ISTA, the International Safe Transit Association, is an organization focused on the specific concerns of transport packaging. It is one of the most important industry developer of testing protocols and design standards that define how packages should perform to ensure protection of their contents during the ever changing risks of the global distribution environment.

Since 1948, ISTA sets the standards for optimizing the resources in packages that are designed to be survivable, sustainable and successful. Their testing protocols offer a level of assurance and set a standard for package carriers, packaging suppliers, product manufactures, testing laboratories and research and academic institutions worldwide.

 

Test procedures of ISTA testing

 

ISTA 1 Series:

Non-Simulation Integrity Performance Tests.

These are the most basic category of performance tests. Challenge the strength and robustness of the product + package. These series are not designed to simulate environmental incidents. Useful as screening tests, particularly when used as a consistent benchmark over time.

> Procedure 1A:

Packaged-Products weighing 150 lb (68 kg) or Less

This test procedure is an integrity test for individual packaged-products weighing 150 Ib (68kg) or less. It needs to meet two basic requirements: fixed displacement vibration and shock testing.
Test Procedure 1A is supported by our vertical vibration system, drop tester, horizontal impact tester, and inclined Impact tester.

> Procedure 1B:

Packaged-Products weighing Over 150 lb (68 kg)

This test procedure is an integrity test for individual packages-products and can be used with loads with more than 150 Ib (68kg) when prepared for shipment. It must meet two basic requirements: fixed displacement vibration and shock testing.

Test Procedure 1B is supported by our vertical vibration system, drop tester, horizontal impact tester, and inclined Impact tester.

> Procedure 1C:

Extended Testing for Individual Packaged-Products weighing 150 lb (68 kg) or Less

This test procedure is an integrity test for individual packaged-products weighing 150 Ib (68kg) or less. It has to meet three basic requirements: fixed displacement or random vibration, shock testing and compression.
Test Procedure 1C is supported by our vertical vibration system, drop tester, horizontal impact tester, inclined Impact tester and compression tester.

> Procedure 1D:

Extended Testing for Individual Packaged-Products weighing Over 150 lb (68 kg)

Test procedure 1D can be used with individual packaged-products of more than 150Ib (68kg) when prepared for shipment. This procedure needs to meet three basic requirements: fixed displacement or random vibration, shock testing and compression.

Test Procedure 1D is supported by our drop tester, compression tester, vertical vibration system, and horizontal impact.

> Procedure 1E:

Unitized Loads

This test procedure works with unitized loads (one or more products on a skid or pallet but always secured together or restrained for distribution as a single load) of the same retail or institutional package-products. This procedure must meet two basic requirements: vertical linear or random vibration and shock testing.
Test procedure 1E is supported by our inclined impact tester, horizontal impact, and vertical vibration system.

> Procedure 1G:

Packaged-Products weighing 150 lb (68 kg) or Less (Random Vibration)

This test procedure is an integrity test used for individual package-products weighing 150 Ib (68kg) or less when prepared for shipment. It must meet two basic requirements: random vibration and shock testing.
Test procedure 1G is supported by our vertical vibration system, drop tester, horizontal impact and inclined Impact tester.

> Procedure 1H:

Packaged-Products weighing Over 150 lb (68 kg) (Random Vibration)

Test procedure 1H is an integrity test for individual package-products of more than 150 Ib (68kg) when prepared for shipment. It needs to meet two basic requirements: random vibration and shock testing.

This test procedure is supported by our inclined impact and horizontal impact testers, vertical vibration system, and drop tester.

 

ISTA 2 Series:

Partial Simulation Performance Tests. These series are a combination of basic test elements from ISTA 1 Series and advanced test elements from ISTA 3 Series: tests with at least one element of a 3 Series type General Simulation performance test (atmospheric conditioning or mode-shaped random vibration) as well as basic elements of a 1 Series type Non-Simulation Integrity test.

> Procedure 2A:

Packaged-Products weighing 150 lb (68 kg) or Less

This procedure is a partial simulation test for individual packaged-products of 150 Ib (68kg) or less when it is prepared for shipment. It must meet four basic requirements: compression, atmospheric conditioning, fixed displacement or random vibration and shock testing.

Six of our machines support this procedure: compression tester, inclined impact tester, horizontal impact, vertical vibration system, and drop tester.

> Procedure 2B:

Packaged-Products weighing over 150 lb (68 kg)

Test Procedure 2B is a partial simulation test for individual packaged-products weighing more than 150 Ib (68kg) when prepared for shipment. This procedure must meet some basic requirements: atmospheric conditioning, compression, fixed displacement or random vibration and shock testing.

This test procedure is supported by our compression tester, inclined impact tester, horizontal impact, vertical vibration system, and drop tester.

