VMAC Survey Reveals Average Age of Fleet Service Vehicles With Air Compressors

VMAC’s recent survey on the state of the mobile compressed air industry has revealed many interesting findings, including the average age of fleet vehicles with air compressors. Our survey results contradict previous results compiled by the NTEA, suggesting that vehicles with air compressors tend to be newer and, possibly, replaced more often.

What is the average age of service vehicles in your fleet?

The following chart demonstrates the replies we received when we asked, “What is the average age of service vehicles in your fleet?” to our survey respondents.

average-age-service-vehicles

(Source: VMAC)

VMAC’s survey indicated newer vehicles aged 0 to 9 years made up 74% of fleets. After 9 years, there was a sharp drop off in the number of fleets with average vehicles 10 years and older. Only 5% of respondents reported that the average age of the vehicles in their fleets was over 20 years old.

Vehicles with compressed air are younger than average U.S. commercial truck

These results are an interesting deviation from results reported by NTEA in 2018, which stated the average age of service trucks was 11.5 to 16.5 years, depending on GVW. The NTEA also found that the average age of commercial trucks in the U.S. rose between 2008 and 2018 from 12.8 years to 14.2 years.

“Last year brought historic registration volumes that made commercial headlines soar. While all of these new trucks may, in time, drive down average vehicle age, there is a large population of older, registered trucks still running on our roadways,” wrote Dawn Brusseau of HIS Markit, in a guest editorial on the NTEA website.

average-age-service-vehicles-gvw

The NTEA also noted that large fleets have a direct impact on the age of the overall truck population: “In 2018, new commercial vehicle registrations (Classes 4–8) for large fleets increased by 20%, resulting in availability of clean used equipment. Large fleets typically trade in their vehicles every three years, so with each cycle and the increase of the truck population in this segment, we should continue to see replacement buying, rejuvenating overall fleet age.”

Dawn Brusseau also speculated that a desire for alternative fuel sources and the need for replacement parts may influence vehicle replacement, and concluded that, “Trucks will continue to age until total cost of ownership shifts from far to near term. Technology advancements, regulatory requirements and economic factors have the potential to move the aging trend downward.”

This dichotomy in data suggests that service truck operators who work in industries that require compressed air are more likely to rely on newer vehicle technology. These industries include heavy equipment repair, utility servicing, and commercial tire services. The survey results suggest this type of work is best done with the latest technology, or that ongoing wear and tear to these vehicles requires more frequent replacement.

About VMAC’s State of the Mobile Compressed Air Industry Survey

VMAC surveyed 205 people for the State of the Mobile Compressed Air Survey, between October 2019 and January 2020*. Each participant spent approximately 7 minutes, answering 25 questions in an online survey to share their perspective on the state of the industry.

View The Full Survey!

Truck Mounted Rotary Screw Air Compressors For Service Vehicles (2021)

Mobile air compressor technology has improved rapidly in recent years and operators have more options today than in the past. There are two primary categories of truck mounted rotary screw air compressors that operators can choose between:

  1. Above-deck air compressors
  2. Vehicle integrated air compressors

Both above-deck and vehicle integrated air compressors provide mobile air and power. Rotary screw technology allows this air to be delivered on demand, at 100% duty cycle. This duty cycle ensures a continuous stream of air is available whenever the air compressor is turned on.

In this article, we’ll go over the types of above-deck air compressors and vehicle integrated air compressors available for service trucks.

Above-Deck Truck Mounted Air Compressors

G30 gas driven air compressor

G30 gas driven air compressor

Above-deck rotary screw air compressors are systems that can easily be mounted onto a service truck, skid, or trailer. They are securely bolted into place and then ready to use. These are the mobile air compressors that most people are familiar with because they are highly visible on many service vehicles.

Above-deck truck mounted air compressors use one of three types of power:

  1. Gas
  2. Diesel
  3. Hydraulic

Most operators choose their truck mounted air compressor based on the fuel or power options that are already on their truck. Operators who have trucks with hydraulic cranes tend to favor hydraulic air compressors. For trucks without hydraulics, it’s most convenient to match the air compressor to the vehicle’s existing fuel type.

hydraulic-mounted

If the fuel types match, you may also choose to plumb the air compressor to the vehicle’s existing fuel tank. While this type of integration is slightly more complicated than a typical above-deck installation, it is extremely convenient because fueling up your vehicle will also fuel up your air compressor.

