WHAT do you use your van for? Business, professional or DIY…van racking can be a cost effective solution for organising the tools and equipment you require every day.
And not having your van resemble a teenager’s ‘floordrobe’ – with everything scattered on the floor.
Whether you are looking for a ready-made or a tailored solution, it’s important to keep in mind the cost of fitting out your van, as the costs can quickly rack up.
And so can the weight of the installation, which can reduce your load capacity as well as performance and fuel economy. On some pick-up trucks the added weight could even affect your vehicle’s speed limits.
According to the FTA (Freight Transport Association), van racking includes storage equipment, such as shelves, cabinets, toolboxes, and cupboards which are specifically designed to be restrained in the cargo compartment area to provide safe stowage.
A recent report from leasing company Arval proved how much increased payload contributed to a loss in fuel efficiency: with a 75% payload fuel economy dropped by 21.2% in tests the firm carried out.
Arval Fleet Consultant Liam Cresswell said: “It is worth considering the question of storage systems. Good, modern, lightweight racking can help to maximise the carrying capacity and payload of a vehicle and generally increase its efficiency in use.”
A perfect example of the benefits of a good racking system is the recent case of a life-saving Volkswagen Caddy van being donated to the South Central Ambulance Charity by Volkswagen Van Centre, Brian Currie, in Milton Keynes.
To be used by volunteers delivering first response care to residents of Newport Pagnell and the surrounding area, this van has been specially equipped and professionally racked for everything needed to deliver the very best care in case of emergency, including oxygen, defibrillator and general medical supplies.
What sort of van racking should you go for to make your van serviceable for your profession: professional or DIY?
Van racking: The DIY route
It might seem cost-effective, the reality is often different. Even if you’re a skilled worker, it will take longer than you expect and time is money – especially if your van is off the road while you’re fitting it out!
Some van owners kit out their vans with wooden or metal shelving; but this can prove a real hazard should there be an accident. The consequences of DIY racking are detailed in this story here: DIY racking can be fatal.
The other option is DIY from a modular off-the-shelf solution. Units are good value but you still need to spend time installing them and ensuring that you don’t drill into structural areas of the van… or items like the fuel tank, wiring and brake lines. Typical suppliers are BigDug and National Autorax (formerly Trukrax).
Van racking: The specialist route
No small business wants a van out of commission when it could be working. So your other choice is to have the racking professionally designed and fitted. There are van racking specialists that will design a system and fit at a time that suits you.
Typical suppliers include Bott and Sortimo. Either way, it’s better business van management and a smarter, safer and more secure option than DIY.
Going for a new van? Well, many manufacturers can now offer bespoke solutions that can be included in the price and fitted before you take delivery. These include Vauxhall, which provides factory-racked versions of its award-winning Vivaro, and Renault’s Ready4Work range of vans.
Even leasing companies are doing the same. Lex Autolease offers a professional racking service for key trades, and leasing brokers such as Neva Consultants offer bespoke Trade Vans, kitted out to suit your trade.
The best van racking systems have to pass rigorous crash tests (ECE-R 17), as safety is extremely important – whether you fit it yourself or call in an expert you need to get it right – so it’s worth talking to your local van dealer, lease company or specialist racking firm about your needs.
How will you use your van?
Talk to your employees about how they use the van before you order anything if you have a small van fleet. You don’t want your operatives having to return to the van throughout the day for, say, screws, tools or connectors, because you failed to specify removable containers.
Good racking fitters will be able to suggest clever solutions for the way you use the van. They’ll also come up with a computer simulation of the racking design for your approval before they fit it.
No small business wants a van out of commission when it could be working. Van racking specialists know this and will fit it at a time that suits you. Overnight fitting or at weekends is common.
Many will collect the van, fit it out and then return it to you. Depending on the scope of the job, they may even be able to fit the racking while you’re on site, working. Either way, it’s probably a smarter, safer and more secure option than DIY van racking.
Ten top tips for van racking
The FTA has produced these useful guidelines for racking your van:
- The racking system should be fitted in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions
- Has the racking been tested under R17 crash pulse conditions?
- Are doors and drawers in racking systems self-closing, to eliminate the risk of them being left open in transit?
- Ensure the racking system extends to the full length of the cargo compartment area providing a direct load path to the vehicle occupants
- Have the cargo carrying capacity of the units in the racking system been provided and labelled by the manufacturer?
- The racking system should be loaded according to the guidelines provided by the manufacturer
- Have any unauthorised alterations been made to the racking system?
- Does the racking interfere with the adjustment of the seat or head restraint or have the potential to interfere with the performance of the occupant safety systems such as the seatbelts or airbags?
- Regular inspections should be carried out on the racking system to check for signs of wear and tear
- Regular maintenance carried out on the racking system