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Order at last in your van – five steps for a perfectly organised loading space

We will show you how you can achieve a perfectly organised loading space in just five steps, and how to avoid lengthy searching for the right tool or interruptions due to tools being damaged through careless storage.

Who hasn’t experienced this: quickly tighten the last screw, chuck the spanner in the nearest drawer and set off to the next customer. But when you arrive, you’re faced with the big question: where did I put my ring spanner?!

It doesn’t have to be like this! In this article, we’ll show you how you can achieve a perfectly organized loading space in just five steps. This method does away with hunting high and low for the right tool or downtime caused by work utensils becoming damaged due to careless storage.

How the Japanese can help us here

The secret to a perfectly organized workplace, whether at the office, on the shop floor or in your van, is a simple method whose foundations were already laid in Japan in the early 20th century. Toyota, a company which in the 1930s was not only struggling with a shortage of raw materials, but also with North American isolationism in automotive engineering, developed a concept designed to avoid all wastage of any kind and to optimize corporate processes and procedures.

This is where the 5S method stems from, which is nowadays firmly established in modern industry. It specifies clearly defined measures for implementing this approach.

Aim of the 5S method:

The 5S method is a systematic approach for designing your own workplace and work environment such that you can optimally focus on value-adding activities.

This boils down to the following:
the aim of 5S is to keep your workplace – here the loading space of a transporter – as neat and clean as possible to ensure maximal productivity at all times!

From Toyota to the loading space

This Japanese method actively helps tradespeople and service technicians to organize their mobile workshop, so their daily work environment is straightforward, clearly structured and remains clean, tidy and safe.

The five S’s stand for

  • Sort
  • Set in order
  • Shine
  • Standardise
  • Self-discipline

Implementing these five measures does away with chaos, turning the mobile workshop into a perfectly organised workplace. This will not only make you far more productive in your day-to-day work, but your customers will also be delighted by your smart look!

Separating the wheat from the chaff – SORT

Sort through your van and discard any items you don’t need!

Unlike at the workshop, tradespeople and service technicians generally only have limited space available for loading and storage in the back of the van. To make the best possible use of this, the first step of the 5S method recommends SORTING tools and consumables in your vehicle.

Regularly sorting (out) the items carried in your van will not only give you an optimal overview of your loading space, but also help you to identify unused or duplicate small components and tools, so you can set them aside.

What is the benefit of regular sorting?

  • An optimal overview of your loading space
  • More options for storing the materials and tools you really need
  • Less time spent hunting for the right tool

A side effect: transporting less unnecessary weight will also have a positive impact on your fuel consumption. 😉

SET IN ORDER: How to do away with chaos

Does spending ages looking for something in your vehicle often waste time and stress you out? It doesn’t have to be like this! Put order into chaos and make better use of your valuable work time, spending it where it’s really needed – at the customer’s site!

By setting your van in order in line with 5S, you are taking the first step towards specifically thinking about the arrangement of the tools you need on a daily basis. “Keep it close” is the motto here!

Which tools, machines and materials do you need on a regular or frequent basis and which ones less often? Organise the loading space in your van in an ergonomic manner and give every tool, machine and material a fixed place in the vehicle based on this analysis:

The items you often require should preferably be positioned to hand near the door, so hopefully avoiding the need to climb into the van. Materials that are needed less often can then be pushed further inside in the vehicle.

Using tool tray inlays will make things even easier for you when setting your loading space in order. Every tool then has its own place and is transported safe from any damage.

There’s no time like the present.… SHINE

Now, tell me honestly: don’t you feel most at ease in your home when everything is clean, neat and tidy? Who likes living in dirt and mess?

And the loading space of your van is little different to your home. Just that here far more dirt is produced during the working week than at home. And the longer you put off cleaning, the more time and effort it will take in the end.

This is why the third item of the 5S method stands for SHINE.

Besides the fact that maintaining a neat and clean vehicle lowers the risk of accidents, thus increasing occupational safety, this is also the best way of advertising your company among customers. A clean and tidy interior of your van shows how careful you are, as well as demonstrating a thorough and professional work ethic.

It additionally means your staff will also handle stocks of materials more carefully if there’s always a general level of cleanliness in the van.

An additional benefit:  performing Shine regularly and tidying up the workplace lets you spot where tools and work equipment are missing or damaged early on.

A little tip here: take a photo of how you want the loading space to look. Put this photo up in the workshop so every employee can see it. And set a fixed deadline at the end of the month when the vehicle needs to have been tidied up and cleaned. The loading space should then always look like the photo. This also gives your staff a firm idea of the condition the vehicle should find itself in at the end of the month.

We don’t want bog-standard, but STANDARDISATION to keep things in their proper place

Set standards for the loading space of your van!

You have created the basis here with the first three S’s. The next step is to now ensure the level of order created in your mobile workshop is permanently upheld through STANDARDISATION. Make general rules and improvements visible at the workplace! Everyone is familiar with these standards and keeps to them. 

See below for two examples of how to make new rules visible in vehicles.

Using colour coding will not only have a positive impact thanks to a better structure and idea of the loading space, but also ensure a perfect overview of what your cases, boxes and drawers contain. In addition, this clearly shows what belongs where.

It is up to you how to structure and set your loading space in order:

  • depending on the type of content, e.g. tools or consumables
  • by vehicle or employee, e.g. red = employee A, green = employee B
  • or according to your own personal scheme.

Labels for example can be used to clearly define the planned structure of the loading space so it is plain to everyone.


To standardise your loading space, it is also recommended to make use of a uniform case and box system when procuring the materials stocked in your vehicle. This way you can be sure that everything will fit together and can be individually combined with each other.

Setting standards actively encourages all employees to keep vehicles neat, tidy and well-organised. Your staff need to understand and appreciate the benefits of a perfectly organised loading space and the positive impact it will have on their daily work routine. Also make it clear to them that any departures from these standards will be immediately identified.

Last but not least: SELF-DISCIPLINE!

You have incorporated the first four S’s in your work routine? Fantastic! Now consistently applying the above principles will make sure the loading space of your mobile workshop is organised perfectly. To this end, all employees need to take on board the new rules and consistently adopt and put them into practice at all times. The benefits of the 5S method will very soon have a positive impact on their entire work routine.

But a certain degree of self-discipline is required if you are to not only SELF-DISCIPLINE the outstanding level of order created, but also optimise it further. Constantly changing requirements in the world of work make it necessary to repeatedly question and improve the standards you have laid down. So ask your staff to provide regular feedback and submit their own suggestions and ideas for improvement here.

Do you have any further tips or comments for perfect organization in the commercial vehicle? Then please leave us a comment on this. 😊

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