For most tradespeople, their van is not only a means of getting to and from work but also a vital part of their livelihood, holding many of the tools and materials they need to fulfil the day’s work.
How you fit out and organise your van can make a big difference in terms of the lifespan of your tools and equipment and also how efficient you are able to be on the job. With theft from vans being quite common, security is another major concern.
This week, we’re sharing five tips which could help you make sure your van is practical for your needs, well-organised and secure – in other words, fit for work.
Most new vans come with a bare metal floor and, although this may be fine for some lighter trades, this does have a number of downfalls – bare metal will damage quickly, the surface can be slippery and, let’s face it, it’s not the most appealing surface to look at or work in.
If you’re using your van for transporting building supplies and tools, it’s wise to fit out the floor with something that’s stronger and more durable. Safety is another concern so a non-slip flooring material is a must. Something like aluminium checker plate is a good option that meets all of these criteria.
If your usage is less intensive but you still want to keep the van in good condition, a hardwearing carpet floor or wood flooring could do the job.
Good lighting inside your van is essential as this will help you find what you need quickly and carry out tasks safely. In the colder, darker winter months, this is especially important.
Some new vans include overhead or side lights, but sometimes the manufacturer’s fittings may not be sufficient for your needs. Think about how you will be using your van and if necessary, install extra overhead or task lighting.
The thin metal exterior of a van does not do a lot in terms of heat retention. That will make working conditions inside the van uncomfortable in colder weather but, even if you don’t really use the van as a workshop and are not overly concerned about this, there can be other issues like condensation to think about.
Adding a simple insulated skin (e.g. using wool or natural fibre) will not lose much interior space but make a huge difference in terms of comfort.
4. Shelving or storage
Keeping your van well-organised will mean you spend less time searching for the tools or items you need; help to keep those items safe and damage-free as the van moves; and could even help to deter thieves.
The easiest way to stay organised is to fit the van with some kind of shelving or storage system. You could choose a set of storage boxes with compartments, magnetic strips to hold tools in place or perhaps some internal racking. With the latter, you can keep all your main tools in toolboxes which then sit in place on the racking, secured with bungee cords. Not only will this prevent items from falling when you veer around a corner but it could stop the opportunistic thief in their tracks; it will simply take them too long to remove the item they’re after!
Talking of thieves, we all know that it’s important to empty the work van of any valuable tools/ equipment overnight, however that won’t prevent the thief whose looking for an opportunity during the working day – when you’re attention is on the job rather than your van.
New vans will come with the manufacturer’s basic security features but, for additional peace of mind, it’s worthwhile going for an upgrade. Three things you could consider are:
- Add extra van locks like deadlocks, Slamlocks and Armaplate. Bear in mind that it’s easy to damage your van while adding these so, unless you’re experienced with this type of work, ensure the locks are installed by a professional.
- Install a Thatcham Category 1 Alarm (the highest rated alarm possible for your vehicle). Along with enhanced security this could also help to reduce your insurance costs.
- Fit a Van Vault. Originally designed for open-backed vehicles, a van Vault is made from heavy-duty steel and has tamper proof internal hinges and a flush finish to keep thieves out. Available in different sizes they can be a useful additional security feature if you do need to leave tools in your van.
A worthwhile investment
Depending on your trade and how you use your van, it might be useful to take some or all of these tips on board. If you rarely carry out work inside the van, you might not need task lighting or if you rarely have to leave tools inside the van then the added security of a vault may not be necessary.
Consider what’s most appropriate for your work and, at the very least, it is worth spending some time looking at how your van is organised and whether there is room for improvement. You may have to put some time and investment into making those improvements but, being able to access the tools and materials you need quickly will make your work more efficient and the investment will soon pay off.
Feature image: Freepik