Freight Logistics

The jargon involved with freight logistics is quite extensive. Should you need to venture into import or export, it is important that you know some of the terminology that would be used when entering this exciting venture. Logitic Directory showcases only the best freight companies in South Africa.

Here are some terms used in the business:


This is a person who conducts business on your behalf. When starting in the industry it helps to have an agent who can help you with all the ins and outs of the industry. But it is imperative that you find a reputable agent with extensive knowledge, and who has your best interests at heart.

Axle Load:

Each of your freight shipping transport has a weight limit and requirement. The axle load refers to the limit permitted for each axle over a particular country’s highways. It is important to familiarise yourself with these limits as various countries differ. Research the particular country that you are going to be involved with, as well as your own.

Bill of Lading (BOL):

This is the contract between the shipper and the carrier, broker or agent that binds the parties together and defines all aspects of the freight shipping arrangement, including what is being shipped and where it is going. It is important to understand the contract and to read it over carefully, only signing when all parties are happy with the agreement.


A rail term referring to a frame with wheels on which a container is mounted for over-the-road transport


A person or company transporting freight for a fee


A freight classification assigned to an article for the purpose of applying transportation charges.


Any event that prevents the freight from being accepted or handled - these events include floods, high jacking or congested highways

Inbound freight:

Shipments coming from vendors to a storage facility

Interchange of Interline:

The transfer of freight from one carrier to another

Intermodal Transportation:

When freight is shipped using two or more modes of transportation – typically this refers to truck-rail-truck shipments


A term used in less than a truckload shipping (LTL freight) – materials are tacked so that one item goes inside another. This reduces the amount of space taken up by the combined freight and makes LTL shipping more efficient.

Not Otherwise Indicated (NOI):

A general class rate or NIO is assigned to any freight that has no rate listed in the NMFC


This establishes the cost and contract of freight shipment for the shipper and the carrier

Through Rate:

This applies to the distance between the point of origin and the delivery destination

Time Critical:

When a freight shipment delivery is set to the earliest possible time

Time Definite:

These guarantee that the delivery will occur on a specified day or time of day

Transit Time:

The total time from pick-up to delivery

Truckload (TL):

This is defined as freight weighing 9 tons or more, or that occupies half or more than the trailer’s capacity

Volume Rate:

An LTL term for rates that are made subject to a minimum weight of 3.2 tons, or cubic volume exceeding 750 cubic feet


This refers to the storage of goods for a specified period of time.

Freight companies

These are the organisations that specialise in the moving or forwarding of freight or cargo from one place to another. There are various types of freight companies. International freight forwarders ship goods internationally from country to country and domestic freight forwarders ship goods nationally, within a single country.

There are so many freight companies out there, thousands! Each belonging to certain organisations and accredited in various ways. Some of the most well-known and worldwide companies are United Parcel Service, DHL, Purolator, GlobalTranz, FedEx and TNT.

Receiving your goods in ship shape So you have a company that needs to order stock from overseas. You place your order and two weeks later receive your crate of goods. Ever wondered what really goes into the shipping of your goods. The reason your stock was so reasonably priced is because it came by sea. It wasn’t urgent, so you didn’t mind it taking a little longer – in fact the costs you actually saved by going via ship will quite astound you… Here’s what goes into your stock sailing by sea… Firstly, let’s recognise shipping for what it is… it is an incredibly large source of revenue. If we look at it economically, in the UK shipping accounts for more of the GDP (gross domestic product) than restaurants, takeaways and civil engineering combined!

Despite all the media hype about oil spills and how shipping damages the environment, on a whole shipping is actually the “greenest” form of mass transport when it comes to emitting greenhouse gases. But because the shipping industry is so vast it still comes in at 6th place as far as most pollution caused. Some more shipping facts The largest carrier ship can carry 15 000 containers. At least 20 million containers are currently travelling across the seas. If you should line up the containers belonging to the company Maersk alone, they would stretch nearly halfway around the plant.

If you stacked them up, they would make 7 530 Eiffel Towers. And should you unload their cargo onto trucks, the traffic would stretch 96,56 kilometers! Despite our breakthroughs in technology, two thirds of cargo ship crews have no means of communication off the ship. Only 12% have freely available Internet. Piracy is still very much alive – in 2010 Somali pirates held 544 seafarers hostage. Every year 2 000 seafarers die at sea, with more than two ships lost each day. In 2012, the attack rates exceeded the rate of violet assaults in South Africa, the highest crime country in the world…

When it comes to inspections on ships, worldwide only 2 – 10% of containers are physically inspected. The US ports typically inspect 5% of the 17 million containers they receive yearly. The US relies on shipping to bring in two thirds of its oil supply. The next time you receive your freight from overseas, spare a thought about the process those goods went through to get to you – we might just appreciate the fact that they got there on time and in good order – so much more…