Glossary of Basic Freight Terms

Glossary of Basic Freight Terms

By Kevin Schmiterson

The freight industry has a unique lexicon, much of it rooted in a long transportation history. The vocabulary can be a bit overwhelming and confusing to a newcomer.

We’ll explore some of the most often-used terms here:

Abatement – A discount allowed for damage or overcharge

Accessorial – Some service that is not considered ‘standard’ and will incur additional fees. This can include inside delivery, insurance, lift gate service, and other services

Bill of Lading (BOL) – Essential shipping documents which state relevant names and addresses, places of origin and destination, description of the shipped goods, instructions for payment and other relevant information

Booking – Arranging for the transportation of freight by a carrier

Boxcar – A closed rail freight car

Carrier – The transportation entity which agrees to move freight by rail, truck, sea, air or any combination of these modes

Cartage – Local (as opposed to interstate or international) freight hauling on trucks

Claim – A demand made upon carrier for payment due to damage or other loss as a result of carrier’s negligence in transporting

Classification – Assigned rating for particular type of product, generally identifying the size, value and inherent difficulties in transporting that product. The correct class is imperative for an accurate freight quote

Consignee – The person or company to which the freight is shipped

Consignor – The person or company identified as the shipper of freight

Container – A large metal box resembling a truck trailer body that can be shipped via vessel or rail and then attached to a trailer chassis for further transport, containers come in many sizes and types

Deadhead – When a truck delivers a load and then completes one leg of a trip without any cargo

Declared Value – A shipper can sometimes receive a lower rate if it declares a lower than actual value for a shipment, this can be risky in the event of a loss

Density – The weight of cargo per cubic foot, this measurement is important to an accurate freight quote

Double Drop – An open deck trailer with a raised section in the front and rear and a lower section in the middle which can be used to transport unusually tall cargo

Drayage – Local hauling of cargo by truck Same as Cartage

Dry Van – Refers to a 53′ trailer which can be heated or vented but is not refrigerated

Exception -When a shipment is received by a carrier (usually at their terminal), the carrier notes any actual or suspected damage to the cargo prior to transport

Freight – Used in several different manners, can refer to the actual cargo or to the charges assessed to a shipper by a carrier for hauling that cargo

Gross Weight – Cumulative weight of cargo, packaging and freight car or container

HAZ MAT – Hazardous Material

Intermodal – Use of multiple modes of transportation to move containers of cargo – can include sea, rail, road and air freight transport

LTL or Less Than Truckload – Shipment in which cargo is not large enough to require an entire truck by itself, LTL shipments are generally in the 100 lbs to 20,000 lbs range

N.M.F.C. – National Motor Freight Classification (see Classification above)

Piggyback – An intermodal transport arrangement in which loaded truck trailers are placed on a rail car and moved to a destination

PRO Number – The tracking number assigned by the carrier to a specific shipment

Proof of Delivery – Receipt of delivery for a shipment

Pup – A short trailer used together with another short trailer to create a twin or tandem trailer

Quotation or quote – An offer to provide freight carriage at a specific price based upon certain shipment information and terms

Reefer – Refrigerated container or trailer

Stack-train – A specialty rail car which can carry containers stacked two high

Step Deck – An open trailer with a standard flatbed section at the front and a dropped section in the rear, used to transport taller cargo

Tare Weight – The weight of the empty railcar or empty container in rail, sea or intermodal shipments

Tariff – A publication establishing the rates and requirements of a specific transportation company

Terminal – An area in which freight is organized and prepared for loading and dispatch to final destination, cargo will often go to a carrier’s terminal after it is picked up and then placed in another container or trailer for transport to its destination, Inter modal cargo is often unloaded to a terminal before being organized and placed for final delivery

TL – Truckload freight (where the amount of cargo is sufficient to fill an entire trailer or container

Tractor – The power unit used to pull a trailer

Trailer – The portion of the truck in which the freight is loaded and hauled

Ventilated Trailer – A trailer with small openings in walls to allow air to outside air to circulate through when doors are closed

Warehousing -Storage of cargo

While this list may seem long, there are hundreds of other industry terms and catch-phrases that you might run across. Whether you are a novice or experienced shipper, you may hear a new term from time to time. Don’t hesitate to contact us to find out what any freight-related word means at any time.

Freightquote.com gives you instant comparisons from lots of great carriers. Choose the best freight rates and service options for truckload and less than truckload (LTL) shipping, intermodal, air freight services and international freight shipping. Our user-friendly tools automate everything – pricing, pickups, documents, and tracking. From trucking freight across the state or country to shipping across the ocean, customers trust us with over 500,000 shipments every year.

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