10 Useful Things on Your Forklift Data Plate (Besides Capacity)

Yellow counterbalance forklifts with forklift data plates on them

A forklift data plate might be small, but it houses tons of important information about your equipment. It is often referred to as the forklift capacity plate because forklift capacity is one of those things.

However, your forklift data plate actually tells you much more than capacity. Everything on the plate is incredibly important to safe operation.

Learn how to read a forklift capacity plate. Use the information on your forklift data plate to operate the equipment safely and efficiently.

What Is on a Forklift Data Plate?

There are a lot of numbers and charts on a forklift data plate. To make sense of this information, you’ll need to understand how to read a forklift capacity plate.

Here’s a breakdown of everything listed on your forklift data plate.

1. Model Number

The first thing you’ll see on your forklift data plate is the model number. It’s labeled “Model”, so you can’t miss it.

The model number tells you loads of information. Numbers and letters make up the model number, each with its own meaning.

The numbers and letters in the model number listed on the forklift data plate

The first number of the model number indicates the series number or version of the model. This number is followed by a letter, which indicates the category of industrial vehicle that the forklift falls into. Learn more about the different forklift classes here.

Another letter follows, indicating the type of drive: gasoline, diesel, battery, walkie, or narrow chassis. The next letter gives special construction information. You can see a list of these construction types above. The last letter represents the manufacturing location or chassis size. The number at the end of this series indicates the chassis capacity.

These six numbers and letters are standard on every lift truck. If your forklift model number has an additional number before the 6-digit combination separated by a dash, this is the optional power source.

2. Serial Number

The serial number is important for technician communication. While it may not mean much to you, it’ll help technicians match parts to your machine. It also tells them a lot of information about the machine ahead of time in the case of maintenance or repairs.

Make sure your serial number remains visible and legible over time.

3. Mast Type

The mast type is indicated on the forklift data plate simply by the word “mast”. You’ll find this metric beneath the model number.

There are a variety of forklift mast types. These are the single-stage, 2-stage, 3-stage, and quad mast. Each type varies in lift height and versatility.

4. Back Tilt

In a box next to the mast type, you’ll find the back tilt. Back tilt is represented by a number indicating the degrees back the mast can tilt.

Back tilt is an important feature that helps the operator keep loads on the forks securely.

Forklift capacity plate with equipment information

5. Attachments

To the right of the back tilt box, you’ll see a box labeled “attach”. This is where you’ll find what attachments have been added to the forklift. For instance, if a side-shifter is attached to the carriage, you’ll see it listed here.

6. Fuel Type

Beneath the mast type is the fuel type, labeled simply as “type”. Options include electricity (E), liquid propane (LP), diesel (DS), gasoline (G), or compressed natural gas (CNG). One of these five initials will be listed on the data plate.

7. Front Tread:

Beneath fuel type is the front tread. The front tread is indicative of overall machine width. This measurement helps operators and warehouse managers understand how much space the forklift will take up.

The front tread is important to consider when thinking about things like aisle width.

8. Tire Size

Next to the front tread, you’ll find tire size for both the front and back tires. This area shows the tire size and type the forklift was designed to use. “Solid” refers to solid pneumatic, “smooth” refers to solid cushion tires, and “treaded” refers to air-filled pneumatic.

In front of the tire type is the tire size. The size is listed as width and rim diameter.

9. Truck Weight

Beneath the front tread and tire size, you’ll see the truck weight listed in pounds and kilograms. This is the overall weight of the forklift without a load.

10. Forklift Capacity Chart

The last thing on the bottom of the forklift data plate is a diagram and chart. This is the forklift capacity chart, or forklift load chart. It is arguably the most important piece of information on the data plate, which is why data plates are sometimes referred to as forklift capacity plates.

Here, the horizontal load center (column A), vertical load center (column B), mast height (column C), and front tilt (column D) are listed in both inches and millimeters. On some forklift capacity plates, the information may be listed as mast height (column A), load center (column B), and front tilt (column C). Check the diagram to the left of the chart to find out how to read the forklift capacity plate on your specific machine.

In the far right column, you’ll see the corresponding forklift capacity in pounds and kilograms. Use the forklift capacity chart to find the capacity of your equipment in relation to the load center.

Remember, the load capacity changes when the load center changes. Treat oddly-shaped loads differently than standard palletized loads. Don’t forget to check the forklift capacity plate before you handle irregular loads.

How to Read a Forklift Capacity Chart

The forklift capacity chart shows the maximum capacity of your machine based on different variables. In other words, it gives the weight of the heaviest load your machine can lift under specific conditions.

This forklift load chart reads as follows:

If the mast is extended upwards X inches and the load center is Y inches from the mast, the maximum capacity is Z.

The “X” value is in column A, the “Y” variable is in column B, and the “Z” variable is in the last column of the chart. Keep in mind that the forklift capacity chart may sometimes include both horizontal and vertical load centers. Check the diagram to the left of the forklift load chart on your machine for more information.

Using Your Equipment Correctly

Caring for your forklift starts with proper forklift operation. Understanding how your equipment was intended to be used and what its limits are will help you do this safely. It’ll also help you prevent expensive repairs down the road.

Reading your forklift load chart correctly and following it at all times is a great start. However, without quality equipment, safety is still at risk.

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