Definition of Standard Ro-Ro unit

Tapio Nyman, VTT

There are few established ways of measuring ro-ro-activities. Looking at the container shipping sector, the most common and used measurement worldwide is the TEU (twenty foot unit). The TEU divided into import/export and empty/loaded tells you the size of the port, the capacity, the capacity of the container vessels, the capabilities called for by the terminals and on the land infrastructure.
The ro-ro shipping sector is highly difficult to quantify in terms of cargo flows and the capacities needed. The units in use vary substantially and are reported differently. It can be measured in tons, in ro-ro-units and also in TEUs. There are many containers being handled on cassettes, mafis etc as roll on/roll off units. A ro-ro-unit can vary a lot in size, weight, shape, and volume. The measurement being used today by shipowners is “lanemeters” which tells you nothing about the volume, height and width of the cargo. The idea of standard ro-ro-unit was introduced in the Port of Gothenburg in order to make the capacities of different ports and vessels comparable.

The ro-ro segment is however an area where much more information is needed in order to establish a unit that truly reflects the activity onboard as well as on shore. The different types of cargo that are handled vary largely in size (all three dimensions), weight, mode and handling techniques.
Current situation makes it very difficult to assess what resources actually are necessary. This applies to port and other infrastructure planners as well as to ro-ro vessel operators.
This report continues the standard ro-ro-unit definition work started by Pia Hansson from the Port of Gothenburg and Christopher Pålsson from the Lloyd´s Register-Fairpaly Research.