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Alaska Marine Lines increases capacity with 600 new containers

Posted on Wed, Aug 11, 2021

blog pictureThis spring, the M/V Saga Welco Indiana departed the port of Qingdao, China, with 600 new refrigerated shipping containers on their way to be put into service at Alaska Marine Lines. These units are the latest addition to Alaska Marine Lines' fleet of nearly 29,000 shipping containers, flats and tanks. While they will primarily be used for transporting seafood products from Alaska, they will also carry all types of temperature controlled products.

"The story of how the containers made their way into service with AML is noteworthy," says Purchasing Manager Jay Marchand. Eastbound global steamship space was in short supply and prices were rising. Alaska Marine Lines collaborated with Lynden Logistics to export the containers from China and charter a ship to bring them east. Lead by International Manager Elodie Gergov, the Lynden Logistics team worked on the release from Chinese customs while Jay and AML's Steve Hardin worked with the container factory on specifications, pricing, inspections and production schedule.

With five days to go before the containers were scheduled to be loaded onto the ship, everything was on track for departure. But, at the eleventh hour, the Lynden team identified an unforeseen gap in port documentation and port release fees. On Friday afternoon of a Chinese holiday week, Lynden's local agent was asked to help clarify the issues. "By being there in person and having local contacts, the agent was able to act on behalf of both Lynden companies and clear the way for the containers to be delivered to the port," Jay says. "The ship successfully departed with all 600 containers and arrived in Dutch Harbor 10 days later."

The next challenge came at the offloading in Dutch Harbor. Alaska Marine Lines contracted with a company to perform the stevedoring using local labor. Due to a high demand of labor and a shortage of workers between fish seasons, only 50 percent of that labor was available, and the delays were counting against AML's contracted detention time. With the threat of the ship being detained another week before it could finish unloading, AML sought the assistance of Alaska Marine Trucking equipment operators, Bering Marine tugboat crews, and local AML Dutch Harbor operations employees to help unload the ship using the ship's gantry cranes. Once the ship was anchored in the bay, two AML barges were brought alongside the M/V Indiana and the Lynden team unloaded directly onto the barge decks.

"While the container purchase had many unexpected challenges, it was the access to logistics professionals and their perseverance that allowed the project to succeed," Jay says. As Elodie put it, "The world of international shipping is very unpredictable, but we never give up and always do our best."

Tags: Seafood, Alaska, Lynden Logistics, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled, Ocean, AML

Lynden delivers COVID-19 vaccine to Western Alaska

Posted on Wed, Mar 03, 2021

Since mid-December, Lynden has been assisting with the distribution of equipment to administer the COVID-19 vaccine, but now the shipments contain the vaccine itself. Each morning Lynden Logistics District Operations Manager Bob Barndt gets a phone call alerting him to an incoming shipment arriving in Anchorage from Louisville, KY. Bob meets the plane and personally transfers the boxes of vaccine to Alaska Airlines where they are checked in as critical care shipments – the highest level of service available. After arriving in Bethel, AK, the Lynden agent receives the boxes and hand delivers them to hospitals in Bethel, Nome, Kotzebue and Barrow for distribution to village elders and front-line workers in those communities.

"For over 30 years, we have managed deliveries to remote Alaska communities," Bob explains, "but the vaccine shipments are different than anything else we have handled." Lynden provides white-glove service for each 40-pound box which is red-flagged as hazmat material. The vaccine is packed in dry ice and each box contains a GPS tracking device and temperature monitor.

Shipping COVID-19 vaccine"We never lose control of the boxes and have eyes on them during the entire journey," Bob says. Shipping paperwork is also vitally important so the federal rollout of vaccines is documented. Pictured right, Lynden employees offload a shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kotzebue, AK.

The vaccine deliveries will continue this year along with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as gowns and gloves to protect those administering the drugs. Boxes of dry ice are sometimes shipped along with PPE to ensure that the vaccine remains temperature controlled at destination. "There is no guarantee that the destination hospitals or other locations have enough dry ice, so it's considered a precautionary measure," Bob explains.

The boxes are tracked from origin to destination, so speed and timing is critical. "Lynden has a reputation for excellent service and on-time delivery, so we are all working as fast and efficiently as we can to uphold that standard," Bob says. "We want to get the vaccine to those who need it most and to protect our customers and their families." In addition to utilizing Alaska Airlines, Lynden Air Cargo was called into service to fly the vaccine to Kotzebue last month and will continue to make its aircraft available if needed. In 2009, the State of Alaska also relied on Lynden Logistics to distribute the H1N1 vaccine to more than 400 locations.

