Glossary of Freight Terms

The freight industry has a number of terms with specialized meanings.

Luckily, the transportation experts at Radius have compiled an easy-to-use glossary of common words and acronyms you’ll likely encounter as you manage and grow your supply chain.




Stands for Third Party Logistics. A company providing outsourced logistics services, warehousing, and transportation which can be adjusted based on customers’ needs.




Additional charges for performing services that are beyond normal pick up and delivery, such as inside delivery, residential delivery, liftgate service, or storage charges.




The Bill of Lading is legal document that establishes a contract between the customer, Radius Logistics, and the carrier. It includes the details of the shipment and is often used as a receipt.




An individual or company that transports goods using their own assets: trucks, trains, ships or airplanes.

Cargo Container

A truck trailer that can be detached and loaded onto a ship or rail car.


Short hauls moving freight between locations in the same town or city.


A claim is filed to request payment from a carrier due to loss or damage alleged to have occurred during transportation.


The system used to assign rates to shipments. Classifications are created by the NMFC board and are based on density, size, and value of the freight.


Any article of commerce. Goods shipped.


The individual or business to whom the goods are addressed. The final destination.


When several shipments are combined to save on shipping costs.


A large container with walls and a bottom, with or without a top, used for transporting/storing heavy or fragile items.

Curtain SideD Trailer

A trailer with a hard top and roll up curtain sides. Used for side loading cargo that needs weather protectant.

Customs Broker

Licensed person or company responsible for clearing goods through customs on behalf of importers and exporters.




The freight shipments’ length, width and height.


The act of sending drivers on their assigned routes with specific instructions and required paperwork.


A platform where trucks are loaded and unloaded. Generally the same height as the trailer floor.


The transport of goods over a short distance, often part of a longer overall move. For example, transporting a container from a ship to a warehouse.

Dry Van

An enclosed cargo trailer used to transport goods. Can be heated or refrigerated if necessary.

Drop Deck

A platform trailer with no roof, sides or doors, and has two deck levels. The lower deck allows for hauling taller loads.




Electronic Data Interchange of business documents such as purchase orders, invoices and bills of lading, between computers in a standard format.


Time sensitive freight that utilizes guaranteed and time-critical services to meet short delivery windows.



Final Mile

A service including inside delivery and debris removal.

Flat Deck (Flat Bed)

A platform trailer with no roof, sides or doors. Allows for quick and easy loading of heavy or over-dimensional freight.


Goods transported by truck, train, ship or aircraft.


Full Container Load shipping. When freight fills up a full ocean shipping container to capacity, or fills up most of the container at a better price than LCL.

FTL (or TL)

Full Truck Load shipping. Transport of goods that fill an entire trailer, or a partial load shipment occupying an entire trailer. FTL is contracted to one customer. Faster and more expensive.

Fuel Efficiency

The ratio of distance traveled per unit of fuel consumed.




Gross Vehicle Weight is the total weight of the vehicle (tractor and trailers) and its goods.




Shipping freight using more than one mode of transportation. The intermodal process commonly begins with a container moving by truck to rail, then back to truck to complete the delivery.




Less than Container Load shipping. Transport of small ocean freight shipments not requiring the full capacity of an ocean container.

Line Haul

Equipment and people who work together to move freight from one terminal to another.


Less than Truck Load shipping. Transport of goods that do not take up the entire available space on the truck. Combines shipments from multiple customers.




A document that describes the shipment or the contents of a vehicle, container or ship.



Over-Dimensional / Heavy Haul Load

Each state and province has regulations about the dimensions and weight that can be shipped on flat deck trailers. If a shipment exceeds the legal size or weight limit, it may require additional permits, escort cars, special signs, and may only be allowed to travel during specific times of day.




Pickup and Delivery. Local movement of goods between the shipper and origin terminal, or between the destination terminal and the consignee.


A wooden (or sometimes plastic) platform on which boxes or cargo are stacked and shrink-wrapped. Also commonly called a skid, the small difference is that a skid only has a top deck, while pallets have a bottom deck as well. Pallets are used for transport while skids are mainly used for storing heavy objects.


Proof of Delivery, also known as the delivery receipt. A document signed by the recipient or consignee confirming time, date and condition of delivery.

Pro Number

An acronym for Progressive Rotating Order. A sequential numbering system used to identify freight bills. Each number is unique to each shipment.   




A refrigerated truck, railroad car, or ship.




A person or company like a manufacturer, retailer or distributor that needs to ship goods. Also known as the consignor.  

Shipping Order

Instructions to a carrier regarding the transportation of a shipment. Usually a copy of the bill of lading.

Supply Chain

A network of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product from the supplier to the customer.



Tailgate / Liftgate

A platform at the end of the truck, used for loading and unloading freight at locations without docks or forklifts.


A document outlining rules, rates and charges to move goods.


A building that handles and stores freight temporarily as it’s transferred between trucks.


The power unit that pulls trailers.


The unit that is used to carry goods.

Transit Time

Total time of transit from pick up to delivery.




A document prepared by or on behalf of the carrier at origin. The document shows origin point, destination, route, consignor, consignee, shipment description and amount charged.