How Much Does A Forklift Weigh
How much does a forklift weigh? Seems like a fairly straightforward question, but there are so many different metrics listed on the pec for even a single machine, how are you supposed to know which "answer" to use.
Whatever you need to know, here's my guide to working out the weight of a forklift for any purpose, from transporting new machines to weighing fully loaded forklifts to comparing against the load rating of a temporary structure.
How Much Does A Forklift Weigh?
In order to determine the most useful figure for a forklift's weight, it's important to know the purpose for which the figure is to be used.
Are you trying to work out how many forklifts you can safely transport given the loading capacity of your trailer? Or do you want to know if a temporary floor can withstand the strain of driving a fully loaded forklift across it?
Service Weight vs. Lifting Capacity
The forklift service weight refers to the actual weight of the forklift itself, including forks or other accessories, but without any added load.
The lifting capacity/loading capacity is the maximum weight of items that can be loaded onto the forks. The lift capacity will usually be given as both a weight and a load center.
The load center refers to the horizontal distance between the end of the forks and the center of mass of the load being lifted e.g. 4000 lbs at 30" means a weight of 4000 pounds can only be safely carried as long as the center of mass is (at least) 30" back from the fork tips.
Workers need to be aware of the load center for their forklift equipment and apply the load weight accordingly. If the center of mass is further forward it will exert more turning force, which could tip the forklift over.
Lift capacity and service weight can both be found on the forklift's data tag. This takes the form of a metal plate added by the manufacturer with several key pieces of technical information printed on it. Workers should check these carefully as they not only inform loading but also the correct tire dimensions and pressures for the forklift.
If you want to know how much a forklift weighs fully laden e.g. if your question is aimed at ensuring a temporary structure can withstand the strain, simply add the forklift weight (service weight) and the capacity of the forklift together to get the combined total.
Although there's a fair bit of variety, the average forklift weighs approximately 9,000 lbs, which is about three times as much as the average automobile (at 3,000 lbs). Fun fact, that's about the same as 47 people, one adult female African elephant, or a mid-90's Chevvy pickup truck.
The smaller forklifts used in factories and warehouses have an average weight range between 3,000 lbs and 5,000 lbs, whereas some of the largest industrial models can have a service weight up to around 20,000 lbs (e.g. Kalmar DCG720-10 LB).
As to lifting capacity, these vary wildly, ranging from around 1500 lbs right up to 70000+ lbs (e.g. the Kalmar Super Heavy with a lifting capacity of 72,000 lbs). The average lift capacity for many common models is around 5,000 lbs.
Why are Forklifts so Heavy?
Forklifts need to have a counterweight at the rear (the opposite end to the forks) which contributes significantly to the overall weight. This is essential to shift the center of mass away from the load, preventing the machine from toppling over when loaded close to the lifting capacity. Some models have removable weights which can be added or removed as necessary to counter the weight of a specific load.
As a general rough standard, a forklift's actual weight (i.e. service weight) should be 1.5 to 2 times the loading capacity. For example, if a forklift can lift a maximum load of 5,000 lbs safely, it will usually weigh somewhere between 7,500-10,000 pounds, of which around half (or more) will be the counterweight.