When we talk about features of the new Chevrolet Colorado mid-size pickup, we always mention that it fits in a garage. We all know that means in the lower 48 states. However, up north in Alaska it can – and does have yet another meaning. Just ask the folks at oilfield services company ASRC Energy Services about a Colorado that they pack into a flying garage to send to remote sites when truck support for a crew is needed.
ASRC Energy Services deploys employees (and equipment) across Alaska to monitor everything from oilfield exploration and construction to ensure regulatory standards are properly followed. Many of the locations needing on-site visits are extremely remote and crews often need a ground support vehicle when they get there.
“Our fleet vehicles double as mobile offices for the majority of our employees, so we need to give them dependable vehicles in the remote areas where they work,” said Chris Maynard, general manager of fleet operations, ASRC Energy Services. “These locations can vary from areas with no electricity to temporary roads built on top of the frozen tundra.”
Flying the crew members via contract air service operators to these locations with very small or no formal airfields is done all the time. But delivering a support truck is not – until now.
Recognizing the need, Chevrolet and ASRC put their heads together and solved the problem by modifying an ASRC fleet Colorado Crew Cab so that it could fit into the back of a flying garage. In this case a Shorts 330 Sherpa cargo plane especially designed – including rear loading ramp – for these kind of harsh and remote service challenges.
ASRC looked at the exterior dimensions of the new mid-size Colorado and compared them to the cargo bay of a Sherpa 330. Length was not a problem and width was ok – just barely. So close that they have to take off the side mirrors and place protective tape on the fender flares to protect the skin of the truck and the inside walls of the Sherpa.
But truck height was a problem. The solution was to change the Colorado 17-inch wheels and tires to 16-inch. Getting it in and out of the Sherpa is still a bit challenging given the tight fit along the sidewalls, but with a bit of ‘body english’ carefully applied it goes up the ramp and into the Sherpa where it is then strapped down for transport to the remote work location.
ASRC uses Chevrolet trucks across their fleet in Alaska every day. In addition to the Colorado, they also use Silverado 1500 full-size pickups and heavy duty Silverado 2500 and 3500 trucks. ASRC’s fleet needs are as diverse as the terrain its employees encounter every day, which is why they’ve bought into Chevrolet’s three-truck strategy that enables them to tailor the fleet to their needs using a single brand partner for support.
“We build our trucks with companies like Arctic Slope in mind,” said John Schwegman, director, commercial product, General Motors. “Their employees don’t have time to worry about how the vehicle will operate when the weather is 40 degrees below zero. We ensure our vehicle’s performance will stand up to the test so they can get their work done.”
ASRC Energy Service’s fleet also counts on service to keep downtime to a minimum. “On the service side, GM knocks it out of the park,” said Maynard. “The Alaska market is pretty small, but GM looks at every sale as one of importance, so even the smallest problem gets special focus from a GM engineer, even if that means they have to send one to Alaska.”
For the record, the 2015 Chevrolet Crew Cab shown in the pictures was being loaded to an RVAN Alaska Shorts 330 Sherpa for transport to a site at Anaktuvuk Pass, Alaska.
Where in the heck is that you say?
Anaktuvuk Pass is located on a divide between the Anaktuvuk and John rivers in the central Brooks Range in the North Slope oil and gas region of Alaska. The village has about 300 residents and lies about 250 miles northwest of Fairbanks and a similar distance southeast of Barrow. In January, temperatures average a minus 14-degrees with summer temperatures in the 50-degree range. Just the challenging environment that Colorado and Silverado trucks are designed for, say the folks at Chevrolet.