Lynden Oilfield Services' fleet of three PistenBully snowcats have been hard at work in Prudhoe Bay this past winter. In an average week, the cats delivered essential supplies to a remote drilling site 145 miles southwest of Deadhorse and hauled a propane truck to refill two remote tanks used to power a weather station. Operators Tony Warner, Joel Martens, James McSharry and Hunter Keogh operate the machines in severe conditions to serve Lynden customers. They received instruction in freight operations and survival as part of their preparation to operate the machines in extreme weather. The PistenBullys give Lynden customers over-snow options to move their cargo including heavy equipment, containers and camps.
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Last year, four Lynden companies teamed up on a project to transport lead and zinc ore concentrate from the Yukon Territory to Washington and then deliver it to its final destination in Trail, B.C. Alaska Marine Lines, Canadian Lynden Transport, LTI, Inc. and Alaska Marine Trucking began transporting two-ton bags in November 2010 then, in March 2011, switched to specially designed ore containers.
Canadian Lynden Transport’s Whitehorse operation trucks the ore concentrate 400 miles from the Bellekeno Mine site in the Yukon Territory to Skagway, AK, where it is loaded onto Alaska Marine Lines barges by Alaska Marine Trucking. Once the barges reach Seattle, LTI Inc.’s Moses Lake operation picks up the huge ore pots and delivers them to a smelter in Trail, B.C.
The ore is carried in 16-ton pots moved three at a time on a B-train chassis from the Yukon to Alaska at a total weight of 170,000 pounds. In Washington and British Columbia they are carried two at a time for a total weight of 105,000 pounds (see photo).
The new contract is keeping the LTI, Inc. Moses Lake crew busy. "This has been an interesting project for us,” says Regional Manager Vance Jansen. “It's a good example of the efficiencies that come from multiple Lynden companies working together." Lynden International also plays a role by filing customs entries.
Dave Coles squints into the Arizona sun as he watches a crane operator attach straps to a 40-foot Hapag-Lloyd container. With a whine, the crane’s boom slowly lifts the 18,000-pound box off the ground, pivots and carefully places it onto a waiting lowboy trailer. Visible just above the container’s rim are the undulating shapes of “Warrior” and “Octopus.” Part of the Strange Creatures collection created by internationally known artist Rotraut, the oversized aluminum sculptures are two of seven bound for the port of Los Angeles where they will be loaded onto a ship sailing for Fos Sur Mer, France.
Coles double-checks the container as it is secured for the 375-mile truck trip from Pleasant Valley, AZ to the California coast. It’s been six hours of precise loading – sculptures into container and then container onto trailer. Finally, the truck driver pulls away from the parking lot into the residential neighborhood and disappears around the corner.
“These moves are always nerve-wracking due to the irreplaceable nature of the cargo,” he explains. Coles manages Lynden International’s Phoenix office and he says this project took eight weeks of advance planning. “We knew it would be challenging when we went to the studio to measure the sculptures and realized they wouldn’t fit neatly into a regular ocean container. Due to their irregular shape, we had to use an Open-Top container and cover the over-height sculptures with a tarp to protect them as they made their way west.”
The one-of-a-kind sculptures are just some of the many types of art Lynden International moves for Scottsdale art studio Tete A Tete. The studio and its Director Manuel Luiz count on Lynden’s care and attention to detail. “We have worked with Lynden for more than 10 years,” Luiz says. “They have done very well and given us peace of mind in shipping our art all over the world.” With art moves, the standards are high – and exacting.
“The artists want what they want. The sculptures and paintings are their babies, and we must treat them accordingly,” says Phoenix Sales Manager Paul Till. “The ocean shipment of the sculptures could’ve been handled in a variety of ways, including loading the pieces onto a flatbed and containerizing them at the LA port, but they wanted to load the pieces into the container themselves at precisely 8 a.m. at the studio.”
The studio’s request for an Open-Top container had Lynden staff scrambling to locate one at a rail yard and transport it from Los Angeles to Phoenix by the load date. But as Till explains, “It’s not always about what’s easiest or the most expeditious. It’s about listening to the customer and making it work for them.”
The paintings and sculptures Lynden ships to France, Switzerland and other locales for Tete A Tete are often valued from $50,000 to $200,000 each and the shipments require detailed knowledge of customs rules and regulations. “We are true experts at export and import documentation,” Coles says. “On occasion we have shipped art on a temporary basis for exhibition and arranged for the studio to avoid paying duty tax when the art comes back into the U.S. Those charges can sometimes be as much as $2,000, so our knowledge and experience is an added value for our customers.”
