The forklift load center is the distance from the face of the forks to a load's center of gravity. The load capacity data plate on a forklift includes a lot of important information such as the load capacity, lift height, load center distance, and other relevant equipment specifications. Learn the basics about the load center on a forklift, how to determine the load center, and what this measurement means in terms of safe operation.
The United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines the load center for a forklift as the distance from the face of the forks to the center of gravity of a load. Forklift operators and managers should understand the center of gravity to avoid accidents, damage or injuries.
The most common loads are pallets that measure 48 inches by 48 inches. The center of these pallets is 24 inches, which is the load center if the load is equally distributed across the pallet. Other common load centers are 35 inches and 48 inches. A forklift can operate to the rated load center as long as the load is slid all the way to the load backrest. The load center increases the further the load is away from the backrest.
Load center distance is typically among the specifications on the load capacity data plate found on heavy equipment. This metal plate specifies the load capacity for the forklift and how much lift is possible with various attachments or when this equipment is positioned at different mast angles.
Forklift manufacturers often use a 24-inch load center for the base rating, though this measurement may vary. It is important to factor in the fact that tilt can affect the load center distance of a forklift. At ground level or low lifting levels, the effect of using tilt on the load center distance of a load can be negligible, but tilt, and especially forward tilt, becomes a major factor as height increases.
Accurately assessing the center of a load is important to avoid drops and tip-overs. Experienced forklift operators often have an implicit sense of the right way to approach loads that are imbalanced, and advanced operators can account for changes that occur at height.
While back tilt can reduce load center distance for added stability, using this method at height can be counterproductive, as the load will need to be returned to a level position for stacking. All of these considerations are part of the training for forklift operators and are among the many reasons why only trained operators should use this equipment.
Equipment operators and managers should be aware of the forklift load center for any equipment in use. This measurement enables operators to prioritize safety when determining how to lift and manipulate loads. Refer to a complete guide before buying a forklift, check the load capacity data plate and only permit trained operators to use heavy equipment.
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