Transportation safety was the most important lesson I learned by driving a milk truck up a loose gravel, semi paved road from sea level to 8,500 feet above sea level. The glare of the morning sun made driving difficult, especially as the truck entered shadow-covered sections of the road. These were the obstacles that we dealt with every day.
How did the Agrarian Cooperative of Ite deal with transportation safety?
1. Vehicle condition. We started with the mechanical condition of the truck. It had to make the trip up to Toquepala and back down to Ite every day. The truck went to the local Ford dealer in Tacna every thirty days for an oil change, brakes, tires and other mechanical repairs. Brakes are essential on mountain roads.
2. Driver fatigue. The daily routine was getting up at 4:00 a.m., reporting for work, checking the truck for fuel, oil and water, driving from farm to farm in the darkness to pick up the milk cans, driving up the hill along curvy mountain roads, arriving at the Plaza employee housing complex between 7:30 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., and waking Julio, who slept the hour and half ride to the security gate. Fatigue while driving was a real danger. Drowsiness was even a bigger problem in the afternoon, as the warm sun and noontime meal made the driver and passenger drowsy. It was tough not to doze off while driving down the hill to Ite.
3. Driver experience and awareness. As far as I know, there had been no accidents involving the milk truck. Selecting a driver with experience and safety awareness was the most important supply chain strategy for the Ite Agrarian Cooperative.
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