4 Ways to Stretch Your Fleet’s Upfit Budget

With more law enforcement and public safety agencies switching from sedans to expensive SUVs in recent years, fewer budget dollars are available for interior storage systems. Still, fleet managers need to make sure their teams’ weapons and gear are secure and easy to get to.

So what do you do to make those budgets stretch while ensuring you get quality upfits? Read on.    

1. Choose Aluminum

There are cheaper storage products out there than ones made with aluminum, but they won’t last. You’ll end up replacing them after a few years and making those short-term budget gains moot.

By going with high-grade aluminum, though, you should expect at least 12 years of life out of your storage units. “Two big reasons why, are that aluminum doesn’t corrode and it’s more durable than any other material being used out there,” says Shane Lawrenson, OPS Public Safety’s Manager of Business Development.

Plus, because aluminum is lightweight (up to 40 per cent lighter than steel, for example), storage products made with it versus heavier ones will make your payload lighter and your fuel costs lower. Thus, more budget dollars saved.   

2. Buy Transferable Units 

Some companies manufacture storage systems built for a particular make or model of vehicle. But what if your agency decides to buy different makes and models? Well, it means more money for more storage systems, of course.    

Instead, invest in units that you can transfer to multiple vehicles. “Especially ones that make it easy to do so,” says Lawrenson. “With ours, for instance, you just replace a simple set of brackets and exchange the box from vehicle to vehicle.”

If you do take this advice, go with transferable units made with aluminum. Because aluminum is so durable, it can easily take the bumps and bashes that do happen during exchanges. 

3. Avoid Complex Locks

You can’t overrate the need to keep equipment secure. Weapons are stolen from police vehicles every day. But that doesn’t mean you need the latest push-button lock mechanism or keypads on your storage units. There’s a reason locks with keys have lasted so long.     

“A lot of companies out there have fandangle locks, but they can cost a fortune,” says Lawrenson. “The good old lock and key is still usable and inexpensive, but it’s secure.”

Just make sure you get industrial key locks on your storage products. Some units out there have lightweight locks and flimsy keys, making it more likely they’ll both crack and break. 

4. Added Expense of Powder Coating

Powder coating is a dry finishing process that dulls the shine of metallic surfaces. It has become extremely popular since it was introduced in the 1960s. But you don’t need it.

“Law enforcement and public safety agencies often have their storage units powder coated to reduce glare and keep them more incognito than shiny aluminum,” says Lawrenson. “But it can be expensive, and you don’t have to have it.”

True, powder coating can reduce the risk of abrasions and corrosion, but remember that if you choose aluminum storage products anyway, they’re durable on their own.