Two recent initiatives – one by a light commercial vehicle manufacturer and one by a leading trailer rental company – show how invaluable well-thought-out van load area storage systems can be.
The first one has been taken by Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles in conjunction with dealer Cordwallis’s branches at Heathrow, Oxford and Maidenhead in Berkshire. Kitted out by Surrey-based Winton Engineering, three Crafter Mobile Service Clinic vans are now in use by technicians working on VW light commercials at fleet customers premises.
The technicians do everything from servicing vans and updating their software to fixing their air-conditioning and carrying out minor warranty work. Their vehicles feature binning, work benches, compressed air jacks and wash basins.
Ten more of these vans will be in action at other dealerships by the summer and VW plans to roll out the programme across its entire commercial vehicle network.
Initiative number two has been taken by TIP Trailer Services which has added another 17 Renault Master vans to its UK mobile maintenance fleet, all with load areas equipped by Bott. The move takes the total number of Masters TIP operates to 58.
Each van has enough shelves and bins to accommodate all the trailer parts technicians are likely to need; everything from lamps to actuators. Also on board are a generator, a compressor and trailer diagnostic equipment.
Technician activities include pre-MoT inspections, preventative maintenance and the rectification of common trailer faults. Some of the tackle they use is heavy and one of the key reasons why TIP opted for 2.3-litre 125hp diesel LH35 long-wheelbase high-roof Masters is their payload capacity at a shade under 1.5 tonnes.
“We work our Masters hard both in terms of mileage and what they carry and they have always performed exceptionally well,” says TIP Maintenance Leader, UK and Ireland, Roy Thomas. “I expect we will be ordering more in the future.”
Take a Different Approach
Installing flooring and racking in van load areas can sometimes – though by no means always – involve drilling holes in the floor and bodywork. Holes can lead to rust unless they receive anti-corrosion treatment and the vehicle’s bodywork warranty can be invalidated as a consequence.
So why not glue everything into place? No reason at all why not says Modul-System, better-known as Tevo in the UK.
One of its approaches is to bond flooring surfaced with an anti-slip aluminium tread plate to the van’s own floor and bond rails to the load bay’s sides; and to the roof too, if needs be. “Using a highly-adhesive glue results in a stronger installation than nuts and bolts,” the company contends.
The shelves and drawer units are secured to the rails, and to rails integrated into the floor. The shelves and so on can be detached easily if they have to be moved from one vehicle to another.
Strong adhesive also offers a weight saving because it weighs so much less than traditional fasteners.
Bear in mind that powerful adhesives are used extensively in the aviation industry and that some commercial vehicle box and Luton bodies are glued together. The ones Lawrence David mounts on 3.5-tonne chassis are good examples.
A Highly Competitive Sector
Bott and Modul-System/Tevo are by no means the only suppliers active in what has become a highly-competitive sector. Bri-Stor, Van Racking Systems, System Edstrom, Van Guard, Sortimo, National Autorax and Qi Van Systems are all slugging it out for internal and external storage business as is relatively-new kid on the block Cartwright Conversions.
As well as racking, the last-named company also produces welfare van conversions (see page 10). Its model is available with a 25-litre cassette-type toilet with an electric flush, a sink with an automated sensor tap to reduce the spread of germs and an eye-wash station.
The firm is part of the Cartwright Group, best-known for building trailers.
Van manufacturers keep producing new models and load area storage system manufacturers have to keep pace by turning out packages that are suitable for them. That is certainly the case so far as Tevo and Citroen’s Dispatch, Peugeot’s Expert and Toyota’s Proace are concerned.
The products of a joint venture between PSA, Citroen and Peugeot’s parent company, and Toyota, the three vehicles share the same basic design.
Tevo can for example equip a Proace with a 4.6cu m load area with six bins, three drawers and shelving down the offside and three bins, three drawers and shelving down the nearside next to the sliding door. The nearside package weighs 26.8kg while its offside counterpart tips the scales at 34.3kg.
What about the roof?
Van Guard has unveiled ULTI bars and racks for Dispatch, Expert and Proace. Available in two- and three-bar sets, the ULTI bars include adjustable load stops to help keep loads securely fixed.
Pipe carriers are regularly carried on the roofs of vans and Van Guard has internally-lined carriers available to prevent plastic conduits transported in them from getting damaged.
“So there’s no need to ask your Nan to knit a long sock to keep your pipes safe,” says a company spokesman. “Somebody actually did that, you know.”
Van Guard has also extended its range to include crash-tested roof equipment for Fiat’s Talento and Nissan’s NV300 vans. That has not been difficult, it readily concedes; the two newcomers are closely aligned to Renault’s Trafic and Vauxhall’s Vivaro vans thanks to yet another of the light commercial industry’s almost-bewildering procession of joint ventures.
Think Safety and Security
Any customer looking to have van storage systems installed either internally or externally should check that crash tests have been conducted. The last thing a driver wants is for shelving he or she thought was secure break loose in an impact along with its contents; and cause injury.
Carry expensive power tools and other valuable items in your onboard storage facilities and you may attract thieves. That is why the physical security of your vehicle has to be a priority.
Reinforcing and protecting the van’s existing door locks with the aim of making them less easy to force is a wise precaution. So is fitting additional locks, an alarm, and the sort of immobiliser that makes it impossible to move a light commercial – even with the keys in the ignition and the engine running – unless the appropriate transponder (which may be on the driver’s belt) is in range.
Van owners have to be lucky all the time and can vastly improve their chances by taking precautions. Thieves only have to be lucky once.