A acceleration test for packaging is one of the essential transportation simulation tests to calculate the hazards that a load is subject to during its distribution cycle.

Accelerated stability studies allow you to determine the ability that a package has to protect the products being transported. These studies include the accelerated stability testing of pharmaceuticals.

There are certain stability testing guidelines that you should follow to comply with international standards and regulations that include acceleration tests.

Acceleration test for packaging: what it is

During transportation, loads are constantly the subject of decelerations and accelerations. A bad cargo securing practice can not only lead to damaged goods during transportation, but also endanger road safety and cause accidents.

In order to avoid this, packaging acceleration tests have been implemented during the last few years. These tests subject the loads being transported to sudden accelerations so as to later measure any deformations in the load.

Acceleration tests for packaging subject the cargo to sudden accelerations to measure any deformations in the load.

The purpose of accelerated stability testing is to guarantee a stable load, so that it remains secured during transportation. For this reason, it is usual to perform stability studies using cargo lashing (slings, chains, stops, etc.), making the test mimic reality as much as possible.

Accelerated stability studies allow for the measurement of two things:

  • The protective capability of the packaging to protect the product from damage during transportation.
  • The cargo stability, so that it remains in place during transportation.

What rules are there for accelerated stability testing?

Cargo stability has become a priority for many organizations and associations, which have established stability testing guidelines.

One of the reasons for performing accelerated stability studies is that their importance has been proven in preventing not only economic losses due to product shrinkage during transportation, but also road accidents.

For this reason, just like other guidelines related to cargo transportation safety, a series of rules and guidelines have been established in relation to horizontal stability testing.

Accelerated stability testing is specified in the following guidelines, royal decrees and procedures:

1. Royal Decree 563/2017 Annex III

This is a Spanish regulation (available here) that regulates accelerated stability through roadside technical inspections of commercial vehicles (national or international) driving across Spanish territory.

This Royal Decree incorporates Directive 2003/26/EC of the European Commission to the Spanish law.

Its Annex III outlines that the cargo securing equipment must withstand the following forces generated by the vehicle’s acceleration/deceleration:

  • Forward, the weight of the load multiplied by 0.8
  • Laterally, the weight of the load multiplied by 0.5
  • Rearward, the weight of the load multiplied by 0.5
  • It should prevent the longitudinal and transversal inclination of the load.

2. EUMOS 40509. Test method for load unit rigidity

This is a testing method included among stability studies that is applied to load units that may be subject to horizontal accelerations of 0 to 2g.

This regulation affects all companies that distribute their products on the road in European Union countries.

Download our free guide to comply with the requirements and testing methods of EUMOS 40509.

In this guide, we tell you about the current situation regarding cargo safety during transportation, all the details on the EUMOS 40509 testing methods, and what technology is required to perform them.

3. The European Best Practice Guidelines on Cargo Securing

This guide, which deals with acceleration test for packaging, explains how to optimally secure the load, and the acceleration forces that must be withstood by the side and rear doors of the transport.

4. US FMCSA cargo securement requirements

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) is the administration that defines the rules that cargos that are transported within the USA must comply with. In regard to stability, it establishes that a load must withstand the following acceleration/deceleration forces:

  • 0.8g deceleration in the forward direction;
  • 0.5g acceleration in the rearward direction; and
  • 0.5g acceleration in the lateral direction

These regulations offer stability testing guidelines to guarantee transportation safety and the stability of the load in case of braking or sudden accelerations. Overall, the goal is to protect road safety against accidents caused by poor cargo securing.

Stability testing guidelines: steps for an acceleration test

Acceleration tests are performed through the use of horizontal stability testers.

The standards explain the stability testing guidelines and how to perform the tests in a way that they comply with the standards.

In general, the performance of these tests involves following several steps:  

  • The load is placed on a mobile platform in the horizontal stability tester.
  • The cargo is secured in the same way as it will be during transportation.
  • The platform rapidly accelerates for a short period of time (usually 300 ms).
  • The platform is slowly stopped to avoid affecting the deformation caused by the acceleration.

The stability test can also be performed to calculate the effects of deceleration. The test is performed by accelerating smoothly and suddenly braking (for 300 ms)

Accelerated stability testing can analyze the deformation of the load during the test (elastic deformation) and after the test (plastic deformation). In order to pass the test, these deformations must not exceed the pre-established limits.

Horizontal stability test: the accelerated stability machine

Safe Load’s horizontal stability tester, named innSlide, allows for the performance of horizontal stability tests in accordance with international guidelines and standards.

Safe Load’s machine is composed of a mobile platform on which the load to be tested is placed. This mobile platform is driven by an electric servo motor.

Operated with user-friendly controls, Safe Load’s horizontal stability tester allows for the performance of acceleration and deceleration tests.

In addition, Safe Load’s machine has several features that set it apart from other similar machines on the market:

  • Safe Load Testing Technologies’ machine is customizable, which means that it is possible to design a machine that is tailored to each company.

We adapt the weight and length of the load to be studied depending on the needs of each client, and we can offer a greater length for those laboratories that need more accommodating specifications for their tests.

This was the case of ITENE, who contacted us to manufacture a machine tailored to their needs. As a result, we created an ad hoc machine capable of performing acceleration tests of up to 1.2g.

  • Safe Load’s horizontal stability tester also has an advanced mode that allows for combined acceleration tests.

This means that it is possible to program the machine to perform roundabout tests with pre-defined accelerations or decelerations, sine tests, complex acceleration profiles and more.

  • Safe Load’s machine allows operators to define a testing acceleration with a precision of up to 2 decimals, and it also allows them to configure the acceleration time as required.

At Safe Load we put our track record of two decades in the packaging industry at your service. We can advise you and guide you through all the processes for you to perform the horizontal stability tests as per the regulations in effect and with safety as a priority.

Get in touch with us and we will find the solution to your packaging needs.