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The number of units in a sample


The number of units in a population


National Committee on International Trade Documentation


National Motor Freight Classification.


North Pacific Coast Freight Bureau.


See North American Free Trade Agreement

NAFTA certifcate of origin

A document that certifies that goods have originated in a specific country

Nagara system

Smooth production flow, ideally one piece at a time, characterized by synchronization (balancing) of production processes and maximum use of available time; includes overlapping of operations where practical. A nagara production system is one in which seemingly unrelated tasks can be produced simultaneously by the same operator.


Fastener made from endless wire by cutting a point and forming a head at the shank end opposite the point.

Narrow aisle

Describes lift trucks that operate in aisles of 8′ to 10′.  Narrow-aisle trucks are generally stand-up vehicles such as reach trucks.  Also see Vary Narrow Aisle (VNA) and read article The Aisle Width Decision

Narrow aisle truck

A truck which permits right angle stacking in aisles narrower than those normally required by counterbalanced trucks


National Association of Store Fixture Manufacturers

National cargo bureau

A private organization having representatives throughout the main harbors in the U.S. It is empowered to inspect cargoes of a hazardous nature and issue certificates which are automatically approved by the Coast Guard

National carrier

A for-hire certificated air carrier that has annual operating revenues of $75 million to $1 billion; the carrier usually operates between major population centers and areas of lesser population.

National customs brokers & forwarders association

An association that gathers and disseminates information to its member customs brokers and freight forwarders. (USA)

National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA

An organization whose stated mission is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating scientifically-based consensus codes and standards, research, training and education.  The Web site for this organization is www.nfpa.org

National flag

The flag carried by a ship to show her nationality

National industrial traffic league

An association representing the interests of shippers and receivers in matters of transportation policy and regulation.

National industrial transportation league

An association representing shippers’ and receivers’ interests in matters of transportation policy and regulation.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

An agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that develops and promotes measurements, standards and technology, and manages the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.

National motor bus operators organisation

An industry association representing common and charter bus firms; now known as the American Bus Association

National Motor Freight Classification (NMFC

A publication for motor carriers containing rules, descriptions and ratings on all commodities moving in comme

National motor freight classification (NMFC)

A tariff, which contains descriptions and classifications of commodities and rules for domestic movement by motor carriers in the US.

National railroad corporation

Also known as Amtrak, the corporation established by the Rail Passenger Service Act of 1970 to operate most of the United States’ rail passenger service

National security

Any and all actions taken to protect the interests of a nation

National security directives

Mandates to work towards the protection of interests of a nation

National stock number (NSN)

The individual identification number assigned to an item to permit inventory management in the federal (U.S.) supply system.

National Wooden Pallet and Container Association

A national association with the goal of promoting the de- sign, manufacturer, distribution, recycling and sale of pallets, containers and reels.


Public ownership, financing, and operation of a business entity.

Natural team

A team of individuals drawn from a single work group; similar to a process improvement team except that it is not cross functional in composition and it is usually permanent.

Nautical mile

Distance of one minute of longitude at the equator, approximately 6,076.115 feet. The metric equivalent is 1852 meters


The planning and directing of the course of a material handling vehicle.  Especially applies to non-manned AGV’s and other such carrier


Navigation Safety Advisory Council, an industry advisory body to the U.S. Coast Guard.


National Defense Reserve Fleet.


Abbreviation for “Not Elsewhere Classified.”

Negative inventory

An inventory system (computer) condition whereby the on-hand inventory balance is listed as a quantity less than zero. Check out my article on negative inventory 

Negative inventory

Situation where the system tracking of inventory results in an on-hand balance that is less than zero

Negotiable BOL

Provides for the delivery of goods to a named enterprise or to their order (anyone they may designate), but only upon surrender of proper endorsement and the bill of lading to the carrier or the carrier’s agents. Also known as an order bill of lading

Negotiable Instruments

A document of title (such as a draft, promissory note, check, or bill of lading) transferable from one person to another in good faith for a consideration. Non-negotiable bills of lading are known as “straight consignment.” Negotiable bills are known as “order b/l’s.”


A set of discussions between two or more enterprises to determine the business relationship.


Shipments consisting entirely of units of a single commodity, such as cars, lumber, or scrap metal.


Abbreviation for “Not Elsewhere Specified.”

Nestable container

A container that can stack within another container when empty

Nestable pallet

A plastic pallet designed in such a way as to allow the pallet to fit or “nest” in another so as to facilitate better use of storage space. Pallets in which foot design is such that the pallets can stack within each other when empty


Articles packed so that one rests partially or entirely within another, thereby reducing the cubic-foot displacement.


Packed one within another

Nested net weight

Weight of article without packing and container. 2) Weight of entire contents of vehicle. 3) Weight of cargo before containerization.

Nesting container

Containers that can be placed one on another, either wholly or partially, and there in saving on the total cubic displacement

Net assets

Total net assets are calculated as Total Assets – Total Liabilities; where the total assets are made up of fixed assets (plant, machinery, and equipment) and current assets which is the total of stock, debtors, and cash (also includes A/R, inventory, prepaid assets, deferred assets, intangibles, and goodwill). The total liabilities are made up in much the same way as long-term liabilities and current liabilities (includes A/P, accrued expenses, and deferred liabilities).

