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Forklift Size Decisions: What Forklift Capacity Do I Need?

Man driving Toyota High capacity electric cushion forklift and carrying 6 large metal rings in warehouse.
Posted: March 28, 2018
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Each forklift has limitations in the amount of weight it can lift, and how high it can carry or lift a load. When choosing a forklift, it is important that you consider the forklift capacity to ensure you are selecting the right forklift for the job. Each forklift and its attachments have an OSHA-required data plate that specifies the maximum load size, which is explained here.

First, Ask Yourself These Questions:

  • How heavy is my typical load?
  • How high do I need to lift my loads?
  • How wide is my common aisle space?
  • How many hours will my forklift be used per day / per week?
  • Will my forklift be used indoors or outdoors?

What Is Forklift Capacity And How Is It Measured?

Forklift capacity is the measurement of how much weight a particular forklift can lift. Lower capacities begin around 3,000 lbs. and can go up to over 50,000 lbs.

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What Is A Load Center?

load center is a horizontal distance from the front, vertical face of the forks to the center of gravity of the load. It constitutes the standard, or base, for rating the load capacity of the forklift. The main standards organization, Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation (ITSDF), places the load center at 24 inches on most forklifts.


Before you begin your research, know the dimensions and the weight of your typical loads. Determine if your loads are typically the same size or if they vary. If your load sizes fluctuate, make sure you know the weight of your heaviest load.

Forklift Dimensions And Lift Height

Another thing to keep in mind are the forklift dimensions.  Make sure you give the forklift plenty of space to maneuver in tight aisle and narrow racking. Even though the size of your forklift can vary, the dimensions for most four-wheel IC and Cushion forklifts range from a width of three feet for the smaller models, and up to eight feet for larger forklifts.


If you have a racking system and loads are consistently being raised and lowered, then height is a major factor. Are loads lifted to a variety of heights? If so, use the maximum height when determining what forklift you need.


Knowing your needs is vital when working with your salesperson. They will be able to determine which forklift capacity best fits your application. For more information, contact your Toyota forklifts dealer.


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