When it comes to choosing ocean or air, many art studios and artists select ocean for shipping heavy, oversized sculptures or multi-media work. And in the past few years, more customers are exploring ocean transport for economic reasons. Lynden offers specialized service and assistance for those new and returning ocean customers. “They can depend on us to take care of it – we will walk them through it and explain everything,” Coles explains. “We take a lot of steps and precautions to anticipate things that may happen, and we use carriers we know and trust.”
Tete A Tete isn’t Lynden’s only ocean customer, but the art studio certainly puts the staff through its paces and provides a unique showcase for the multi-modal transportation capabilities of the company. “They throw a lot of challenges our way; a lot of outside-the-box stuff, but we actually look forward to it,” Coles says. “Sometimes it requires finding new resources that we aren’t used to, but we start talking to people and beating the bushes, and we always manage to make it work. Isn’t that Lynden’s motto? We make the impossible possible.”
Earlier this year, Alaska West Express, Lynden Transport and Bering Marine Corporation teamed up to move a valuable rocket motor from Elkta, MD to Kodiak, AK for government contractor ATK. It was the first commercial move of its type to the launch facility and was completed in just five days compared to the usual three-week turnaround.
“Instead of shipping to Seattle and barging as this unit had moved previously, we proposed to truck the unit to Homer, AK inside a Lynden Transport heated van and use the Arctic Seal Bering Marine landing craft to haul the truck and trailer to Kodiak for transport to the launch facility,” explains Jim Earl, Terminal Manager for Alaska West Express in Tacoma. Due to the explosive material in the motor, Alaska West Express was required to maintain a controlled temperature and shock recorder environment on the journey north. Satellite tracking and dual drivers were also used because of the sensitivity of the unit. The innovative delivery plan allowed the truck to stay hooked to the trailer as it was carried across on the Arctic Seal saving the customer almost two weeks of transit time.
Alaska West Express Drivers Dan and Michelle Henry carefully moved the unit up the highway, and Bering Marine Captain Jack Rasmussen and the Arctic Seal crew sailed across the gulf to Kodiak. The rocket motor was rated explosive hazard class so multiple permits were required by both the U.S. and Canada. “Jim Maltby and Alan Hoza jumped through some major hoops to secure permits on short notice, and Scott Hicks did a great job with highway-marine coordination and communicating with the customer,” Jim says. “It was nice to see Lynden teamwork in action, and it appears that we have secured a repeat customer."
Late last year, Milky Way began using a new onboard computer program with customer Darigold that has revolutionized the way information is shared between dairy farms and milk processing plants. “From a customer service perspective, this is a game-changer,” says LTI, Inc. President Brad Willliamson. “This new process is improving data accuracy and visibility and significantly reduces the amount of time it takes for milk producers (farmers) to view their volume and quality information online after we pick up the milk.”
The new farm pickup system captures loadsheet data (producer, weight, milk temperature and destination) in the truck’s onboard computer and sends it back to Darigold’s IT system within hours. In the past, this process could take as long as 10 days and records were kept by hand in logbooks. Loadsheet errors have been reduced by automated validation, and the process for the field staff and lab to receive loadsheet comments has been streamlined by distribution via email. “A long-standing goal of Darigold has been to deliver accurate quality and component data to our producer base on a timely basis. Receiving this information is a value-add to our producers; they can react with changes on the farm that result in maximizing quality milk deliveries,” explains Darigold Director Kim Kennedy.
“This initiative has been unique,” he adds. “Its success relied on a true strategic partnership between LTI, Inc. and Darigold with mutual sharing of risks and benefits. To date, we have seen substantial improvement in the accuracy and timeliness of information flow. Darigold management is very proud of this accomplishment.”
According to Brad, Milky Way drivers are key to the program’s success. “It was a real change for them, and we are proud of the way they responded. Our continued success with this project depends on the quality data they enter with each pickup.” The new system was developed and tested by Lynden Inc.’s IT Department and Milky Way. It will soon be available to other milk and bulk commodities customers.
Photo: Whatcom County Milky Way Driver Dick Stacey.
Last month, Lynden put customer service directly into customers’ hands by adding a new mobile web application for shipping. The new app provides shippers with accurate, up-to-date information and control of shipments directly from their hand held smart phones. Available for iPhone and Blackberry, the app allows a customer to take care of a variety of shipping tasks – tracking freight, requesting rate quotes and locating Lynden service centers – all from the palm of their hand. A clickable map to locate service center information will be available soon. The app also includes links to Lynden’s website, blog, Facebook and Twitter pages.
Customers may download the new app to their smart phones at http://www.lynden.com/mobile.