Package Testing

November 3, 2017

Package testing is a way of simulating the conditions a package can be expected to encounter during transit. In today’s increasingly global supply chains, packages and products will often cross wide geographic distances to get to market, moving through multiple stakeholders using different modes of transportation. A product or component’s packaging must be designed to withstand these environments.

NTS offers package testing to ASTM® and ISTA® standards, among others. We can help you protect your investment, reduce product loss and minimize risk during shipping and transport.

Why Invest in Package Testing?

Package testing has several potential benefits for manufacturers, including:

  • Package testing in a controlled lab environment is more reliable than trial and error.
  • Regular testing helps you understand your distribution environment, so you can make changes that reduce your exposure to hazards.
  • Testing methods and protocol can be reviewed and revised at any time, allowing you to respond in an agile manner to changing products, packaging materials and distribution hazards.
  • The information gathered from testing leads to smarter package design, which in turn helps you transport products in a safer manner.

Ultimately, these benefits will save you money and reduce shipping bottlenecks caused by damaged products and packaging failures. Ongoing investment in testing will deliver strong returns over time, making your business more stable and sustainable.

Common Modes of Transportation

An understanding of the conditions your package will encounter during transit is essential to designing a package test program. A package may be transported by:

  • Road
  • Rail
  • Sea
  • Air

As well, it may move through different vehicles and vessels and change hands between organizations several times during transit. A large part of package testing involves anticipating the impact these transitions will have on your product.

Industry Package Testing Standards

The diversity of conditions and stakeholders involved in transporting a product to its destination requires unified testing standards. The following organizations have established package testing guidelines for use by organizations in a range of industries:

  • ISTA
  • ASTM
  • IEC 60068-2-55

Package Testing Methods

NTS’ package testing methods include:

  • Vibration
  • Loose cargo
  • Freefall drop
  • Shock
  • Incline impact
  • Horizontal impact
  • Compression
  • Temperature and humidity

We can perform package vibration testing, loose cargo testing, freefall drop testing, shock testing and temperature and humidity testing to ASTM or ISTA standards. Our engineers can also design a custom testing program according to your specifications. Either way, our team will work with you to assess your requirements and deliver customized service.

ISTA Package Testing

The International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) publishes guidelines for two types of package tests:

  • Performance tests, which assess the ability of a package to survive normal shipment conditions
  • Development tests, which measure the relative effectiveness of two or more package designs against each other

ISTA further groups these tests into seven different series, which vary according to the extent and depth of simulation involved, the weight of the product and several other factors:

  • ISTA 1 Series: Non-Simulation Integrity Performance Tests
  • ISTA 2 Series: Partial Simulation Performance Tests
  • ISTA 3 Series: General Simulation Performance Tests
  • ISTA 4 Series: Enhanced Simulation Performance Tests
  • ISTA 5 Series: Focused Simulation Guides
  • ISTA 6 Series: Member Performance Tests
  • ISTA 7 Series: Development Tests

Learn more about individual test series by contacting an NTS representative today.


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