Vehicle Integrated Air Compressors

Vehicle integrated air compressors are innovative solutions that are mounted in the truck’s engine compartment or under the deck. Operators love these systems because they don’t take up any space on the vehicle deck, they save a lot of weight, and their size to power ratio makes them downright awesome.

UNDERHOOD™ 70 mounted to engine

UNDERHOOD™ 70 mounted to engine

Currently, vehicle integrated air compressors use one of two power options:

  1. Vehicle engine
  2. PTO

There is currently one option on the market for vehicle engine mounted air compressors: the UNDERHOOD™ air compressor, manufactured by VMAC. It is the only air compressor in North America that mounts directly to a vehicle engine, drawing power from the truck.

UNDERHOOD™ air compressors are designed for specific Ford, RAM, GMC/Chevrolet, Mercedes/Freightliner and International vehicles, because of the incredible size and space limitations within the engine compartment. Each system has to be carefully engineered for the specific vehicle it will be mounted to. They also require an experienced service truck dealer to install. Fortunately, once installed, UNDERHOOD™ air compressors are a convenient, low-maintenance air power solution.

DTM70-RAM-Install-Render

Direct-Transmission Mounted air compressor on a RAM transmission

PTO-driven air compressors are the primary alternative to UNDERHOOD™ air compressors. PTO-driven air compressors use a PTO mounted on the transmission PTO port to power the system. VMAC offers the world’s only direct-transmission mounted air compressor, which means it mounts directly to the transmission with minimal moving parts.

Direct-Transmission Mounted air compressor on a RAM transmission

However, alternative designs use shafts to connect the PTO to the air compressor. Shaft driven air compressors allow air compressor manufacturers to use larger compressor components, while still drawing power from the PTO. PTO shaft driven air compressors have their drawbacks but can still be a decent solution in the right scenario.

What Truck Mounted Air Compressor Is Right For You?

Deciding on the right truck mounted air compressor for your vehicle can be overwhelming. Many choices come down to preference, availability, and pricing. Do some research to determine your preferred style of air compressor and then talk to an experienced dealer about the best fit for your vehicle.

Ready for the next step? Learn more about VMAC’s truck mounted rotary screw air compressors or find a local dealer in your area!

Cullen Diesel Chooses Mercedes-Benz 4×4 Sprinter Van Over Service Truck

Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing a three-part blog series centered around Cullen Diesel, the Detroit Diesel and MTU distributor for BC. Cullen Diesel mechanics are factory trained and certified in Detroit Diesel and Mercedes engines, with experience in working with all types of diesel engines, including those in the marine, mining, construction and industrial sectors.

Dennis Miskow Cullen Diesel

Dennis Miskow, Branch Manager of Cullen Diesel’s Vancouver Island, BC operations

Dennis Miskow is the Branch Manager of Cullen Diesel’s Vancouver Island, BC operations. Dennis’ career with Cullen started over 20 years ago, when he was first hired as an apprentice heavy-duty mechanic. Dennis sat down with VMAC to discuss Cullen’s fleet, and his decision to add a commercial van to his fleet.

Choosing the Right Vehicle for Your Business: Commercial Van or Service Truck?

When it was time to add a new service vehicle to his fleet of 7 to replace an aging truck, Dennis went straight to his truck builder. “I spec’d out a truck with a crane and was ready to place the order. It was going to cost about $150k, so I decided to compare it to the cost of a commercial van. The van ended up being half the price.” Because of the significant savings, Dennis decided to explore commercial van options. “We chose the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter over the other vans because the Sprinter comes in a 4×4 option, which is necessary when we’re travelling to jobs in remote locations,” says Dennis.

