Every industry has shoptalk, and in logistics, we love our lingo (especially acronyms—BOLs, FOBs, NOIs, oh my!). Unfortunately, if you’re not in the know it’s easy to get lost in the weeds, so we’ve compiled a list of frequently misunderstood freight terms in order to untangle the jargon. Whether you’re new to shipping and need help deciphering bills, communication, or emails from your freight agent and carrier, or if you’re a seasoned pro just looking for a refresher, this is for you.
Accessorial—These are additional, supplemental services that go beyond transporting freight. White glove, lift-gate, loading, and unloading are all examples of accessorials.
Backhaul—A backhaul is a journey a freight truck takes back to its point of origin to pick up more freight and start its next delivery.-If you’re a carrier, we can help you fill your backhaul lanes.
Billing adjustment—A billing adjustment represents a portion of unpaid freight shipping costs as reported by the carrier. Billing adjustments occur when the numbers required for the freight (its weight, size, density, etc.) are miscalculated and incorrectly reported by the shipper. The carrier recalculates the correct numbers, which leads to a billing adjustment.-Check out 5 common billing adjustments and how to avoid them.
BOL—A bill of lading or “BOL” is a document that establishes a contract between the customer, their broker, and the carrier, and serves as a receipt of goods.-For more information on BOLs, check out our Bill of Lading breakdown.
Broker—Hello, is it me you’re looking for? A freight broker is a liaison between individual shippers/shipping companies and our authorized freight carriers. We listen to our shipper’s needs and figure out the most suitable carrier for their freight. Consider us your matchmakers for freight.-Learn more about transportation brokers here.
Carriers—A freight carrier, also known as a common carrier, freight company, or trucking carrier, is a company or individual that specializes in transporting freight, or cargo, from one location to another.-To become a carrier partner, click here! Or if you want to learn more about our carriers, we’ve got you covered.
Consignee—The person or place that the freight is to be delivered to. If you’re point A, the consignee is point B.
Deadhead—A truck in transit that isn’t carrying any cargo. Worst case scenario for carriers.
Distribution center (DC)—We like to call these terminals or service centers. A DC is a carrier hub where trucks connect to transfer packages along different lanes and routes. Freight will be stored here until it’s ready to be moved.
FOB—FOB is short for “freight on board”. It’s used to indicate when liability and ownership of a commodity is transferred from the seller to the buyer. It usually precedes a location and is followed by the stage of shipping the freight is currently in.
Freight—Boxed, crated, or palletized shipments weighing in excess of 150 lbs or more, or with a dimension greater than 4 feet in most cases.
Freight class (NMFC)—A standardized pricing system for commodities transported via less-than-truckload (LTL) freight shipping. The acronym NMFC stands for National Motor Freight Classification, and it’s a standardized number assigned to a commodity based on qualifications.-Check out how freight class is determined, and see 3 ways to save with your NMFC.
Fuel surcharge (FSC)—Transportation companies often include a FSC to the cost of moving freight. This is based on cents per mile or percentage of the line haul amount.
Headhaul—The highest revenue generating shipping lane, usually located near a trucking operation.
Lane—A lane or route taken by a transportation company or carrier. These lanes can be used regularly by carriers.
Limited access—Any destination or location that restricts trucks from entering a point of entry. Some examples are heavily wooded areas, residential areas, or any other restricted areas.
Logistics services—These services include transportation management, materials handling, and all support services. 3PL or Third Party Logistic management companies operate primarily in this sector.
NOI—Abbreviation for “Not Otherwise Indexed”. These are goods and commodities that are not classified by the National Motor Freight Classification Association.
PRO number—A PRO number is a tracking number used by some but not all carriers. They’re used for organizational purposes, and to keep track of a shipment’s progress.
Supply chain—A system of resources involved in moving a commodity from supplier to customer.
Transit times—The time it takes for freight to move from one point to another.
If there are terms you can’t remember, or questions you need answered, look no further than our freight glossary. You can also ask for clarification from one of our freight agents through chat, or by calling 800.716.7608. We’re here to help.