More Glossary Terms

Freight Carriers

What is a freight carrier? Freight carriers transport goods from one place to another by road, air, ocean, or rail. The top freight carriers in domestic and international lanes move cargo over various distances and across distinct features of the world.

Motor carriers move freight over the road. Rail carriers transport freight or persons by train. Ocean carriers provide freight service across large bodies of water. Air cargo carriers quickly cover large distances.

Types of Freight Carriers Modes

Road or Trucking Carriers

What are motor carriers? Motor carriers are commercial motor vehicles that move property, people, or hazardous materials as part of a business. Trucking carriers are one type of motor carrier that moves freight cargo. Commercial bus companies are motor carriers that move people.

A reliable trucking company is responsible for the pickup and delivery of goods using trucks. Trucking carriers provide long-haul and short-haul services and specialize in transporting goods that require special handling or are time-sensitive.
Trucking carrier services modes:
  • Truckload (TL): Uses an entire trailer. This method is fast and direct to the destination.
  • Less-Than-Truckload (LTL): Takes up part of a trailer, sharing the trailer with other shippers. This method is slower, with many stops and transfers along the way.
  • Volume/Partial Truckload: Has a higher volume than LTL, does not include sensitive items, and has more timeline flexibility.
  • Parcel: Transports small packages in small vehicles. This is affordable and works well for standard rather than quick deliveries.
  • Final Mile: Transports packages directly to a home or business with quick service and visibility. Final mile carriers take over the final part of a delivery from a carrier that executed first and/or middle mile shipment processes.
Types of freight trucking carrier equipment:
  • Flatbed Trailer: Multi-use flatbeds that can hold freight in different ways.
  • Dry Van Trailer: Enclosed trailers that protect goods from weather and other elements.
  • Box Truck: Holds cargo on the chassis with the cab and power unit and carries smaller or expedited items.
  • Stepdeck Trailer: Freight carrier trailer to transport goods that are too high or otherwise don’t fit a regular flatbed.
  • Refrigerated Trailer: Controls the temperature in a contained trailer.
  • Removable Gooseneck Trailer: An RGN has a detachable front that helps transport long or tall freight.
  • Stretch RGN Trailer: Used for items too long for a regular RGN.
  • Double-Drop Trailer: Unpowered trailer used for tall goods.
  • Conestoga Trailer: Features a rolling tarp that can protect the goods inside or be rolled back for access.
  • Specialized Trailers: Custom-made trailers for the needs of specific goods.
Air Cargo Carrier
Air carriers move goods by air. Air freight carriers are a reliable and fast mode of transportation. Air cargo carriers’ downside is that they are the most expensive form of freight transportation.
Ocean Cargo Carrier

Ocean carriers are responsible for the pickup and delivery of goods via ships. They specialize in large shipments and the movement of goods over long distances. Non-Vessel Operating Common Carriers (NVOCCs) provide ocean transportation services without owning a vessel.

Rail Carriers
Rail carriers transport goods via trains. They specialize in bulky goods and transportation over medium to long distances.
Intermodal Freight Carriers

Intermodal carriers combine two or more modes of transportation to move goods from one point to another. Intermodal carriers move freight in a container or vehicle without the cargo being handled when changing modes. Intermodal transportation is a cost-effective option for large and bulky goods.

Learn more about choosing a TMS

How Do Freight Carriers Bill Customers?

  • Contract rates: Long-term, stable pricing on transportation services, usually set during annual bid processes through Requests for Proposals (RFPs).
  • Spot Rates: One-time, transactional fees for shipping at the current freight market pricing, which is based on supply and demand.
  • Line Haul: Moving freight or goods with a range of transport modes, which could include land, water, and air.
  • Accessorial Charges: Carrier fees in addition to standard pick-up and delivery.

How a TMS Manages Freight Carriers

A transportation management system (TMS) is a software platform that supports carrier management and visibility into all carriers and their services. It simplifies the process of comparing and selecting the best carrier for all freight transportation needs.

A TMS provides real-time tracking of shipment status and updates, giving shippers greater visibility into shipments and minimizing delays.

A TMS provides shippers with these benefits:
  • Onboarding carriers faster: Simplifies and automates the onboarding process for new carriers, reducing the time to onboard and allowing customers to quickly access a more extensive network.
  • Optimizing a carrier network: Streamlines freight transportation by providing customers with data-driven insights into their carrier network, identifying areas to improve carrier selection and performance.
  • Storing all carrier rate cards: Keeps rate cards in a single, centralized location, making it easier to compare rates and select the most cost-effective option.
  • Providing collaboration with carriers: Gives access to an integrated platform that allows customers to easily communicate with carriers, track shipments, and resolve issues quickly.

To have the best strategy for moving goods from one point to another and how to find carriers for freight, shippers need to consider various modes of transport and types of carriers, such as trucking, air, ocean, rail, and intermodal. This varies from one shipment to the next, so shippers must be aware of all options and adapt. A TMS provides visibility into all carriers, faster carrier onboarding, optimization of a carrier network, storage of all carrier rate cards, and collaboration with carriers within its platform. Contact us to learn more about MercuryGate TMS.

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