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of Terms

Glossary of logistics terms


Logistics is defined as the process of planning, implementing and controlling the efficient and cost-effective flow and storage of raw materials, in-process inventory, finished goods and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption, for the purpose of conforming to customer requirements. 

More simply, it is the science (and art) of ensuring that the right products reach the right place in the right quantity, at the right time to satisfy customer demand. 

Other definitions include “the time-related positioning of resource” or “the management of inventory in motion and at rest”.

Third Party Logistics “3PL” or “TPL”

Third Party Logistics or outsourced logistics; a 3PL is a specialised entity that operates and provides logistical services and as a Lead Logistics Partner (“LLP”), may also co-ordinate or integrate the services of others with complementary or supporting capabilities. 

Forth Party Logistics “4PL”

Fourth Party Logistics; supply chain co-ordination and management by an organisation that does not supply asset based logistical services. Rather it is an “integrator that assembles the resources, capabilities, and technology of its own organization and other organizations to design, supply chain solutions”. 4PL’s are non-asset based, as far as logistics, transportation, and supply chain management assets are concerned. 4PL’s use 2PL’s and 3PL’s to supply service to customers, owning only computer systems and intellectual capital.

ABC Activity Based Costing: common accounting method used, for example, where there are a number of different clients in a shared warehouse (see also ABM, ZBB). Also “ABC Analysis” or “ABC Classification”: the classification of different stock items in a warehouse in accordance with their importance (e.g. individual sales volumes) – where Class A contains items with the highest volume and Class C the lowest (aka “Distribution by Value”).

ABP Asset-Based Provider

ADR Accord Dangereuse Routiers (in full: “Accord European Relatif au Transport International des Marchandises Dangereuses par Route”): regulations for the international movement of hazardous goods by road (see also IMDG, CDG, RID).

ASN Advanced Shipping Notification or “Advance Ship Notice”: electronic pre-notification of an upcoming shipment to the next stage in the supply chain. Also known as an 856.

BIS Department for Business Innovation and Skills

B2B Business-to-Business: e-commerce term for communications between companies and their suppliers.

B2C Business-to-Consumer: e-commerce term for communications between companies and their customers (see also B2B).

BIFA British International Freight Association: UK trade association.

B/L Bill of Lading.

BOL Bill of Lading. Usually B/L.

BOM Bill of Material

BPI Business Process Improvement: business improvement practice using performance measurement to reduce or eliminate non-value added activities or costs, while at least maintaining quality, productivity, etc.

BPO Business Process Optimization – or Outsourcing. Sub-contracting of high level business application services (see also eBPO).

BPR Business Process Re-engineering: redesign of business processes to achieve dramatic improvements in quality, speed, service and cost.

BRF British Road Federation Ltd: UK trade association for those concerned with construction and use of roads.

BS British Standard: e.g. BS5750 (a quality standard, now known as ISO9000).

BSI British Standards Institution: UK standards organisation responsible for British Standards.

BWA Bonded Warehousekeepers’ Association: UK trade association.

BWS Beers, Wines and Spirits

CCLT Cranfield Centre for Logistics & Transportation: at the Cranfield School of Management (UK).

CDC Cross-Dock Centre: a stockless (or virtual) distribution centre where goods are generally not placed into storage for subsequent picking, but arrive and depart relatively quickly – by passing ‘across the dock’. This is achieved by suppliers delivering individual store orders. Also Consolidated Distribution Centre and Combined Distribution Centre. See also PBL.

CHEP Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool: a pallet (strictly a pooling system for pallets and automotive crates). CHEP is a division of the ‘new’ Brambles Group – a combination of Australia’s Brambles Industries Limited and the support services division of its former joint-venture partner, GKN plc.

CIPS Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply: UK-based international education and qualification body.

CIT Chartered Institute of Transport: UK professional body – now merged with the Institute of Logistics to form the Institute of Logistics and Transport (see ILT, MCIT, FCIT).

CLM Council of Logistics Management

CMR Customer Managed Relationship: a self-service approach to customer management, enabling people to obtain the services or information they need themselves. The acronym also denotes an international convention for the carriage of goods by road.

CPC Certificate of Professional Competence: a professional standard for UK road haulage operators, administered by the DfT 

CPFR Collaborative Planning, Forecasting & Replenishment (also CPFaR).

CPG Consumer Packaged Goods: see also FMCG.

CR Continuous Replenishment: a modification of QR which eliminates the need for replenishment orders – individual customer’s purchases trigger manufacturing and distribution. See also AR and VMI.

CRM Customer Relationship Management: software to manage and control relationships with customers (employs a management concept founded on the fact that a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profitability by 25—125%). See also SRM.

CRP Capacity Requirements Planning: the process of establishing, measuring and adjusting limits or levels of capacity – e.g. to determine the human and machine resources required for production. Also “Continuous Replenishment Programme” – customer-driven replenishment.

