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From ELD to TMS: Decoding Transportation’s Acronym Soup

The global transportation supply chain is complex, with stakeholders throughout the world working together to pair freight with available capacity to move shipments from point of origin to final destination.

The complex nature of the supply chain also gives rise to a wide range of terms and acronyms that refer to key aspects of the industry. Whether you are new to transportation or a seasoned professional, keeping track of what each of these terms means can sometimes be a challenge.

In this blog post, we do a brief refresher of some common industry acronyms, what they mean and how each one plays a role in helping the global supply chain work safely and efficiently

Some of these acronyms include:


BOL: Bill of Lading

A bill of lading (BOL) refers to a document that a carrier provides to a shipper to acknowledge the receipt of the freight they are carrying. Some common details included in a BOL are what the freight is, its quantity and destination. The BOL also accompanies the freight to its final destination to serve as a way for the receiver to acknowledge its successful delivery.

While transportation has evolved, the concept of a BOL is nothing new. In fact, the modern BOL can trace its roots as far back as to Roman times.


CDL: Commercial Driver’s License

Operating a commercial vehicle is a big responsibility. In order to ensure the proper training, most commercial drivers are required to obtain a commercial driver’s license (CDL) in their home state.

To receive a CDL, potential license holders must pass both a skills and knowledge test. Some additional endorsements may be required if a driver is operating a special vehicle such as a tank truck or one hauling potentially hazardous materials. 


CDMA: Code-Division Multiple Access

In a world of remote diagnostics and electronic logging (more on that later), commercial vehicles are increasingly required to maintain some sort of connectivity to wireless networks. Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) refers to an older, 3G network that many legacy telematics devices utilize.

As wireless carriers invest in faster 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) networks, they are beginning to sunset their CDMA networks. For fleets that utilize older devices, they may need to consider upgrading their equipment to ensure continued connectivity.


CMV: Commercial Motor Vehicle

Just as commercial drivers need to obtain a special license, the federal government also classifies commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in their own category. A CMV is defined as a vehicle “used on the highways in interstate commerce to transport passengers or property.”

In addition to how it is used, a vehicle is classified as a CMV if it meets certain weight and passenger thresholds, as well as if it is hauling material designated as hazardous.


CSA: Compliance, Safety and Accountability

Compliance, Safety and Accountability or CSA is the safety and compliance program of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The program is designed to keep carriers and their drivers accountable for safety on our nation’s roadways.

The program utilizes data from roadside inspections, crash reports and investigation results to identify carriers most at-risk and to prioritize them for interventions to improve their safety and potentially avoid future accidents and violations.


ELD: Electronic Logging Devices

An electronic logging device (ELD) is used to electronically track a driver’s Hours of Service. ELDs connect directly with a vehicle’s engine to record driving time, helping to improve the accuracy and visibility of driver records to help improve safety on the road for all drivers.

ELDs became required for many fleets in the U.S. in 2019, with Canada mandating them by June 2021. Fleets can utilize the rich amount of driver data provided by ELDs to improve driverand vehicle performance, empowering them to optimize available driver hours, proactively spot potential compliance issues and integrate driver and vehicle information with critical back office systems.


FMCSA: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA is the lead transportation regulatory body of the U.S. federal government. The FMCSA is tasked with regulating and providing safety oversight of CMVs to help reduce accidents and fatalities involving commercial vehicles.

The FMCSA was established within the Department of Transportation and came into existence on January 1, 2000.


HOS: Hours of Service

Hours of Service (HOS) refer to the time that CMV drivers spend on duty. This time can include driving time but can also encapsulate other time drivers spend on the clock. The FMCSA regulates HOS to ensure drivers are getting the proper amount of rest to ensure they stay awake and alert when behind the wheel.

In September 2020, the FMCSA implemented HOS rule changes to provide drivers with additional flexibility when operating on ELDs, including adjustments to the short-haul exemption and 30-minute rest break requirement as well as allowing drivers more discretion when using the split-sleeper-berth exception or when encountering adverse driving conditions.


IFTA: International Fuel Tax Agreement

Certain CMVs that travel in more than one U.S. state or Canadian province need to file a report of all motor fuel taxes, noting miles traveled and the amount of fuel consumed.

The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) is an agreement between Canadian provinces and some U.S. states to streamline the reporting of fuel use and ensure the proper amount of tax is paid and attributed to the correct state or province.


OS&D: Over, Short and Damaged

As freight moves throughout the supply chain, sometimes issues will arise - whether it is the wrong item(s) or quantities being shipped or freight is damaged in its journey. 

Over, Short & Damaged (OS&D) refers to any freight that fits this category and is used to help specify what went wrong so that carriers and receivers can rectify the situation appropriately.


PC: Personal Conveyance

Some carriers allow drivers to use vehicles for personal use when off duty. This personal conveyance (PC) is a special driving category that drivers must account for on their ELD.

When using the PC category, drivers must change their duty status from “Off Duty” to “PC”. Once the truck starts moving, the ELD will automatically place this off-duty driving time on line 1 of the ELD record, as opposed to the line 3 driving line.


PM: Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance or PM is regular, planned maintenance of CMVs and other assets to keep them up and running. From oil changes and adjustments to parts replacements, regular PM intervals help carriers to avoid unplanned maintenance events and the potential for costly downtime. 

Many fleets utilize an asset maintenance platform to help electronically manage the upkeep of their assets, reducing paperwork and increasing visibility of maintenance activities across the organization.


POD: Proof of Delivery

Proof of Delivery (POD) is a document used to confirm that a shipment successfully made it to its destination. 

Initially paper-based, technology has evolved to digitize PODs and to help improve document management. Not only does this reduce paperwork but an electronic solution can help carriers speed up the invoicing process.


TMS: Transportation Management System

A transportation management system (TMS) manages the entirety of a transportation organization’s operations - from order entry, load planning and tracking to customer service, driver management and dispatch. 

By utilizing a TMS, transportation organizations get critical information in one place, including location data, statuses, ETAs, load details and driver and equipment information - all adding up to increased operational efficiency and productivity.


YM: Yard Move

Similar to PC, Yard Moves (YM) is a special driving category designated by the ELD mandate for any movement of a vehicle that occurs off a public road, such as at a terminal or other company facility.

As is the case with PC time, it is crucial that drivers designate any YM time to ensure it is captured properly by the ELD.


Expand Your Transportation Knowledge with Trimble

The transportation industry has a lot of acronyms and understanding some of the more common ones is important, regardless of your role or place in the supply chain.

Looking for more opportunities to increase your transportation IQ? Check out our blog to stay up to date on the latest news from Trimble and around the industry.