Posted August 2, 2023

Logistics Lingo for the Warehouse Pro

Logistics Lingo for the Warehouse Pro
By Gigi Tino

Every industry has a sort of “language” that is special to its environment. It is no surprise that the logistics and supply chain industry is no different! Special abbreviations, acronyms, and vocabulary are important factors that define and shape an industry’s standards and processes. Even various sectors of the logistics and supply chain industry have their own unique terms and acronyms. A warehouse is a busy environment where communicating with the right vocabulary is crucial for efficiency. Although it can seem overwhelming, familiarizing yourself with your work environment’s jargon is important for effective communication on the job.

Whether you are new to the industry or well-seasoned, staying on top of your lingo is important for being successful in your career. Warehouse operations involve various tasks that require clear and effective communication among team members. These operators include managing inventory, order fulfillment, shipping, material handling, and adhering to proper safety measures. Using common warehouse terms ensures everyone is on the same page and minimizes misunderstandings. Here is a short glossary with key terms to help you get started:

B2B (Business-to-Business):
Selling of goods from one business to another.

BTC (Business-to-Consumer):
Selling of goods from a business directly to consumers.

BOL (Bill of Lading):
A legal contract between a shipper and the carrier stating what goods you’re shipping, where the shipment is coming from and where it’s headed. A consignee checks the bill of lading against the shipment received before signing the proof of delivery.

Bulk Storage:
A storage method where items are stored in large quantities without individual packaging.

A logistics process where goods are transferred directly from incoming trucks to outbound trucks, reducing the need for storage in between and minimizing handling time.

Cycle Count:
A regular and ongoing process of counting a section of the warehouse's inventory to ensure accuracy. This also makes warehouse auditing more manageable.

Distribution Center:
A facility where goods are processed and prepared for shipping to their final destination. Many warehouses are also distribution centers, meaning they not only store or warehouse goods, but also order fulfillment and delivery services.

FIFO (First In, First Out):
An inventory management method where the oldest stock is sold or used first.

JIT (Just-In-Time):
A production and inventory management approach where goods are produced and delivered just in time for use, reducing inventory holding costs.

Last-Mile Delivery:
The final stage of the delivery process, where goods are transported from a distribution center to the end customer's doorstep. It is the final stage of the supply chain that happens after the delivery vehicle is packed.

Lead Time:
The time it takes for an order to be fulfilled, from the moment it is placed to the moment it is delivered.

LTL (Less Than Truckload):
A shipment that does not require a full truckload; it shares transportation space with other cargo from different companies.

Material Handling Equipment (MHE):
Equipment used to move, store, or handle goods within the warehouse, including forklifts, pallet jacks, conveyors, and automated systems.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration):
A government agency that sets and enforces workplace safety regulations.

Pick and Pack:
The process of picking and packing in the warehouse. Picking is the gathering of items a customer purchased for an order, and packing is the preparation of these goods for delivery.

PO (Purchase Order):
A document that specifies the details of a purchase between a supplier and buyer. Warehouses will send purchase orders to suppliers when their stock runs low.

The process in a warehouse of accepting, inspecting, and recording incoming shipments or deliveries. This is typically done by a receiving clerk.

Reverse Logistics:
The handling of goods backwards to their origin point through the supply chain back to the supplier. It can be thought of as the opposite flow of supply chain. This includes products being returned by consumers

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification):
A wireless tracking and data-transfer system that uses radio waves to identify and track items in the warehouse.

RMA (Return Merchandise Authorization):
A process where a customer obtains authorization to return a product for repair, replacement, or refund.

SKU (Stock Keeping Unit):
A unique identifier for a specific product or item in inventory that distinguishes it from the others. A commonly used example is scannable barcodes.

3PL (Third-Party Logistics):
A company that provides logistics services to other businesses, such as warehousing, transportation, and distribution.

WMS (Warehouse Management System):
Software used to manage and optimize warehouse operations, including inventory tracking, order processing, and shipping.

Yard Management:
The process of coordinating the movement and staging of inbound and outbound trucks and trailers in the warehouse yard.

These are just a few terms that will help you navigate the warehouse industry and understand the various processes involved in managing and operating in a warehouse. All warehouse professionals, including supervisors, forklift operators, order pickers, packers, and shipping personnel, should familiarize themselves with relevant terminology to perform their roles effectively. By doing so, you can contribute to the overall success of the warehouse operation, enhance customer satisfaction, and accelerate your career!