Understanding a forklift's maximum load capacity is important for maintaining a safe workplace. Exceeding a forklift's load capacity can result in dropping loads, tipping forklifts, or injury. It’s crucial to know how to read a forklift capacity chart, how a forklift capacity calculator works, and exactly what you need before you purchase a forklift.
Understanding a Forklift Capacity Chart
Forklift capacity, also known as load or rated capacity, measures how much weight a forklift can carry. Forklift capacities generally range from 2,000 to over 50,000 lbs. A typical narrow aisle reach truck's load capacity may max out around 5,000 lbs, while industrial forklifts may start around 30,000 lbs. Keep in mind that if the forklift's load is not centered, the forklift cannot reach maximum capacity.
Where to Find Your Forklift Capacity Chart
Find the forklift capacity chart on the forklift data plate. A forklift data plate lists a forklift's operating weight, rated maximum capacity, model and serial numbers, any present attachments, and the forklift capacity chart. Locating and understanding forklift data plates are essential for safely operating a forklift. Remember, the forklift capacity listed on its data plate refers to its maximum capacity in ideal conditions, which often won't be the case when you're operating it; soft ground, wind, and other adverse conditions can occur.
Additional Factors that Impact Max Capacity
Once you've determined your forklift's load capacity, you must also consider its load capabilities. For example, moving the load further away from the forklift's center of gravity by lifting, tilting, or shifting the load can affect the maximum capacity. Plus, other factors such as tire type and tread width can also impact max capacity. For instance, a wide tire tread or dual tires can increase a forklift's capacity because of the wider stance, which increases stability. And remember to always use a battery that meets the forklift's minimum weight requirements. The weight of the battery and other attachments (such as fork extensions) can play a significant role.
Forklift Capacity Calculator
A forklift capacity calculator determines your maximum load moment. A maximum load moment measures the weight of the load times its center distance from the fulcrum, which is a fixed point that acts as the pivot point. On a sit-down counterbalanced forklift, the fulcrum or pivot point is the axle of the front wheels. This is the pivot point between the load and the weight of the lift truck.
Load Weight x Distance = Load Moment
For example, a 5,000 lb. load capacity at a 24 in. load center (5,000 x 24) has a maximum load moment of 120,000 inch-pounds. If you exceed the number of inch-pounds, you are exceeding the forklift’s safe carrying capacity. The only way to make the load safe is to either decrease its weight or decrease its weight center until its load moment is equal to or less than 120,000 inch-pounds.
Purchase Equipment with Appropriate Load Capacity
On our Forklift Collections page, select the type of forklift you'd like, then select your load capacity in the left-hand column. This will populate a list of used forklifts that we have in stock at that maximum capacity. Please contact us for help finding your load capacity or if you'd like more information. Remember to never exceed a forklift's rated load capacity to keep your workplace and employees safe.