Few if any less-than-truckload (LTL) operations providing P&D service face the unique operational and equipment challenges that Lynden Transport has to address daily. Part of the Lynden family of companies, the regional LTL and truckload carrier provides service to, from and within Alaska, including expedited routes via Washington, Oregon, California, Texas, and western Canada.
Lynden Transport moves fully loaded trailers from Tacoma to Anchorage via ship. At the end of the four-day trip, the trailer loads become part of a local P&D operation in and around Anchorage, or are trucked or railed to distant points in Alaska.
“In Anchorage, we’ve been standardizing on Kenworth T370 tractors for our P&D fleet,” says Charlie Mottern, director of maintenance at Lynden Transport. “The trucks in the Anchorage operation are really featherweight Class 8s. We set out to spec them so they’d weigh under 13,000 lbs., and we came within about 20 lbs. of that goal.”
There were trade-offs to be made, Mottern notes. For example, while Michelin X One wide-base single drive tires on aluminum wheels provide a weight savings, Bendix disc brakes spec’d for safety and long lining life added some weight. Similarly, Allison automatic transmissions are heavier than manual gearboxes, but the payoff in reduced driver fatigue and ease of operation in city traffic was deemed worthwhile.
Being able to field equipment capable of carrying heavy loads while simultaneously adhering to a range of weight and length laws is another challenge for the carrier. “When you put trailers on ships, you have to balance freight weight with bridge and weight regulations, which vary between jurisdictions,” Mottern explains. “The expense of the ship movement means it is that much more important to optimize payload to meet our customers’ needs.”
Lynden Transport relies heavily on input from tractor and trailer OEMs to meet its equipment needs, Mottern relates, and the company works closely with Kenworth Northwest, which has facilities in Anchorage and Fairbanks, to help ensure its tractors are maintained and ready for service.
“We only put about 35,000 mi. per year on a P&D tractor,” Mottern says, “but we plan to keep them for 10 years because they’re specialized and expensive to replace. The weather in Alaska also throws in a few twists and turns when it comes to spec’ing and wear and tear. Needless to say, reliability and low maintenance are very important to us.”
While shippers and customers have come to rely on Lynden Transport to carry all types of goods to Alaska from the Lower 48 states, unique operational challenges have to be addressed.