How Much Can a Forklift Lift?

How Much Can a Forklift Lift?

  • December 6, 2022
  • Joyce Schwob

Understanding your forklift capacity is crucial to using it safely and effectively in your warehouse or other material handling operation. Just because your forklift says its rated capacity is 20,000 lb doesn’t mean that it can lift that amount in all situations. The dimensions of the load, its placement, and its weight distribution can all affect how much you can carry. Plus, if you’re using different types of attachments your overall forklift capacity may decrease, depending on the weight of the attachment.

Rated capacity vs. net capacity

When determining how much a forklift can lift, you might come across two numbers, rated capacity and net capacity. The difference is simple; net forklift capacity accounts for any attachments, the forklift’s mast type, and other modifications and tells you how much weight it can handle on top of that. Rated capacity describes how much the forklift can lift without taking those other factors into account.

The importance of load center for forklift capacity

Your load capacity describes the maximum weight that a forklift can safely raise at a specified load center. If the load is not centered, then the machine will not be able to lift to its maximum capacity. Your load center is the distance from the vertical face of the forks to the center of gravity of your load. For a standard 48” x 48” pallet, the load center would be 24” from the face of the forks.

The longer your load, the farther away from the machine the load center is, and the lower overall capacity for your forklift. The basics of your forklift capacity can be found on its data plate and in your owner’s manual. The data plate is typically found on the instrument panel near the operating controls. If you are unsure about how much your forklift can lift, then please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team!

How much forklift capacity do you need for your job?

Before purchasing a new forklift, it’s important to consider how much capacity you’ll need it to have. Here are some questions you should ask:

  • How heavy is my typical load?
  • How high do I need to lift my loads?
  • What length is my largest load?
  • What type of attachments will the lift truck utilize?

Once you know the answers to those questions, you can reach out to our team, and we will help you determine which type of forklift is best for your needs and what its max capacity should be. At JIT, we offer options with capacities ranging from a few thousand pounds for three wheel electric models up to 125,000 lb for high capacity internal combustion pneumatic models.

It really all comes down to what you will be using your equipment for. If you’re navigating tight aisles and only lifting relatively light loads, then a smaller, compact forklift with a lower capacity will be best. But if you’re lifting heavy materials in the lumber, shipping, or construction industries, then you need a larger machine that can handle a wider variety of loads.

If you want to know which size forklift will work best for you or how much your current forklift can lift, then please contact our team today!