What is a Forklift Load Center?

Understanding the forklift load center and forklift center of gravity is important for determining the actual load capacity of your forklift. Operating beyond the capacity of your forklift negatively affects operator safety and proper equipment function.

What Is the Forklift Load Center?

The forklift load center is the horizontal distance between the vertical face of your fork and your load's center of gravity. Irregular load shapes and load length will change the load center and directly affect load capacity. Your forklift's rated load capacity decreases with longer loads and increases with shorter loads.

What Is Forklift Weight Capacity?

Forklift weight capacity is a specific weight at a specific load center. The maximum capacity can change depending on the shape of the load you are lifting. Although your forklift may have a sufficient rating for a certain weight,  the following factors can decrease the load capacity:

  • Load center: Larger load centers decrease the capacity. 
  • Lifting heights: A forklift can manage less weight the higher an item is on a shelf. If you risk lifting a load weighing at your forklift's maximum capacity at a tall height, machine malfunction, damage, and occupational operator harm can occur. 
  • Additional attachments: Because they affect the forklift center of gravity, add-on equipment can cause the load capacity of your forklift to decrease. These attachments, such as carriages, carry their own rated maximum capacity. The maximum capacity of your forklift will not exceed the lowest maximum capacity of any attachment on your forklift. 

How Do You Calculate Forklift Capacity?

Every forklift typically comes with a forklift data plate containing information regarding how capacity changes with different load centers. The data plate also contains pertinent information regarding the operating weight, model number, serial number, original manufacturer attachments, and the rated maximum capacity.

You must factor in the load center, height position, and weight distribution when calculating load capacity. Divide the load center as specified on the data plate by the actual load center. Multiply the resulting figure with the rated load capacity. Note that the rated capacity refers to the maximum weight a forklift can carry if the load is actually centered. If a load is not centered, the forklift cannot lift its maximum capacity.

If you have an oddly shaped load, you may have to utilize a forklift capacity calculator to find out the actual weight capacity. This calculator computes the "load moment" by multiplying the load weight with the distance of the load center. Increasing the load moment risks operator safety and equipment malfunction.

What Forklift Capacity Do You Need?

When determining the forklift capacity you need for your warehouse operations, consider the following:

  • Load weight: Select a forklift with the capacity to lift your heaviest load. A forklift capacity calculator may help with this. 
  • Load center: Consider the shape and size of your loads. A long forklift load center negatively affects forklift weight capacity.
  • Indoor or outdoor use: Where you will use your forklift will determine what tires you use. Tires, in turn, affect the maximum load capacity of your forklift.
  • Lift height: If your warehouse requires high lifting heights, you need a forklift with a higher weight capacity than your heaviest load. 

At Industrial Forklift Truck, we offer forklifts with a wide array of load capacities. To find the best new or used forklift for your warehouse, we can provide you with free quotes from local dealers in your area.

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