We check out original and aftermarket options for van fit out.
Today’s vans come with more equipment than ever before to make life better for tradies, service people and delivery drivers. But there’s always room for more.
Fit outs improve your van
Straight from the factory the buyer enjoys comforts and conveniences unheard of 15 years ago, such as air-conditioning, CD audio, power windows, central locking, safety airbags, desks, drink holders and seats designed to keep big blokes comfortable for hours at the wheel.
But what about the big box behind? Its usefulness is wasted without a proper fit out to suit the job.
The advantages of having a properly-fitted van are many, and include: safety; compliance with OH&S requirements; security; protection of tools or cargo; easy access to tools or parts; usable work surfaces; better weight distribution; improved parts inventory control; professional image.
There’s a mountain of brilliant gear to turn your van into a true mobile workshop or warehouse. It comes in two ways – as a factory-supplied option on a new vehicle or from the aftermarket. There are advantages in both.
Factory-fitted versus aftermarket fit outs
It stands to reason racking, shelving, flooring and other items bought as optional equipment on a new vehicle will have been designed for optimal fit. It will fit like it’s made for it, because it is.
Additionally, you get the benefit of the factory warranty and the extra cachet of offering “factory fitted” extras at resale time.
However, items from an aftermarket supplier often still carry a warranty. The fit-out can be removed and transferred to another vehicle and, because it’s been designed in Australia, it may better suit local needs and conditions and certainly will allow a bigger choice of items.
Aftermarket fit-outs can be carried out by the manufacturer or the vehicle user. All makers supply standard fit-out kits to various levels, specified for various applications such as electrical, plumbing or technical service, or will design a custom installation.
So what’s available to the van user who wants a great set-up?
Fit out options
Racks and shelving are the basic items. They come in many sizes and can be adapted for open-top bins, Ezypak parts trays, or roller drawers.
They can be supplied to carry large quantities of pot plants, which require both secure stowage and protection from wind, rain and sun when being transported.
Lockable cabinets protect valuable items or oxy bottles. There are cages to safely hold LPG fuel tanks or work gas bottles.
Roller-door cupboards and extra crew seats can be built-in.
Other handy items are pull-out vices, bench tops, electrical cable reel holders, hose reel mounts, mini-fridges, steps and hand-wash stations.
There are hooks for extensions leads and ladders and cross-vehicle barriers to keep heavy items in place.
First-aid kits and fire extinguishers can be positioned so they are visible and quickly accessible in emergencies.
To protect painted metal floors and the goods carried on them, timber, marine carpet or rubber coverings are available.
The ultimate ute solution is a custom service body built on a one-tonner cab chassis.
These allow outside access to tools and parts stored in lockable, dustproof cabinets and their low centre-of-gravity design contributes to vehicle stability. They are also transferable when the truck is worn out and the service body remains in good order.
Lastly, vehicle owners should be wary of over-investing in van fit-outs. While a rear section packed with immaculate shelving and racking may be impressive and efficient, consideration should be given to whether the cost of a fit-out – perhaps running up to thousands of dollars - can be justified over the term of its service life.