The idea behind transportation testing is to simulate the abuse of real life shipping by applying events and sequences that are measurable and repeatable in the lab environment in order to predict a successful outcome or potential failure of your package in transit, e.g.
Drops from a prescribed height in certain sequence and orientation,
Vibration with a certain duration to match the trip length and a certain profile,
Side Impact at a certain speed,
Exposure to extreme temperatures and humidity for a prescribed duration,
Compression under a calculated load based on dimensions and weight of the package,
Raised Edge Drops etc. etc.
That approach is a bit like using a number of different ingredients in cooking to produce a variety of meals. The test events are similar to the ingredients, our test method is like a cooking recipe, and the real trip of your package is where “the rubber meets the road”.
Most Transportation Testing is performed per standardized ISTA methods. ISTA stands for International Safe Transit Association (ista.org). ISTA Test procedures are organized by level of complexity, load/package type and distribution channel. Very frequently a customer will ask us what test method we recommend. The answer to that is determined by:
A. Package type – single carton, also called individual package (that can be small, standard, log, flat),
Large Single item (carton or crate, not palletized)
Palletized Single or Unitized Load on a Pallet/Skid
B. Distribution Channel – Parcel Delivery
Truck – LTL, Full Truckload, Air Ride
Custom shipping Environment (Door-to-Door, Overseas, International, etc.)
C. Type of Product transported – High Value, Electronics, Furniture, Perishable, Non-Perishable, Commodity or other
If your customer or buyer has not specified what type of test they require, we will direct you and them to the most appropriate test method for your scenario. We have over to two decades of membership with ISTA and are able to perform almost all of their test methods and procedures.
There are multiple benefits of ISTA testing, among them:
- compliance with buyer expectations,
- minimized returns and damaged goods,
- assurance for shipping suitability when developing new packaging systems,
- clear directions for improvement areas if package fails or lacks in performance,
- protection from carriers (when you as a shipper become a member of ISTA, you receive an ISTA certification and print their certification logo on your packages).
To become an ISTA member log on their website: ista.org or call 517.333.3437
Another very reliable test method for transportation simulation has been developed by ASTM – the D4169. While it may seem cumbersome to grasp at a first reading, it produces a very solid sequence of transportation tests that mimics your real shipping environment. We have performed that test for multiple customers, too. With this test being over 25 years old, there is some likelyhood of producing a “false negative” test outcome because of the very severe vibration and impact testing requirements.
Another similar test is the Fedex shipping test which subjects the tested samples to a very demanding test schedule, particularly with drops. That is done in order to guarantee “no damage” to product after being handled through the Fedex distribution channel.
A multitude of other Transportation Test methods are developed by different companies, more or less similar to the ISTA test methods to suit the particular type of products and distribution requirements. These involve environmental testing, e.g. hot, cold, humid, dry, salt or chemicals exposure, shock testing, severe vibration testing, etc. We are able to perform most of these in our specialized environmental chambers.