Racking, shelving and organising ‘solutions’ for the LCV have come a long way from ply-lining and ladder racks and some of today’s biggest players in the sector have been in the game for a long time. Bott, for instance, can trace its roots back to 1930 and today the company employs more than 1,300 people with annual sales of €196m (£168m). 

It has three European manufacturing facilities and the company employs more than 470 staff at its three UK sites; two van conversions centres in Leicestershire and Scotland with UK manufacturing taking place in Cornwall. 

This state-of-the-art facility utilises the latest CNC (computer numerical control) machine tools to build components utilising a mix of materials where the strength of steel and light weight of aluminium can be combined. Essentially, the racking of today needs to match the quality of the vehicle being equipped and consider its warranty and residual value into the bargain. That longevity translates into customer loyalty too: “We have used Bott Ltd coming up to 20 years now to supply and fit the interior build for all our vans,” says, Shine Repair’s Richard King. “We have always been so impressed with the excellent customer service we receive from the design, quotation, the build and leading up to the aftersales. The work that they carry out is always finished to an exceptionally high standard.  In addition to this, they also keep us up to date with the latest vehicle technology and electrical standards. We would highly recommend Bott,” King says.

Even the process of fitting the systems, has come in for change of late and Bott’s Smartvan solution is a case in point. The Bott Smartvan range is a self-fit racking system, ordered online, which has been designed to fit directly to the fixing points within a wide range of vans, eliminating the need for any drilling. The system has been crash tested to comply with ECE R17 standards – the same as those that factory-fit accessories must adhere to.

With the ability to drill the van’s structure now virtually impossible, all the racking manufacturers are further developing their non-drill designs since these already suit the requirements of BEVs. This has long been the doctrine of German van-maker Sortimo. The company prides itself on its enviable engineering reputation but it also recognises the advantages of partnerships within the tooling and equipment sector.

With its latest range – the SR5 – Sortimo has also opened itself to compatibility with other manufacturers’ components so that cases from Hilti, for example, can be easily clicked into and transported in the SR5 system with its patented hybrid construction. The combination of lightweight aluminium construction in conjunction with coated steel components offers low weight with high stability. The steel components are used in places with high loads. In this way, the crash test with load is passed despite the lightweight aluminium construction.

The sensible use of aluminium components saves weight by up to 25% with benefits in fuel or battery consumption and reduced vehicle component wear, while the use of steel components in heavily loaded areas ensures that inherent vehicle stability is maintained. 

Of course, no matter how much space you have inside the van, there will always be lengthy but low-density loads such as ladders or pipes, which will need a roof rack. Here, developments – aside from lightweight – have moved increasingly with health and safety issues. Rather than climbing onto the rack to unload, the load now more often comes to you. Sortimo offers several roof rack designs and its ‘TopSystem’, is fully TUV crash tested and offers such additions as Rear Ladder Lift and Side Ladder Lift. These spring-assisted loading arms allow long heavy ladders to be safely loaded and locked into place. It allows unloading over the rear of the van as standard while the optional side lift is particularly useful when working in the street, keeping the driver on the footpath, or if other vehicles have parked close behind.

The electric LCV may still have many hurdles to overcome, but a bespoke racking system ensures that once on-site, it’s business as usual.

A higher power

EV technology has led van manufacturers to rethink their approach to vehicle architecture and vehicle racking now has to be developed in line with the evolution of electric vehicles. A no-drill racking system is ideal for fitting around a vehicle’s encased floor-mounted battery set-up. With weight being a key factor in battery efficiency, lightweight aluminium construction is now becoming essential in racking systems to limit further impact on the payload figure.

With the increasing electrical complexity of battery electric or hybrid vehicles, getting the on-board electrics right is crucial. Any notion of cutting corners in this area can not only lead to breakdowns in operation but also a non-compliant and dangerous vehicle. Here, manufacturers are building-in the circuits required for accessories to be fitted. You cannot just take a permanent live from the 12 volt battery like the old days, or cut into the ignition accessories circuit. Manufacturers are increasingly providing ‘upfittiing’ circuits in new LCVs. The Ford Ranger and Ineos Grenadier follow the American style of fitting half-a-dozen switches in an overhead console for such functions. These are usually a mix of low-power circuits terminating behind the facia for dashcams, two-way radios, LED roof lights, for example, while others will terminate in the engine bay for high current consumers such as hydraulic pumps or winches. Many vans now offer the same facility on the touchscreen, with each circuit adding an icon.


The advent of the BEV (battery electric vehicle) has probably caused a greater speed of evolution in the aftermarket sector than any other period in the history of LCVs, as System Edström commercial director, David Sawford explains. 

“Fitting racking systems to BEV vans poses several challenges, such as adapting to different battery configurations and locations, ensuring compatibility with electrical wiring and safety features, and complying with the manufacturers’ specifications and warranties.

“Moreover, BEV vans have different dimensions and load capacities than conventional vans, which require more customised and flexible solutions for optimal space utilisation and ergonomics. Payload is paramount when it comes to BEV vehicles.

“That’s why System Edström continues to invest in research and development, testing and certification, and collaboration with vehicle manufacturers and customers to design and install suitable systems for BEV vans,” he says

Anyone looking to source a new electric van will immediately be aware of the battery’s payload penalty and this is something racking makers have to try and work against.

“The higher kerb weights and effects on payload of the BEV are driving the need for lighter racking systems. That’s why we use high-strength steel and associated materials to reduce the weight of our products without compromising on durability or safety. Our racking systems are also modular and flexible, which allows us to optimise the space and functionality of the BEV vans. By using our lightweight racking systems, customers can maximise their payload experience,” says Sawford.

On the issue of electrical accessories, alternative solutions have had to be developed.

“There are specific issues in fitting these components. Power management is critical when it comes to key components and it’s crucial that customers share their requirements at the outset. Supplementary on-board power systems cost essential payload capacity, so the right balance between optional and necessary items has to be made. We have experience in installing and integrating various electrical components to suit different customer needs
and we can offer advice on the best solutions for each BEV model,” Sawford concludes.