Most people are familiar with the ‘typical’ way to use a forklift; two forklift tynes moving vertically to carry loads or pallets or to lift loads to a higher point. And anyone who’s ever worked with a forklift in a factory or warehouse understands their value in lifting and moving goods, but the forklift can be so much more.
There is a large and clever variety of forklift attachments that can turn your forklift into a really handy and versatile piece of equipment. You may even be surprised by some of the ways you can use your forklift.
Impact of Attachments on Forklift Load Capacity
Before you start using attachments, you need to consider how the use of a forklift attachment will affect a forklift. Your forklift is rated for a specific maximum load capacity, and forklift attachments affect the maximum load capacity of your forklift.
Put simply, when you use an attachment on a forklift, the load capacity will be reduced and the centre of gravity of the forklift will be affected, making it less stable than it would be without the attachment. This is because you are putting weight in front of the fulcrum point (the point or support on which a lever pivots) of the forklift prior to picking up your load. It is therefore necessary to drive the forklift as if it were partially loaded, even prior to picking up the load
Calculating the New Load Rating
The key factor in determining a new load rating is how the use of your attachment changes the centre of gravity of the forklift. The load centre is the distance from the face of the forks to the load’s centre of gravity. A forklift’s load capacity is the maximum weight that a forklift is able to safely carry at a specified load centre and a maximum load height.
If you attempt to lift a payload that is higher than your rated maximum lift capacity, while your forklift may be able to do it – at least for a short time – it isn’t safe and it risks the safety of your operator and employees in the immediate area. Of course, it may also damage your forklift, forklift load, and surrounding equipment, costing you money and downtime.
Load Capacity Tips
- Your forklift’s maximum load capacity rating will be listed on the plate installed on a highly visible area of your forklift – usually on the mast at eye level to the driver.
- It’s a good idea to buy a forklift with a maximum load capacity that is higher than the biggest weight you intend to lift. As a rule of thumb, estimate the highest payload and add 10%.
- Ensure every forklift operator knows the maximum load capacity, the weight of objects being lifted, and the effect a forklift attachment will have on performance.
Forklift Attachment Safety Tips
When working with forklift attachments, you need to ensure:
- You travel at a slow speed and make turns slowly and gently.
- It is extremely important that operators are given training required to be able to competently manage the fitting, operating and removal of the attachment.
- The attachment must be suitable for your forklift, and must also be suitable for the load you are lifting
- The data plate on your forklift must allow for the use of the attachment
In summary, used correctly forklift attachments can turn a forklift into a highly versatile and useful machine. However, operators should always understand forklift capabilities with an additional attachment before they begun use and should always have training for the specific attachment.