LOLO vs. RORO: Ways to Ship Heavy Equipment

LOLO vs. RORO: Ways to Ship Heavy Equipment

Edited by Evan Li

Tractors, oil rigs, excavators, and other formidable heavy equipment are the lifeblood of various industries worldwide. Ocean freight emerges as the most efficient and timely method when transporting these massive machines. However, ensuring their safe loading and transportation in one piece has posed its fair share of challenges—until now.

Enter Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) and Lift-on/Lift-off (LOLO) cargo solutions, reshaping the landscape of heavy equipment transportation. LOLO cargo stands out as a game-changer, revolutionizing how heavy equipment is vertically loaded onto vessels using cranes, dockside equipment, and other cutting-edge loading mechanisms.

As businesses strive for seamless logistics and streamlined operations, LOLO cargo is the ultimate answer to handling, loading, unloading, and transportation requirements. If you seek a solution that ensures utmost precision and safety for your valuable equipment, look no further than LOLO cargo—it just might be the perfect fit for your business needs. 

LOLO Cargo

Cargo vessel with cranes attached for LOLO shipping.
A LOLO/geared vessel via Industrial History.

Lift-on/Lift-off (LOLO) cargo are lifted on and lifted off LOLO vessels, or geared vessels, using cranes, dockside equipment, and other loading devices either attached to the geared vessels or the docks from which they are loaded. 

LOLO vessels have a large loading capacity, with spaces on top of the vessel and on the ship deck made to fit oversized cargo. 20-foot and 40-foot containers can also quickly be loaded and unloaded from LOLO vessels. 

Similar to RORO, LOLO cargo is commonly used for transporting wheeled cargo like cars, trucks, wheeled loaders, backhoe loaders, and much more. However, LOLO shipping can be applied to an extensive range of oversized freight – such as containerized cargo  – making it the go-to choice when special care, precise loading, and secure unloading are imperative.

LOLO vs. RORO (and LoRo)

From an initial glance, LOLO and RORO seem to have fundamental similarities: they’re both primarily used to ship wheeled and oversized cargo, and they both have designated vessels – with LOLO cargo being shipped with geared vessels and RORO cargo having a variety of different cargo vessels.

A RORO vessel via Martide.

Determining whether LOLO or RORO shipping best fits your cargo’s needs can help you further optimize your business. Below is our handy chart to help you compare the differences and similarities. 

Factors for Determining Which Is Best for You

LOLO Cargo and Vessels

RORO Cargo and Vessels
Vessel CapacityLOLO cargo is lifted onto LOLO vessels (geared vessels) using cranes. 

Geared vessels have built-in cranes or dockside lifting mechanisms. 

Geared vessels can dock at any appropriate berth within the port premises for seamless cargo operations.

Suppose your cargo is suitable for either shipping method; you might consider opting for a RoLo vessel to combine Rolling on/Lifting off. 

RORO cargo is rolled onto RORO vessels using ramps.

There are six types of RORO vessels designated for different types of RORO cargo:

1. Pure car carrier (PCC).
2. Pure car/truck carrier (PCTC).
3. RoPax: Hybrid vessel for cargo and passengers, i.e., ferries.
4. LMRS (“Large, medium-speed Roll-on/Roll-off”): Vessels primarily used by the Military Sealift Command
5. ConRo/RoCon: Hybrid vessel carrying rolling equipment on the below decks and containerized cargo on the top decks.
6. RoLo: A hybrid of Roll-on/Lift-off, where cargo is rolled onto the vessel using ramps and lifted off the vessel by cranes. 
Cargo Size Capacity

LOLO and RORO can transport oversized cargo, most notably vehicles and heavy equipment across various industries.
LOLO cargo is versatile since LOLO vessels can accommodate oversized goods and 20-foot and 40-foot containers.RORO cargo is most suitable for any goods, usually vehicles and wheeled heavy equipment, that can self-propel onto and off a RORO vessel. 
FlexibilityThe space on top of LOLO vessels is flexible and can accommodate any changes necessary for the requirements of the LOLO cargo.RORO vessels offer flexibility, giving businesses various choices to suit their cargo’s unique requirements.
Transit TimesLOLO shipping has slower transit times than RORO shipping.If you must make a deadline, RORO shipping has faster transit times than LOLO shipping.
Cost The differences in the base cost to ship LOLO or RORO depend on multiple factors, such as your cargo’s dimensions (i.e., weight and volume), your cargo’s logistics chain (i.e., the destination(s) of your cargo), and whether your freight forwarder offers competitive rates.
Ultimately, the costs of each service are an essential factor. Still, businesses should opt for the shipping method that can address their cargo’s needs as the most cost-effective option for their supply chain.
SafetyAccording to Carl Michael, LOLO is the “comparatively safe” option, since LOLO cargo does not have to be rolled onto and off a vessel, thus minimizing the risk of accidents and damages that can occur with handling wheeled cargo using RORO ramps.

Overall, both LOLO and RORO have relatively safe loading methods and cargo insurance offered by your freight forwarder adds extra reassurance for safety.
SustainabilityRORO shipping inherently produces higher CO2 emissions due to various factors, including increased fuel consumption for timely deliveries and the need for more vessels to handle global cargo demand. 

In contrast, LOLO shipping enjoys a competitive edge in sustainability thanks to its adherence to green regulations and evolving shipping guidelines. With its eco-friendly approach, LOLO is a promising solution to promote a greener and more environmentally conscious shipping industry.

Closing Thoughts

If you are looking to ship heavy equipment, both Roll-on/Roll-off (RORO) and Lift-on/Lift-off (LOLO) cargo and logistics solutions make formidable options for optimizing your business. 

As businesses strive for seamless logistics and streamlined operations, LOLO cargo stands out as the ultimate answer to handling, loading, unloading, and transportation requirements. Its ability to vertically load cargo using advanced mechanisms, such as cranes and dockside equipment, makes it an efficient and secure choice for valuable equipment.

Determining the most suitable shipping method requires a careful analysis of various factors – understanding how vessel and cargo size capacity, costs, flexibility, safety, transit times, and sustainability play into your decision between LOLO and RORO shipping.

Ultimately, the choice between LOLO and RORO hinges on the unique needs of each business and the cargo they transport. By aligning with the most appropriate shipping method, companies can optimize their supply chains and contribute to a more sustainable and efficient global logistics industry.

Need help figuring out where to begin? Contact us today and let our expert Jenik Freight team help you get started!

To learn more about our services and company, visit our homepage.

Read our latest Jenik blog updates!


RoRo LoLo? Different Loading Methods compared | Container Xchange

Shipping With A LoLo Vessel | Global Forwarding 

Difference between bulk and break bulk | Shipping and Freight Resource 

SeaRates Blog: RoRo or LoLo? Different Loading Methods compared

Roll-On/Roll-Off or Lift-On/Lift-Off Shipping Infographic  

RoRo and LoLo in sea shipping | ShipHub freight shipping knowledge base