Tags: Lynden Air Cargo, Alaska, Lynden Logistics, Temperature-Controlled, Community

Lynden International Logistics opened flagship location in Guelph, Ontario last year

Posted on Tue, Jan 26, 2021

LILCO Guelph facility and staffLynden International Logistics Co. (LILCO) has expanded its network of healthcare facilities in Canada by opening a fifth location in Guelph, Ontario. "We consider this our flagship facility," says Brian MacAskill, LILCO Vice President and General Manager.

LILCO serves the human and animal health industries in Canada, and its continued growth prompted the additional location. The company is widely recognized as a leader in Canadian healthcare logistics.

The new location, with state-of-the-art security and temperature control, will accommodate 8,000 ambient pallets, 1,000 cooler pallets and 350 pallets of controlled substances storage. Pharmaceuticals represent a high-value inventory and security can be a challenge. Controlled substances require storage regulated by Health Canada's Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. One of LILCO's two controlled drug vaults is the largest third party logistics (3PL) vault in Canada.

LILCO vaultThe vaults (see photo at right) include motion, heat and smoke detection, seismic detectors and layered security access that includes access cards, combination locks and biometric fingerprint reading.

At 108,000 square feet, the Guelph facility is LILCO's largest. It brings LILCO's Canadian footprint to nearly 450,000 square feet. The other locations are in Vancouver, Calgary and two in the greater Toronto area – Vaughan and Milton.

Construction on the Guelph location started in late 2019, and the doors were open in July. Despite the challenges and delays of the COVID pandemic, the facility was completed on time. "This required approvals from regional authorities and a tremendous amount of dedication and teamwork from Lynden and vendors alike. The Health Canada audit went very well, and the facility was licensed for operation on schedule," Brian explains. The technology aspect was a key element of the startup. "Lynden's IT team was terrific in supporting LILCO and its requirements," adds Adrian Peluffo, LILCO Vice President of Administration.

Tags: Canada, Lynden Logistics, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Retail, Temperature-Controlled, 3PL

Lynden receives transportation awards

Posted on Fri, Sep 25, 2020

Lynden Transport truck

Food Logistics Award

Lynden companies were winners this summer, receiving recognition for trucking, cold storage transportation and 3PL services. Lynden Transport was ranked 39 out of the Top 100 For-Hire Carriers in North America according to Transport Topics 2020 list. Lynden was one of only three carriers to be named within the West Coast and Canada. Food Logistics magazine named Lynden to the 2020 Top 3PL & Cold Storage Providers last month, which recognizes leading third-party logistics and cold storage providers in the food and beverage industry.

Tags: Awards, Lynden Transport, Grocery Chill and Frozen, LTL, Temperature-Controlled, Truckload, Ground

North to Alaska, South by Barge: Voyage of a Reefer Tech

Posted on Mon, Jun 29, 2020

AML reefer techs in SeattleEvery fishing season, Alaska Marine Lines refrigeration mechanics (reefer techs) leave Seattle and make the journey north to keep Lynden's refrigerated containers (reefers) in top shape. The techs fly to Alaska and then accompany the loaded reefers on the southbound barges. These ride-along-with-the-reefer trips have been taking place for years, but the voyage of the reefer technician has not been well known. Until now.

Mechanic Greg Restad was so impressed with his off-site assignment that he decided to document his experience. Greg's notes provide a unique look behind the scenes of this annual effort to protect customers' fish and other refrigerated freight and maintain Lynden's equipment. It should be noted that Greg has 30 years of experience working on refrigerated equipment including working for Les Candee and Art Burg at Foss Maritime in the early 1980s.

According to Assistant Maintenance and Repair Manager Steve Tafoya, mechanics check around 3,000 reefers each year during the north-to-south trips. Most reefers last around 20 years, but with excellent care, they can last longer.

"We run a pre-trip inspection anytime a reefer enters the yard so we keep close tabs on all equipment and any emerging problems," Steve says. "It could be power, a leak, burnout of the evaporator motor or something else. The most common issue with reefers is a lack of communication with the tug. Our mechanics also check and service generator sets, make sure gear vans are stocked and that the GRASP reefer monitoring system, all plugs and time share panels are working," Steve explains. Everything is documented and becomes part of the service record.

