Ocean freight management is a delicate ecosystem that relies on various shipping methods to transport multiple shapes, sizes and types of goods worldwide. Every product requires attentive care, and some of the most popular methods are LoLo, container and RoRo shipping. Without these strategies, humanity wouldn’t have access to countless modern-day luxuries like laptops, exotics fruits, vehicles and machinery.
Are there notable distinctions between these variants when shipping heavy equipment and automobiles? Is one of them usually the more reliable option? RoRo vessel operations might have LoLo and container shipping in a disadvantageous position.
What Are the Differences Between RoRo, LoLo and Containers?
Shippers must know each ship’s capabilities to determine why RoRo might win this competition. RoRo shipping — or roll-on/roll-off — explains when workers unpack and load cargo by rolling it on wheeled mechanisms. RoRo vessel operations only carry cars, trailers and other wheeled products. Weight distribution is easier to manage when loading and unloading because the preinstalled bow and stern ramps assist with momentum and efficiency.
LoLo shipping — or lift-on/lift-off — uses cranes to load ships. Their expansive reach permits boats to work vertically instead of exclusively on the ground. Workers must monitor and operate crane mechanisms to move products instead of pushing and pulling loads or using multiple vehicles. Plus, they could lift breakbulk and containers with similar ease, unconcerned with shape and only limited by the weight limitations of the crane.
Containerization optimizes containers for shipping. They are intermodal, swiftly and conveniently moving through supply chains because of their simplistic shape. The boxlike structures are typically 20 to 40-foot containers, which allow for stacking to maximize space for all carrier types. They have the advantage over breakbulk — it’s more streamlined to manage containers than loose or unstructured materials.
What Are the Drawbacks of LoLo and Container Shipping?
Every carrier is different, providing the tools for what they feel is best for the payload composition. However, more carriers should consider the drawbacks of LoLo and container shipping for more efficient cargo transportation and handling.
If LoLo methods tried transporting machinery or wheeled equipment, weight distribution might become an issue as large-armed cranes create disparities. LoLo ships often contain breakbulk, so they’re not ideal for space optimization because it’s less common to stack the cargo.
The logistic chain for LoLo carriers is more complex than RoRo ships. Unfortunately, high-maintenance logistics and port charges disguise hidden fees. Though LoLo vessels have low upfront costs, shippers may need to consider where additional charges could stack.
The typically large breakbulk or mixed cargo on LoLo ships comes with high space reservation costs and frequent detours to pick up additional freight. Unusual dimensions mean extra labor storing and unloading cargo. Safety and damage could become a reality if the crew isn’t familiar with managing atypical loads unless shippers invest in costly insurance.
Container Shipping Drawbacks
Many would argue that containers are the best method for transporting wheeled cargo because RoRo can’t stack. If vessels could stack machinery, they could transport more in a single trip than a regular RoRo mission. However, more isn’t always better in ocean freight management.
Loading boats with more containers means slow shipping times and more fuel usage. These consequences have a few related drawbacks, including environmental damage and slow delivery rates. Even though ocean freight shipping is greener and more fuel-efficient than other shipping methods, shippers can’t discount these defects. Container shipping has more unpredictable shipping times because of its popularity. More boats transport containers today, and space is limited with increasing demand and competitive pricing.
Like LoLo, containers have a more complex supply chain and logistics plan. Carriers must reach out to makers who craft and transport the containers so companies can fill them with products. Sometimes, raw materials to manufacture containers aren’t available, leading to more supply chain disruptions. If typical containers can’t house the load, then flat rack containers are an added expense.
How Do RoRo Vessel Operations Outperform Alternatives?
Speed is the most notable advantage of RoRo shipping because it compounds with other benefits. Faster deliverables equal higher profit margins because clients are satisfied and freight managers can allocate more time for other voyages. It’s simpler to drive cars off a boat than to lift them with a crane — shaving numerous hours from labor time.
Some may choose LoLo because it can transport breakbulk and containers, but shippers can outfit RoRo vessel operations for container optimization, known as ConRo ships. These vessels masterfully transport tens of thousands of deadweight tons, and because cranes don’t mess with weight distribution, it’s easier for the boat to stay balanced on its voyage. These are examples of how flexible RoRo ships are because they can transport single vehicles or hundreds.
Additionally, general freight and vehicle ships, known as GenRo vessels, can accommodate regular cargo alongside vehicles. These vessels expand the capabilities of RoRo shipping by covering more industries while having the benefits of a RoRo carrier. GenRo ships are another example of the malleability of RoRo methods, outshining LoLo shipping designs.
RoRo could continue to save money because it has simpler logistics than LoLo and container shipping. A trip wouldn’t need to budget funding for containerization or individual port delivery mediums if a boat doesn’t have containers. Therefore, backups in container-making supply chains are a nonissue. Port workers also don’t have to worry about undoing complex container security measures, like ratchets, if everything on the boat is out in the open.
Choosing RoRo Shipping for Efficient Solutions
RoRo could save company budgets when shipping large equipment and wheeled vehicles due to its price, speed and reliability. Though other methods could do the job, the benefits of RoRo outweigh what container or LoLo shipping could offer.
RoRo vessels are adaptable and cost-efficient as they supplement gaps in the slow container and LoLo shipping times. Considering RoRo shipping for any cargo, especially heavy or wheeled machinery, might be the solution carriers have sought for years.
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine discussing the latest industry innovations and trends.