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Essential Logistics Vocabulary for Business English Learners

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It’s coming up to the time of year that we stop and think about logistics. With Black Friday and Christmas, parcels and cards multiply, and we all wonder how on earth, sea and sky everything manages to make it to its destination. 

Working in logistics though means you need a cool head to get through the sheer volume of paperwork and items, an eye for detail – one slip in a tracking number and Christmas could be ruined for someone, a knowledge of geography and a memory for acronyms helps, and of course having a level of English for work to be able to communicate with the full supply chain of people you’ll meet across the globe. 

62% have the necessary skills – that leave quite a lot of room for improvement and 32% of those organisations, interview in English. There are benefits outside of being able to communicate at work – you can use the skill on holidays and in your leisure time and also climb the career ladder faster and have the opportunity to work in other countries too. So, it is worth investing a bit of time in improving your language skills. 

EC offers Genneral English courses as well, and the chance to attend both in person and online classes and as a teaser, we’re sharing some of the most common words used in the logistics industry with you today. 

Logistics Vocabulary 

B/L or BOL – Bill of Lading – A document issued to a shipper which contains details about the method and destination of a shipment, plus basic information about the contents. A BOL can act as a receipt for the cargo and can be used as proof of ownership or authority to pick up and deliver. 

EDI – Electronic Data Interchange – The electronic exchange of information that was transmitted on paper in the past. The UN has developed EDI standards known as EDIFACT (Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce, and Transport), which provide a standard set of syntax rules to structure data. 

GRI – General Rate Increase – An amount by which ocean carriers increase their base rates due to increased demand. 

HAWB – House Air Waybill- A receipt issued by a freight forwarder for goods. It differs from an AirWay Bill in that the freight forwarder does not own or operate the aircraft. 

HazMat – Hazardous Materials – Any item or chemical which, when being transported or moved in commerce, is a risk to public safety or the environment, and is regulated as such under its Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration regulations (49 CFR 100-199). 

LTL – Less-than Truckload – A common logistics acronym that refers to shipments smaller than a whole truck load, from single boxes through multi-pallet shipments. 

TMS – Transportation Management System – A subset of supply chain management that often connects an ERP with legacy transportation management systems. Software offerings range from traditional license purchases to SaaS or cloud-based options, and combinations of the two. 

ABC – Activity-based Costing – A costing method where overhead costs are distributed across tasks and considered a direct cost. 

CFS – Container Freight Station A warehouse where freight shipments are consolidated or subdivided between segments of the supply chain. They are generally located near a port and are often Customs-bonded. Shipments are handled in CFS’s prior to import, which is important for LCL/LTL shipments (jump down below for LCL & LTL definitions). 

DP – Demand Planning Demand planning is forecasting demand for a particular service or product so that it can be manufactured and delivered when a customer needs it. It allows lower lead times and a better use of resources. 

FTZ – Free Trade Zone and Foreign Trade Zone – FTZs are a geographic area, warehouse or factory where goods may be delivered, stored, handled, manufactured, or reconfigured, and then re-exported without customs duty. Goods that undergo a tariff change while in the FTZ can be imported into the domestic market at the new tariff rate. 

OS&D – Over, Short, and Damaged – When goods are received damaged or in quantities smaller or larger than expected, the receiver can file an OS&D report. 

RFID – Radio Frequency Identification – Radio-frequency identification uses electromagnetic fields to track tags placed on objects. The tags contain stored information that can be used to identify what has been tagged. 

RL – Reverse Logistics Reverse logistics is the handling of goods that are moving backwards on the normal supply chain. This can include everything from recycling to customer returns. 

To wrap things up, we have looked at important vocabulary for business English students who want to study or work in logistics. These are just a few of the terms you’ll need to know to be successful in the field. If you are interested in learning more about how to do business in English, contact us today. We offer quality English courses that will help you achieve your professional goals. 

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