> Procedure 2C:

Furniture Packages

Test procedure 2C is a partial simulation test for individual package furniture products (case goods). It should be noted that although the traditional furniture definition of case goods is only for hard goods (and not upholstered furniture), It can also be used for any furniture transported in a container.

Test Procedure 2C is supported by our drop tester, vertical vibration system, horizontal impact, and inclined impact tester.

 

ISTA 3 Series:

General Simulation Performance Tests.

These series are advanced tests and are designed to provide a laboratory simulation of the damage-producing motions, forces, conditions, and sequences of transport environments. These series are applicable across broad sets of circumstances, such as a variety of vehicle types and routes, as well as a varying number of handling exposures. Among its main characteristics will include simple shaped random vibration, different drop heights applied to the sample package, and/or atmospheric conditioning such as tropical wet or winter/frozen.

> Procedure 3A:

Packaged-Products for Parcel Delivery System Shipments 70kg (150 lb) or Less (standard, small, flat or elongated)

This procedure is a general simulation test for individual packaged-products shipped through a parcel delivery system. Procedure 3A is appropriate for four different types of packages (standard, small, flat and elongated) distributed as individual packages by air or ground.
It must meet three requirements: atmospheric pre-conditioning, random vibration with and without top load, and shock testing.

Test Procedure 3A is supported by our vertical vibration system, drop tester, and vertical vibration + pitch & roll system.

 

You might be interested in: How to attain the ISTA 3A packaging certification

 

> Procedure 3B:

Packaged-Products for Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Shipment

This procedure is a general simulation test for packaged-products shipped through a motor carrier (truck) delivery system, and where different types of packaged-products are mixed in the same load. It is appropriate for four different types of packages: standard 200 Ib or less, standard over 200 Ib, cylindrical and palletized or skidded.

Requirements may include atmospheric conditioning, tip-tipover, shock and impact, random vibration with top load, concentrated impacts, and fork lift handling.

Test Procedure 3B is supported by our horizontal impact, inclined impact tester, vertical vibration system, and drop tester.

> Procedure 3E:

Similar Packaged-Products in Unitized Loads for Truckload Shipment

This procedure is a general simulation test for unitized loads (one or more products on a skid or pallet, but always secured together or restrained for distribution as a single load) of the same retail or institutional packaged-products.

It must meet basic requirements such as atmospheric conditioning, compression, random vibration and shock testing.

Test procedure 3E is supported by our horizontal impact tester, vertical vibration system, inclined impact tester and compression tester.

> Procedure 3F:

Packaged Products for Distribution Center to Retail Outlet Shipment 100 lb (45 kg)

Procedure 3F is a general simulation test for packaged-products of 100 Ib (45kg) or less shipped a part of a mixed pallet load for regional shipment; usually from a distribution center to a retail facility. It needs to meet four requirements: atmospheric conditioning, compression, random vibration and shock testing.

Four of our machines support this procedure: drop tester, compression tester, and vertical vibration system.

> Procedure 3H:

Performance Test for Products or Packaged-Products in Mechanically Handled Bulk Transport Containers

This procedure is a general simulation test for mechanically handled bulk loads. This is made up of one transport container or system consisting of the same product that because of their size and/or weight must be handled by mechanical means.It must meet basic requirements such as atmospheric conditioning, random vibration and shock testing.

Test Procedure 3H is supported by our compression tester, and vertical vibration system.

> Project 3K:

Fast Moving Consumer Goods for the European Retail Supply Chain

This project is a general simulation test focused on fast moving packaged consumer products that are shipped through the multiple-retail supply chain environment in Europe. Project 3K is appropriate for the range of package commonly merchandised through large retailer stores and large retail chain convenience stores, as well as where retailer operations include shipment of store-specific mixed loads in roll cages or as mixed pallets.
It has to meet some basic requirements: atmospheric conditioning, picking (handling), shock, and random vibration.

Project 3K is supported by our vertical vibration system, horizontal impact, and inclined impact tester.

 

ISTA 4 Series:

Enhanced Simulation Performance Tests.

General Simulation test with at least one element of focused simulation, such as test sequence or condition linked to actual known distribution. Project 4AB, an Enhanced Simulation Performance Test, has been released as version 1.0.0 and is currently under further development by ISTA. It closely ties the tests and sequence to a user-defined pattern of distribution and includes current and quantitative information on distribution environment hazards. The Focused Simulation elements are test-tailoring to individual situations, and usage of up-to-date and specific hazard parameters and profiles. Project 4AB is a web-based application to generate customized test plans; most of the complexity will be handled “behind the scenes” without burdening the user.

ISTA 4 Series is supported by vertical vibration + pitch&roll system, inclined impact tester, vertical vibration system, compression tester, drop tester, and horizontal impact.

 

ISTA 5 Series:

Focused Simulation Guides. This is no longer an active series.

