What Forklift Capacity Do I Need?

In the market for a forklift? Whether you’re looking at purchasing a forklift or renting, forklift capacity is one of the first and most important things you should consider. Using the wrong capacity can lead to hazards like a tipped-over or lost load, loss of steering control, or worse.

First Things First: What Is Forklift or Lifting Capacity?

Forklift capacity is defined as the measurement of the maximum load weight a forklift can safely lift.

But it’s not quite that simple. It’s good to understand that capacity isn’t indicative of a 1:1 ratio; just because your load weighs in at 5,000 lbs. doesn’t mean a 5,000-lb. capacity is the right choice. That’s because the rated capacity applies to to the load center indicated on the data plate (also called the nameplate) — if a load isn’t centered exactly, the load capacity will actually be less than the forklift’s rated capacity.

Stay Safe With These Lifting Best Practices

In order to select the best capacity and safely operate your forklift, it’s imperative that you do the following:

  • Don’t exceed the maximum capacity shown on the data plate. A best practice is to employ a forklift with a slightly higher capacity than you assume is needed.
  • Position your load at the standard load center, ensuring that it’s evenly distributed. Reduce load weight if the load isn’t centered.
  • Make sure your load is stable and that the load arrangement accounts for the way the center of gravity will shift when the forklift is in operation.

Need Help Determining the Right Capacity?

At Cactus Equipment, we carry all types of forklifts and lift trucks of various capacities, ranging from 5,000 to 36,000 lbs. Contact us to learn more about the capacity that’s best for your application and load size.