Staying one step ahead of criminals who are intent on breaking into light commercial vehicles is crucial to the success of security specialist Locks 4 Vans (L4V).

The best example of the firm’s commitment to its cause is last year’s £2.5m investment into opening a dedicated, state-of-the-art innovation centre at its headquarters in Gravesend, Kent.

L4V says the purpose of the innovation centre is to anticipate light commercial vehicle attack methods used by criminals and to deliver cutting edge security solutions to mitigate the risk of theft for its customers. It now has the capability to create parts and technology efficiently in-house, which it says is a game changer for the light commercial vehicle (LCV) business. 

It is this level of dedication to producing effective security products, which are so vital to LCV operators, that impressed the judges and led to L4V winning the What Van? Innovation Award 2022.

Commenting on this recent accolade, Terry Rayner, L4V’s commercial director, says: “Winning the What Van? Innovation Award was a huge recognition of the effort that the Locks 4 Vans team has put into launching the innovation centre in the past year.

“The purpose of the innovation centre is to push the boundaries of van security and develop solutions using new technologies, specifically tailored to address the needs of the various market sectors.”

Rayner claims winning the What Van? Innovation Award has made L4V’s security operation even more effective.

“The award served to raise consumer awareness about the growing problem of criminal attacks on commercial vehicles, and the resultant disruption to business along with the inevitable financial losses.”

“[It] has already raised the company profile among several major fleet customers who are keen to use the expertise of Locks 4 Vans to ensure that they take every possible precaution to keep their vehicles safe.” 

As a result of the investment in its workshop technology, machinery, engineering and technical teams, L4V has reduced the lead time for solving new security challenges from weeks or even months to just days. 

With the new innovation centre underpinning its business, the company has the capacity to identify criminal activity by monitoring external feedback and to pinpoint potential break-in techniques by auditing the vulnerabilities of vans in-house.

As Rayner explains: “The newly equipped innovation centre has allowed the Locks 4 Vans Team to bring new security concepts to market using rapid prototyping techniques and rigorous testing programmes. The benefit of having these resources all housed under one roof is that the team can accelerate new concepts and bring them to market quicker, keeping [our customers] one step ahead of criminal attacks.”

Once engineers have recognised a van’s vulnerabilities, they can identify an effective solution by using computer-aided design. They are then able to bring an idea to life using 3D scanning technology and progress that idea to the 3D printing and fabrication stage in order to create a prototype that can be tested in the corrosion testing chamber. 

L4V then reviews the prototype solutions both internally with its engineers and externally with a closed customer group of designated testers. Then, when proof of concept has been achieved, L4V rolls out production to local businesses.

Investing in the innovation facility has enabled L4V to raise its new product development capacity by 65%. New product developments have been focused around the growing ‘peel and steal’ method of attack and, as a result, L4V have evolved the anti-peel range of solutions. In addition, the next generation of cargo locking solutions for box body vehicles and trailers are underway. 

By working alongside EV manufacturers, the engineering team is anticipating new types of criminal attacks and vulnerabilities specific to EVs in order to create future-proof solutions. 

Rayner says L4V will make an announcement about electric van security later in the year and that L4V will exhibit at the CV Show in May to showcase new products and converse with customers about new ideas.

He also promises L4V will be announcing two new strategic partnerships in the very near future – watch this space.