Order to restrict the hauling of freight.


The purpose for this section is to acquaint you with the various types of equipment used in freight movement. There are numerous types of trailers used in the everyday movement of freight. Some freight requires very specialized trailers like drop deck trailers, while other similar freight can be moved on flatbed trailers. In essence – the equipment used is as varied as the products put in and on them. While the following list is not exhaustive, it will give you a general idea of the types of equipment available.

Equipment: Van

This type of trailer or cargo container is built in a number of
configurations. No trailer can exceed 13’6” in height without being
permitted for each movement.

Van: Standards

The most frequently used vans (box trailers) on the road today have the following dimensions – 48’ long x 96” wide, 48’ long x 102” wide, 53’ long x 96” wide, and 53’ long x 102” wide. These trailers have either swing or roll-up rear doors. Most vans are used for dry freight and will have smooth flat floors to allow floor stacking of freight or the movement of forklifts or other conveyances with palletized freight.

The trailers are built with aluminum or fiberglass sides and tops, because of their construction the trailers are usually lightweight and can carry more freight (heavier) than “reefer” vans.

Van: High Cube

A specialty trailer, it is built with smaller wheels and
tires allowing more cubic area inside the trailer; there is a built up
area or deck in the front of the trailer to accommodate the fifth
wheel on the truck. High cube trailers are ideal to haul bulky lightweight freight such as Styrofoam, etc.

Van: Logistics Trailer

Another specialty trailer designed for use when a shipper has equipment that that cannot be handled in a normal floor stacks or on pallets (i.e. Display cases for department stores, booths for trade shows, etc.) and require a blanket and/or a pad wrap.

Most logistics units have tracks built into the inside walls of the trailer that allow for the attachment of bars across the inside of the trailer at various levels to accommodate plywood sheets to create a second floor or two levels inside the unit. Many plant nursery accounts require a setup or logistics trailer to haul live plants.

Van: Curtain Side Trailer

This is a modified van that can haul most van freight and some flatbed freight. The trailer has beams located in the front, middle and rear on each side of the unit. The sides are usually canvas or nylon and top is metal or fiberglass. The sides generally, have a track/pulley system that can be opened like a set of drapes in a house.

Obviously, this type of trailer can be loaded from the rear and/or the sides – and – is most frequently used for freight that requires side loading.

Van: Open Top Trailer

This trailer is constructed with aluminum sidewalls and a roll back canvas top to accommodate conveyor loading and when loaded the top is rolled back over the load to provide protection from the weather.

Van: Vented Van

This is usually a standard van with vents in the front and rear of the trailer to allow airflow through the unit. The vented van can be loaded with certain types of produce as well as dry freight.

Van: Roller Bottom Trailer

This is another specialty type trailer most often associated with expedited or airfreight shipments. The floor of the trailer has retractable rollers that are used to move cargo boxes or airfreight containers quickly onto and out of the trailer.

Van: Insulated Van

Is a standard van with insulation in the sides, front, rear, top and bottom of the trailer. This piece of equipment is used where freight needs to be protected against temperature fluctuation – but is not sensitive enough to require temperature control.

Van: Moving Van

The typical “ATLAS VAN LINE” truck you see on the interstates – used by movers and logistics companies that require blanket or pad wrap.

Van: Refrigerated Van – or – “REEFER”:

This is an “Insulated Van” with a self-contained temperature control unit mounted on the front of the trailer. The T.C.U. is capable of heating and/or cooling the load. The most common use of this trailer is for hauling produce, fresh or frozen products such as meats, chicken, and ice cream and even some temperature sensitive chemicals and HAZMAT materials.

Equipment: Flatbed

The flatbed group also contains various sizes and configurations of trailers. The standard flat is from 45’ to 53’ in length and 96” to 102” in width, but as with all groups there are the following are definitions of standard and specialized trailers.

Flatbed: Standards

The typical trailer is a flat platform from the front to the rear; the floors are constructed of wood, metal or a combination of the two. The standard unit may or may not have side kits to enclose the load. Most flatbeds are equipped with tarpaulins if they carry freight that requires protection from the diesel smoke or the elements.

Some trailers have a bulkhead or “headache” rack built in as part of the trailer; if there is no bulkhead rack on the trailer, the rear of the tractor will usually have an attached “headache rack”. Not only is the “headache rack” a safety feature – it can contain the chains, binders, straps and tarps to secure and protect the load on the trailer.

Flatbed: Step Deck

A flatbed trailer modified, flat from the rear toward the front with a “step-up” platform at the front that will allow the tractor to connect to the trailer at the fifth wheel. The upper platform will vary in length as will the lower platform.

It will be important on some flatbed loads to know those dimensions if your carrier has a step deck; also freight weight can be critical when loading a step. It is typical for this trailer to be constructed with smaller wheels and tires to lower the chassis to accommodate taller loads – without being permitted – such as end-loaders or other pieces of heavy equipment.

Flatbed: Double Drop Deck

The difference between a step deck and a double drop deck is a both a front and rear platform raised higher than the lower deck or well, which is usually lower to the ground than a step deck. The lower deck allows for an even higher load; the platforms on a double drop deck can also vary in length. It will be important for some loads, to know those measurements if you are working with a double drop deck trailer.

Flatbed: RGN (Removable Goose Neck Trailer)

This unit resembles a double drop deck with major differences – the biggest difference being the fact the front platform can be disconnected from the trailer itself – thus allowing loads such as cranes to be loaded at ground level. The RGN is used for “heavy haul” or “over dimensional loads”; most are equipped with outriggers that can be used to move wider loads than can be carried on step or double drop deck trailers.

