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Common Terms in Road Transport

Transloading

The act of loading goods directly from one truck to another truck, frequently done at border crossing points or points at which ownership changes hands. Can be used to speed up delivery to final destination.

Tractor

A powered vehicle with a heavy-duty engine specifically designed to pull large loads on trailers. Tractors usually run on diesel fuel, have multi-ratio gears, and come in the form of a large cab.

Trailer

An unpowered, multi axle platform that is pulled by a tractor. Trailers can have many configurations, including being flat surfaces, enclosed, refrigerated, two part (close-coupled) or some variation of therein.

Semi-truck / tractor trailer truck

The combination of a tractor coupled with a trailer, joined with an articulated joint (drawbar) that enables enhanced manoeuvrability. 

Single unit truck / straight truck

A truck where the cab and the truck bed section are permanently connected, and joints are not articulating. The wheels under the bed section can be powered from the main engine giving all-wheel drive and additional grip and handling on the road.

Axle

A rotating shaft that connects wheels on either side of the base of a vehicle. Trucks are often described by the number of axles they have. A higher number of axles may be required for heavier loads or unimproved/off road conditions.

Shunting

The act of transporting cargo over short-haul distances between near-by and often predefined locations, such as between a sea port and a warehouse. Shunting vehicles may require less specialty equipment and may incur less wear and tear, and often operate in urban environments.

Long haul

The act of moving cargo over long distances, comprising days or weeks and possibly crossing international boundaries. Long haul trucking may require cooking and sleeping amenities for drivers, repair equipment on board at all times, long range communication equipment, and may require off road capabilities.

Lift gate

A self-powered platform connected to the rear of a truck that will lift pallets/heavy cargo without the need for manual loading.

Intermodal

The act of switching between two modes of transport. In trucking, intermodal frequently refers to the use of shipping containers that can be loaded between different vessels and vehicles as a single unit without having to offload cargo.

Porter

Human, hand loading and offloading. Porters are heavily used in humanitarian contexts.

Bonded trucking

A truck that is hauling cargo that is yet uncleared into a country. Bonded trucking is highly regulated and comes with additional security precautions that must be complied with. Bonded trucking is typically for short-haul activities, such as moving cargo from an airport to an off side bonded storage facility.

Road Transport Arrangements

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