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Material Handling Insights

Jan 18, 2022 8:24:00 AM // 3 min read

What Forklift Size Should You Be Using?

By Marcus Turner
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When choosing the right forklift for your material handling operations, there are a number of key considerations that you need to take into account. While your best course of action is to seek expert advice, there are certain areas that you can first look into yourself.

Begin by asking these questions: 

1. How heavy is my typical load?

2. How high do I need to lift my loads?

3. How wide is my common aisle space?

4. What are the dimensions of my pallets?

5. What length is my largest load?

6. Will my forklift be used indoors or outdoors?

These questions will work to give you initial insight, then you can look into specific important areas. Read on to learn more.

The rating plate

Regulations stipulate that the rating plate, also known as the data plate, should be in a place that's visible to the operator. This plate is full of information and can vary in layout depending on the manufacturer, but they all have to meet certain criteria. The main set of data will be the forklift's rated capacity. This element will help you to understand whether your forklift is the correct size for a job.

For example, it might say 2500kgs at a load centre of 500mm. The key piece of information to focus on here is the 500mm load centre. 

Related read: 10 Tips to Become a Better Forklift Operator

Load centre

The load centre is the distance measured from the front of the forks to the load's centre of gravity. If your load is a 1000mm cube and the weight is evenly distributed, the load centre will be exactly in the middle, 500mm.

If your load has changed size, say to a 1200mm cube, it might be exactly the same weight, but its load centre is now 600mm. By moving the load centre outwards away from the truck, you reduce the maximum weight that the forklift can handle. This, of course, compromises both safety and efficiency.

Download the TCO guide to reduce your operational costs today

Load capacity

The load capacity is the maximum weight that the forklift truck can safely manage. Details of the load capacity for each of your vehicles can be found on the truck’s rating plate. 

For the safety of the forklift operator, those around the vehicle and the health of the truck itself, it’s important to never exceed the maximum capacity stated for each truck. It’s also extremely important that the forklift operator has a strong understanding of the load capacity of the vehicle they’re operating.

Related read: Preventing Common Forklift Accidents in Your Workplace

Pallet distribution

Pallet distribution affects the load capacity. Is any part of your product off-centre or overhanging the edge of the load carrier? You might have a 1200mm x 1000mm pallet, but the product could be overhanging by 100mm all around. In effect, this makes the load 1400mm x 1200mm — an increase of 100mm on the load centre. This will have a negative impact on the forklift's rated capacity. This is a very common occurrence, which, if left unnoticed, can become a safety issue.

Forklift dimensions

Forklift trucks are large machines that need to be allotted a certain amount of space for manoeuvring in aisles (if indoors) and narrow racking. Forklift truck sizes can vary greatly, so vehicle dimensions — including lifting height — are major factors to consider. 

Think about the maximum height you will likely require in your warehouse or the area in which you are operating to determine which forklift best suits your application.

In order to safely and efficiently operate a forklift in a fast-paced environment, having a comprehensive knowledge of the dimensions, capacities and general size of your vehicle/s is essential to ensure the overall safety of your team. 

For advice on calculating your forklift load sizes, get in touch with your local dealer. Click the button below to enquire.

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