What Is a Bill of Lading?

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What Is a Bill of Lading?

freight brokering

August 18, 2021

Freight Brokering


           A bill of lading is a document that is required for nearly every hauling job. It acts as multiple documents at once, a receipt, a contract between carrier and shipper, and is a document of title. The bill of lading or some alternative will always be involved as part of the owner operator paperwork that is in every job you take. Knowing your way around one will ultimately benefit your business.


           First, let’s talk about what goes into each bill of lading. The names of both the shipper and the receiver will go on the document. Next will be the purchase orders, or special reference numbers. These could be important for actually picking up and dropping off cargo. Then there’s the special instructions. This is a section where you will include anything that doesn’t require extra service but is still important for the job to get done. Then we also have the date that the shipment is picked up. This is important for tracking the cargo. There should also always be a description of the items aboard the truck. This could include the number of units, the dimensions of the items and info about what the items actually are. Then we have the packaging material. This part will just talk about what is being used to keep the cargo in place, whether it’s crates or something else. The form will then talk about the NMFC freight class. This is important because it can affect the cost of the shipment. The freight class is checked in a number of different categories. The last part of the bill of lading is not one you’ll find on all of them. It’s the Department of Transportation hazardous material designation. If your cargo has anything hazardous in it, then your bill of lading must reflect that as well. If not, then you’re in the clear.

Common Slang in A Bill of Lading

           When it comes to writing a bill of lading, and the industry as a whole, many people involved in hauling have developed some slang that those on the outside may not understand. Most forms of slang in a bill of lading will be the various terms and phrases just shortened down to acronyms, like the form itself is sometimes referred to as aBOL. Other common slang terms in the hauling industry are usually in reference to vehicles. For example, a trailer can be referred to as a “rig,” and “bundled out” implies that a trucker has a full load.

Where They Came From

As you can see BOLs are quite important for the trucking industry. However, they didn’t start as the end all be all form they are today. Initially BOLs were simply the receipts for a hauling job. They didn’t have any of the official info that they need today and didn’t really mean all that much in the hauling world. The need for the other information on BOLs came from the idea that a document was needed to indicate who the goods belonged to. Though BOLs remained partly as receipts for transactions and freight brokers, they ultimately became so much more. They decided who the goods belonged to. Now,they do both of those things and more. The protect hauler, the shipper and the receiver from any sort of illegal activity and ensure that every job is completed as intended. Though the bill of lading for each job is extremely important, there are a handful of different kinds of BOLs that can show up in place of the typical BOL that you would normally see on an order.

Different Kinds of BOLs

           First there’s the to order BOL,which is used when payment for the cargo is not made beforehand, and the price of the cargo may still change. Then, we have the consignment BOL, which is used when the items being shipped have already been paid for. The claused BOL is used when cargo arrives to the consumer damaged or in some way different than what was asked for. Then there’s the electronic bill of lading which as expected is just an online version of the BOL which can be more convenient. The final BOL is called the negotiable BOL which is used whenever the customer whois supposed to receive the shipment is not yet known or definite.


           Bill of Ladings are an important part of the trucking industry. A BOL of some sort is required on nearly every job, and without it the safety of every deal would be put at risk. There are many different BOLs to fit into many different scenarios. After enough time doing them, the BOLs you fill out for your business will seem much easier with each job you find.


An end dumps carry weight depends heavily on the specific road regulations, the power unit weight, and the composition of the trailer. A steel trailer, typically referred to as a Round Bottom, will be heavier and will have a payload of approximately 21 to 23 tons. By contrast, an aluminum end dump is much lighter and can carry anywhere from 23-28 tons, with some set-ups being able to approach 30-ton payloads. 

End dumps are typically loaded by heavy machinery, such as a front-end loader or excavator, or by a series of conveyor belts. End dumps are top load trailers. An owner-operator with an end dump trailer will uncover the trailer via an electric tarp switch in the cab. With the trailer uncovered, the heavy machinery is free to load from the top of the trailer, being careful to evenly distribute the material. Once loaded, the owner-operator flips the tarp switch, covers the load, and continues their run.  

There are several different types of hydraulic lifts that are usually part of dump trailers. These include telescopic, dual-piston, and scissor lifts, among others. Most dump trailers use hydraulics to automatically lift the dump box and unload the materials in a quick, seamless action.

An end dump is an excellent investment for owner operators or construction companies that transport bulk aggregate on a frequent basis. Depending on your needs, a steel or aluminum end dump will ensure that you are able to reliable keep your customers jobsites and stockpiles full. 

Depending on market timing, a typical aluminum end dump will range between $15,000 to $70,000+, with steel round bottoms priced around $10,000-$50,000+. These trailers are also offered for rent or lease, with trailers available for around $850-$2,000 per month. When renting or leasing, it is typical for all repairs to be the responsibility of the renting owner operator. 


Flex base can be an excellent choice for a driveway but is not often used as a primary input in TXDOT construction. Flex base is best suited for farm roads, driveways, RV pads, and for other foundations that will not receive heavy traffic. Flex base is cheaper than most alternative options, such as asphalt or base that meets TXDOT specifications. Additionally, once set and compacted, a flex base road or driveway is cheaper and easier to maintain.

Yes, road base and flex base are the same material family. That said, the differentiating factor is typically the testing results of each material. When shopping for material, it is important to identify exactly what type of material you are buying. Retailers will categorize Base as a broad category and can leave identification to consumers, which is challenging and confusing. In general, if a retailer is selling a Road Base it can be assumed that the material is of higher construction quality than flex base, meaning it will have a wider range of approved uses. However, some vendors will sell Flex Base as a Road Base; this makes it important to understand if the material you are purchasing is a true Flex Base, is ‘Spec 247’, or is TXDOT approved. With each increase in quality comes an increase in cost, so it is important to identify which material will best suit the needs of your project.

Flex Base is a mixture of loose aggregate and coarse aggregate, can be a wide range of color based on source location, and is composed of materials ranging from dirt to rock that are 1”-3” in size. Most Flex Base, particularly around Central Texas, will range from tan to brown, will consist of a dirt material and rocks that range from 1” to 2” in diameter. There are specialty materials that will include rocks up to 3” in size, but these are typically reserved for heavy construction projects.

Any driveway’s depth should be at least 5” to ensure structural integrity and better load capacity. For road base in particular, experts recommend a thickness of 6-8”.

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