Interpreting Your Load Rating Plate
Having your forklift perform optimally throughout the day is essential to maintaining safety and productivity in your workplace, which can only be expected if the machine never attempts to lift something that exceeds its capabilities. This is the reason forklift manufacturers install something called a Load Rating Plate (or a Load Capacity Data Plate) on every build. These ensure every operator is aware of the capacity limits that particular forklift needs to operate within to maintain balance and control. This is known as the safe working load for the forklift.
The Load Rating Plate plate itself is normally fixed to the dash or somewhere else easily visible to the operator as soon as they are seated. The rated capacity of the forklift is the maximum load that the forklift can lift at a given lift height and load center distance as shown on the load rating plate. While the layout of this information may differ between manufacturers, you will always be able to identify three crucial measurements.
Load Center Distance
This is the measurement from the vertical face of the tynes or “forks” to the center of gravity of the load. You can help to minimize this length by keeping the load as close to that vertical face as is possible. Weight distribution within the load, even if it is under load capacity, can still have a huge impact on the forklifts stability.
This is the height a fork can be raised to once its mast is extended to maximum reach. Some forklifts will have differing carry capacities at certain stages of their mast. It is incorrect to assume that a forklift can safely lift a load near the maximum capacity, also at maximum lift height.
Weight Of Load
There are a number of ways this can be determined. Check consignment notes, weigh an individual component and multiply quantity, weigh the entire load or look for a weight already recorded on packaging. Make sure to include the drum, container, pallet (the Australian standard is usually less than 40kg) or stillage into the total.
By knowing these measurements and remaining within specifications, you can avoid overloading the forklift and the consequent reduction in stability and capacity. Some load rating plates will give additional information if the forklift has a tilting mast or a special attachment.
An attachment is anything that goes onto the front of the forklift other than the standard forks (tynes). This includes jibs, carpet spikes, safety cages / work platforms and slippers (extenders). Sometimes a side shift is even referred to as an attachment or they can be factory fitted to a forklift as standard. Any alterations or attachments added will affect the forklifts stability and safe working load. For best results when using these enhancements, ensure the attachment is secured to the forklift properly, is undamaged and has been included on the load rating plate. They should also not be operated without proper training and examination of the operator manual.
Did You Know – It Is ILLEGAL To Operate A Forklift That Is Not Fitted With A Load Rating Plate Or One That Is Illegible?
The plate shown above is from a counterbalance forklift with a tilting mast, rated to use a drum clamp attachment. By interpreting Section 2, we can see that when fitted with forks (tynes), with a load center distance of 600mm and with a lift height of 3500mm this forklift will safely lift 2200kg with the mast vertical and 1600kg with the mast tilted forward. Note how the capacity drops when the load center distance increases and its rating for the drum clamp comes with a significant reduction to capacity also.