What’s the difference between 1PL, 2PL, 3PL & 4PL?

Logistics offers many different options and flavors. Within this market, we mainly help logistics service providers, or 3PL’ers, with our software. What is the difference between 3PL and, for example, 2PL? We kick off the logistics glossary below with these definitions.


First-Party Logistics: the logistics are handled by the organization that also produces these goods itself.


Second-Party Logistics: companies that focus mainly focus on the takeover of traditional logistics tasks, such as transport, storage, and transshipment.


Third-Party Logistics: a company that provides third-party logistics service to its customers as (part of) their supply chain management functions. These organizations are often specialized in integrated operation; storage and transportation services that can be scaled and adapted to the needs of their customers based on market conditions.


Fourth-Party Logistics: an organization that takes over Supply Chain Management for third parties and does not have its own transport or warehouse equipment, but concludes long-term contracts with several parties.

Logistic definitions with an A


Air Cargo Netherlands: the branch association for the air cargo industry in the Netherlands. ACN’s primary objective is to develop the Dutch air cargo industry in the broadest sense of the word.


“Accord européen relatief au transport international de marchandises Dangereuses par Route.” Thee European regulations for the transport of dangerous goods by road.


Administrative stock

The number of goods that must be present according to the stock administration. In other words: the registered stock. Keeping the administrative stock up to date is often done using Cycle Counting.



Authorized Economic Operator. A company or organization involved in the international movement of goods and that has been approved by a national Customs administration. AEO permits can offer many benefits to your company if you participate in international trade



Automated declaration system of the Dutch customs. Customs introduced one new declaration system in phases in the period 2012-2016: AGS. AGS is the successor to Sagitta Invoer and Sagitta Uitvoer.

Air Waybill (AWB)

The air waybill covers the entire journey, from the airport of departure to the airport of arrival, even if part of the journey is done by road transport.



An API (Application Programming Interface) is an intermediary program between the system of the user and the source. This software interface makes sure two applications can communicate with each other. Almost all platforms on which you request information (or another request), and you automatically receive an answer, work with API’s these days. Read more about how you can automate customer communication with APIs.


Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI reffers to intelligence demonstrated by computers, programs and machines . Here is how  AI can help you increase margins.

Logistic definitions with a B


One-dimensional (bar)coding with which goods can automatically be identified (with a scanner). Often referred to as barcode by consumers.

Best before

Best before; an important aspect, especially for logistics service providers within the food sector and cold stores.

Bill of Lading (B/L)

The shipping document that was originally used exclusively for shipment by sea-going vessel.

Block pallet

One of the most commonly used pallet types. The block pallet has a size of 100 cm x 120 cm. Also known as an industrial pallet.

Bonded goods

Goods that are stored in a bonded warehouse.

Bonded warehouse

A warehouse for (customs) goods that have not yet been cleared, subject to import duties.


BRE Environmental Assessment Method. BREEAM is an assessment method for determining the sustainability of buildings. It is increasingly common for new warehouses to be built according to BREEAM standards, to limit the ecological footprint.

Logistic definitions with a C


Transport by a carrier from one EU Member State between two points within the borders of another Member State. To do this, haulers must have a Community license and are allowed to drive a maximum of three cabotage journeys within 7 days, after which they must cross the border.

Chain management

Way of working to improve the cooperation between the various links in the logistics chain so that an integral process is created.

Chain management is understood as the management and control of dynamic and sometimes virtual logistics chains and networks. Chain management aims to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the logistics process by providing optimal service to the customer and by controlling integral logistics costs and keeping them as low as possible.

City distribution

See also logistics hub. Distribution specified on city logistics, in which efficient, smart and sustainable transport is central.


Convention Relative au Contrat de Transport International de Marchandises par Route: mandatory treaty on provisions to regulate the consignment note and the carrier’s liability in a uniform manner in all Member States.

Cold chain

A supply chain that is fully temperature regulated to extend the shelf life of products. Many cold stores can be found in cold chains.

Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, Replenishment (CPFR)

Rules-based software routines that generate forecasts and needs based on historical purchasing patterns, so data-driven.


General cargo to be shipped, a frequently used term during order picking.


Combining several loads in a single shipment to achieve substantial savings on freight costs. In road transport, this is also known as groupage.


Transport unit for freight transport, reinforced and stackable and suitable for horizontal and vertical transshipment. Invented in the 1930s, officially in use since 1955.

