As in any industry, the logistics and supply chain sector is laden with industry-related terms that can be confusing to outsiders. There are thousands of terms and acronyms in the supply chain dictionary, and that’s before delving into industry-related jargon.
It can take years to study up and become fluent in all the industry related terms. Alternatively, you can read Commoot’s handy guide to logistics and supply chain terminology.
Logistics Terms To Make You Sound Like A Pro
The size and scope of the logistics, supply chain, and freight transportation industries are truly staggering. The industry encompasses the entire globe and is an essential facet to commerce on this planet. In fact, the only organizations that can rival the overall logistics industry regarding size and scope are the world’s militaries. Like the militaries of the world, the logistics industry must function in multiple geographic areas and in multiple languages. As such, both the military and the logistics industry are fond of acronyms and terms that have a precise meaning and are only appropriate in a specific context.
What Are the Most Important or Commonly Used Logistics Acronyms?
Acronyms can be a real P.I.T.N, but their fast and accurate communication capabilities are essential to success in the logistics industry.
TL & FTL (Truckload & Full-Truckload)
TL & FTL are shipment of freight that are loaded to a trailer’s maximum capacity, or maximum weight.
LTL means a shipment of small freight that doesn’t require the use of an entire trailer. LTL is typically utilized when freight weighs between 150 and 15,000 pounds and occupies no more than 10 pallet spaces on the trailer.
INT or intermodal mean involving two or more different modes of transportation. The most common form of intermodal shipping is a freight train.
OTR refers to transport mode for shipping materials over long distances, as opposed to local routes.
DOT (Department of Transportation)
The federal department responsible for the national highways, railroad and airline safety.
FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration)
The federal agency within the DOT that regulates the trucking industry in the United States.
Outsourced logistics services encompassing management of one or more facets of procurement, transportation and fulfillment activities.
Updates & Operations
TMS (Transportation Management System)
A system or software used in supply chain and warehousing operations to account for inventory, fill customer orders and book transportation.
ETA (Estimated Time of Arrival)
The approximate time a truck, train or shipment is expected to arrive at a location.
POD (Proof of Delivery)
A document used to establish that a shipment is received in full.
BOL (Bill of Lading)
A legal document that lists the details of a shipment in the form of a receipt given by the carrier to the person consigning the goods.
SKU(Stock Keeping Unit)
A product identification code used to track inventory items, often displayed as a barcode.
What Are the Most Important Logistics Terms?
Comprehension of logistics terminology improves overall efficiency and ensures clear communication across a range of different channels, platforms and individuals. Fluency in logistics terminology however, portrays confidence and a complete understanding of the industry in which you conduct business.
Organizations & Departments
A commercial business used to transport various types of freight shipments to and from customers and suppliers.
Orchestrates freight, driver and equipment movement from one place to another while keeping close communication with drivers.
An intermediary between a freight shipper and a carrier who can transport their freight. Brokers are used to connect carriers and trucks to shipment that need transportation.
Truck, Trailer, & Driver
The individual behind the wheel of the tractor-trailer. The “driver” is not necessarily the owner of the truck, or the motor carrier company who operates it.
A mode of freight shipping in which two drivers alternate shifts driving the same truck with the goal of reducing transit time and delivering a shipment sooner.
Self-employed commercial truck driver or a small business owner that operates tractor-trailers for the transporting of freight shipments.
A compartment attached to the cabin of a truck used for rest or sleeping. Alternately used to describe any tractor-trailer in which a sleeper cab is attached.
A tractor-trailer in which no sleeper cab is attached to the cabin of the truck. Alternately used to describe any tractor-trailer in which a sleeper cab is not attached.
Driving a tractor without a trailer attached
A trailer used to transport temperature-sensitive goods. Includes a refrigeration unit and corresponding insulating material.
Van (48’ or 53’)
A standard semi-trailer used to transport non-temperature sensitive freight. A basic van trailer is 53’ feet long, though 48’ trailers are not uncommon and frequently used in local and LTL deliveries.
Bulk & Bulk Trailer
A type of cargo that is transported unpackaged in large quantities and requiring of a trailer designed to such cargo.
A large standardized freight container designed for intermodal freight transport. Shipping containers are easily transition from ship to rail to truck without the need to unload the container.
The route routinely served by the carrier.
A route or shipment that returns a carrier to its primary area of operations. A backhaul shipment generally cost less to secure as it is the preferred shipment for most carriers.
The highest revenue generating shipping lane from shipper to receiver.
The transport of freight over a short distance, typically from a rail yard or port to the final destination.
Drop & Hook
When a driver “drops” their trailer at a designated location and “hooks” to another trailer.
Freight & Facilities
Generally refers to cargo that is palletized for shipment.
The origin location of a shipment. The shipper is not necessarily the freight owner.
The destination location of a shipment. The consignee is not necessarily the freight owner.
Blocking and Bracing
The method used to secure freight inside a trailer or shipping container.
Refers to the amount of space inside a trailer or shipping container expressed in volume.
A business, service or individual who is paid to load and unload freight.
The total weight of a shipment of freight, including all packaging and pallets.
The weight of a freight shipment without any packaging or pallets.
Pricing & Rates
Refers to the standard cost of moving freight from one location to another, usually city-to-city.
Establishes the cost and contract of a freight shipment between the shipper and the carrier.
Refers to a carrier’s ability to transport specific freight. Capacity is subject to freight seasons, fluctuations in fuel costs, and the availability of trucks and drivers.