January 21, 2018, 6:57 pm
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ISUZU TRUCK SCHOOL; Making safe drivers for mighty haulers

By GELZON DE LA CRUZ


Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) brought their truck school to Isabela last week, taking it out of Metro Manila for the first time since they started the program in mid-2016. Hosted in Aurora by BMD Motors, the major Isuzu distributor for North Luzon, IPC conducted two day-long seminars: a day’s session for their heavy truck customers from Isabela followed the next day by another session for customers from Tuguegarao City in neighboring Cagayan Province. The seminars were immediately followed by IPC supporting BMD’s marketing efforts with a four-day Isuzu Truck Fest exhibit in nearby Santiago.  

The training covered pre-flight checks on a truck’s vital gear before rolling out, optimal engine revs for fuel efficiency on any of Isuzu’s tractor head models in general, and the intricacies of using all 16 speeds on the manual transmission of their top-spec 40 ton gross cargo weight EXZ model.  The first half of instruction was done in a classroom setting, the second half hands-on checking demonstration vehicles and driving these while supervised by expert instructors.  

Until last year, such seminars were conducted only on the premises of IPC’s fleet customers that requested the after-sales service.  But then, as narrated by Takeaki Osawa, technical adviser of Isuzu Japan assigned to IPC (as one of the school’s hands-on instructors since the start), IPC president Hajime Koso pitched this initiative to hold common classes for their growing number of heavy-truck customers last June and Japan readily obliged, allowing them to launch the program immediately after in July. 

Koso himself says their truck school initiative is in direct response to the unprecedented growth they’ve been experiencing in heavy truck sales. Spurred by their move to invest in ready stock to immediately fill heavy truck orders that previously took several months to serve, market-leader Isuzu has become the dominant brand in all truck categories, finally taking the lead in the heavy-duty category as well with phenomenal 200 percent sales growth in 2015 which they sustained with 185 percent in 2016.  

With over a thousand brand new Isuzu heavy-duty trucks getting onto the nation’s transport grid since their sales surged, all with advanced features such as 7- to 16-speed transmissions and Isuzu’s proprietary Mimomari-kun truck’s equivalent to an aircraft’s black-box for vehicle diagnostics, their occasional and on-demand training sessions serving specific customers had to be mainstreamed into a common facility of shared and routinely scheduled classes.

The Isabela seminars signify the school finally going regional with their eighth session so far.  Even before they finished 2016 with six sessions in as many months and added a seventh last month, all held at the Honda Safety Driving Center in Parañaque, Koso had already committed to ramping up the truck school into a nationwide program this year.  He says that they chose Isabela for their first regional heavy truck seminar because the province and Tuguegarao City in neighboring Cagayan are among the biggest markets for Isuzu trucks, and for their heavy trucks in particular.  

With the Isabela seminars, IPC parts and services consultant Toshiro Watanabe says they’ve already trained and oriented 196 drivers and 94 fleet managers from 59 companies based in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.  

Isuzu’s truck school will continue, now with its regional scope, but also supplemented by special training classes done on-site for fleet customers who request these.

Industrial Staple Grains Philippines, Inc. of San Manuel, Isabela had its managing director and three drivers attend truck school last week. The rice milling company operates 11 tractor-trailer rigs, 9 of which are Isuzu trucks, 4 of those being top-spec EXZ’s acquired recently.  

The trucks are in constant use transporting the company’s output of 2,500 to 3,000 cavans of finished rice a day, each truck carrying upwards of 700 sacks on long 500km hauls to distribution centers in Metro Manila and points further south. Halfway through these two-day trips finds the trucks climbing up to the 3000ft altitude of Dalton Pass, the snaking 50km stretch that’s their only southward exit out of Cagayan Valley. 

On the impact of Isuzu finally bringing truck school to their region, Staple Grains managing director Leonard Pascasio offers IPC succinct feedback on their efforts and sharp insight on why Isabela is a good first step for going regional.  He says Isuzu has done well bringing their rugged rigs faster to market and instructing customers on how to get the best return from these investments. IPC should keep up the good work so that the many Isabela rice millers like Staple Grains can keep doing their work, providing essential produce to the rest of Luzon. 
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