Why You Should Never Install Shelving on a Factory Mat

You’ll find that a great majority of dealerships tend to sell what they call a standard work van mat with all their new vans. And while these mats look good at the beginning of their life when you first take ownership of your van, over time it’s possible they can do damage serious enough to compromise your van’s structure and as a result, its contents and even worker’s safety. If you are a fleet owner or an independent contractor, you will benefit from, or have a requirement for, cargo van shelving or work van shelving in one form or another.

Let’s take a deep dive by looking at one contractor whose van unwittingly fell victim to this kind of damage from a combination of van shelving and a simple floor mat.

An unpredictable and unexpected expense.

George is a successful plumber in the San Francisco Bay area who has been servicing his customers for over 20 years. In 2022, when it came time to upgrade his FORD Transit, his dealership happened to have the exact model George wanted. It was an easy sale, and the dealership included a brand-new rubber floor mat, even supplying a cushiony under-mat to slip under the rubber for extra comfort. Even without van wall and door liners, the new mat looked great, and George came away with a new Transit and another good experience from his dealership.

But there is one thing people don’t consider when upfitting their van. If the van eventually gets a cargo van shelving assembly installed, shelves are often bolted to the van walls but left unsecured or fastened to a loose mat! As such, this causes the shelving to constantly move little by little in transit, and over time, causes the shelving mounts to fatigue. This results in the cargo van shelving separating from the metal van interior and falling off or collapsing completely! All because the shelving wasn’t put on a rigid, heavy-duty floor.

Vehicle/Van Upfitters are even seeing an increasing number of shelving warranty claims on shelving for this flooring problem.

Not only can this type of damage affect the shelves and motivate warranty claims, but also the safety of the techs working around the shelves if the shelving does collapse. The worst part is the way this trouble can sneak up on you. When it comes to vans being used as mobile workshops, shelving is often installed to hold equipment, tools, serve as worktables, and are often taken for granted once installed. For busy contractors like George, the shelving is expected to hold up to daily wear and tear expertly, and for the long haul, and usually goes unmonitored until it’s too late.

Overlooking van flooring has consequences – the floor is the foundation of the upfit. If the floor is low-performance, you can bet the rest of the upfit will eventually be low-performance too.

For George, this collapse happened unexpectedly when he was in the middle of a job! Equipment, tools, loose screws, and spare piping fell everywhere, and George became injured when a plumbing snake tool, resting on a shelf, fell and impacted his ankle!

The aftermath saw George losing several days of work due to a bruised ankle and a several thousand dollars repairing one bulkhead, replacing one piece of expensive equipment, and the entire shelving assembly.

This accident could’ve been avoided if a solid, heavy-duty floor was installed at the outset.

With a solid floor, the problem of shifting foundation is eliminated and shelving can be installed without worry for the life of the vehicle. But many work vans right off the production line don’t feature a flat floor surface, rather the exposed ribbed steel of the rear deck floor. It’s why factories throw in a rubber mat when selling new vans. Recognize those loose mats for what they are; invitations for a very expensive accident waiting to happen.  

Why is composite flooring the best choice?

In the past, the most widespread option to upfit a van floor had been the go-to material, plywood. It’s because back in the heyday, coated plywood was readily available and inexpensive but that has all changed. Disregarding the fact that coated plywood easily cracks, splinters, and is prone to mold, it has become harder to purchase due to global supply-chain volatility and has become incredibly expensive not to mention heavy. Plywood is no longer the economically-sound material to upfit a work van.

The alternative has become composite van flooring. Legend Fleet Solutions, became an industry leader in composite flooring with their lightweight but heavy-duty Stabiligrip floor for work vans. This is what solved George’s problem and he was able to re-install a new set of shelves that are solid. Made from 75% recycled material, Legend has supplied their floors to van fleets from Riverford Organic Farmers in the UK, to the biggest last-mile delivery company in the world.

Shelving units, installed properly on a solid and durable floor, can increase the life of the work van and deliver high functionality without the concern of damage occurring through daily wear and tear. Installed on a loose floor mat, shelving is unstable and can cause much damage not only to the shelving units but the van walls themselves.

When you know you will need shelving assemblies in your van, a solid, heavy-duty composite floor is essential. Discover more about how composite flooring can increase the value and safety of your van and eliminate unnecessary warranty claims.

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