Net assets turns

The number of times you replenish your net assets in your annual sales cycle. A measure of how quickly assets are used to generate sales. Calculation: Total Product Revenue / Total Net Assets

Net capacity

The number of tons of cargo which a vessel can carry when loaded in salt water to her summer freeboard marks. Also called cargo carrying capacity, cargo deadweight, useful deadweight

Net change MRP

An approach in which the material requirements plan is continually retained in the computer. Whenever a change is needed in requirements, open order inventory status, or bill of material, a partial explosion and netting is made for only those parts affected by the change. Antonym: Regeneration MRP.

Net requirements

In MRP, the net requirements for a part or an assembly are derived as a result of applying gross requirements and allocations against inventory on hand, scheduled receipts, and safety stock. Net requirements, lot-sized and offset for lead time, become planned orders.

Net Tare Weight

The weight of an empty cargo-carrying piece of equipment plus any fixtures permanently attached.

Net Ton

2,000 pounds

Net Tonnage (NT)

(0.2+0.02 log10(Vc)) Vc (4d/3D)2, for passenger ships the following formula is added: 1.25 (GT+10000)/10000 (N1+(N2/10)), where Vc is the volume of cargo holds, D is the distance between ship’s bottom and the uppermost deck, d is the draught N1 is the number of cabin passengers, and N2 is the number of deck passengers.) “Ton” is figured as an 100 cubic foot ton.

Net Tonnage (NT)

Equals gross tonnage minus deductions for space occupied by crew accommodations, machinery, navigation equipment and bunkers. It represents space available for cargo (and passengers). Canal tolls are based on net (registered) tonnage.

Net variance

A summarized variance number or amount where positive and negative variances are allowed to offset each other

Net Weight

Weight of the goods alone without any immediate wrappings, e.g., the weight of the contents of a tin can without the weight of the can.

Net Weight

The weight of an article clear of its packing and contents of the truck.

Net weight

The weight of the merchandise, unpacked, exclusive of any containers


A basic form of below-the-hook lifting attachment which is suspended from a hoist or other lifting mechanism and simply wraps around the object to be moved and lifts it totally.Mesh netting is also used for securing loads to pallets.

Neutral Body

An organization established by the members of an ocean conference acts as a self-policing force with broad authority to investigate tariff violations, including authority to scrutinize all documents kept by the carriers and their personnel. Violations are reported to the membership and significant penalties are assessed.

New product introduction (NPI)

The process used to develop products that are new to the sales portfolio of a company.

Next count date

Date used in cycle counting programs that is calculated by adding the cycle count period (in days) to the last count date.

Next operation as customer

The concept of internal customers in which every operation is both a receiver and a provider.


National Invasive Species Act of 1996.


See National Industrial Transportation League


National Industrial Transportation League.


See National Motor Freight Classification


National Maritime Union.

No license required

A general statement that a specific import or export item does not require a license.

No location

A received item for which the warehouse has no previously established storage slot.

No. Nos.

Number, Numbers


A fixed point in a firm’s logistics system where goods come to rest; includes plants, warehouses, supply sources, and markets


Abbreviation for “Not Otherwise Indexed.”


Abbreviation for “Not Otherwise Indexed By Name.”

Nomenclature of the Customs Cooperation Council

The Customs tariff used by most countries worldwide. It was formerly known as the Brussels Tariff Nomenclature and is the basis of the commodity coding system known as the Harmonized System.

Nominal group technique

A technique, similar to brainstorming, to generate ideas on a particular subject. Team members are asked to silently write down as many ideas as possible. Each member is then asked to share one idea, which is recorded. After all the ideas are recorded, they are discussed and prioritized by the group.

Non durable goods

Goods whose serviceability is generally limited to a period of less than three years (such as perishable goods and semi durable goods).

Non vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC)

A firm that offers the same services as an ocean carrier, but which does not own or operate a vessel. NVOCCs usually act as consolidators, accepting small shipments (LCL) and consolidating them into full container loads. They also consolidate and disperse international containers that originate at or are bound for inland ports. They then act as a shipper, tendering the containers to ocean common carriers. They are required to file tariffs with the Federal Maritime Commission and are subject to the same laws and statutes that apply to primary common carriers.

Non vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC)

A cargo consolidator in ocean trades who will buy space from a carrier and sub_sell it to smaller shippers. The NVOCC issues bills of lading, publishes tariffs and otherwise conducts itself as an ocean common carrier, except that it will not provide the actual ocean or intermodal service.

Non vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC)

A firm that consolidates and disperses international containers that originates at or are bound for inland ports.

Non-certificated carrier

A for-hire air carrier that is exempt from economic regulation.

Noncertified carrier

A for-hire air carrier that is exempt from economic regulation.

Non-conference line

A shipping line which operates on a route served by a liner conference but which is not a member of that conference.


The nonfulfillment of a specified requirement. Also see “blemish,” “defect” and “imperfection.”