Service Van Benefits

Cullen Service VanThough the additional draw to the service van option was cost, Dennis was aware of other benefits that come with having a van instead of a truck. “The van is a smaller vehicle, which makes it easier to drive and maneuver. We do service jobs right at the docks, so the van is the best option for driving to these marine applications,” notes Dennis. The Cullen Diesel Branch Manager also appreciates the extra level of protection from theft and the elements the enclosed space of the van offers: “Tools and equipment are kept safe inside the van from theft, but also from rain, sleet, ice, and snow. My team also appreciates the enclosed area to store and organize their tools instead of standing around the outside of the truck in all types of weather.” In addition to the cost, size and maneuverability, and enclosed protection from theft and the weather, the van acts as a moving billboard for Cullen as there’s much more advertising space on the van’s body.

Proven in Challenging Applications

UNDERHOOD for vansHaving never had a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter or any type of service van on his fleet before, Dennis did have some concerns about how it would hold up in challenging applications. Cullen Diesel services a lot of equipment found in remote areas, often requiring their vehicles to travel in mountainous areas up logging roads. “I wasn’t sure how the van would be able to make it up the logging roads, even though the Sprinter is a 4×4. But on its first service it drove easily up to the job site, right behind the trucks. Even our logging customers were impressed!” shares Dennis. Another concern was how long the Sprinter van would hold up in these challenging, dirty and demanding applications. “You see a lot of vans used as delivery vehicles, driving on the roads, but we weren’t sure how it would hold up after continuously being tested on trails and logging roads,” says Dennis. But fast forward to years later, and Dennis confirms he no longer has any worries: “It’s been three years and we haven’t had any problems with the van.”

Overall, the decision to add a commercial van to the Cullen Diesel fleet has had a positive impact on Dennis’ operations. “We’re looking to add another vehicle to the fleet and I want to get another van,” says Dennis.

Subscribe to the VMAC Blog to continue reading about Cullen Diesel’s experience with a service van, and the specialized equipment that it comes with. In part two of this series, which will be released next, Dennis will give insight into his decision to choose an UNDERHOOD™ 40 Van Series Air Compressor instead of a standalone gas drive air compressor for his Sprinter.

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UNDERHOOD for vans banner

Commercial Van Market Growth Creates New Equipment Opportunities

Commercial van sales data from the NTEA (National Truck Equipment Association) reveals that commercial van sales continue to trend upwards, with each year surpassing the sales numbers from the year before. Between 2013 and 2019, commercial van sales increased by 56.7%.

Total Van Sales in North America
2013: 224,723
2014: 239,646
2015: 282,216
2016: 292,096
2017: 301,349
2018: 317,163
2019: 352,288

With all this consistent growth, it’s understandable that vehicle manufacturers have expanded their offerings, presenting buyers with different commercial and cargo van options including van chassis, height, engines, and drive trains. Manufacturers of commercial vehicle equipment have expanded their product lines as well, with equipment designed specifically for commercial cargo vans.

But why are commercial vans rising in popularity? Let’s look at how we got here.

A QUICK HISTORY OF THE COMMERCIAL VAN INDUSTRY

Back in 2007-2008, the recession forced many businesses to make substantial changes or risk forever closing their doors. But the companies that managed to adapt were stronger, finding innovative ways to revolutionize the industry.

Ford and GM reinvented themselves and came out of the recession by adapting their vehicle lines to meet new market demands. The manufacturers looked to Europe and saw the timely opportunity to bring Euro-style commercial vans to North America.

Commercial vans cater to business owners and fleet managers looking to “right-size” their fleets to achieve maximum efficiency and profit—a winning formula for conquering a recession. Vans offer more cargo space, easy maneuverability, and better fuel efficiency, all at a lower price than traditional trucks.

The recession eventually ended but commercial vans were here to stay.

TYPES OF COMMERCIAL VANS: STANDARD VANS, HIGH ROOF VANS

Over the past decade, commercial vans have increased in popularity in North America. Their popularity surged in 2012 and has been steadily rising since. The National Truck Equipment Association (NTEA) has defined 5 OEMs as manufacturers of commercial vans:

  • Ford
  • GM
  • Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner
  • FCA – Ram
  • Nissan

Commercial vans can be defined as both passenger vans (shuttles or taxis), or cargo vans, with two seats in the front and cargo space in the back. In addition, commercial vans can be segmented as standard roof vans or high roof vans.

