How Much Can a Forklift Actually Lift?

The capacity rating on the data plate of your forklift says 5000kg, but did you know that this doesn’t necessarily mean that your forklift can lift anything up to 5000kg?

A common misconception is that the capacity rating truly states how much a forklift can carry. However, there are many elements that determine the true load capacity of a forklift, including the load dimensions, placement, weight distribution of the load and any forklift attachments.

Rated vs Net Capacity

You can find the rated capacity of a forklift on its data plate.  Many people think the rated capacity means the maximum capacity, however, it is not quite that simple. Rated capacity will be stated depending on the weight at the load centre. 

The net capacity of a forklift reflects the true capability of the forklift and accounts for any attachments, the forklift’s mast type and any other modifications.

Load Size and Configuration

One of the first things to consider is the load size and weight distribution. The longer, taller and wider a load gets, the more it is going to affect a forklifts centre of gravity. Additionally, an unevenly distributed load will also reduce lifting capacities.

What is Load Centre?

In order to carry its maximum capacity, the load on the forklift must be centred. To ensure a load is in the centre, it must be a horizontal distance from the vertical face of the forks to the centre of gravity of the load. As a general rule, the load centre is 24″ from the face of the forks (the centre point of standard 48” x 48” pallet).

Forklift Attachments:

Adding a forklift attachment reduces the lifting capacity of the truck not only due to the additional weight of the attachment itself but because the attachment also typically moves the truck’s load centre forward. To prevent tip-overs caused by the centre of gravity moving forward, the maximum load weight must reduce. 

It is worth noting that every attachment must have its own individual rated capacities. The weight capacity listed on the data plate cannot exceed the maximum weight capacity of any load-bearing component. For example, if you have a forklift with a 10,000 lb. capacity, but an attachment that is only capable of handling 5,000 lbs., the maximum rated capacity for the combination of these two would only be 5,000 lbs, which is what will be listed on your data plate.

So how do you actually choose a forklift with the right capacity?

There are a few questions to ask yourself that can help when determining your forklift’s capacity:

– How heavy is my typical load?

– How high do I need to lift my loads?

– What length is my largest load?

– What type of attachments will the lift truck utilize?

Ultimately, at Welfaux we are able to offer advice on which forklift will best suit your needs, as well as assisting with configuring your forklift for your application and load handling needs. This is especially important during the purchasing process, but also after you receive your equipment, in terms of modifications and attachments.