Cross docking

Efficient distribution concept in which items are moved directly from inbound to outbound, without having to store them first. Another term used for this is transshipment.


Customs is a government agency charged with enforcing customs legislation in a country. You can think of combating smuggling and collecting import duties. The duties and powers of a customs service often differ considerably from country to country.

Cycle Counting

An efficient approach to periodically counting the current stock in the warehouse, so that any administrative stock can be rectified. Read more about the possibilities >>

Logistic definitions with a D

DC (distribution center)

A location where a company has housed the logistics of goods. From a DC, goods are received, distributed, and transported to other destinations.

Dedicated warehouse

A warehouse that is entirely at the service (dedicated) of one owner of the goods (shipper).


Storage place for goods.



Digitalization is the adoption or increased use of digital or computer technology.


Digital tachograph

A tachograph records driving and rest times, speed, and distance traveled by a vehicle. The digital tachograph has been mandatory since 1 May 2006 for heavy trucks and buses and since 24 July 2009 for light commercial vehicles in professional freight transport.

Dock; loading and unloading dock

A loading and unloading dock is a place against or in a building where a truck can load and unload. This takes into account the direct entry and exit of, for example, roll containers, forklifts, and hand trucks.

Logistic definitions with an E

e-Air Waybill (e-AWB)

Digital version of the Air Waybill.


Electronic commerce; internet sales through webshops.


The logistics of e-commerce. E-fulfillment stands for the actual delivery of products ordered online to the end consumer. Organizations that specify e-fulfillment often offer extra service on top of this, to optimize the customer journey.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI)

A standard for the electronic exchange of certain corporate documents. This includes orders, invoices, and certain messages or confirmations, such as Proof of Delivery. Since the relevant documents must conform to certain standard templates, it is mainly used for automating repetitive actions. For more information, see Boltrics’ DataHub.

Enterprise Resource Planning system (ERP)

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) is business management software, typically a set of integrated applications, that a company can use to store and manage data from every stage of business life, including product planning, cost and development, manufacturing, marketing, and sales, inventory management and shipping and payment. Our customers use Microsoft’s ERP, ERP van MicrosoftDynamics 365 Business Central, for this.

Euro pallet

One of the most commonly used pallet types. The euro pallet has a size of 80 cm x 120 cm.

Logistic definition with an F

First-Party Logistics (1PL)

The logistics are handled by the organization that also produces these goods itself.


The fleet is the entirety of vehicles that a company owns. In the context of logistics service providers, this often concerns trucks. How to manage your fleet?


A forwarding company mediates (part of) the logistics process for clients and concludes forwarding– and transport agreements for this purpose. An intermediary between a carrier and a shipper.

Fourth Party Logistics (4PL)

An organization that provides Supply Chain Management for third parties and does not have its own transport or warehouse equipment, but concludes long-term contracts with multiple parties.

Full Container Load (FCL)

When a load to be transported is sufficient to fill a container, it is referred to as a Full Container Load.

Full Truck Load (FTL)

A full truckload is transported to a single consignee.

Freight Management System (FMS)

software solution that supports freight forwarders with the handling of air freight, sea freight, road transport, and customs activities.

Logistic definitions with a G

Good Distribution Practice (GDP) warehouse

To guarantee the quality of medicines, specific requirements apply to the storage, transport, and distribution of these products. This includes packaging, temperature, batch registration, an inspection of documents, separate storage, etc. This is settled in the European guidelines for the distribution of pharmaceutical products: Good Distribution Practices (GDP).


Part shipments: combining several journeys in a single shipment in road transport to achieve a substantial saving on transport costs.

Logistic definitions with an H


Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points: a system to identify specific hazards and preventive measures to control these hazards.


Handling costs

All the costs involved in moving, transferring, preparing, and managing inventory.


Hazardous Substances

Goods to which special regulations and procedures apply regarding their storage and transport. This applies to explosives, gases, flammable liquids, flammable solids, oxidizing substances, radioactive materials, corrosive substances, and various hazardous substances and objects. Provision is documented in “UN Recommendations on the Transport of Dangerous Goods” of the United Nations.

House Air Waybill (HAWB)

A House Air Waybill accompanies (air freight) shipments from different senders, which are grouped to be shipped together.

Logistic definitions with an I


Receiving goods at a warehouse, to subsequently store them or immediately prepare them for transport.

