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.

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.

TLTruck 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.