Alaskan Logistics Company Enlists Western Star to Customize Truck for Extreme Application

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NANA/Lynden Logistics Custom Specs 6900 XD to Withstand Snow, Ice and Heavy Cargo

With the word “extreme” being attached to just about anything these days, the phrase “extreme-duty truck” may not amaze most.

But when a truck operates 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle – where temperatures fall well below zero – hauls up to 130 tons per load, travels on an unpaved industrial road, and works nonstop every day, “extreme duty” is just about the only way to describe it.

Needless to say, a truck this heavy-duty isn’t common. Fortunately, Western Star Trucks was there to help an Alaskan logistics company develop a customized extreme-duty truck that could efficiently transport its heavy-duty cargo in harsh conditions.

Remote Haul

The North Alaskan Native Association (NANA) is a corporation dedicated to developing industry in the region and, subsequently, boosting employment for the area’s residents. As an owner or partner in more than 30 different companies, it is one of the largest and most significant companies based in Alaska. One of its leading ventures is developing the Red Dog Mine, the world’s largest zinc mine. Located on NANA-owned land, about 90 miles north of Kotzebue, the mine is one of the major employers in Northwest Alaska.

Due to severe weather conditions, including temperatures that can reach -60ºF, the trucks used to transport zinc from the mine need to be sturdy and reliable. NANA/Lynden Logistics, LLC is a partnership between NANA and Lynden Logistics, which supplies transportation and logistics to Red Dog Mine.

NANA/Lynden’s fleet of trucks transport zinc concentrate to the coast of the Chukchi Sea, about 52 miles down a remote access road. There, the concentrate is kept in huge storage facilities until the warmer months when shipping vessels are able to travel through the unfrozen Chukchi. Although the shipping season is short – the icy sea is thawed only 90 to 100 days out of the year – NANA/Lynden continues to fill the storage facilities 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Customized for Top Performance

With around-the-clock uptime a necessity, NANA/Lynden needs one tough fleet. Its trucks are required to haul loads of more than a quarter million pounds, function well off-road and in subzero temperatures, and keep drivers warm and comfortable while staying reliable and efficient.

“These trucks have to carry much heavier cargo than most other fleet trucks,” said Dale Roper, president of NANA/Lynden. “The loads are extremely hard on our equipment – especially the engines.”

NANA/Lynden looked for a new, heavier-duty fleet truck with a high horsepower engine when replacing its existing fleet. The company turned to Western Star and found the qualities it needed in the extreme-duty 6900 XD. Offering durable Cat engines and capable of GCWs up to 200 tons with a range of fully customizable options, the 6900 XD meets the tough demands of mining applications.

“The Western Star 6900 XD offers everything we needed in a heavy-duty truck,” said Roper. “We knew we’d be able to build a tough truck with the available components and options.”

Since NANA/Lynden needed more than an ordinary fleet truck, Western Star engineers stepped in to help custom-design a 6900 XD for the company’s specific needs. The engineers started with a severe service steel cab, which has additional reinforcements for heavy-duty applications, and double-channel steel frame rails that are able to support the application’s high gross combination weight. They then added a 20,000-pound slippered spring front suspension, and a Neway air suspension in the rear to equalize loads on the planetary rear tri-drive axle setup. Options such as insulated fuel lines, extra cab insulatation, an auxiliary heater, and a powerful 600-horsepower Cat C16 engine rounded out the customized extreme-duty package for NANA/Lynden.

“Western Star engineers built us a perfectly tailored truck,” said Roper. “They were easy to work with and extremely accommodating to our needs.”

Western Star Stands Up to the Challenge

NANA/Lynden bought the custom-designed 6900 XD last year to test the truck’s durability under the rugged Northern Alaska conditions. After almost a year of loading it to the brim at the mine and unloading it on the coast several times a day, the Western Star was the picture of durability.

“This is an extremely tough, challenging job with unique environmental and climatic challenges in addition to the extreme weights,” said Roper. “The off-road 6900 XD tractor helps our professional people get the job done right and is exactly what we need for this application. It performed well for us across the board, and my drivers love the roomy, comfortable cab.”

In early June, NANA/Lynden took delivery of ten more 6900 XDs, replacing its entire fleet. The trucks have effectively fulfilled the application’s heavy-duty demands. “The trucks’ reliability and durability have allowed us to keep up with our grueling schedule,” added Roper.

Western Star Trucks, headquartered in Willoughby, Ohio, produces heavy-duty custom trucks for long haul and vocational applications. Western Star is a member of the Freightliner LLC Group. Freightliner is a company of DaimlerChrysler, the world's leading commercial vehicle manufacturer.

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