Standing in front of the customized tool chest are (L-R) Dalton Cheaney, fleet account executive...

Standing in front of the customized tool chest are (L-R) Dalton Cheaney, fleet account executive for Adrian Steel, and Tom Armstrong, d­irector of fleet for thyssenkrupp Elevator, showing the ease of access to tools while a tech is at a job site. 

Photo by Mike Antich.

Planning is crucial to the success of any project, but it is especially important when spec’ing an all-new upfit, as was the case with the thyssenkrupp New Installation Vehicle Optimization (NIVO) upfit utilizing the Ford Transit full-size van. The development of the new van upfit solution was the result of a collaboration between thyssenkrupp and upfitter Adrian Steel.  

“With the Adrian Steel fleet planning process, we have created a safer, more efficient upfit solution in a timely manner that has positively affected the bottom line,” said Tom Armstrong, director of fleet for thyssenkrupp Elevator.  “This collaboration has resulted in a highly effective and growth-oriented relationship.”

Developing an Upfit Solution

The development of the NIVO upfit solution was the result of a six-month effort that collected information from field employees about their job needs to ensure the upfit would be properly engineered to perform the intended operation. Among the key accomplishments of the new upfit are in the areas of increased security, operational efficiencies, and vehicle standardization.

  • Increased Security: All tools and materials are now securely stored and locked inside the van rather than being stored in an open truck bed. Also, it provides better weather protection. In the past, utility bodies were used, which tended to leak in inclement weather.

  • Operational Efficiencies: The new upfit solution was designed to allow easier access to tools by field techs. The upfit was also designed to allow for faster loading and unloading. The use of the Ford Transit provides more room and storage. “One important operational efficiency is that the tool chest does not need to be loaded and unloaded daily, which saves valuable time over the course of a work year,” said Armstrong. 

  • Vehicle Standardization: Another goal of the upfit planning process was vehicle standardization. “The upfit allowed thyssenkrupp to standardize its vehicles and upfits company-wide,” said Dalton Cheaney, fleet account executive at Adrian Steel. In terms of vehicle, thyssenkrupp Elevator decided to standardize the upfit to the more fuel-efficient Ford Transit, which is under 10,000-pound GVW, below the DOT compliance threshold. In addition, the tools used by techs were standardized, which allowed the company to standardize work processes. 

The NIVO upfit program included a number of a customized solutions. One example is the development by Adrian Steel and thyssenkrupp of a custom-designed gang box and tool chest. “The tool chest locks securely to the gang box, which allows for secure storage on the job site,” said Armstrong. 

Check out a photo gallery of the customized upfits here

When developing the custom gang box and tool chest, the focus was to increase technician productivity. The new tool chest and gang box eliminate the need for them to be loaded and unloaded each day. “The tool chest remains fully loaded and remains inside the vehicle. The tool chest is positioned inside the van next to the sliding side door, and faces outward so it is easy for a tech to grab a tool while at the job site,” said Cheaney. “The gang box and tool chest have a mechanism that locks them in place to prevent movement while in the van is in motion.”

The gang box is used to store larger tools and can weigh as much as 500 pounds. A winch is mounted to the bed of the van to safely winch the gang box in and out of the van over the fold-out aluminum ramp. 

Another feature of the upfit is a customized rack-and-bin welded cabinet that holds four lightweight portable parts totes that are removable and can be carried onto the job site. 

There are two interior ladder racks to carry a 6-foot step ladder on the interior side wall and a 21-foot extension ladder on a ceiling-mounted rack. Interior racks help prevent ladder theft.

“The key to making this solution work was the collaboration between our companies,” said Cheaney. 

About the author
Mike Antich

Mike Antich

Former Editor and Associate Publisher

Mike Antich covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted into the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010 and the Global Fleet of Hal in 2022. He also won the Industry Icon Award, presented jointly by the IARA and NAAA industry associations.

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