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Understanding Cargo Logistics, and Other Transport Industry Lexicons

Understanding Cargo Logistics, and Other Transport Industry Lexicons

Every industry has its own lexicon of specialist terms. For the transport industry, this includes those such as “cargo logistics” or the equivalent. It’s understandable if people outside of the industry don’t immediately understand those terms, but on the other hand, it can be decidedly scary when people within the industry don’t.

Here are a few examples:

• “What sort of vehicle will I need to pick up that load of cargo logistics?”

Couldn’t happen in a professional haulage company? Well, it did. It was even more of a pity that the question was addressed to the customer.

• “I don’t have a tractor unit – just a vehicle to connect up with and tow trailers around the country.”

After that sort of comment, perhaps the customer might have responded “not my trailers you’re not”.

• “What do you mean by the ‘cubic capacity’ of my vehicle? Do you mean the engine size?”

This was put to a customer. It really should be incorporated into a training video.

• “Collection at 14:30. Is that the same as half-past four?”

There was a time (no pun intended) when the use of the 24-hour clock was mandatory in the haulage business – just to avoid confusion. Maybe the old disciplines are dying out.

• “I wasn’t sure what you meant by chains and tensioners, so I brought some rope instead.”

You can imagine the customer’s expression when they learned that the transport company was a bit hazy on what chains were, and had decided that some crude and fairly tatty rope would be sufficient to secure their huge multi-tonne piece of equipment.

• “We don’t have full refrigeration units but all our cabs are air conditioned.”

Yes, no doubt the customer would have been greatly consoled, as their perishable cargo rotted, by the thought that the driver was nice ‘n’ comfy!

• “How would a low-loader give you more height for the cargo?”

This one is really terrifying because it shows not only a lack of familiarity with some of the tools of the trade but also an inability to grasp some basic geometry.

• “You’ve asked for a road train collection but we don’t offer rail services”

Another one that’s hard to believe, but true. This sort of thing just isn’t going to inspire customer confidence – though the perpetrator was no doubt very popular with his company’s competition.

• “What does CIF and FOB mean?”

Now granted, these are terms relating more to the financial side of shipping and transport, but if the above sort of question is put to a customer, well, expect some groans of despair. If you don’t know, look these terms up now!

• “Who is Mr Bill O’Lading”?

To be fair, the term “Bill of Lading” has been declining over recent years, but it’s still sometimes a critically important document for a number of different reasons. If you don’t know what it is (or what a waybill is) then it might be sensible to find out sometime if you’d like to avoid a red face.

So, terms like “cargo logistics” are just the tip of the iceberg. Why not use the Internet and increase your knowledge of basic transport and shipping terminology? It’ll make you look so much more accomplished when dealing with customers.