CSDF Cold Storage and Distribution Federation: UK trade body.

CSR Corporate Social Responsibility. 

CV Commercial Vehicle: a truck.

CVO Commercial Vehicle Operations

DC Distribution Centre. Also RDC, NDC, EDC, IDC.

DCM Distribution Channel Management: strategic management of direct and indirect supply channels. Also Demand Chain Management.

DETR Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions: former UK government department covering transport, part of which was itself previously known as the Department of Transport. Subsequently known as the DTLR  but now divided again (see DfT).

DfT Department for Transport: UK government department for transport, previously known variously as the DoT, DTp, DETR and DTLR .

DGSA Dangerous Goods Safety Advisors: DGSAs are required under European Commission Directive 96/35 for hauliers loading or transporting dangerous goods.

DM Depot Manager or “Depot Maintenance”.

DoTI Department of Trade & Industry: UK government department.

ECR Efficient Consumer Response: logistics discipline involving the synchronisation of supplers’ and retailers’ supply chains to reduce stocks. If stocks are cut then supply chains must be able to respond more efficiently to changes in consumer demand – i.e. they must make an “efficient consumer response”. (See also AR, CR, ER, QR, etc.)

EDC European Distribution Centre: see also RDC, NDC, IDC. Also “Electronic Data Capture”.

EDI Electronic Data Interchange: electronic transfer of data – especially sales volumes, stocks, orders, etc. See also FEDI, TEDIS.

EDIFACT Electronic Data Interchange for Administration, Commerce & Transport: a UN initiative (see UN/EDIFACT directory).

ELI Employers’ Liability: insurance.

EPoS Electronic Point of Sale: system for capturing sales data at the checkout.

ERP Enterprise Resource Planning: integration of technology to run all manufacturing and related processes across an entire enterprise. Also “Electronic Road Pricing”.

ETA Estimated Time of Arrival

FCD First Class Distribution: logistics standard introduced by major retailers in the UK.

FCIT Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Transport: chartered fellow of the UK Institute of Logistics and Transport. See also ILT, MILT, MCIT, FILT.

FCL Full Container Load

F/CPG Food/Consumer Packaged Goods: see also FMCG.

FEU Forty-Foot Equivalent Unit: a standard measure for containers (see also TEU).

FF Freight Forwarder

FGP Factory Gate Pricing: price excludes delivery. By taking over responsibility for primary transport, retailers aim to reduce empty running.

FILog Fellow of the Institute of Logistics: old designation for fellows of this UK Institute (now known as the Institute of Logistics and Transport). See also ILT, FILT, FCIT.

FILT Fellow of the Institute of Logistics and Transport: fellow of UK professional body. See also ILT, MILT, FCIT, MCIT.

FMCG Fast Moving Consumer Goods: i.e. food, drink, pharmaceuticals, household products, etc.

FTA Freight Transport Association: UK trade association. Also “Free Trade Agreement”.

FTL Full Truck Load or Full Trailer Load. Also former name of TBG’s IT department.

GF-X Global Freight eXchange: proprietary electronic trading platform for airlines and forwarders.

GKN A pallet (see CHEP).

GM General Maintenance: routine or scheduled maintenance (see also IM, OM). 

Also “General Manager” and General Merchandise 

GOH Garments on Hanger

GPS Global Positioning System: satellite based location system, used in vehicle positioning.

GRN Goods Returned Note or Goods Received Note

GVW Gross Vehicle Weight: maximum rated weight of a truck, including its cargo. See also 


H&S Health & Safety. Also HSE: Health & Safety Executive.

HGV Heavy Goods Vehicle: a truck. See also LGV.

HPT Hand Pallet Truck

IATA International Air Transport Association

IDC International Distribution Centre

IIP Investors In People

IL Integrated Logistics

ILS Integrated Logistics Support. Also “Inbound Logistics Services” (formerly Nominated Carrier Services), 

ILT Institute of Logistics and Transport: UK-based professional body, combining the Institute of Logistics and the Chartered Institute of Transport (tel.: +44 (0)1536 740100; fax: +44 (0)1536 740101; e-mail: enquiry@institute-of-logistics.org.uk.). See also MILT, FILT, MCIT, FCIT.

IoL Institute of Logistics: former name of UK-based professional body, now known as the Institute of Logistics and Transport – see ILT.

IOM Institute of Operations Management (UK).

IoTA Institute of Transport Administration: UK trade association.

IS Information System

ISC International Supply Chain Ltd

ISDN Integrated Services Digital Network: standard medium for transmitting voice, video and data over networks.

ISO International Standards Organization. Geneva-based standards organisation, represented in the UK by the BSI and in the USA by ANSI . Also “ISO container” (a standard stackable container) and, for example, ISO9000 (a quality standard).

IT Information Technology: computer hardware, software, the Internet, etc. Also Industrial Tribunal.

