Why Weight Matters in Commercial Fleet Conversions | Bri-Stor Systems
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Why Weight Matters in Commercial Fleet Conversions

Light-Weight LCV Conversion.

With 35 years' experience in light commercial vehicle conversions for some of the most recognisable UK fleets on the road, Bri-Stor Systems have a unique insight and understanding of the LCV market. Our close working relationships with commercial fleet decision makers gives us real time feedback and a crucial understanding of the challenges faced by fleet managers and decision makers.

One of the biggest key challenges for fleet managers is maximising their LCVs in terms of productivity and efficiency whilst reducing vehicle weight. Weight reduction, or "light weighting" is a key requirement of almost every fleet conversion that Bri-Stor undertake and is a constant consideration for our design and engineering teams

What is Light-Weighting?

During the conversion process, any number of new elements can be added to a LCV, depending on its eventual function. These additions can range from racking units, to roof equipment, lighting, cranes or a number of other specialist equipment such as towing gear for roadside recovery customers. This conversion process inevitably adds weight to the vehicle.

Light weighting is not a new concept and is an ever-present concern for LCV converters as customers demand maximum vehicle functionality and minimal increases to the overall vehicle weight. Many of Bri-Stor's current products were developed as a result of this process. The most popular internal racking ranges ELITE & VANTAGE underwent intensive value engineering during the development process in order to achieve an eventual weight saving of up to 30% over alternatives.

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The market leading gas strut assisted EasiLoad 3 is a prime example of the importance of weight savings. With a general roof load weight limit of 150kg for many LCVs, weight reduction was key to the EasiLoad design from the outset to ensure the weight customers can carry is maximised. Our engineers achieved a final weight of 38kg for a single EasiLoad and 43kg for a double through a combination of intelligent design and material choices.

Material Choice LCV Conversions

Depending on which LCV converter you use, there are a wide variety of materials utilised in LCV conversion products including plywood, plastic, composites and a host of metal variants. Clearly, materials such as composites and plastic offer significant advantages in terms of weight savings but when balanced against other key requirements such as strength, durability and robustness, these fall some way short.

Over the years, Bri-Stor have conducted extensive research and development, trialling and testing a vast range of materials in terms of strength, durability and weight reduction. The most effective solution to achieve maximum strength with minimal weight would be to use a composite material such as carbon fibre or GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic). However, this conflicts with another key constraint of the commercial fleet manager – cost. Composite materials are currently prohibitively expensive for the large fleet market, meaning that other materials must be utilised.

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Bri-Stor's optimal solution is to use an ultra-lightweight steel in the manufacture of internal racking products. This allows for less material to be used overall whilst still achieving the desired strength. Other metals such as aluminium require more material to achieve the same levels of strength, robustness and durability, resulting in an overall increase in both weight and cost. By using ultra-high strength steel, Bri-Stor have achieved a weight saving of up-to 30% compared to like for like aluminium alternatives with no loss of strength. This gives a market leading product life and warranty period, with many Bri-Stor conversions equalling the vehicle manufacturers' warranty periods.

Future developments in composite materials will probably see a switch to GRP conversion products as they become a more cost effective and viable option for fleet managers. For now, however, ultra-high strength steel offers the best all round value for money for LCV conversion products.

Why Weight Matters

For fleet operators tasked with reducing costs, vehicle weight can have a significant impact on fuel consumption and range which can have a huge impact on expenditure. If annual fuel consumption can be reduced by 20% through lighter fleet vehicles, then one in every five vehicles can effectively be run for free for an entire year.

With advances in electric and hybrid vehicle technology, combined with European emissions legislation targeting a 30% reduction by 2030, the importance of light weighting for commercial fleets will only increase. LCV converters will play a crucial role in making electric and hybrid vehicles a truly viable option for fleet managers through their weight reductions.

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