Mechanics sleep on the tug when the barge is under way or in bunkhouses in Naknek, Dillingham and St. Paul. Meals are eagerly anticipated as the tug cooks are known for their gourmet cooking. "Naknek has a great bunch of guys and good accommodations," Greg says. "They made me feel welcome and fed me well. It's nice when I get a couple days to check out the yard and my units before loading because once they start loading, these guys move. Everyone pitches in to get us in and out of port. I never heard 'It's not my job' even when I had a container I couldn't fix that was located in the middle of the stack. They had to bring in a barge alongside and crane it out of the middle of my barge. 'It's no one's fault; it can't be helped; let's get it done' was their response."

It's not always smooth sailing. Sometimes parts have to be flown in to repair a reefer or an employee needs medical care. One tech was suffering from an abscessed tooth and had to come back to Seattle, so he traded places with the next tech on the list.

And then there are rough seas. On Greg's first outing in Naknek, he was worried when he heard about 16-foot seas on the voyage. "The 70-knot gusts almost knocked me off my feet in the yard, and then they told me we were going to leave," he says. "Thankfully, Captain Eric kept the wind behind us, charted sheltered waters and, by the time we got into the Gulf, the seas had calmed down to 10 feet. The crews were always great. They were polite and forgiving when I wasn't familiar with the program and ran me though the safety procedures and orientation. It was fun to see how fast I could don a survival suit."

Although the reefer techs are away from home for long periods, they are treated to delicious meals like prime rib and salmon prepared by the tug cooks. The views are pretty good, too. Eagles, whales, sharks and porpoises all share air and sea space with the barges and tugs in the North Pacific. For many reefer techs, it's a nice change of scenery from working in the Seattle yard.

"These techs are on the front line making sure our reefers are keeping the fish cold and the perishables fresh," Steve says. "They spend months away from home, family and friends to uphold the Lynden brand of service. We all appreciate the work they do."

Tags: Green Lynden, Seafood, Lynden Employees, Alaska, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled, Ocean, AML

Brown Line supports the Salvation Army Helping Hands Food Bank

Posted on Fri, Jun 26, 2020

Eric Swatling and Salvation Army Captain Susan CassinEarlier this year Melissa Pace from Taylor Truck Driving School reached out to Brown Line after receiving a call from the Salvation Army Helping Hands Food Bank in Anacortes, WA. "The food bank needed a refrigerated trailer to hold their food because they were replacing their freezer, which could take two weeks," explains Brown Line President Bill Johansen. "We said we would be glad to help." Brown Line Safety Supervisor Eric Swatling coordinated with the Salvation Army and delivered a truck and trailer himself. Eric is pictured right with Salvation Army Captain Susan Cassin in Anacortes.

Tags: Brown Line, United States, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled, Ground, Community

Sea urchins to Kombucha, Brown Line carries cool freight

Posted on Fri, May 29, 2020

Brown Line employee loading a truckBrown Line's 'bread and butter' is the I-5 corridor from Washington to California. Four days a week drivers make the trip hauling fresh and frozen fish, chicken and other refrigerated products up and down the coast.

"We also haul some lesser-known types of freight, like sea urchin and Kombucha," explains Riley Rosvold, Brown Lines Sales Manager. The round, spiky creatures are harvested for the eggs inside, called roe, which is used in sushi. Brown Line is the only carrier in the Pacific Northwest trusted to carry the high-value, temperature-sensitive freight.

Divers bring the urchins to the surface during the winter months and they are delivered to Brown Line for transport to Oxnard and Los Angeles, CA. They are then processed and the roe is flown to Japan.

Sea urchin"We are diversifying our freight hauls," Riley says. "In the past, Brown Line has been reliant on the seafood industry, but now we are moving into more dairy and vegan products." Offering both truckload and LTL service throughout the U.S. and Western Canada, Brown Line provides companies with a variety of delivery options.

"Natural foods businesses are turning to us for reliable and safe delivery of yogurt-based drinks, vegan protein drinks and probiotics like Kombucha fermented tea." Every Thursday, Brown Line drivers pick up approximately 30,000 pounds of LTL freight from Yakult USA in Fountain Valley, CA and deliver to locations throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada, including grocery stores in Oregon and Washington.

"Our freight is extremely time-sensitive due to short shelf life and expiration dates, so we have to be vigilant about traffic, deadlines and equipment," Riley explains. "Many customers shipping fresh and chill products have sell-by dates which are less than a week after production. It is a testament to our driving teams and dispatchers that our customers trust us to deliver their products at the peak of freshness and quality – especially in the congested Los Angeles area. Routing our trucks efficiently and effectively is imperative."

