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Man looks at information about van upfits - What is a van upfit & why do I need oneYour work van – it’s your workshop on wheels. And just like your workshop – maybe even more so – it needs to be organized. If you have tools and equipment rolling around in the back of your van, it not only takes more time to find what you need, it can also be a driver distraction and a safety hazard. Plus, it makes a less-than-professional first impression.

How can you wrangle all the free-range equipment and supplies that have taken over your cargo area? That is a job for a van upfit!

What is a Van Upfit?

A van upfit is a professional storage system for your work van. It provides storage areas for everything you need on the job – from tools, to small supplies, even to large tanks – upfits keep everything in place, easy to find, and ready when you need it.

But a van upfit – a well-designed and usable upfit – isn’t a one-size-fits-all product. It’s designed around the trades professional who’ll be using it. The ideal upfit for an electrician won’t work well for a painter or a general contractor (which is why we’ve created several vocation-specific upfit packages). Even within a trade, different professionals will have different needs, and their needs may differ from job to job, so a good upfit needs to be flexible enough to accommodate those changing needs.

How do you find an upfit that works for you and your business? You start with a plan.

A Great Upfit Starts with a Great Plan

Sounds great, but where do you start? Ask yourself 4 key questions:

  1. How will the upfit be used?

Will you need access to heavy/bulky items? Will you need curbside or back access (or both)? What are your most frequently used tools and supplies? What about security – will you need locking storage or window grates? Think about your most frequent types of jobs and any cargo storage difficulties you’ve faced in the past. This information will help you develop a wish list for your upfit components.

  1. Who will be using the upfit? Will it be one person or multiple people?

If multiple people will be using the upfit, keeping items visible (or well labeled) and accessible will maximize efficiency. Consider these upfit MVPs (Most Valuable Products):

Blue Bins – Ideal for storing small parts and tools, each bin is molded from of tough, high-quality molded polypropylene. Bins include divider slots, reinforced walls, molded finger grips, and label holders for parts identification.

Plastic Snap-In Bins – These molded storage bins are perfect for visual inventory management. The innovative rail system locks the bins in place, preventing them from shifting from side to side

Portable Parts Cases – Versatile, lightweight, durable, convenient and mobile – our portable parts cases are ideal for the tech who needs to carry small parts and inventory to the jobsite. The see-through lids make it easy to identify the contents that are organized within the adjustable dividers.

Parts Case Holder – Keep your parts cases organized and ready for duty with this stacking parts case holder. Each holder includes two PPCS totes, one PPCL tote and a First Aid Kit.

  1. How much flexibility do you need in organization? Will you take the same equipment and supplies to every jobsite, or will it vary based on the project?

If your cargo frequently changes, consider highly adjustable upfit components, like ADseries adjustable van shelving, which offers:

Easy adjustability – shelves can be adjusted with a screwdriver. Remove two bolts from the speed nut clips that come with the shelf, tilt the shelf upwards, move the shelf to your desired location, insert the rear shelf studs, reattach the bolts, and you’re done!

Flexible positioning – Our unique rail system enables you to reposition the shelving in the van, increasing the available space for trade-specific equipment. And it can all be done without removing bolts, plugging holes and re-drilling the van.

A perfect fit – ADSeries units are designed specifically for your vehicle, so they fit perfectly and make the most of the space inside your van.

Plenty of room for growth – change your shelving system as your job requirements, tools, equipment, needs change. There are plenty of accessories to choose from, including:

  • Safety equipment
  • Portable parts case holders
  • Step stools
  • Parts trays
  • Reel holders
  • Cargo straps
  • Door storage
  • Hard hat holder
  • Door tray lids
  • Aerosol can trays
  • Hooks
  1. How long do you plan on using your upfit? Will your needs be changing soon?

A solid, well planned upfit can last a decade or more, so it’s important to carefully consider how your needs may change to get the maximum return on your upfit investment.

It Takes Safety & Payload Into Account, Too.

Besides how well the upfit will work for you and your business, another important factor is how it will impact your van’s safety standards and payload capacity.

You can find the safety standards for your van in the owner’s manual or through the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Regulations.

Figuring out your van’s payload capacity is important for road and jobsite weight restrictions; it will determine how much cargo you can carry, including the weight of the upfit. Here’s how to calculate it:

Gross vehicle weight rating – curb weight = payload capacity

  • Gross vehicle weight rating is simply the maximum allowable weight of an entire vehicle when it’s packed up and ready to go – that includes the weight of the vehicle itself, all the necessary fluids for operation (gasoline, diesel, oil and so on) and any cargo, passengers, and tools. A vehicle’s GVWR is calculated by its manufacturer, and you can typically find it in your owner’s manual or on the vehicle’s doorframe, near the door latch. You might also find your vehicle’s GVWR on websites that list these numbers.
  • Curb weight is simply how much the vehicle weighs on its own, without any cargo or passengers. This measurement includes a full tank of gas and any other fluids that keep a car running.
  • So, a vehicle’s payload capacity – the amount of stuff it can safely carry after you’ve filled up the tank with gas and topped off the fluids – is just a matter of subtraction.

The Best Way to Purchase an Upfit

When you’re ready to purchase your upfit, plan to purchase it from a single manufacturer. Why? Because upfit components are created to fit together; purchasing bits and pieces from different manufacturers may save a little here and there, but chances are, they won’t fit together seamlessly (or, in some cases, easily). Looking to save some money? Ask the manufacturer or their distributor if there are any incentive or assistance programs available. Also, check to see if upfit packages are available for your vocation or industry.

Do your research. Find a manufacturer with a solid track record and good reviews. Look for the quality of workmanship, what types of materials they use, their lead time, and their warranty. For the best fit, find upfits that are made for your van, not a one-size-fits-all kit. But don’t stop there – research installers, too. Make sure the one you choose knows your industry and is certified to install and maintain your upfit. Finally, thoroughly the spec quotes before purchase and installation to avoid unpleasant, after-the-fact surprises.

About Adrian Steel Upfits

Adrian Steel manufactures contractor-grade products and storage solutions including shelving, drawers, cabinets, partitions, ladder racks, aluminum toolboxes, and accessories. Beyond manufacturing, our dedicated Customer Care Team and a network of highly qualified distributors can have your vehicle upfitted at a location convenient for you – at the factory, out of dealer stock, at your place of business, or through a bailment pool. Plus, upfits installed by an authorized Adrian Steel distributor are covered for a full 3 years or 36,000 miles!

Contact us online or find a distributor near you to get started today!

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