3PL – “Third-Party Logistics”

A 3PL company can handle everything from shipping to cross-docking and warehousing. 

Bill of lading (BOL, BL, B/L)

A legal document between a shipper and a carrier acknowledging the receipt of goods for transport. Usually describes the nature of the cargo; hazardous materials classification (if any); amount of cargo by weight, size, and/or number of pallets, boxes, barrels, etc.; and the origin and destination of the cargo.


A person or company that arranges for the truck transportation of cargo belonging to others, using for-hire carriers to provide the actual truck transportation. 

Common Carrier

A company that will carry freight for any customer, as opposed to a private or dedicated carrier that only works for one customer. 


Carrying freight a short distance as part of a longer trip. For example, a tractor picking up freight from a rail yard and carrying it 50 miles to its final destination

Dry van 

A simple, enclosed non-climate controlled rectangular trailer that carries general cargo, including food and other products that do not require refrigeration. Usually loaded/unloaded through the rear doors, requiring elevated access for forklifts to enter the trailer. 


Electronic Document Interchange. An electronic system for sharing transportation-related documents like bills of lading.


A computerized system to keep track of their hours of service and miles. The carrier and dispatcher have instant access to this information, which improves their ability to schedule drivers appropriately. The federal government favors the use of E-Logs over traditional hand-written logs. 


An open trailer used for carrying construction materials and equipment and other objects of unusual size and shape. Flatbed.  Can be loaded/unloaded from the sides or above, and does not require elevated access for forklifts.


See “TL


Hazardous materials.  Explosive, flammable, poisonous or otherwise potentially dangerous cargo. Large amounts or especially hazardous cargo are required to be placarded under hazmat regulations. 


Less-Than-Truckload. Carrying less cargo than a full truckload weight for a customer. This includes shipping one package or half of a truckload. 

LTL Carrier

A company that specializes in combining smaller shipments for multiple customers on one truck.


A document that describes the contents of a shipment in greater detail than a bill of lading. Commonly used as a checklist during unloading. 

Operating authority 

Motor carriers for-hire must apply for the authority to engage in interstate commerce with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. 


Pickup and delivery.


Refrigerated trailer that has a cooling unit in the front and insulated walls. It’s like driving a giant freezer. These are usually used for perishable food items. 


Truckload. A full trailer-load of freight. Often called “FTL” or “Full Truckload”.  If a shipment is FTL, then there is usually no additional handling between the shipper and the destination. TL Carrier – A trucking company that carries a single shipper’s freight on one truckload.

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