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What are forklift truck 'load centres?'

'Load centres' represent the middle of a forklift truck load, from front to back. It is easily calculated by measuring the load to be carried, and dividing by two (providing the load is evenly distributed, and positioned to butt up to the forklift backrest).

You will often see a forklift truck's nominal capacity quoted in a form such as 2,000kg @ 500mm load centre.

As standard, on medium size forklift trucks, manufacturers tend to calculate nominal capacities assuming a 500mm or 600mm load centre, in line with standard pallet sizes.

If, however, you are lifting a more bulky, or deeper item, the load centre will increase.

The diagram on the right shows this. Trucks A, B & C have progressively narrowing load centres. This means that less effort will be required to life the same 2,000kg weight.

To exaggerate to make the point, if you hold your arms out, and hang a weight from your arms, you will require far less effort to keep the weight off the ground if it is hanging from your elbos than your fingertips; because the load centre is nearer your body.

The same is true for forklift trucks. As you push the load centre out, the effort, or capacity required to lift the weight increases. It is for this reason that sometimes a greater capacity truck is required to lift a specific item, due to its dimensions rather than weight.

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