High roof vans allow for people to stand up in the back of the cargo area—this segment of commercial vans is responsible for the surge in popularity over recent years. High-roof van sales more than doubled between 2015 and 2019.

US_Mexico_Commercial_Van_Sales

If the current trend continues, 2020 may be the year that high roof vans overtake standard roof vans in sales. According to the NTEA’s Commercial Van Overview and Market Data Insights report, “From 2013–2018, standard roof-height models dominated the market. Throughout that period, high roof-height model sales grew faster than standard roof-height. For 2019, Class 1–3 standard roof-height sales were still greater than high roof-height sales, but the balance shifted in the second half of the year. From July–December 2019, high roof-height sales were greater than standard roof-height.”

VMAC VAN SERIES AIR COMPRESSOR: THE ONLY AIR COMPRESSOR SPECIFICALLY ENGINEERED FOR COMMERCIAL VANS

Though there’s increased opportunity and demand for a mobile air compressor for commercial vans, air compressor manufacturers have been slow to adapt their products for this popular style of commercial vehicle.

Many compressor manufacturers can only offer vehicle upfitters the option to put a standalone gas or diesel unit in the cargo area of their customer’s van. This solution not only takes up valuable space in the cargo area, but it also creates an unsafe working environment for operators, who are exposed to toxic fumes and the risk of gas fires.

Another option is a low cost, low output electric air compressor driven off an inverter. The downside to this option is that it is not designed for commercial applications, producing only a small amount of air for short periods of time.

 

UNDERHOOD for vans

There is, however, a better alternative: the UNDERHOOD™ 40 Van Series Air Compressor. The VMAC Van Series Air Compressor is the only air compressor specifically engineered for commercial vans. This desirable option frees up to 10 cubic feet in the van cargo area, reduces vehicle GVW by almost 300 pounds, eliminates common safety issues, and can produce up to 40 CFM at 100% duty cycle.

The UNDERHOOD™ 40 – Van Series is a must-have for anyone who is looking to upfit their cargo van with an air compressor. For vehicle bodybuilders and upfitters, this air compressor is available for the Ford Transit, Ford Transit Connect, GM Savana G Series and Express, and the Mercedes-Benz / Freightliner Sprinter.

Learn more about VMAC’s Van Series Air Compressor.

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Van Series Air Compressors: Commercial Van Fleets Gain Popularity

Right-Sizing Commercial Fleets: Increased Sales Of Vans & VMAC Van Series Air Compressors

The term “right-sizing” refers to converting a business unit to the optimal size to achieve maximum profit or efficiency. In this case, it describes the trend of businesses shifting their fleets from trucks to vans. Commercial van sales have been on the rise for the last few years, as fleet managers revise their vehicle needs, and opt for vans over trucks. For many industries, vans provide the right amount of cargo space without the added bulk and price associated with larger work trucks.

Vans offer a variety of attractive benefits, including a reduced environmental footprint, lower fuel consumption, better cargo organization, theft and weather protection, and easy driving and maneuvering. In some cases, vans even offer more payload than some light-duty pick-up trucks.

Delivery services and mobile work sites are two industries readily adopting van fleets, with the latter often requiring special equipment on the vehicles. These special equipment requirements present an opportunity for manufacturers to offer van-specific solutions. For example, many mobile work sites use air tools to perform jobs such as tire servicing, utility servicing, and forklift repair. VMAC’s UNDERHOOD40 Van Series Air Compressor has been developed specifically for service vans performing these applications. In addition, it addresses unique safety concerns associated with vans and traditional standalone air compressor systems.

VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Air Compressor For Vans

UNDERHOOD for vansThere are several options available when considering an air compressor for your van, but many options are truck solutions modified to fit inside vans. Installing a traditional air compressor inside of a van can cause many issues, as these compressors can be bulky and heavy, reducing available cargo space and payload capacity. Even more importantly, these air compressors compromise operator safety, and can be dangerous if important precautions are overlooked.

The VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Van Series Air Compressor eliminates each of these issues, all while being the only air compressor specifically engineered for commercial vans, including popular models by Ford, GMC, Mercedes-Benz, and RAM. The VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Van Series rotary screw air compressor delivers 40 CFM at 100% duty cycle, allowing operators and businesses to maximize productivity without sacrificing space and safety.

VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Air Compressor Van Series Benefits

Like all VMAC air compressors, the VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Van Series Air Compressor is lightweight and compact.

  • Saves space, frees up to 10 cubic feet
    • The VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Air Compressor mounts in the engine compartment of the van, freeing up space in the cargo area.
  • Reduces GVW by almost 300 lbs
    • The VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Air Compressor weighs 290 lbs less than other comparable air compressors. This lightweight air compressor can help improve your fuel economy, or allow you to transport more.

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VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Air Compressor Safety Considerations

Being specifically engineered for commercial vans, the VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Van Series Air Compressor eliminates safety hazards associated with traditional air compressors being mounted in the van’s cargo area. Being stored safely under the van’s hood ends lifting injuries, toxic fume exposure, and even the risk of gas fires.

Learn more about the VMAC UNDERHOOD40 Van Series Air Compressor or watch a video of the air compressor in action.

Continue reading about commercial vans and the van series air compressors:
Air Compressor Options Available For Service Vans

5 Reasons to Choose An UNDERHOOD™ Air Compressor For Your Work Van

Over the last decade, the popularity of commercial vans has steadily grown, as fleet managers and business owners look for cost-savings and improved efficiency in their vehicles. Many companies offer different outfitting options specific to vans, including shelving, storage boxes, tools, and accessories. In the case of air compressors, there are several different solutions, but only one air compressor has been specifically engineered for commercial vans, and that’s the UNDERHOOD™ 40 Van Series Air Compressor. Continue reading “5 Reasons to Choose An UNDERHOOD™ Air Compressor For Your Work Van”

Air Compressor Options For Service Vans (2021)

Service van operators who need an air compressor have one of two options—a vehicle-integrated air compressor that mounts in their engine compartment, or traditional air compressors that mount in the cargo area.

UNDERHOOD™ Air Compressors For Vans

Underhood40-mountedIf vehicle weight is a concern, and commercial van payload is limited, you can choose equipment that not only reduces vehicle weight, but also frees up space, maximizes operator productivity, and eliminates common safety issues.

VMAC has engineered the UNDERHOOD™ 40, a 40 CFM rotary screw air compressor that mounts in the engine compartment on the most popular commercial vans. This is the only air compressor in the world with this capability and it has revolutionized mobile air for service vans.

Common applications that use UNDERHOOD™ 40 air compressors are:

  • Tire servicing
  • Utility/Telecom servicing
  • Forklift repair
  • Light duty contractors using small air tools

Common air tools that are powered by UNDERHOOD™ 40 air compressors are:

  • 3/4“ impact wrench
  • Light chipping hammers
  • Die grinders
  • Tire inflation

Traditional air compressors mounted in the van’s cargo area can weigh as much as 375 lb, while UNDERHOOD™ 40 CFM air compressors weigh only 85 lbs. This means, by using a VMAC air compressor, you reduce as much as 290 lb in vehicle weight, and gain capacity for more tools and equipment.

Working closely with leading van manufacturers, VMAC ensures that mounting kits do not affect OEM warranties.

Cargo-Mounted Air Compressors For Vans

Mounting a traditional air compressor in the cargo area is the other air compressor option for service vans. If you work with service vans, you’re probably already familiar with this solution, in which operators take an existing electric drive or gas drive air compressor and bolt it into the back of their service van.

Cargo-mounted air compressors offer a straightforward solution, and allow operators to choose from a wide range of existing reciprocating and rotary screw air compressors. It’s a popular solution. However, traditional air compressors weren’t built with service vans in mind, and there are several drawbacks:

Reduced Cargo Space

If you work out of a service van, you already know your cargo space is limited. Traditional air compressors are space hogs, taking up a significant amount of space that could be used as a workspace or to store additional tools and equipment.

