CXI, Common Phrases In The Shipping Industry And What They Mean

  • Nov 8, 2017

If you’re looking for a career choice that offers a great income, excellent benefits, time off, and independence, then working as a driver in the shipping industry may be just what you need! As a newcomer, the vocabulary surrounding the industry can be a bit confusing. Here are 10 common phrases in the shipping industry and what they mean, to help you feel comfortable with starting your journey towards a new career.

1. Third-Party Logistics (3PL)

A 3PL company provides logistics services, which is any service that involves management of the way resources are moved to required areas. While this term originally comes from the military, it now has a broader meaning that involves the process of storing and shipping goods.

A non-asset based 3PL company outsources to various warehouses, trucking companies and distribution centers, as opposed to an asset-based 3PL provider who owns the assets that are necessary to run a client’s supply chain. Assets include the trucks, warehouses, and more. While both have their benefits, asset-based third-party logistics companies like Combined Express can offer greater visibility, efficiency, and consistency for clients, with personal service and fewer points of contact.

2. Less-Than-Truckload Shipping (LTL)

Like the phrase implies, LTL Shipping means the quantity is less than required to fill an entire truckload. This typically means that the freight weighs less than 10,000 pounds.

3. Load-To-Ride Carrier (LTR)

LTR gets loaded directly to the delivery with preset delivery appointments, as needed. Booking appointments ahead this way significantly reduces transit time, since the does not need to unload at a local terminal. This also helps save time by consolidating with other shipments going to the same location.

4. Intermodal Transportation

This term was coined for involving more than one mode. For example, it can include combined transportation such as rail and motor, motor and air, or rail and water.

5. Payload

The payload is simply the weight of the being hauled.

6. Truckload (TL)

When truckers use the term truckload, they are referring to the quantity of freight required to fill a trailer. This weight is typically more than 10,000 pounds of goods.

7. Local Driver

This term refers to a truck driver who picks up and delivers packages along a city route. These drivers usually run the same route every day, returning home after each shift. Sometimes these drivers are also known as a City or Pick Up and Delivery (P&D) driver.

8. Over-the-Road Driver (OTR)

This type of truck driver travels cross-country to delivery . Living on the road for sometimes weeks at a time, OTR Drivers typically sleep within a berth in the truck cab. These drivers average over 100,000 miles per year.

9. Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)

A CDL is a special license that authorizes an individual to operate commercial motor vehicles. It shows companies that you are licensed and competent to work as a professional truck driver. The type of license you need is dependent on the type of work you’re looking for. A typical CDL authorizes an individual to operate commercial motor vehicles and buses, with over 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight.

10. For-Hire Carrier

A For-Hire Carrier is a company in the business of transporting freight belonging to others. These are the companies you will interact with during your career in trucking.

While there is some new lingo to learn when entering the shipping industry, it is easy to pick up on the common phrases and what they mean to the profession. And we’re not talking about CB slang! Study up on the 10 terms above, and get ready for your exciting new career as a professional truck driver!


Combined Express, Inc. and Delaware Valley Shippers, Inc. are the premier truckload, intermodal and LTL service providers across the United States, with more than 35 years of industry experience. Moving freight has never been easier or more cost-effective than with our custom transportation and express freight services! Our knowledgeable and experienced team of logistics professionals is always on call to assist you with any questions or concerns that might arise. We work closely with you to learn your unique freight needs, and to customize a shipping solution that fits your budget and delivers your cargo on time.

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