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The New Materials Transforming the Van Manufacturing Process

The mass production of commercial vehicles has evolved significantly over the years, with van manufacturers like Henry Ford paving the way with the design of the first moving assembly line in 1913 just the start of the modern day manufacturing processes that we rely on today. With technology evolving almost daily, production methods are becoming more and more innovative with a focus on the materials used in our vans even more important.Grain field

As pioneers of van safety products Safe-T-Bar and Safe-T-Step, we make it our mission to keep up to date with the latest developments in vehicle manufacturing so you can improve single vehicles or large fleets, and make significant cost savings and safety improvements in the process. Here we take a look at the new materials being used in van manufacture and conversions, and the trends that could be making their way to a commercial vehicle near you very soon.

Barley seed flooring

Barley seed isn’t just an ingredient that you’re likely to find in your favourite breakfast cereal, it is now being used as a material in the manufacture of commercial vehicles. Relating to the raised ripple pattern of flooring, the barley seed surface offers a laminated, tough and water resistant option for commercial vehicles of all types. Traditionally used as flooring in trailers, horse boxes, play equipment, stages, storage lockers, bulkheads and narrowboats, the barley seed floor pattern is now making its way into our vans to ensure a lower risk of slips, trips and falls for the workers loading and unloading vehicles. Available in low or high depths, barley seed floors are heavy duty and slip resistant.


GRP or glass reinforced plastic has long been used in the construction of aircrafts, karts, wind turbines, micro cars and sports cars, but it proving to be particularly beneficial in van manufacturing. A popular composite material that can be specially developed to provide further reinforcement, GRP’s excellent weight to strength ratio makes it just as advantageous as carbon fibre composites. GRP also has great resistance to corrosion and water, both plus points if you are looking for an easy to maintain and durable commercial vehicle.

Often referred to as fibreglass, GRP vehicle bodies are being manufactured with flame retardant resins to improve vehicle safety further.

Plastic floor panels

Plastic may not seem like the most appropriate material for the floors of your light commercial or heavy goods vehicle, but with special formulation, plastic is becoming THE material for all budgets and uses. Polypropylene vehicle linings can be fitted during van manufacturing or at a later date, and are already a popular choice for all makes of commercial vehicle, including Toyota, Fiat, Peugeot, Citroen, Renault, Volkswagen, Nissan, Vauxhall, Mercedes-Benz and Ford.

This heavy duty lining works to protect the interior of your van from the dents and scratches that so commonly occur during loading and unloading. As well as protecting your fleet investment, van ply lining also provides a great level of protection for the cargo within. Installation of plastic floor panels both during and post production can also improve the re-sale value of your commercial vehicle with used van buyers willing to pay a premium for that extra protective element. Plastic seat springs are also being developed to unlock the flexibility and durability of polymer composites within vehicle manufacturing.

It’s not just van materials that are evolving, the technology that could improve the safety and handling of your vehicle is also there for the taking.

We design and manufacture a selection of high quality, advanced equipment for vans and other commercial vehicles. Browse our website for further information.


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