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Why Forklift Owners Need to Re-examine Forklifts after Modification


Completely understanding a forklifts lift capacity rating is vital for all owners and operators. All load movements that are taken on by a forklift must comply with the strict capacity ratings of the unit. This article will look at 3 things owners and operators should understand when it comes to lift capacities.

Attributes affecting load capacities

With the wide variety of forklifts available in the industry, each unit has its own individual specifications of capacity, lift height and load centre. Lift height and load centre are two factors that can greatly influence a units’ lift capacity, as well as flow on effects such as stability and safety.

In general, forklifts have a load centre of about 600mm, when a load is correctly positioned centrally; the weight is distributed evenly across the tines and carriage. This provides the most stability during lifting movements. As well as positioning loads correctly over the load centre, lift height also plays a crucial role in safety and stability.

The higher you lift a load the more unstable it will become. In general every forklift has a decreased lift capacity when lifting to its maximum height. It is imperative that operators only lift the correctly positioned and rated loads when lifting to maximum height to ensure load stability and reduce the risk of operator/pedestrian injury or damage to infrastructure, the forklift or goods lifted.

Attachments de-rate lift capacity

When a forklift is built based on its specifications, a lift capacity is carefully calculated and designated by the manufacturer (e.g. 2T). A major reasons why forklift load capacities become de-rated, is when an attachment is installed.

Simply put, the full weight of the attachment is subtracted from the units overall lift capacity (e.g. if a 2T forklift has a 200kg attachment installed its de-rated lift capacity falls to approximately 1.8T only, as long as the load centre of the unit and the attachment are the same). It is imperative that when any new attachment is installed that the forklift is re-examined by the manufacturer with their specific formula, based on the new specifications of the unit.

Once the unit has been properly re-rated the manufacturer must issue a new rating plate with the updated lifting capacity and attachment specifications.

Moving oversized loads

Not only should the weight of a load be carefully considered when lifting but also the dimensions. If a load is oversized in anyway this can affect its balance.

Operators should carefully calculate the loads balance point as this may not always be the centre. When lifting oversized loads it is often recommended to reduce the overall load weight, so you don’t exceed the units lifting capabilities.

If the load doesn’t fit correctly on standard tines it may need the help of a lifting attachment such as a spreader bar to correctly support the load.


In conclusion, re-examining all forklifts post modification is imperative so operators are fully aware of the new lift capacity available on the unit. Since 2001 Forklift Exchange has been a trusted and leading source of premium refurbished forklifts in South Africa and Africa at large. Dealing in all leading brands with a full range of power source options (Diesel, Petrol, Gas, and Electric) and capacities from 1 ton to 45 tons. We have a full range to cater for all material handling requirements. Forklift Exchange carries a comprehensive and competitively priced range of parts for all major forklift brands. Any part which we do not carry can be sourced in a maximum of a 5 day time frame.

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