Limited Power

Electric drive air compressors are a popular solution for service vans but they’re limited in power. Most electric air compressors on the market today are not suitable for commercial work and don’t have the power required for modern air tools.

Toxic Fumes & Gas Spills

Vans with gas driven air compressors require adequate ventilation to eliminate the build-up of toxic fumes. Most service vans don’t have the airflow or space required to disperse these fumes, which presents a very real hazard to operators. The longer an air compressor runs inside the van, the larger the risk to anyone in the vicinity.

Further, gas driven air compressors require operators to fuel up their air compressor inside the cargo area. Spilled gas results in toxic fumes and presents an unnecessary fire hazard.

Choosing An Air Compressor For Your Service Van

Operators ultimately have three choices when considering air compressors for service vans:

  1. Electric drive (cargo-mounted)
  2. Gas drive (cargo-mounted)
  3. UNDERHOOD (engine-mounted)

The right option will depend on your budget, space requirements, weight limitations, and general regard for safety. Consider your options carefully and talk with a trusted vehicle upfitter when making your decision.

Big Issues Caused By Overweight Commercial Vans

Commercial van weight can have significant impacts on any service truck business, especially in the United States. Heavy vans have to follow tighter regulations, undergo more inspections, and can face costly fines in some jurisdictions. Let’s break down what you need to know about weight and why extra weight on commercial vans can be a big problem.

What is GVWR?

Commercial van gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) and payloads can differ from vehicle to vehicle.  It is important to know what you’re working with when specifying or upfitting a specific commercial van.

According to AboutAutos.com, gross vehicle weight rating is the vehicle’s maximum safe weight that should not be exceeded.  Weight calculations include curb weight, additional equipment that’s been added, the weight of cargo and the weight of passengers.  A vehicle’s GVWR never changes.

GVWR vs. Payload

GVWR should not to be confused with payload capacity.  GVWR includes the vehicle’s unloaded curb weight, passengers’ weight and cargo weight. Payload capacity is the difference between GVWR and vehicle weight.  For example: If a vehicle’s GVWR is listed at 10,000 lb and the vehicle’s weight is 6,000 lb (empty), then its payload capacity is 4,000 lb.

Make & Model (Highest Capacity Model)GVWR (Maximum)*Payload (Maximum)*
RAM Promaster11,500 lb4,680 lb
RAM Promaster City5,395 lb1,901 lb
Ford Transit10,360 lb4,640 lb
Ford Transit Connect5,302 lb1,610 lb
MB/Freightliner Sprinter12,125 lb6,768 lb
MB Metris6,614 lb2,425 lb
Nissan NV9,900 lb3,850 lb
Nissan NV2004772 lb1,480 lb
Chevrolet Express9,600 lb3,841 lb
*Values are estimates only, based on basic trim package and referred from vehicle manufacturer websites. For accurate technical specifications, refer directly to vehicle manufacturer documentation.

FMCSA Regulations Apply Over 10,000 lb

All commercial drivers of vehicles that perform interstate work in the USA and have a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 lb or more are required to follow Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations. These regulations are enforced by the Department of Transportation (DOT), and are outlined in Title 49, Part 300 to 399 of the Code of Federal Regulations—an exhausting 734-page document of rules that must be followed.

FMCSA has many regulations for overweight commercial vans. For example, interstate drivers must:

  • Be at least 21 years old
  • Possess a DOT Medical Examiner certificate
  • Obtain and display a USDOT number
  • Follow Hours of Service requirements
  • Maintain proper records
    • Pre- and post-trip inspections
    • Accident reports
    • Vehicle maintenance records
  • Receive an annual inspection
  • And more…

Individual states set their own intrastate commercial vehicle regulations, but these regulations tend to be similar to the interstate guidelines. For example, 37 states require a DOT Medical Examiner certificate, while most include reporting, inspection, accident recording, and hours of service rules.

For many operators, the easiest way to avoid the hassle and paperwork of FMCSA regulations is to ensure their vehicle has a GVWR that is consistently under 10,000 lb. While most commercial vans fall into this category, the Ford Transit, RAM Promaster, and Mercedes-Benz Freightliner Sprinter each have a GVWR of over 10,000 lbs.