 

ISTA 6 Series:

Member Performance Tests. Test protocols to meet their particular purposes and applications created by ISTA members. The tests may be completely original or may be modifications or variations of ISTA Procedures or Projects or other published and accepted tests. ISTA reviews and approves these tests, but primary responsibility rests with the originating members.

> Project 6-AMAZON.COM-SIOC, Ships in Own Container (SIOC) for Amazon.com Distribution System Shipment

This test is for packaged-products shipped by Vendors to Amazon Fulfillment Centers and delivered to final customer destinations. It guarantees the capability of both package and product to support transport risks that usually encountered during handling and transportation.

Our Amazon Lab, formed by a clamp tester, a compression tester, a drop tester, a vertical vibration system and an inclined impact tester, is able to reproduce test procedure ISTA 6-AMAZON.COM-SIOC.

> Project 6-AMAZON.COM-Over Boxing, e-Commerce Fulfillment for Parcel Delivery Shipment

It is a general simulation test for e-commerce fulfillment that comprises an individual retail packaged-product weighing 70 pounds (32kg) or less being placed into a master shipping container (Over Box). This kind of e-commerce fulfillment challenges the packaging and/or products, whether primary package or transport package, ability to withstand the general damage-producing motions, forces, conditions, and sequences of this environment.

Our Amazon Lab, formed by a clamp tester, a compression tester, a drop tester, a vertical vibration system and an inclined impact tester, is able to reproduce test procedure ISTA 6-AMAZON.COM-OB.

> 6-FEDEX-A: FedEx Procedures for Testing Packaged Products Weighing Up to 150 lbs.

General simulation procedures for testing packaged products that weight up to 150 Ibs. Testing requirements include various combinations of the following tests: free-fall drops, concentrated impacts, bridge impacts, compression, rotary vibration, and random vibration.

6 FEDEX-A is supported by our drop tester, compression tester, and vertical vibration system.

> 6-FEDEX-B: FedEx Procedures for Testing Packaged Products Weighing Over 150 lbs.

General simulation procedures for testing packaged products weighing more than 150 Ibs. Testing requirements include various combinations of the following tests: side impacts, bottom impacts, raised edge impacts, raised edge impacts, tip tests, compression, rotary vibration, and random vibration.

6 FEDEX-B is supported by our drop tester, compression tester, inclined impact tester, and vertical vibration system.

> Project 6-SAMSCLUB, Packaged-Products for Sam’s Club® Distribution System Shipment

ISTA 6-SAMSCLUB was developed by ISTA together with Sam’s Club. It is a general simulation test for packaged-products shipped through the Sam’s Club distribution system to final destinations in the U.S.

Our drop tester, vertical vibration system, compression tester, inclined impact tester, clamp tester, and horizontal impact support ISTA 6-SAMSCLUB.

 

ISTA 7 Series:

Development Tests. These tests are used in the development of transport packages. They can be used to compare relative performance of two or more container designs, but are not intended to evaluate the protection afforded packaged-products.

> Procedure 7A, 7B and 7C have been discontinued from this series

> Procedure 7D: Temperature Test for Transport Packaging

This procedure is a development test that evaluates the effects of external temperature exposures of individual packaged-products. It is designed to measure the relative ability of a package to protect a product when it is exposed to test cycles of temperature conditions.
Procedure 7D must meet with atmospheric conditioning.

> Standard 7E:

Testing Standard for Thermal Transport Packaging Used in Parcel Delivery System Shipment
This ISTA standard is designed to evaluate the effects that external temperature exposures of individual packaged-products shipped through a parcel delivery system. Standard 7E is specifically designed to be used with Standard 20.

 

ISTA Process Standards

 

> Standard 20.

ISTA Standard 20 is a design and qualification process that provides the structure and path to design, test, verify and independently certify a specific Insulated Shipping Container (ISC) for use. Included with Standard 20 is the Standard 7E set of global thermal profiles for testing thermal transport packaging used in parcel delivery system shipments.

Responsible Packaging by Design (RPbD) Guide.

The RPbD Guide is a step-by-step process management standard for the design, testing, and qualification of responsible packaging that meets industry, consumer, and regulatory expectations.

The process provides a framework and guidance for evaluating two or more different packages to:

-provide appropriate packaging for protecting the product and performing all the other functions of a packaging system;

-consider product enhancements to reduce packaging requirements;

-minimize product waste through the prevention of damage or spoilage;

-optimize use of materials, energy, and water in production, distribution, and use;

-maximize recovery of materials and energy from used packaging.

The protocol provides a data-driven procedure for analyzing packaging systems throughout the life cycle. Eight steps guide the package designer in a Stage-Gate Process, with each stage accompanied by a template to help users gather data and navigate the process.