESS THAN CONTAINER LOAD (LCL): Ocean shipment where cargo doesn’t fill a full container.

LIFTGATE: A device assisting in loading and unloading freight on some trucks.

LOAD: Another term for shipment, denoting a commodity transported from one point to another.

LOADING DOCK: Platform where goods are loaded and unloaded from trucks.

LOCAL DRIVERS: Operate within a small city radius, often with smaller vehicles.

LOGISTICS: Planning and executing the movement of goods and products between locations.

LUMPER: Third-​party workers charging drivers to offload trailers, commonly in food/​beverage warehouses.

MOTOR CARRIER: Entity responsible for moving freight via trucks, trains, planes, or boats.

NET WEIGHT: Weight of shipped goods excluding the truck weight.

OVERSEAS AGENT: Foreign freight handler, also known as a booking agent.

OUT-​GATE: Pulling containers from the port.

PACKING LIST: Document for customs declaration and delivery orders, detailing quantity, weight, dimensions, and piece count within a container.

PER DIEM: Fee charged by the ocean carrier for each day past the free days that a container is away from the port.

PERMITS: Required for overweight or over-​dimensional shipments, included in overall rates.

PLACE OF DELIVERY: The location where goods will be delivered.

PORT CUT: The latest date and time for a loaded container to be gated into the port.

PORT OF DISCHARGE: The place where a ship or aircraft unloads shipments.

PRE-​ALERT: Shipment notice sent by the origin freight forwarder to the destination, indicating shipment readiness.

PRE-​BOOK: Load booked well in advance relative to the pickup time.

PRESET APPOINTMENT: Load with known pickup/​delivery appointments set in advance.

PRIVATE CARRIER: Owned by the shipper, charging no fee to its owner.

PROOF OF DELIVERY (POD): Confirmation form signed by a facility representative upon successful delivery.

RATE TO CUSTOMER: Amount charged to the customer for the load.

REDELIVERY/​ADDITIONAL MILEAGE: Situation where the driver delivers to a different facility, incurring an additional fee.

REFRIGERATED TRAILER (REEFER): Temperature-​sensitive trailer with insulated walls for transporting perishable goods.

REJECTED: When a consignee refuses a product.

ROLL-​UP DOORS: Trailer doors that roll up, reducing available space.

ROUTE OPTIMIZATION: Determining the most efficient route for transporting goods.

SEAL: Plastic or metal device with a unique code securing trailer doors.

SHIPPER: The point of origin for a load, where the driver picks up the shipment.

STEAMSHIP LINE (SSL): Company owning vessels and transporting containers via sea.

SWING DOORS: Trailer doors that swing out, allowing for more freight loading.

STOP OFF: Fee assessed if a shipment is split between two delivery locations.

SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT: Coordination of activities involved in the production and delivery of a product or service.

TARE: Total weight of tractor and trailer without loaded materials.

TARP FEE: Fee charged if tarps are needed for a load.

TEU: Twenty-​foot equivalent unit, measuring volume in units of a 20-​foot-​long full container.

THIRD PARTY LOGISTICS PROVIDER (3PL): A freight broker acting as an intermediary between customers and carriers.

TONU: Truck ordered not used; a dispatched load canceled before pickup or en route.

TRACKING: Monitoring the progress of a load from start to finish.

TRAILERS: Pulled by the tractor for transporting freight.

TRIAXLE: Chassis with three rear axles for weight distribution.

TRANSLOAD: Process of unloading, palletizing, and loading items from a container to a dry van.

TWIC CARD: Transportation Worker Identification Credential required for access to secure areas of maritime facilities and vessels.

WAREHOUSE: Facility used for storing goods.

YARD STORAGE: Storage of containers in a trucker’s gated yard to avoid demurrage charges after the last free day; incurs a daily fee.