LTL Shipping: Key Terms for Smooth Negotiations

Trucking Industry

Understanding key terms for your transportation negotiations is essential when hiring a logistics and transportation provider. The world of logistics, especially LTL (less-than-truckload) shipping, can seem like a maze of confusing terms and concepts. This glossary is designed to be an accessible resource that explains the most important LTL transportation concepts in a simple and understandable way. Whether you are a small business owner, a logistics manager, or just someone curious to learn, these definitions will help you navigate this industry professionally and confidently.

Table of Contents

A

Accessorial: These are the special LTL shipping services that go beyond straightforward dock-to-dock transportation. They enhance the standard delivery with customized extras like lift gate loading ramps or residential drop-offs. 
Adjustments: Even after the freight has reached its destination, unexpected costs can pop up. Adjustments are extra costs tacked on after delivery to account for any discrepancies between the quoted specifications and the cargo’s class, dimensions, and weight or to require special services.

B

Bill of Lading: A document issued by the carrier containing details about a shipment, including the shipper, consignee, freight description, weight, piece count, and other relevant information. It serves as a legal tender for the shipment. This is especially useful when doing LTL shipping, when remembering what’s precisely inside the truck can be difficult.

Bill To: The company or person responsible for paying the freight charges. The freight bill or invoice for the shipping charges is sent to their address.
Blind Shipment: A shipper whose name and identity are not disclosed on shipping documents.

C

Cargo Claim: A claim filed by the shipper or consignee for a shipment’s loss, damage, or delay that occurred while in the carrier’s possession. During Less than Truckload transportation, carriers must be extra careful with the load’s handling to avoid cargo claims.

Cargo Insurance: Coverage that protects against financial loss due to freight damage or disappearance during shipping.

Closed out: A state wherein freight has been securely loaded onto a trailer and awaits assignment to a driver for transportation.

Commercial Invoice: A document stating transaction details, including the goods’ descriptions, parties involved, value for customs/insurance purposes, and shipping terms.

Concealed Damage: Damage to the contents of a package that is not visible from the exterior packaging. Working with experienced carriers to avoid this is vital, especially while doing Less Than Truckload transportation. 

Concealed Loss: A shortage that cannot be detected until the packaging is opened at delivery.

CNEE (Consignee): The party to whom a shipment is delivered and goods are consigned.

CNOR (Consignor): The party who originates a shipment and from whom goods are consigned, usually the shipper or seller.

Cross Dock: A warehouse facility where inbound freight is unloaded from one trailer and directly reloaded onto outbound trailers without long-term storage in between.

D

Dock: A raised platform at truck height where trailers are loaded and unloaded.

Diversion: Rerouting a shipment to a new destination while it is in transit, different from the original destination.

DV (Declared Value): The value declared by the shipper that determines shipping charges and maximum carrier liability if loss/damage occurs.

E

ELD: Stands for Electronic Logging Device. It’s a device installed in commercial trucks that automatically records driving time, vehicle movement, and driver hours of service, ensuring compliance with transportation industry regulations and improving road safety.

F

Forklift: Powered industrial trucks used to load, unload, stack, and transport freight and materials on pallets or skids.

Freight Bill: The carrier’s invoice detailing the charges for transporting a shipment.

Freight Class: Product classification based on factors such as density, handling characteristics, and liability to determine shipping rates.

G

Gross Weight: The total weight of a vehicle, including its freight.

H

HOS (Hours of Service): Regulations governing the maximum number of hours commercial truck drivers can operate a vehicle before resting. The ELD constantly monitors these hours.

Hub and Spoke System: A transportation system for LTL shipments. A distribution model where the cargo is routed through a central facility or warehouse before being transferred to destination trailers along a network of routes.

I

Insurance by Liability: Coverage protecting a carrier from financial loss due to claims from cargo damage from an incident outside their control.

K

Knocked Down: Products or machinery that are disassembled into components for easier shipping and handling. Very common during LTL shipping.

L

Lane: The established route between an origin and destination point used for freight transportation.

Layover: is an unplanned delay at a shipping or receiving facility, where a driver must wait beyond the expected time for loading or unloading their truck.

Letter of Authority: Documentation granting carriers the legal right to handle freight and engage in interstate commerce.

Lift Gate: A hydraulic lift on the rear of a trailer that assists with loading/unloading freight at ground level when there is no raised dock at the cargo destination. Also comes in very handy when there’s not a lot of time to unload certain shipments, like in LTL shipping.

Line Haul: The primary long-distance transportation portion of a freight movement.

M

Motor Carrier Number: A unique Motor Carrier certification number issued by the FMCSA, required for carriers to operate across state lines.

N

Nested: Smaller pieces or packages loaded together into one larger container or crate for shipping.

Noted Damage: This occurs when the carrier observes and records any visible damage to the goods at the time of delivery.

Noted Loss: This occurs when the carrier observes and records any shortage in the quantity of the goods at the time of delivery.

Notice of Arrival: This is a friendly heads-up that your cargo has made it safe and sound to its destination.

O

Outbound: Shipments leaving a specific origination point, facility, or service area.

P

Pallet: A rigid platform utilized as a base for assembling, stacking, and stabilizing cargo for shipping.

Proof of Delivery (POD): Documentation from the carrier confirming a shipment’s delivery to the consignee.

R

Rate: The price or fee that a carrier sets for transporting a shipment, typically based on factors such as weight, distance, weather, urgency, demand, type of cargo, and mode of transportation. For instance, transporting a load via LTL (Less Than Truckload) will not cost the same as via FTL (Full Truckload).

Reconsign: Changing the destination or consignee for a shipment while it is in transit.

Residential Delivery: Shipment delivered to a home residence rather than a commercial facility, often incurring additional charges.

Receiving Dock: The area at a facility designated for accepting and unloading inbound freight from trailers.

S

Set up: is when a product or piece of equipment is assembled rather than knocked down into components.

Shortage: When fewer pieces or less freight is received than specified on the bill of lading.

Skid: Another term referring to a shipping pallet utilized as a base for unitizing cargo.

T

Tailgate: When a driver is required to load/unload freight by utilizing the rear door opening of a trailer rather than a loading dock.

W

Waybill: A document containing details about a shipment’s routing, handling and transportation.

Mastering this terminology is key for any business that relies on freight transportation. While it may seem overwhelming at first, these terms will become familiar with a little practice. We hope this glossary has clarified some of the most important concepts in the world of LTL transportation and can serve as a valuable reference for you in the future. Efficient transportation is essential to modern business, so making the most of these definitions will give you an edge when negotiating and coordinating shipments.

Ready to put this knowledge into practice? Coordinate your shipments efficiently with UTB Logistics. Contact us at info@utblogistics.com to get started on optimizing your transportation needs today.

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