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Top 5 Freight Mode Acronym Definitions You Need to Know in Logistics Blog Feature
Anna Young

By: Anna Young on May 29th, 2019

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Top 5 Freight Mode Acronym Definitions You Need to Know in Logistics

Intermodal | ltl | reefer | imc | intermodal marketing company | FTL | Full-truckload | Less-Than-Truckload | IMDL

The logistics industry is filled with acronyms, which often confuse those outside the logistics and supply chain industry or those new to the field.  

We are here to cover the top five (5) freight mode acronyms.

IMC: Intermodal Marketing Company

Intermodal Marketing CompaniesThe purpose of an intermodal marketing company is to organize purchases directly with railroads and trucking firms, utilize equipment from multiple sources and provide other value-added services under a single freight bill to the ultimate shipper.

By establishing relationships with Class I railroads and transportation companies, IMCs help shippers bypass steps within the intermodal process in regard to finding/organizing intermodal equipment.

In summary, intermodal marketing companies provide ease for shippers by gaining access to the full intermodal network with one call and a single invoice.  

LTL: Less-than-Truckload

LTL is used when a shipper has more than a parcel shipment, but less than a full truckload.

The threshold for an LTL shipment is considered anything over Less-than-truckload (LTL)150 pounds.

To paint a picture of LTL operations, motor freight carriers consolidate several LTL shipments from various shippers into one truckload and move it through their hub-and-spoke network to pick-up the freight at origin and deliver it to its final destination.

In some cases, shippers operate a sophisticated transportation management system to consolidate their own LTL shipments into a single truckload to generate savings versus utilizing an LTL provider for each shipment.  Such a program is called LTL consolidation.

Choosing the best LTL providers is a good read on the top LTL providers, as well as, as an outline on how to pick a provider.

FTL: Full Truckload ... OTR: Over-the-Road

FTL - full truckloadFull truckload is used by shippers when they require the full 53' space of a trailer for a shipment.

The max weight of a full truckload is roughly 45,000 pounds.

FTL is typically quicker than LTL shipping because the truck takes a direct route from origin to destination versus working through a hub and spoke network.

Full truckload shipments are also less prone to damage or theft since the load is under one driver through its entire route. 

IMDL: Intermodal 

intermodal truckingIntermodal is the method of shipping freight that utilizes more than one mode of transportation. 

The other modes of transportation can include rail, ship, truck, etc.

Typically, the term intermodal is used when shipping a container via truck and rail. The rail segment of the freight lane is used to cover the long distance between origin and destination intermodal ramps efficiently, while the dray segments of the freight route utilize truck.

Max weight for 53' domestic intermodal is 42,500.

In short, intermodal transportation has a value-add for the shipments necessitating a longer haul. 

Reefer: Refrigerated 

temperature controlled freightReefer is the term used when discussing refrigerated LTL, FTL, intermodal, etc.  Any mode of freight that has a temperature-controlled element to it will be considered a reefer unit. 

For more on the above topics discussed in our blogs: 

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About Anna Young

Anna - Marketing & Supply Chain Intern for InTek Freight & Logistics, a company focused on being the place where companies come when faced with a logistics problem.

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