Equipment and Solutions

Forklift Capacity: How to Calculate It and Figure Out the Right Forklift for You

Forklift Capacity: How to Calculate It and Figure Out the Right Forklift for You

Though forklifts are material handling powerhouses, that doesn’t mean they have unlimited load capacities. It’s crucial to know and adhere to your forklift’s capacity to ensure optimal safety and performance on the job site.

What Is Forklift Capacity?

Forklift capacity, also known as load, net or rated capacity, refers to the maximum weight a forklift can safely raise at a particular load center. Load center refers to the horizontal distance from the forks’ vertical face to the load’s center of gravity — typically 24 inches. Your forklift’s maximum capacity is influenced by its load centers, attachments, lifting heights and other such factors.

Load capacities for forklifts typically range between 3,000 and 70,000 pounds. Your lift truck’s data plate may feature a forklift capacity chart, which displays the maximum weight your machine can lift at various mass stages and load centers.

How to Calculate Load Capacity

You can determine your forklift’s maximum load moment by multiplying its weight rating by its center load distance, which you can find on the machine’s data plate. For example, if your lift truck weighs 4,000 pounds and has a 24-inch load center, its load capacity would be 96,000 inch-pounds.

Adding an attachment to your forklift means reducing its lifting capacity. That’s because the attachment moves the forklift’s load center forward and adds additional weight. As the lift truck’s center of gravity shifts forward, the maximum load weight decreases to prevent tip-overs. If you add an attachment to your forklift, you can use a forklift capacity calculator to determine your lift truck’s load capacity with attachments.

What Can Happen If You Exceed Capacity?

Your forklift’s load capacity isn’t a suggestion. Many serious hazards can occur when you exceed your forklift’s capacity, including:

  • Tip-overs: Exceeding load capacity can cause the forklift to tip over, which can result in downtime and even operator injury.
  • Loss of control: Overloading may cause the forklift’s steer tires to lose contact with the ground, taking away the operator’s steering control. Loss of control may cause collisions with company equipment, products and personnel. 
  • Spilled loads: Exceeding forklift capacity often results in load spills, which can damage the load and endanger workers.
  • Forklift damage: By exceeding load capacity, you put additional strain on the lift truck, accelerating component fatigue and increasing the likelihood of breakage.
  • OSHA fines: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may be able to charge you fines for poor material handling practices if you overload your forklifts. 

How to Choose the Forklift That Meets Your Capacity Needs

There are various factors you should consider when choosing a forklift for your company to ensure it delivers the capacity required to meet your needs: 

  • Average load weight
  • Load lifting height
  • Aisle space width
  • Forklift usage per day/week
  • Indoor or outdoor use

Obtain a Reliable Forklift at RAKA Today

You can secure a high-quality forklift that meets your capacity needs at RAKA. With over 40 years spent delivering dependable and efficient material handling solutions with short lead times, flexible rental terms and extensive rental options, we’re the experts you can trust.

Contact us to learn more about our forklift selection today!

Obtain a Reliable Forklift at RAKA Today