ONCE you have bought your new van, it’s not necessarily fit for purpose.

Depending on your business, there may be a need to have a specialised layout in the cargo area such as storage, racking, ties and secure cabinets.

The list goes on, conversions include:

  • Access platforms,
  • Car transporters,
  • Cranes,
  • Minibuses and
  • Mobile workshops, as well as
  • Racking,
  • Refrigeration,
  • Welfare and
  • Wheelchair access vehicles.

These are in addition to standard Lutons, dropsides and tippers.

So where do you go for your conversion. Best to start with the manufacturer of your vehicle and see who it recommends.

Businesses recommended by a manufacturer will have undergone rigorous quality checks and the makes the process much easier for customers, with servicing and aftersales support also available in one place.

While bespoke conversions are available, have a look first to see what’s available off the shelf as this will invariably be cheaper.

Many manufacturers have conversion programmes on offer through their van centres which guarantees the quality of products available.

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Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles offers wheelchair-accessible conversions on Caddy, Caravelle and Transporter

When appointing a specialist supplier to carry out conversions, manufacturers undertake a rigorous audit covering a number of quality and technical criteria to which converter partners must adhere.

A three-tiered approach has been developed to suit the differing converter agreements that Volkswagen operates (Registered Bodybuilder, Integrated Partner and Premium Partner).

Suppliers should be able to deliver minimum type approval certification for each conversion so that converted vehicles will feature the same aftersales support received by the brand’s standard vehicles.

It might also be necessary to equip your van as an on-vehicle power system with the engine used to drive auxiliary equipment – similar to the way farm tractors can power extra machinery – rather than carrying or towing a separate generator or compressor.

On-vehicle power systems can provide compressed air, electric and hydraulic power, and even high pressure water jetting, and can therefore be used for a multitude of tasks carried out on the road.

There is no need to tow additional equipment – which might require the driver to take a separate driving test to obtain the correct licence, and towing can of course be hazardous – or to arrange, and wait for, equipment to be delivered to site

Typically, they are used to operate road drills, breakers, hand tools, submersible pumps, site lighting and electrofusion equipment, many of which can be used simultaneously.

These systems can be fitted to a wide range of vehicles, from light commercial vehicles to 26 tonne lorries. Van conversion customers include utility companies, emergency services and mobile tyre fitting operators.

Compared to the traditional approach of using separate plant to supply power, on-vehicle systems offer many benefits. Importantly, vehicle utilisation is significantly improved.

The van becomes a mobile work station; within the vehicle there is everything required to carry out necessary work, especially if racking, workbenches and lighting are fitted too.

There are other benefits for employees too, from a cleaner working environment because of lower exhaust emissions, as well as safer working conditions due to reduced operational noise levels.

When choosing an on-vehicle power provider, we recommend comparing life cycle costs, including fuel consumption, and the service offering. But there are some important legal requirements to be aware of too.

On-vehicle power systems should be installed and certified in line with manufacturer guidelines and, where applicable, to EUWVTA UK National Small Series Type Approval (NSSTA).

Type Approval means the vehicle installation conforms to current legislation, meets legal requirements and will add value to the vehicle resale in years to come.

It’s also important to consider the impact a conversion will have on payload, especially now that extra technology – and additional weight – is being fitted to light commercial vehicles to meet Euro 6 emission regulations.

Finally, there will come a time when the vehicle needs replacing, so it’s important when carrying out conversions what effect they will ultimately have on the resale of the veicle.