A time-tested method with origins dating back as early as 1833, “Roll-On/Roll-Off” refers to a combination of ground and sea transport, where wheeled road vehicles are driven onto a ship or ferry (RORO-specific) and driven off at the destination port.
The difference comes in the type of vessel used: RORO ships are designed to carry cargo such as passenger vehicles, utility vehicles, or construction equipment, that are rolled on and off the ship on their own power or using a platform vehicle, such as a self-propelled modular transporter. This is in contrast to Lift-On/Lift-Off (LO/LO) vessels, which use a crane to load and unload cargo.
RORO vessels have either built-in or shore-based ramps that allow the cargo to be efficiently rolled on and off the vessel when in port.
While smaller ferries that operate across rivers and other short distances often have built-in ramps, the term RORO is generally reserved for large oceangoing vessels. The ramps and doors may be located in stern, bow or sides, or any combination thereof.
When transporting a vehicle, there are three different shipping alternatives. You can either ship it RoRo, LoLo or by container.
While in the LOLO (Lift-on/Lift-off) shipping method, the vehicle is loaded & unloaded using a crane, in the RORO shipping method (Roll-On/Roll-Off) the vehicle is driven on and off the vessel using its own power. If the cargo is not self-propelled (static cargo) then a modular transporter called a MAFI Trailer can be used. Finally, the container shipping method involves loading your vehicle in an 20’ or 40’ ocean container.
These three alternatives can be used to ship almost any type of cargo. LOLO transport is a good choice when shipping inoperable large vehicles and equipment. On the other hand container shipping is a better choice for high-value luxury cars because of the extra protection the ocean containers offer. However, both of these options are slower and not as resourceful as RORO ocean freight.
RORO is ultimately the most cost efficient method to ship any type of vehicle and/or cargo including freight that is not on wheels (static). When shipping roro, size simply doesn’t matter. Roro shipping simplifies the operation while ensuring that your cargo is safe at all times. All cargo is securely blocked, braced, and tied down.