Jon Morris credits Brown Line with the successful startup of his company Ocean Life Enterprises of Anacortes, WA last year. "Not once during the entire season did we fail to deliver on time," he says.

Last year Brown Line took delivery of 12 reefer trailers featuring the TransTex Edge TopKit Aerodynamic System which provide a 5.5 percent improvement in fuel mileage. In addition, 17 fuel-efficient Freightliner Cascadia Trucks were purchased that average 8 miles per gallon. The state-of-the-art equipment helps drivers get the job done, protects the fragile freight and gives customers confidence in the company. "We get feedback that our clean and modern equipment is one more reason customers place their trust in us," Riley says.

Tags: Seafood, Brown Line, Grocery Chill and Frozen, LTL, Temperature-Controlled, Truckload, Ground

Brown Line carries fresh produce for community hunger program

Posted on Thu, Apr 09, 2020

Brown Line truckThe Harvest against Hunger program connects farmers with hunger relief efforts in communities across Washington state to reduce hunger and food waste. This past year, Brown Line provided much needed transportation services for the effort. "With our support, Harvest against Hunger provided over a million pounds of healthy produce to hungry individuals and families across Washington and beyond," says Brown Line President Bill Johansen. "Our team takes pride in helping those in need in our community."

Tags: Brown Line, Grocery Chill and Frozen, Temperature-Controlled, Community

Brown Line earns third EPA Award and Skagit County recognition

Posted on Mon, Dec 09, 2019

Brown Line truckInvestment in cutting-edge equipment and the skill of its driving teams has earned Brown Line a third consecutive SmartWay High Performer Award from the Environmental Protection Agency. For the past three years, Brown Line has been included in the minority – only 2 percent – of SmartWay carriers to receive this honor for all scoring metrics.

"Our team is very proud to receive this award for the third consecutive year," says Brown Line President Bill Johansen. "We continue to work hard to ensure we reduce carbon emissions by reducing idle time, sudden starts and stops and by using a new system called SmartDrive. This system allows our team to work together to improve driver safety and driving habits while reducing carbon emissions."

This year, Brown Line added 14 new fuel-efficient trucks to its fleet. Now 90 percent of its equipment is under five years old. New trailers arrived last month with electrical plug-ins allowing the refrigeration unit to turn off its generator to save on fuel and emissions. They will be tested with a new aerodynamic system in place of trailer tails that is designed to reduce the low pressure drag behind the trailer. The new system is expected to increase fuel economy and durability while reducing weight.

Brown Line also upgraded its refrigeration units with StarTrak, a system capable of sending alerts to dispatchers, drivers or shop personnel if any refrigeration unit is not maintaining the temperature set point. The temperature can also be adjusted remotely while a unit is enroute.

In the past five years, Brown Line has improved its fuel economy by nearly 40 percent and, in the past seven years, it has reduced its nitrous oxide and particulate matter emissions per ton mile by 44 percent and 62 percent respectively.

Brown Line was also voted Best Trucking and Logistics Company in the annual "Skagit's Best" contest. More than 41,000 people voted online to honor Skagit County's best businesses.

Tags: Awards, Green Lynden, Brown Line, Grocery Chill and Frozen, LTL, Temperature-Controlled, Truckload

Brown Line delivers on bet

Posted on Tue, Apr 02, 2019

Brown Line truckBrown Line drivers made good on a bet made between Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds before the Alamo Bowl football game in San Antonio, TX. "Both Iowa and Washington state are used to being No. 1 in agriculture – apples for Washington and corn, eggs and hogs for Iowa," Gov. Reynolds said before the contest. The Iowa State University Cyclone football team was beaten by the Washington State University Cougars, 28-26 and Gov. Reynolds lost the bet.

Gov. Reynolds pledged to send the Iowa delicacies once the Cougars won the game. Iowa's Vande Rose Farms and Lynch Family Foundation donated bacon and other pork products to Olympia's Thurston County Food Bank. Brown Line, which specializes in transporting perishable commodities, delivered the items. Had the Cougars lost, Gov. Inslee wagered a feast of Ivar's famous clam chowder to Iowa's Northeast Iowa Food Bank.

Tags: Brown Line, United States, Grocery Chill and Frozen, LTL, Temperature-Controlled, Truckload, Ground