Flatbed: Stretch

A flatbed constructed with sliding rails that allow the trailer to be extended to accommodate very long loads. The trailer is pulled apart with the rails connected with pins to keep the unit together in transit.


Estimated Time of Arrival. Then, it normally takes 4 hours for carriers to Break Bulk then ready to be picked up by forwarders along with customs release notification.


Estimated Time of Departure. The cut-off time for carriers’ cargo ramp handling is normally two hours ahead of ETD. However, the freight forwarders’ consolidation cut-off time may vary depending on each forwarder’s operations respectively.

Expedited Freight

Products that of necessity – must be moved from point A to point B – rapidly.

External Dimensions

The extreme outside measurements, including any handles or other protrusions, of a ULD.


Notations made when the cargo is received at the carrier’s terminal or loaded aboard a vessel. They show any irregularities in packaging or actual or suspected damage to the cargo. Exceptions are then noted on the bill of lading.


Not governed by Federal Regulatory Boards.

Expiry Date

Issued in connection with documents such as letters of credit, tariffs etc. to advise that stated provisions would expire at a certain time.

40 CFR

Code of Federal Regulations of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

49 CFR

Code of Federal Regulations of the United States Surface Transportation Board, the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Railroad Administration.


An abbreviation for – Fuel Adjustment Factor; a method used to compensate transportation companies for fluctuating fuel costs.


An abbreviation for – Freight All Kinds. Usually refers to full container loads of mixed shipments.

F.A.K. Rate

The grouping of different products in a load to minimize the freight rate.


A method of maintaining cash flow by selling freight invoices to a financial institutions at a discounted rate.

False Billing

Misrepresenting freight or weight on shipping documents.


An abbreviation for – Full Container Load or Full Car Load.


An abbreviation for – the Food and Drug Administration.

Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

Within the United States Department of Transportation, formerly known as the Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA), the FTA administers the Federal Transit Act, as amended, and provides grants to support commuter rail capital and operating costs.


An abbreviation for – Forty-Foot Equivalent Units; refers to a container size standard of forty feet. Two twenty-foot containers or TEU’s equal one FEU.


A common abbreviation of the Federal Highway Administration.

Fifth Wheel

The mechanism used to connect the tractor with the trailer.


A capacity measurement equal to one-fourth of a barrel.

Fixed Costs

Costs that do not vary with the level of activity. Some fixed costs
continue even if no cargo is carried. Terminal leases, rent, and property taxes are fixed costs.

Flatbed Terminology

Binders – Mechanisms used to tighten the chains.
Chains – One method of securement used on a flatbed trailer.
Flatbed trailer – A trailer with no sides or top used for moving bulky items such as – coiled steel, lumber, equipment, etc.
Headache Rack – Mounted behind cab on truck to help prevent the load from coming into the tractor in the event of an accident, also used to store securement equipment.
Straps – Typically a 4” wide strap made of high strength fabric used in securing the load, instead of chains, on a flatbed trailer.
Tarps – Weather proof covering used on flatbed freight.
Tarp with 8’ drop – Indicates the amount of tarp coverage from the top of the load to the bed of the trailer, mainly used for lumber loads. (NOTE: Be cautious – some flats carry tarps that have 4’ and 6’ drops – they will not work for a large lumber load.)
Tarp (coil) – Smaller tarps used to cover coils or reels.
Tie Downs – Elastic material with hooks on each end used to secure tarps.

Floor Stack

Freight that is physically stacked on the floor of the trailer.


A common abbreviation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Fork Lift

A machine used to pick up and move goods loaded on pallets or skids.

Four-Way Pallet

A pallet designed so that the forks of a fork lift truck can be
inserted from all four sides. See Fork lift.

Foul Bill of Lading

A receipt for goods issued by a carrier with an indication that
the goods were damaged when received. Compare Clean Bill of Lading.

Free Astray

A shipment (a lost shipment that is found) sent to its proper
destination without additional charge.

Free Time

That amount of time that a carrier’s equipment may be used without incurring additional charges. See Demurrage or Per Diem.


Refers to either the cargo carried or the charges assessed for carriage
of the cargo.

Freight Bill

A document issued by the carrier based on the bill of lading and other information; used to account for a shipment operationally, statistically, and financially.

Freight Forwarder

An independent business which handles export shipments for compensation. At the request of the shipper, the forwarder makes the actual arrangements and provides the necessary services for expediting the shipment to its overseas destination.

The forwarder takes care of all documentation needed to move the shipment from origin to destination, making up and assembling the necessary documentation for submission to the bank in the exporter’s name. The forwarder arranges for cargo insurance, makes the necessary overseas communications, and advises the shipper on overseas requirements of marking and labeling.

The forwarder operates on a fee basis paid by the exporter and often receives an additional percentage of the freight charge from the common carrier. Export freight forwarder must be licensed by the Federal Maritime Commission to handle ocean freight and by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to handle airfreight. Ocean freight forwarder dispatches shipments from the United States via common carriers, books or arranges space for the shipments, and handles the shipping documentation.

Freight Payer

The party responsible for payment of the line haul freight charges to the billed destination of record at the time of the diversion request.

Fresh Freight

Products that are temperature controlled – non-frozen perishable


The number of trains per unit of time passing a particular point in a single direction. The unit of time is usually one hour. Opposite of headway

Frozen Freight

Temperature controlled product kept below the freezing point.

Fuel Surcharge

Additional compensation to the carrier when fuel prices increase.