Logistic definitions with a K

Key Performance Indicator (KPI)

Critical or key performance indicator: variables to analyze company performance. These form the basis of measuring processes. There are the most important KPIs for logistics service providers, which you can analyze, for example, with Power BI.

Logistic definitions with an L

Loading unit

Standardized units in which cargo can be transported, such as containers and swap bodies.

Loading meter

A standardized benchmark in road transport. A loading meter is one linear meter of loading space in a truck. How do you (automatically) calculate this with the load meter functionality?


The transport of goods over the last meters to the final destination. A part on which transport companies specialize, for example from logistics city hubs.

Less than full truck load (LTL)

If a load is not sufficient to fully or almost fully load a journey, it is called Less than full truck load (LTL). So this is the counterpart of FTL.

Load factor

The percentage of the total load capacity (in kg) or the load volume (in m3) that is used.

Logistic Service Provider (LSP)

Logistics service providers, or 3PL’ers; a company that provides transportation, warehousing, distribution, and/or related services to other companies in the supply chain. All our customers are logistics service providers.


Logistics is the organization, planning, management, and execution of the flow of goods, and the science about it. Simply put: “getting the right things in the right location at the right time at minimal cost”.

Logistics center

Center of logistics activities. This may concern a business site, but also a transfer point or a specific region. Nowadays often referred to as a logistics hotspot.

Logistics hub

A distribution center, often on the outskirts of a city, to realize last-mile deliveries. These are often set up to avoid polluting transport outside the city or to lose time on delays around supplies and delivery.

Logistic definitions with an M

Master Air Waybill (MAWB)

A Master Air Waybill accompanies shipments from different senders, which are grouped to be shipped together, during transportation.

Logistic definitions with an N


Dutch Cold Chain Association (Nederlandse Vereniging van Koel Vrieshuizen): trade association for warehouses that store conditioned goods. Also the name of our solution our solution for this type of warehouse, which was set up in collaboration with the Nekovri.

Logistic definitions with an O


OAuth2 is a way to safely give access to third parties for using your APIs or HTTP endpoints. In other words, a way to safely integrate. Whereas Basic Authentication uses a log-in, OAuth2 gives these third parties access to your application via an access token. This token contains information about the so-called applicant. Based on that information, your system automatically determines if this party should have access to your system and what rights they must have. Therefore, an acquainted and trusted app does not have to log in over and over again. While the integration does secure itself by consciously renewing the tokens.

Occupancy rate

The occupancy rate is the percentage of the total storage space (in m2 or pallets) in a warehouse that is used. Also one of the most important KPIs according to logistics service providers.

On-board computer

A small computer in the cab of a truck. The onboard computer is often connected to other equipment, such as scanners, printers, temperature or safety sensors, or a WMS/TMS. Drivers can exchange live data with the back office via the onboard computer.

Order picking

Collecting goods according to orders. Also called order picking, which uses many different strategies and executions.


Orders Shipped Complete On Time: percentage of the number of orders that were delivered completely and on the agreed time. An important benchmark for clients and therefore one of the most important KPIs for logistics service providers.


The process by which goods leave a warehouse, including the administrative processing of the operation and loading the loaders.

Logistic definitions with a P


Packaging material, such as a crate or a bottle. A deposit is often calculated on this.


Elevated platform to facilitate lifting and stacking of goods. Usually made of wood, often plastic. See also block pallet and euro pallet.

Paperless Goods Tracking System (PGTS)

A digital system at Schiphol that quickly exchanges goods between the 1st and 2nd line without customs declarations. This system has replaced DGVS since 2019.


Proof of Delivery. Delivery confirmation, often issued by a driver and signed by the recipient. With the App Platform Boltrics offers practical and efficient options for this, with which the PoD can be seen directly in the system.


Mutual coordination, logistics planning, and information exchange take place in the port of Rotterdam via Portbase’s Port Community System.

Public warehouse

Warehouse for more than one customer. See also dedicated warehouse.

Logistic definitions with an R

RFID identification (RFID)

Radiofrequency identification, or identification with radio waves: a technology for storing and reading information from RFID stickers remotely. This technology can be found in scanners, for example.

Road transport

All movements of goods and passengers by road vehicle on a specific road network.

Route planning system

route planning system uses PTV to indicate the optimal route for one car between two or more addresses. This takes into account the distance and driving time.

Logistic definitions with an S

Sea freight (or ocean freight)

All movements of goods and passengers by boat on waterways, open seas, and oceans.

