Your work van plays a vital role in your business. It serves as a locker, storage cabinet, workbench, and office when your employees are on the go or at the job site. When workers can easily find tools, supplies, and equipment, the job gets done quickly and efficiently. What’s less obvious is that work vans also serve as a calling card for your business. A poorly organized, unreasonably messy work van speaks volumes about your business, even if this is the wrong message. Now, think about the opposite. Imagine a van that is perfectly organized from floor to rooftop. Even though it can be a bit worn and dirty at times, your work van is a model of efficiency and ingenuity.
Work vans are a blank canvas, something that can be molded and customized to your exact needs. Modern upfitting equipment makes it easier than ever to modify a van into a work tool. The upfront investment in van buildout and organization pays back many times over in the long run. This blog will explore some of the cardinal rules of how to organize a work van and what to consider to achieve the results you want.
The ideal work van is one that has the right amount of space and durability. While you need something that gets the job done, buying a vehicle that has considerable running costs can be expensive in the long run. On the other hand, your van should have room to grow as your business grows. This means a careful balance of meeting the needs of today and tomorrow.
But what makes a great work van? The answer is design. Manufacturers know that mileage isn’t always the common denominator for work vans. Engines must be able to idle for long amounts of time to power accessories. The chassis and body have to be light enough to accommodate upfits, supplies, and equipment while also being rigid and able to take a beating. How you plan to use the van makes a difference. Think about your payload. What you transport every day and the essential equipment needed for the job site will determine the size of the van you choose.
Upfitting a van is an exercise in how knowledgeable you are about your trade and what is needed on the go. If you have upfitted a van before or purchased one that was used, you’re probably intimately aware of its virtues and shortcomings. Chances are, there were a handful of frustrations that made the workdays longer and made you actively long for the day when you could replace the old work van with something new. Use these frustrations as inspiration for designing the perfect work van.
Place large and bulky items near the doors – Nothing is more time consuming than needing a bulky piece of equipment and having to pick through the van just to get to it. By positioning important things near the door, they are easy to remove at the job site and stow away when the job is done.
Make everything accessible – Make sure tools and materials are easy to get to with no latches, straps, or barriers blocking the items you need. Everything needed for a certain task should be accessible in a single quick motion, which cuts down on fumbling and increases efficiency.
Label everything – A place for everything and everything in its place. Labeling makes it easier to put things in the correct location. Also, a labeled space with nothing in it means something is missing, making a visual inventory so much easier. Even the most disorganized crew member should be able to effortlessly navigate the cabin and put things back where they belong.
Make space for multiple tools – Frequently used tools can fail, so when designing space for electric screwdrivers, for example, allow for two or three of them instead of one.
Don’t forget lighting – Lighting matters, even during the day. A well-lit cargo area means better visibility and a safer work environment.
Build task-oriented toolboxes – Depending on what your van is used for, a great way to organize it is by task. Each task gets a separate tool kit filled with everything necessary to complete that specific task.
Things will get dirty, and that’s OK – A work van is meant to get dirty. A typical workday will see mud tracked in, dust and dirt settled in corners, and cheeseburger wrappers balled up and thrown on the floor. A great design can alleviate the mess with strategically placed trash cans, flooring that is easy to clean, and a modular design that makes deep cleaning a snap.
Use ceilings and walls – Open space in a work van is just begging to be filled—sort vertical areas by size with the smallest items at the top. Lightweight items like extension cords and conduit can be suspended from the ceiling, keeping them safely out of the way but still readily accessible.
Keep the cargo area and drivers section separate – These areas serve two distinct purposes, so it’s important to clearly define what needs to be kept in both. While the cargo area should contain equipment, materials, and other supplies, the front of the van is more appropriate for service forms, manuals, and a place for a laptop or tablet. The driver’s area can easily become cluttered and messy, so this is another space where an ounce of organization will go a long way.
Go heavy duty when possible – Thicker brackets and durable framing are what sets quality shelving and materials apart. Equipment and materials are heavy, and this weight is even more noticeable when the van has to make an abrupt stop.
Put the doors to work – The interior side of van doors is a great place to hang frequently used items. Hooks can secure hard hats and tool belts, and magnetic strips can hold common hand tools like pliers, screwdrivers, and hammers.
Remember comfort – It’s worthwhile to keep your team happy and healthy. For example, if your business is located in a cold region of the country, a heated cabin makes a huge difference to the workers who have to be in the van day after day. Not every feature of the van has to be dedicated to work purposes. Satellite radio, GPS, and comfortable seats are all small touches that make the days go by easier.
Be consistent – It only takes two vans to have a fleet. Once you develop an efficient van design, copy the system to the next van exactly to make it easier on crew members.
HVAC work van organization – While HVAC vans need to be able to carry the hand tools and parts necessary to make repairs at the job site, they also need to have adequate space to carry full replacement units. Work crews will also need ways to move heavy equipment, which means dollies and even hydraulic lifts.
Plumbing work van organization – Plumbing trucks have the same requirements as HVAC vans, meaning they need to be able to contain all the tools and safety equipment necessary for any plumbing job. An added consideration is that plumbing vans get dirty and crews will need a way to clean and sanitize equipment if they have multiple stops to make during the day.
Electrical work van organization – Electricians need storage for all the small components and spools of wire they need to bring to the job site. Add to this safety equipment, ladders, and conduit and it’s easy to see that an electrical service van is one that needs a wide range of storage options.
Advantage Outfitters has all the upfitting equipment you need to fully customize a work van for plumbing, construction, landscaping, HVAC, and other trades and commercial businesses. Our range of products includes van shelving, organization kits, and modular components that are of the highest quality. We turn work vans into well-organized and safe vehicles that boost productivity and efficiency. Whether you have one van to upfit or 100, Advantage has the solution.