If you are a mobile mechanic, mobile valet, roadside breakdown assistant, window fitter or have worked on or converted vans for others, making sure your van is both safe and compliant will be an important element to the efficiency and safety of your business.
Failing to secure a compliant van could lead to significant losses through inefficient working, theft or endless business administration. Overloading or poor loading practices and additions to your van that aren’t compliant with the law could negate your motor trade, mechanic, van or courier insurance.
Before you start any renovations to your vehicle, read our essential advice.
Carrier or Mobile Workshop?
Before starting work on any van conversion, you need to have a clear idea of what the van will be used for – are you just using it to transport tools or parcels, or will it be a mobile workshop where you need to carry out daily activities? Vehicle use will affect areas such as storage, lighting, ergonomics, auxiliary power needs, special flooring and security.
If you are a mobile workshop, then having everything within easy reach is essential for reducing wasted time and having to return to the depot to collect missing equipment. Even if you are just transporting items, having everything safety stowed and organised will prevent hunting around for parcels and cut down on lost cargo. Non-slip flooring can also help to prevent additional accidents, particularly during the wet winter.
Well-designed van shelving and racking improves profitability, reduces the risk of accidents, improves weight dispersal and prevents load movement to reduce the risk of accidents through an unstable vehicle.
Good shelving can also help to make the most use of your space, enabling you to invest in the right size of van for your business. By understanding your daily loads, you can help to find the right size of vehicle for your needs. It may be that you need a smaller vehicle than you anticipated, saving on running costs, fuel emissions, motor trade insurance and makes parking easier!
Safety and Security
During the winter months, shorter hours of daylight can mean that most of your loading is done in the dark. Adding LED lights can assist in getting the van loaded more efficiently and safely. Having correct lighting can also help to prevent theft and enable you to see at a glance what’s in the van.
Safety boxes, shelving and racks all allow for locks to be applied to prevent items being prey to thieves. For more on specific locks for your van, read our blog on The Most Popular UK Van Locks.
To ensue you don’t get fined by the DVSA for overloading, run the risk of frequent downtime from breakdowns or incur increased fuel costs, you need to correctly implement the right equipment and power solutions.
Considering ergonomics can allow for quick stowing of equipment and dedicated spaces for the more bulky items. In addition, if you are converting a van, keeping your shelving as lightweight as possible, together with looking at alternatives to plywood van linings, such as polypropylene, can help keep storage and protective weight to a minimum, allowing for improved fuel economy, reduced emissions and may enable you to carry more of what you need.
Overloading your van can lead to a hefty fine as well as damaging your vehicle. When converting a van for others or finding someone to convert your vehicle, make sure the vehicle is weighed once the conversion is complete so you can be clear how much payload remains.
To keep you within the law, the Freight Transport Association’s (FTA) Van Excellence Scheme offers useful advice on safe van conversions and loading.
• Overloading a van can alter the way it handles, especially if the load is unsecured. This is dangerous for the driver who is more prone to accidents, as well as the risk of damage to the van and its contents.
• A load needs to be properly secured through racks and shelving. Correctly stowed equipment can prevent damage to the interior of the van and prevent the cargo becoming a dangerous missile should the van be involved in a collision or you need to brake suddenly.
• It’s crucial to find out the van’s maximum overall weight and the maximum weight allowed for each axle. This includes the fuel, driver and number of passengers. This information is usually found on the manufacturer’s plate. Don’t overload one axle (generally the front) through uneven distribution and remember that you may need to rearrange items as you make deliveries.
Whether you have converted your own van, convert vans for a living or are a courier that drives daily, make sure you have the correct insurance in place. While motor trade Insurance or van insurance is a legal necessity, adding liability insurance will help to protect you against claims should someone be injured on your premises or in your van.
If you have employees, then employer’s liability will cover you in case of possible injury whilst loading, unloading or converting a van. For couriers, alongside courier insurance, it’s worthwhile investing in public indemnity insurance to protect your packages against damage or loss.