Second Party Logistics (2PL)

Companies that focus on Second-Party Logistics mainly focus on the takeover of classic logistics tasks, such as transport, storage, and transshipment.

Serial Shipping Container Code (SSCC)

An internationally accepted shipping code that suppliers can put on their pallets and containers in the form of a barcode. You can personalize this so that it is recognizable to your customers.

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Contract in which quality agreements are made between supplier and buyer of a service or product.


The party that has a load transported by a carrier. Within the context of Boltrics, these are our customers’ customers.

Shipping documents

The recording of a contract for the carriage of goods. The shipper agrees with the carrier that it will receive a specific load and transport it to an unloading address to deliver the load to a destination. The consignment note contains the information required to perform the contract of carriage. The Dutch law ‘Wegvervoer Goederen (WWG – the Road Transport Goods Act) states that waybills must be present in the vehicle during transport.

Stock keeping unit (SKU)

A unique code associated with a specific product to identify it.


The (long-term) storage of goods in a warehouse.

Storage plant

A company specially equipped for the storage of goods, often for long-term storage.


In some cases, a carrier uses a sub-carrier for (a part of) the actual transport because of more favorable rates, for example, because it has more experience in specific areas. Other commonly used terms for this are charter and subcontractor.

Supply chain

A chain of activities aimed at bringing a product or service from supplier to customer.

Supply Chain Management (SCM)

The management of a network of connected companies engaged in providing products and services to end-users in a supply chain. Often assigned to (logistics) consultancy companies.

Logistic definitions with a T

Third-Party Logistics (3PL)

A company that provides service to its customers of third party logistics services (part of) their supply chain management functions. These organizations often specialize in integrated operations; storage and transportation services that can be scaled and adapted to the needs of their customers based on market conditions.

Track & Trace

Track & trace systems enable transport companies based on GPS technology to track their fleet remotely in real-time.

Transport Management System (TMS)

system that helps transport companies streamline their operations. From route planning, resource planning, and route optimization to customs clearance and order management.

Transport software

Transport software is the collective name for applications that are used to increase the efficiency and productivity of the logistics company and to save costs.


See cross-docking


A loaded journey with one or more types of goods and a large number of loading and unloading activities during the journey. The loaded ride starts and ends in the same place.

Trip planning system

A system that allows you to calculate how best to combine transport orders into journeys. This takes into account carriers, window times at loading and unloading addresses, working times, distances, etc.

Turnover rate

The number of times per year that the average inventory is converted (in quantities). With the turnover rate, you can calculate how many days specific products are in the warehouse on average. More information about this important KPI can be found here.

Logistical definitions with a U

Logistical defintions with a V

Value Added Logistics (VAL)

Additional services that are added to a product during the logistics process, such as packaging, repacking, labeling, pricing, and assembly.

Value Added Services (VAS)

Additional non-physical, administrative activities/services that are added to a product, usually by a logistics service provider, such as call center activities, customer services, training, and financial services. VAS is directly linked to the flow of goods.

Logistical definitions with a W


A space/location in which goods are temporarily stored. From a warehouse, goods are received, distributed and transported to other destinations.

Warehouse Management

Warehouse management: controlling, maintaining, and controlling all warehouse processes and activities.

Warehouse Management System (WMS)

WMS manages, among other things, the location division in a racking warehouse handles the order flow in the correct planning sequence, and manages the goods flows. For logistics service providers, 3PL Dynamics has been supporting warehouse processes for some time.


The process by which stocks are stored in a building, goods are regrouped, and/or goods are transferred to another means of transport. In other words, all warehouse processes together.

Logistic definitions with an X


Extensible Markup Language: a standard that allows structured data to be displayed in the form of plain text. A logistics entrepreneur can deliver the correct data faster and easier via XML. For example via the DataHub.

Logistic definitions with a Y

Yard Management

With Yard Management you stimulate throughput around your warehouse and trucks deliver a higher return. You streamline the import and export of (external) suppliers, to use your manpower and physical space as efficiently as possible.

Logistic definitions with a Z

Zebra Programming Language (ZPL)

ZPL is a language of Zebra Technologies. It is mainly used for labeling articles so that they are more recognizable. You can easily design them yourself with our WMS.

Missing relevant logistics definitions?

The industry of logistics service providers cannot simply be poured into a list of logistics definitions. But together, we can go a long way. Are you missing important concepts or do you need in-depth information about one of the above logistics definitions? Ask us and we will get back to you as soon as possible.