Preventing Product Damage Due to Shipping
Utilizing packaged products methods of evaluation can greatly reduce losses due to shipping damage and increase customer satisfaction. According to Packing Digest, between 2 to 11 percent of packaged products arrive at a distribution with some damage. In many cases this damage could be avoided by ensuring that packaging materials and methods are suitable for the product being shipped.
A wide varieties of standards exist for rating and evaluating product packaging. Many of these standard include laboratory test methods to verify containers and unitized loads. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) and the Technical Association of the Pulp and Paper Industry (TAPPI) have test standards that allow evaluation of boxes, cartons, and unitized loads placed on pallets.
Numerous international standards are also available through the International Organization for Standardization or ISO. These standards include test methods for impact, drops, compression due to stacking, and vibration.
ASTM Standards for Packaging
ASTM has many test standards for testing containers’ abilities to withstand dynamic stressors expected during shipping. These include vibration and drop shock. ASTM D5276 Standard Test Method for Drop Test of Loaded Containers by Free Fall is such a standard.
This standard is applicable to loaded boxes, bags, sacks, and cylindrical containers weighing 110 lbs (50 kg) or less. It replicates the stresses induced by containers that are handled manually and subjected to free fall drop.
Other standards such as ASTM D999 and ASTM D4728 have been developed to test packaging containers for the effects of vibration. These test methods can use PSD profiles derived from MIL-STD-810 for truck shipment.
ASTM D7386 Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Packages for Single Parcel Delivery Systems evaluates the ability of shipping units to endure drop impacts, vibration, bridged impact, hazard impact, high altitude, concentrated impacts, tip over impacts, and rotational edge drops.
ASTI Standards for Packaged Packaging
ASTI standards include a wide variety of packaged product methods of evaluation. These methods address the requirements for individual packaged products and palletized loads. For some standards in the series, severities are varied depending on if the shipment is limited within the United States or is international.
Test methodologies include vibration, inclined or horizontal impact, rotational flat and edge drop, compression, flat push testing for palletized loads, bridged impact, corner drop, face drop, and edge drop.
The key to using this set of standard is to understand the distribution environment of the packaged product so that distribution hazards can be identified. It is also important to monitor products currently being shipped for types and frequency. When improvements are required then appropriate test methods can be selected to evaluate those changes.
The Limitations of Cardboard
Cardboard while an excellent choice for many packaging needs has vulnerabilities. These issues include crushing, piercing, water resistance, compression during stacking, and failure when overloaded. These vulnerabilities are aggravated by warm humid conditions.
When evaluating the environmental stressors likely to be encountered by a shipped product it is important to remember that storage or transport may occur in uncontrolled environments where humidity and high temperatures are present. For this reason, all the standards mentioned here include atmospheric conditioning at varied temperature and humidity levels.
Growing Demand for Containers
With a marketplace more reliant on online sales, cardboard is becoming increasingly in demand. Worldwide production of cardboard is increasing to meet this demand and prices for cardboard packaging is increasing. As consumers and OEMs strive towards more environmentally sustainable behaviors, it is predicted that the overall use of plastics in packaging will decrease, placing further demands on the cardboard industry.
New packaging development solutions are being sought to address environmental sustainability in transport packaging. As these packaging designs are brought to market it is essential that they provide adequate protection to products .
The Importance of Testing
Testing of shipping materials and methods is a cost effect way to avoid problems, given the expense and loss of customer satisfaction generated by damaged product in shipment. While laboratory methods are not exact replications of the hazards associated with shipping, they have been developed through observations and field studies and are widely accepted.
Most of these tests provide simple pass/fail criteria but when a test plan has been tailored to defined to specify acceptable damage it can meet the product manufacturers requirements. Furthermore, where testing may be unfeasible, analysis can often be used to determine the ability of packaging to protect the shipped product.
Ultimately, performing packaged product methods of evaluation provides important data that can be used to demonstrate your organization’s commitment to reducing the risk of damaged product. This data can also be used as a baseline for quality management assessments of shipping and packaging procedures.
CVG Strategy Product Test and Evaluation
CVG Strategy has experience in developmental test and evaluation for a wide variety of industries including military and automotive. Because of this we understand looking beyond a test to pass perspective. We can help develop a test program that will return meaningful data and verify a products ability to survive harsh environments.
We also have extensive experience in environmental, EMI/EMC, and electrical compatibility testing for both military and commercial products. CVG Strategy specializes in Independent Developmental Testing and Evaluation including development of Test Plans, providing Test Witnessing, and Analysis. We also provide MIL-STD-810 Training Seminars and Webinars to enable product developers to create tailored test programs.
CVG Strategy is a consultancy offering coaching, mentoring, training and program development focused on areas including Business Process Improvement, ITAR and Export Compliance, Cyber Security and Quality Management Systems.