The Australia Latin America Business Council (ALABC) was established in 1989 and is made up of leading companies and individuals who are developing business links between Australia and Latin America. Members represent a vast array of industries and sectors with the one common commitment; creating business opportunities in the Latin American region.
Optalert’s commitment to Latin America
Optalert is one such committed member of this association. While there are a number of markets in which fatigue plays a factor, the most obvious is the mining industry, with their round-the-clock operations and highly competitive and production-driven workforce.
Since 2008 when we made our first international sale, we have understood the opportunities provided within the Latin American market, especially in the mining sector. They tend to have lower paid workers and high turnover, but are motivated to reduce costly accidents and create positive cultural change.
I grew up in Mexico and have travelled extensively throughout Latin America for both work and pleasure. I understand the importance of face-to-face meetings in this part of the world, and I regularly travel to the region for this very purpose. Last month I visited Honduras, Ecuador, Peru and Chile, but of course, with Australia being so far away; it is fantastic to have the opportunity to meet with Latin American business leaders here in Australia. ALABC recently provided one such opportunity at their annual dinner which showcased Australian companies currently marketing their products and services to the Latin American market.
At the dinner I was fortunate to meet a number of key dignitaries. Among others, I was introduced to ambassadors from Peru, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico and the Immediate Secretary for the Ambassador of Colombia, I also had the privilege of meeting nine delegates from Chile and Ausenco’s Chief Executive Officer. Austrade, who work closely with ALABC, are facilitating further meetings with other important contacts and this will provide the chance for me to present Optalert’s technology and leverage further opportunities.
While we have had great success to date in a number of different countries, we are now taking a more strategic approach, focussing on more stable economies in the region. Chile and Brazil are currently experiencing an economic downturn. This is due, in part, to lower prices for commodities and the added new education and tax reforms, which have been recently introduced by the relevant governments.
During my visit to mine sites in Chile last month, I saw the direct effects of this slump with hundreds of staff retrenched at more than one location. As a result, local companies are exploring projects in other countries including Mexico and Peru.
Of course, individuals will continue to have accidents caused by drowsy driving.
It is estimated up to 30 per cent of accidents are due to drowsiness and this directly affects company performance and productivity. With the current economic downturn it is even more important for companies to be looking after their people and their bottom line.
And that is where Optalert plays an important role. We offer the world’s only early-warning drowsiness detection products to combat the very real challenge of driver and operator fatigue and the onset of drowsiness.
Twenty years of research have preceded our product development and we have created a scientifically-proven system which puts a number on drowsiness in real time. Like Blood Alcohol Concentration, our products measure fatigue on a scale between one and 10 and alert individual operators and their supervisors immediately when they are reaching levels which put them and their assets at risk.
As with any goal or objective, it is passion and persistence that makes it achievable. I will remain committed to my roots, within the Latin American community, and I look forward to providing drowsiness protection to all who are at risk and further developing our company footprint in the region.