Let’s Talk Logistics: Transportation Terminology

Keeping freight costs in check necessitates an understanding of the transportation and logistics sector’s most important terms and phrases.

Transportation Terminology

ACAS – Air Cargo Advanced Screening

ACAS requires that information on a shipment’s contents be filed with US Customs before being shipped by air from foreign locations.

AOBRD – Automatic On-board Recording Device

A device on a vehicle that tracks driving time based on Federal Motor Carrier Safety standards.

AWB – Air Waybill

A document issued by an airline or freight forwarder when goods are shipped by air.

CMV – Commercial Motor Vehicle

Defined by FMCSA as any vehicle that transports goods or passengers for payment. CMV’s are subject to registration and inspection requirements and there are detailed regulations for CMV drivers.

ELD – An Electronic Logging Device

An ELD shares some functionality with an AOBRD, but a change in FMCSA rules will require all commercial vehicles to have a registered ELD by December 16, 2019.

FAA – Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA regulates civil aviation, including flight traffic and aircraft safety regulations. The FAA also develops programs to improve the efficiency and security of air traffic with technology.

FCL – Full-Container Load

A full shipping container, regardless of size, consigned to a single party.

FMC – Federal Maritime Commission

The FMC protects the public from unfair and deceptive trade practices by regulating ocean shipping rates, licensing carriers, providing dispute resolution services, and maintaining ocean freight rate databases.

IATA – International Air Transport Association

The IATA issues rules and guidance for transporting goods by air internationally.

LTL – Less-than Truckload

A common logistics acronym that refers to shipments smaller than a whole truck load, from single boxes through multi-pallet shipments.

MAWB – Master Air Waybill

The main airway bill issued for receipt of goods from an airline. The MAWB may cover several HAWBs (House Airway Bills) issued by a freight forwarder.

NVOCC – Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier

A shipping company or freight forwarder that has the ability to issue house bills of lading but does not actually own the vessels that transport the goods.

SCAC – Standard Carrier Alpha Code

The SCAC is a code used to identify transportation companies. It was developed by The National Motor Freight Traffic Association in the 1960s to help computerize road transport companies’ records and data.

TEU – Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit

Cargo capacity is often described in terms of 20-foot shipping containers for measuring ships, ports, and trade data. While cargo is often shipped in larger containers, TEU is the standard base measurement for cargo.

TMS – Transportation Management System

A subset of supply chain management that often connects an ERP with legacy transportation management systems. Software offerings range from traditional license purchases to SaaS or cloud-based options, and combinations of the two.

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