Fines For Overweight Vans

Overweight vans can also result in hefty fines. According to Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, fines for on-the-road weight violations range from $100 to $10,000 for first offence.  Fines double on subsequent violations within a year.  Fines and other punishments vary in severity from state-to-state, and can even include prison time.

According to Connecticut General Assembly, criminal charges may be brought against the owner or operator of an overweight vehicle if the weight of the vehicle is the proximate cause of a motor vehicle accident that results in death.

Summary of GVWR Issues

To recap the issues and most important information surrounding GVWR:

  • GVWR never changes.
  • Additional regulations apply for vans over 10,000 lb.
    • Inspections, driver requirements, record keeping, and more.
  • Monetary fines may be imposed.
  • Prison time and criminal charges are possible.
  • Business operations will likely be affected.

With these important issues in mind, it makes sense to reduce the weight of vans by purchasing low-weight vehicles and incorporating the lightest components possible.

Air Compressor Solutions for Reducing Van Weight

Service vans that require compressed air for pneumatic tools can reduce weight by using UNDERHOOD™ air compressors.  Traditional air compressors mounted in the cargo area can weigh as much as 375 lb., while the UNDERHOOD™ rotary screw air compressor weighs only 85 lbs. This system increases the available payload by up to 290 lbs.

UNDERHOOD™ is the only air compressor specifically engineered for commercial vans. These 40 CFM rotary screw compressor systems by VMAC are available for the most popular commercial van models.

UNDERHOOD for vans

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Choosing an Air Compressor for your Commercial Van 2019

New Possibilities for Fleet Managers

All-new commercial van models have entered or will soon be entering the North American market. These vans are causing fleet managers to take a fresh approach to different application possibilities including: plumbers, handymen, construction contractors, mobile mechanics, and mobile tire service technicians. These European-style vans are fuel efficient and have a tremendous amount of cargo space – over 75 percent more than the largest E-series. Continue reading “Choosing an Air Compressor for your Commercial Van 2019”

Commercial Van Education

Interest in commercial vans to replace traditional service trucks continues to grow. Sales figures provided by the NTEA (National Truck Equipment Association) show it’s a trend that is not fading. Growth has been sustained over about a 5-year period, and the reasons for this are clear. Continue reading “Commercial Van Education”

Top Four Trends in Commercial Van Upfitting and How to Capitalize on Them

If you’re a commercial van upfitter, you’ve likely seen a growing number of customers who’ve traditionally selected a pickup or service body truck for a mobile service application, who are now taking a second look at using a van for that job.

That’s because not long ago, in 2008, there were few commercial van options available in the North American market — three full-size vans (Ford E-Series, Mercedes Sprinter, and Chevrolet Express/ GMC Savana) and one compact van (Chevrolet Uplander cargo). Today, that number has more than doubled to 10 van models, offering a much wider range of roof heights, wheelbases, payload capacities, and engines for fleet managers to choose from.

“We’ve definitely noticed an uptick of some customers switching from pickup trucks to vans because there is more choice now, especially with the new small vans and euro-style full-size vans that have entered the market the past few years,” said Jay Cowie, product manager at Ranger Design, a commercial van upfit manufacturer based in Ontario, New York.

With the influx of new van models, how can you seize this opportunity to sell more commercial van products and services? Tailor your offerings to capitalize on these four trends in commercial van upfits.

Trend #1: Rightsizing the Van to the Job

“Fleets are taking a more strategic approach to their business, focused on selecting the right-size van because now there’s more choice,” said Cowie. “Customers aren’t stuck with a one-size-fits-all van, which may be inefficient for certain applications. With greater choice, they can more effectively tailor vehicle selection to increase efficiencies and lower operational costs.”

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How can upfitters capitalize on this trend?

  • Expand upfit offerings to fit each available van model
  • Offer modular or adjustable cargo management systems so that technicians can personalize (or right-size) the upfit to their unique needs and workflows in the field.
  • Reimagine how the increased cargo area inside high-roof vans can be optimized — to create new upfit designs that boost worker efficiency and productivity.