ITT Invitation to Tender


Just in Time: logistics discipline requiring increased frequency and regularity of deliveries to reduce stocks in the supply chain. Frequently used in manufacturing to cut or even eliminate component stocks. See also MRP.


Just in Time Delivery: see JIT.

kph kilometres per hour

KPI Key Performance Indicator

LCL Less than Container Load: container groupage. Also “Less than Carload”: a railfreight term.

LGV Light Goods Vehicle. See also “HGV”.

LL Lean Logistics: also L² – efficient logistics.

LLP Lead Logistics Partner: a 3PL  that controls other outsourced supply chain elements.

LMS Logistics Management Systems

LOG Logistics

LSP Logistics Service Provider: logistics contractor

LT Lead Time

LTL Less Than Truckload: part load.

LX Logistics Exchange


Management Buy Out. 


Member of the Chartered Institute of Transport: now a chartered member of the UK Institute of Logistics and Transport. Also ILT, MILT, FCIT, FILT.


Member of the Institute of Logistics: former designation of this UK Institute (now known as the Institute of Logistics and Transport). Now see MILT, ILT.


Member of the Institute of Logistics and Transport: member of UK professional body. Also ILT, FILT, MCIT, FCIT.


Management Information System


Management of Change


Manufacturing Requirements Planning (aka “Manufacturing Resource Planning”): production-led planning technique seen as precursor to JIT. Now revived as MRP II. See also DRP.


Merchandisable Unit: usually a dolly or wheeled carrier that is loaded with pre-merchandised product straight off the production line, but which travels right through the supply chain to the store sales area.


Nominated Carrier Scheme: retailer specifies which carrier(s) should be used by suppliers to transport merchandise into its distribution centres. Also “Nominated Carrier Services” (see ILS).


National Distribution Centre: same as RDC , but with distribution on a national rather than regional basis. See also EDC, IDC.


Operator: as in “O-Licence” – a licence to operate commercial vehicles.


Own Account Operator: e.g. the in-house road haulage sector


Open Book: contractor accounting system that is transparent to clients.


Order Cycle: time and/or operations between order placement and final delivery.


Order Entry. See also OP.


Physical Distribution Management: aka logistics. Also “Product Development & Management”.


Perpetual Inventory


Purchase Order


Proof of Delivery


Point of Sale: see also EPoS and EFTPoS.


Quality Control: also “QCP” – Quality Control Program(me).


Quality, Safety, Health and Environment


Regional Distribution Centre: one of a network of large warehouses operated for a single retailer where merchandise is consolidated prior to delivery to its local stores. See also NDC, EDC, IDC.


Request For Information: precursor to an ITT.


Request For Proposal: document that invites bids or quotations from suppliers.


Request For Quote: see RFP.


Request For…: simultaneous request for information (RFI) and request for proposal/quotation (RFP/RFQ).


Road Haulage Association: UK trade association.


Receipt, Handling and Despatch


Roll-on/Roll-off: drive on ferry service for accompanied trailers. See also Lo/Lo.


Supply Chain


Supply Chain Collaboration


Supply Chain Execution: see also SCP.


Supply Chain Event Management. Often refers to software for monitoring, controlling and measuring supply chain activity.


Supply Chain Integration: supply chain elements working together for maximum efficiency.


Supply Chain Management. Often refers to software for automating the supply chain. 


Supply Chain Optimisation


Supply Chain Planning: see also SCE.


Stock Keeping Unit: individual stock item.


Small to Medium Enterprise: not a big company.


Slow Moving Goods: Can also refer to a distribution centre for such merchandise.


Supplier Relationship Management: see also CRM.


Terms and conditions


Twenty-Foot Equivalent Unit: a standard measure for containers (see also FEU).


Transport International Routiers: system of road transport where trailers are sealed at departure and opened at the destination, with free access across borders. No longer in use within the EC.


Transport Manager & Optimiser: a module within the i2 transportation and distribution management software suite.


Transport Management System


Third Party Logistics: outsourced logistics. Also “3PL”.


Third-Party Provider: logistics contractor (see also LSP).


Total Quality Management: business management techniques designed to systematically reduce errors and raise service quality.


Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Act, 1981: UK regulations which protect employees’ rights when ownership of a business or enterprise changes hands.


Value-Added Data Services. See also VAN.


Value Added Network: also “Value Added Network Services”. See also VADS.


Value Added Services


Value Chain Analysis. Also “Vehicle Certification Agency”: undertakes type approval tests on vehicles, components and systems.


Value Chain Management


Virtual Logistics


Vendor managed inventory


Web Application Meets Bricks & Mortar: see also DOTBAM.


Wide Area Network: network with a geographical spread of more than a mile – often comprising connected LANs .


Work In Progress


Warehouse Management System: software to manage inventories.


Working Time Directive: EC Directive covering, inter alia, drivers’ hours.