Ro/Ro stands for “roll on – roll off” and comes from the cargo shipping industry. Ro/Ro describes the method of transporting goods in which the cargo is driven on board. In more general terms, Ro/Ro transport can be described as a procedure in which a means of transport moves under its own power onto a ship or even a rail wagon without any further loading devices and also moves down again when unloading. In some cases, trains can also travel by Ro/Ro aboard a designated cargo ship.
The ocean freighters that are suitable for Ro/Ro loading are specifically designed for this type of transportation. This is because the transport vehicles must be able to roll on board easily. For this purpose, the ship is equipped with hatches at the bow, stern or even on the side, so that trucks or even rail cars can drive on board via appropriate ramps. For flexible use of the cargo space and for simplified rolling of the cargo, the Ro/Ro ships usually have height-adjustable decks.
For car transport, special car carrier ships are used whose decks are designed for the height and width of passenger cars so that the cargo space can be optimally used for transporting the vehicles. Smaller Ro/Ro ships of this type are, for example, car ferries that tend to cover shorter distances. ConRo vessels combine ro/ro and container transport.
Advantages of Ro/Ro
The Ro/Ro method can be used very flexibly in the logistics chain. The cargo can be gently simply rolled onto the ship. This shortens and simplifies handling and also places fewer demands on port infrastructure.
Due to the special design requirements of Ro/Ro vessels, construction costs are significantly higher than for conventional cargo vessels. In addition, the means of transport raised cannot be used during Ro/Ro transport, as would be the case of transferring the cargo to a conventional cargo ship. The Ro/Ro vessel has less cargo capacity and despite the flexibility of the decks, the cargo space can often not be used optimally. This is reflected in the higher transportation costs. Nevertheless, the transport of goods by Ro/Ro ships plays a significant role in maritime transport for special transports such as car transport.