Trend #2: Taking Weight Out of Upfits

“Because some of the new vans are bigger and taller with more cargo area, you can fit a lot more gear in it,” said Cowie. “And the more stuff in the van, comes more weight, which increases the risk of overloading the van. So, we’re seeing a shift toward using lighter-weight materials in upfits to increase legal payload capacity.”

Cowie said that Ranger Designs incorporates aluminum and composite materials to reduce overall upfit weight, depending on what mix of materials is best for the customer’s functionality, durability and budget requirements.

How can upfitters capitalize on this trend?

  • Offer lighter-weight upfit options where the customer’s application allows.
  • Help customers assess the cost-benefit of “lightweighting” in terms of productivity gains from increased payload capacity or the potential to “downsize” the vehicle and reduce acquisition costs.

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Trend #3: Higher Demand for Ergonomic Upfits

According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) — typically caused by awkward movements, heavy lifting, and repetitive motion — account for 34 percent of all lost workdays, which can get very expensive for employers.

So, a growing number of fleet managers are looking to equip their vehicles with upfits that improve ergonomics to protect their technicians’ health — and their organization’s bottom line.

“[At Adrian Steel], we start by observing how the [technicians] do their work, so we can create a process flow of the types of equipment they need to access most often and what they need less often,” said Jeff Langley, fleet account executive at Adrian Steel, a manufacturer of commercial van accessories and truck equipment, headquartered in Adrian, Michigan. “We’ll then design an upfit system that positions those high-use items where they can be accessed quickly and easily, so workers can be more safe and productive when performing their job.”

Also, the upfit products themselves can be designed with ergonomics in mind. Take, for example, a bulkhead (between the cabin and cargo areas) that’s contoured to allow the driver seat to recline a few degrees further than a standard bulkhead, improving driver comfort and reducing risk of lower back fatigue. Another example is a drop-down ladder rack, which is especially helpful with the taller Euro-style vans because it enables workers to load and unload ladders from the side of the van, while standing safely at ground level, instead of having to strain and lift awkwardly to load a heavy ladder onto a standard roof rack.

How can upfitters capitalize on this trend?

  • Educate customers on more ergonomic options to standard upfits, such as drop-down ladder racks, contoured bulkheads, grab handles, etc.
  • Study how the vehicle is intended to be used in the field to uncover new ideas for designing upfits that help improve workflow and ergonomics.

Trend #4: Increased Demand for Mobile Power

“We’re seeing a trend toward fleets wanting van interiors that offer a more productive mobile workplace, with increased demand for power ports to run laptops, charge mobile devices, and operate electric tools,” said Langley with Adrian Steel.

VMAC UNDERHOOD 30CFM Air Compressor in VanAt VMAC, we’re seeing similar growth in demand for air power in vans – for fleets that traditionally use pickups or service body trucks to run high-powered air tools, such as impact guns for breaking off heavy-duty lug nuts in a mobile tire service application.

The challenge has been that conventional air compressor systems available for vans — electric drive and gas/diesel drive compressors — are either too underpowered or take up too much cargo space (and weight) to be useful for most mobile service applications. So, the VMAC engineering team has developed the UNDERHOOD 40 CFM air compressor (40 cfm/ 100-150 psi), designed specifically for the commercial van market, with a compact rotary screw compressor. This system is powered by the vehicle’s engine to generate sufficient air power for a wide range of heavy-duty air tools, while minimizing the system’s footprint and weight inside the van’s cargo area.

How can upfitters capitalize on this trend?

  • Expand your product offerings and expertise to account for your customers’ mobile power needs for commercial vans, in terms of electrification and air power.
  • Help customers strike the right balance between maximizing onboard power, while minimizing the system’s weight and impact on cargo capacity.

The Bottom Line

With today’s commercial van landscape, opportunities abound for upfitters that serve the mobile service market. So, as you evaluate your product portfolio, look for any gaps that, if you were to fill them, could open up exciting new revenue streams — and make your company more valuable to customers.

Want to learn more? Read about your air compressor options for service vans!

If you have any questions about this article or anything mobile compressor related, please contact us.

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