Common Shipping Terms


Common Carrier: Public for-hire trucking companies (Ex: Fedex Freight, R&L Carriers, YRC Freight)

DC: Distribution Center

Deadhead: Refers to hauling an empty trailer. AKA "running empty".

Freight: Goods to be transported by truck, train, ship or air carrier.

Freight Broker: (Aka "3PL" or "third party logistics company") value-added service team that negotiates better rates on your behalf and takes care of all the repetitive work involved in daily shipping.

IML: Inter-Modal (uses a rail system as well as a regular trucking system).

Linehaul: Regularly scheduled long distance haul with fully loaded trailers. Generally over 500 miles between two "DC's".

LTL": Less than TruckLoad (100 - 20,000 lbs). Contains multiple shipments per trailer from point A to B, C, D, E, etc.

Logistics: The detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation. Specifically, in the freight transportation industry, it refers to the coordination of freight shipments from origin to destination including communication, documents and any issues that come up before, during or after the shipment (tracking, claims, etc.).

NMFC: National Motor Freight Classification System.

OTR: Over the Road.

Pallet:: Portable wooden platform on interlocking 2x4's that can moved safely by forklift.

Pup: 28' trailer widely used in LTL operations. 2-3 can be linked together for long distance hauling.

Rail: Refers to transporting goods on a freight train.

Skid: Same as a pallet only without interlocking 2x4's (Less sturdy).

Terminal: Refers to the local warehouse that serves as operations base for LTL Companies.

TL: Truck Load shipment, full trailer (48'-53') containing one shipment and going from A to B.

Volume Shipment: LTL shipment that weighs over 20,000 lbs or occupies more than 20 feet. 

Air Freight: Any shipment that moves in an expedited network.

Ground Expedited Freight: An expedited shipment that moves over the road (not through the air).

Hotshot: Dedicated point to point shipment (no other stops, single shipment).

Sprinter: Non dock high van outfitted specifically for small point-to-point shipments under 1200 miles.

Non-Dock High: Below normal dock height for a standard trailer. Requires an alternative loading method such as ground based forklift or hand load.