How to read forklift load capacity


When you look at buying a forklift or renting a forklift it is always to look at the forklift load capacity. It is important that the forklift you acquire is up to the job. However how do you need to read the load capacity. Is it as simple as to weigh the items which need to be lifted and compare that to the load capacity of the forklift you have your eye on? Unfortunately it is not that simple. Unilift will provide you an overview what you need to look for when reading the load capacity specification of a forklift.

How does a forklift carry the weight

A forklift has a contra weight at the back which caused pressure on the rear wheels. When the load on the forks increases the pressure on the rear wheels will decrease. The manufacturer has strict guidelines for the pressure on the rear axle. If that pressure is less than the prescribed guideline, there is a risk that the truck will tip over.

Center of gravity and stability

A forklift truck with a load capacity of for example 1,500 kilograms can carry a load of 1,500 kilograms on the forks. However the center of gravity of that load needs to be 500 millimeters from the so-called “heel” of the forks. As the center of gravity is further forward the rear axle load will is reduced. This load puts pressure on the safety stability of the forklift. This means that not only the weight of the load is important but also the size. When you try to lift a large item the center of gravity will be further forward hence the load capacity is much less than indicated by the manufacturer.

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How to read forklift load capacity

Safety first

Suppose a forklift driver wants to move a pallet with a depth of 1000 millimetres. With evenly stacked pallets the center of gravity is 500 millimetres. It is important that the driver lifts the load against the “heel” of the forks. If he doesn’t the center of gravity is more than 500 millimetres. The forklift will then fail to safely lift and move the 1,500 kilograms of load and accidents are bound to happen.

Forklift truck load capacity diagram

An excellent tool to help you with the load capacity of your forklift is the forklift load capacity diagram. With an example we will explain to you how this diagram works. The most commonly used pallet is the Euro pallet. Let’s again assume a forklift with a load capacity of 1,500 kilogram. Forklift drivers usually lift Euro pallets with a size of 1200 x 800 millimetres in depth. The center of gravity is at 600 millimetres. This leaves about 1,350 kilograms of the remaining capacity of the forklift truck. A forklift with a capacity of 1,500 kilograms is then too light. A load diagram on the forklift provides more text and explanation for you.

Unilift forklift trucks for sale and for hire

At Unilift we provide excellent forklift solutions and forklifts with a range of load capacities to suit any job or environment. From light duty electric forklifts to heavy duty forklifts we have a wide range which will suit all your requirements. We have a wide range of new forklifts for sale to provide you with the perfect load capacity. However we also provide an excellent range of used forklift trucks to suit a smaller budget. If you only require a forklift on a temporary or seasonal basis we also provide perfect forklift rental solutions. Feel free to contact us today to discuss.