In any industry, there’s jargon, acronyms, and slang that’s thrown around internally that feels second nature to people who live and breathe their business every day. It’s easy to forget that some terms, abbreviations, and “shop talk” may not make sense to people who aren’t as privy to the language of the shipping industry. To help you out, we’ll detail the most common terms we use and what they really mean.

Bill of Lading

This one is uber-important in the world of logistics and shipping. This legal document, also known as a BOL, provides the driver and the shipper all of the necessary details and information about the freight shipment and how to invoice it correctly. The purpose of the BOL is to provide evidence of contract or carriage, document the title, and show receipt of the shipment. The Bill of Lading must be completed and supplied to the shipper when the freight is picked up.

Here’s the information the BOL contains:

  • The shipper’s and the receiver’s names and complete addresses 
  • Purchase order numbers or account numbers used for tracking purposes
  • Total number of pieces to be shipped
  • Date of the shipment
  • Weight of the freight (or shipment, but the rhyme was fun)
  • Description of the goods being shipped
  • Type of packaging (pallets, cartons, skids, drums…)
  • Don’t forget to include a note to the Department of Transportation if the package contains hazardous materials
  • The NFMC code (remember these? Read more about NFMC codes here)
  • The declared value of the goods you’re shipping

It’s important not to skimp on the info on the Bill of Lading. It’s a legal contract (and it can be used in litigation). If the BOL is inaccurate, it can leave the carrier exposed to claims. Nobody’s got time for that.

Freight Classification 

How your goods are classified depends on the shipment’s size, value, density, the difficulty of shipping that particular product, and packaging. The same item could ship out at two different classes depending on packaging and assembly. Every shipment that is moved by a less-than-truckload carrier has an assigned freight class, allowing transporters and shippers not to consider tariffs for each individual product. Freight classes are standards that advise pricing regardless of the carrier, warehouse, or broker. They are defined by the National Motor Freight Traffic Association and the NFMC (see above). There are 18 possible classes that your freight may fall into — and the freight class will factor into determining the final price of your shipment.

Dimension vs. Class Shipping

Now that freight classification shipping is clear, we’ll note that many shippers believe that they can outline dimensions for shipping to determine how a parcel will be transported. This doesn’t work — using only dimensions, the shipper doesn’t have a clear idea of how much the freight weighs, how fragile it may be, or any special needs for loading and unloading onto a truck. It’s important to note that dimensions alone do not provide a full picture. When you’re shipping a parcel, all other metrics must be considered.

Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) vs. Partial Truckload

LTL shipping is for the transportation of relatively small freight. These shipments don’t require a full truckload because of the size of the shipment. Because of this, LTL shipments are usually combined on a single truck to ship to a final destination. 

The benefits of shipping your freight by an LTL truckload include:

  • Affordability — usually, this is a cost-effective way to move freight 
  • Flexibility — there are lots of options for how to ship your freight
  • Environmental friendliness — because your freight shares space with other LTL shipments

However, when a shipment is moved by an LTL shipper, the logistics behind the scenes is complex. And there are times when you may seek another option for shipping a relatively small parcel or shipment. Partial truckload shipments are larger than most LTL shipments, and due to the classification, they have latitude for innovative pricing and classification. 

When you ship your freight by partial truckload, the benefits are:

  • It doesn’t require freight classification
  • There are cost savings for the shipper
  • Your freight will stay on the same truck for the entire shipping process; there won’t be any on/offloading

Shipping Broker

A shipping broker acts as an intermediary between shippers and carriers to arrange the transportation of goods from one place to another. When you use a shipping broker — such as yourLTL — you can access a wide range of carriers and options to negotiate pricing and terms for your shipment. Shipping and logistics brokers use technology to search for every shipment option, allowing our customers to select the right terms for your shipments. We partner with top carriers and have a wide network of trusted counterparts for you to select from.

Have questions about any of these terms? Contact us at 855.218.7LTL (7585) anytime. We’d love to hear from you!