Failure to fulfill a specified requirement

Non-contact accumulation conveyor

Non -contact accumulation on a conveyor occurs when the product is accumulated with a definite space between each accumulated load. This is accomplished by controlling the speed of the carrying surface. Most zero pressure conveyors are of the non contact type.


Domestic shipping routes serving Alaska and non-continental U.S. States and territories.

Non-corrugated steel container

A metal container fabricated from  corrugated steel sheet and with the same characteristics as corrugated steel containers

Nondestructive testing and evaluation (NDT, NDE

Testing and evaluation methods that do not damage or destroy the product being tested.

Non-Dumping Certificate

Required by some countries for protection against the dumping of certain types of merchandise or products.

Non-folding container

A container with corners permanently helixed and is subject to the same specifications as “folding containers”.

Nonlinear parameter estimation

A method whereby the arduous and labor intensive task of multiparameter model calibration can be carried out automatically under the control of a computer.


Not transferable from one person to another, and therefore, a document that has no value to another.

Non-negotiable BOL

Provides for the delivery of goods to a named enterprise and to no one else. Also known as a straight bill of lading.

Nonparametric tests

All tests involving ranked data (data that can be put in order). Nonparametric tests are often used in place of their parametric counterparts when certain assumptions about the underlying population are questionable. For example, when comparing two independent samples, the Wilcoxon Mann-Whitney test (see listing) does not assume that the difference between the samples is normally distributed, whereas its parametric counterpart, the two-sample t-test, does. Nonparametric tests can be, and often are, more powerful in detecting population differences when certain assumptions are not satisfied.

Nonreversible pallet

A pallet designed and constructed to utilize only the top deckbaord and does not incorporate a bottom deckboard

Non-reversible pallet

A pallet with bottom deckboard configuration different from top deck.

Nonstep beam

A beam that offers only one horizontal surface on which the rack decking can be placed.  Examples of nonstep beams are: “Box” sections, tubing channels, and I-beams

Nonstep beam application

An application in which the area of wire decking support in confined to the surface area on the top of the front and rear beams fo the rack

Non-stock inventory

Inventory that is not tracked within your perpetual inventory system. Non-stock inventory will not have an item-master record or internal SKU number.

Nonvalue added

A term that describes a process step or function that is not required for the direct achievement of process output. This step or function is identified and examined for potential elimination. Also see “value added.”


Notice of Readiness. (When the ship is ready to load.)

Norm (behavioral)

Expectations of how a person or persons will behave in a given situation based on established protocols, rules of conduct or accepted social practices

Normal distribution

Term used in statistical analysis to describe a distribution of numbers in which the probability of an occurrence, if graphed, would follow the form of a bell shaped curve.  This is the most popular distribution model for determining probability and has been found to work well in predicting demand variability based upon historical data.

Normal distribution (statistical)

The charting of a data set in which most of the data points are concentrated around the average (mean), thus forming a bell shaped curve.

Norske veritas

Norwegian classification society.

North american free trade agreement (NAFTA)

A free trade agreement, implemented January 1, 1994, between Canada, the United States and Mexico.


Abbreviation for “Not Otherwise Specified.”


See Not Otherwise Specified / Not Elsewhere Specified


Front of a container or trailer – opposite the tail


Cargo which has been booked but does not arrive in time to be loaded before the vessel sails. See also “Windy Booking.”

Not elsewhere specified

A shipping term that indicates that the rate stated in a tariff applies to all commodities within a given commodity group, except those appearing under their own rate

Not otherwise indicated by name

A term used to describe an item or commodity that is unclassified.

Not otherwise specified

Tariff term used for unclassified commodity indicating that the rate stated in the tariff applies unless it is specified otherwise.


Cutout in lower portion of the stringer to allow entry for the fork tine, usually 9″ in length, 1-1/2″ in depth.

Notched stringer

A stringer with two notches spaced for fork-tine entry, (partial four-way entry).

Notched stringer

The stringer on a pallet that possesses identical notches which are spaced inorder to allow forks to enter pallet.


Information given signifying the accomplishment of an act, such as the placement of a trailer for loading or unloading.

Notice of arrival

A notice sent promptly to a consignee that advises that certain freight has arrived at destination port or airport.

Notify party

The name of an organization, or individual that should be notified when a shipment reaches its destination.


Oxides of Nitrogen


See New Product Introduction


Net registered tons. This tonnage is frequently shown on ship registration papers; it represents the volumetric area available for cargo at 100 cubic feet = 1 ton. It often is used by port and canal authorities as a basis for charges.

Nuclear activities

Any activity involved in the proliferation of nuclear devices.

Nuclear non proliferation

A term used to describe the reduction or elimination of efforts towards nuclear armament.

Nuclear regulatory commission

Regulates the transfer of nuclear facilities, materials and parts with unique nuclear applications.

Nuclear supplies group

A group of nations that have agreed to guidelines for restricting the export or re-export of items with nuclear applications

Number of affected units chart

A control chart for evaluating the stability of a process in terms of the total number of units in a sample in which an event of a given classification occurs.


See Non-Vessel Operating Common Carrier

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