ASTM International is one of the biggest voluntary standards developing organizations in the world. They are a not-for-profit organization that provides a forum for the development and publication of international voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems and services. Their volunteer members represent producers, users, consumers, government, and academia from more than 140 countries. They develop technical documents that are the basis of manufacturing, management, procurement, codes and regulations for dozens of industry sectors.
At the same time, many of these standards are aimed at packaging testing in order to achieve a safe transport. Keep reading to take a look at ASTM Standards and their main testing methods.
What are ASTM Standards?
ASTM Standards are produced by volunteer members belonging to one or more standards-writing committees, each of which covers a subject area such as steel, petroleum, medical devices, consumer products, nanotechnology, additive manufacturing and many more.
These committees develop a list with more than 12,000 ASTM standards found on their site and in the 80-volume Annual Book of ASTM Standards. A number of these are ASTM packaging testing methods.
ASTM has over 30,000 volunteer members from more than 140 countries around the world who are producers, users, consumers and general interest parties. These members write ASTM standards through their service on one or more of our 140-plus technical committees. It is these members who decide which standards development activities to pursue. Anyone interested in the field covered by a committee’s scope is eligible to become a committee member.
ASTM Standards for Packaging and Distribution Environments: why are they so important?
ASTM Standards for Packaging and Distribution Environments are essential to guarantee the safety of goods during the distribution cycle, while also providing reliable information for clients about their packaging providers. The importance those testing method lies in that they are an unquestionable way for companies to optimize their packaging to withstand the hazards of the distribution cycle, ensuring their packaging quality and providing safe transportation.
Apart from ASTM standards, there are a number of other testing methods and shipping standards elaborated by other international associations, that work in order to guarantee the integrity of goods during transportation and allow companies to optimize their packaging. In fact, companies may hesitate between which standards to comply with, particularly in the decision between ISTA and ASTM standards.
Although companies are not required to perform these testing methods, it is advisable that they submit their merchandise to them, in order to avoid economic losses due to a poor material and packaging choice or poor load securing.
ASTM Standards for packaging and distribution
> ASTM E23-16b Standard Test Methods for Notched Bar Impact Testing of Metallic Materials
These test methods of impact testing relate specifically to the behavior of metal when subjected to a single application of a force resulting in multi-axial stresses associated with a notch, coupled with high rates of loading and in some cases with high or low temperatures. For some materials and temperatures, the results of impact tests on notched specimens, when correlated with service experience, have been found to predict the likelihood of brittle fracture accurately.
> ASTM D4169 – 16 Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems
This practice provides a uniform basis of evaluating, in a laboratory, the ability of shipping units to withstand the distribution environment. This is accomplished by subjecting them to a test plan consisting of a sequence of anticipated hazard elements encountered in various distribution cycles. This practice is not intended to supplant material specifications or existing preshipment test procedures.
ASTM D4169 determines different test protocols depending on the distribution cycle and is the client who decides which one is best suited to his needs. This standard proposes 18 different distribution cycles depending on the type of load and the type of transport.
Within each distribution cycle, the tests are specified according to the distribution cycle, vibration tests, impacts, falls, compression and/or pressure. Also, each test determines the assurance level which defines the intensity level based on the probability of an accident during the distribution cycle.
Safe Load’s Compression Tester, Drop Tester, Vertical Vibration System, Horizontal Impact, and Inclined Impact Tester support ASTM D4169 Standard practice for performance testing of shipping containers and systems.
> ASTM D7386-16 Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Packages for Single Parcel Delivery System
This practice provides a uniform basis of evaluating, in a laboratory, the ability of shipping units, weighing up to but not exceeding 150 lb (68 kg), intended for the single parcel delivery system to withstand the hazards associated with the distribution environment. This is accomplished by subjecting them to a test plan consisting of a sequence of anticipated hazard elements encountered in the distribution cycles. This practice is not intended to supplant material specifications or existing pre-shipment test procedures.
Safe Load’s Drop Tester supports ASTM D7386 Standard practice for performance testing of packages for single parcel delivery system.
> ASTM D996 Standard Terminology of Packaging and Distribution Environments
The ASTM D996 protocol presents a series of technical definitions that are universally used and understood in packaging and distribution environments. The ASTM D996 guide is organized so that each ASTM definition is grouped according to thematic groups. Within these groups, terms appear in alphabetical order.
> ASTM D642 Standard Test Method for Determining Compressive Resistance of Shipping Containers, Components, and Unit Loads
A standard testing method to determine the resistance to compression of shipping containers, components and load units; in other words, to determine the protective ability of the package when faced with compressive forces.
In order to do so, it outlines the methods to perform a compression test and apply the compression forces on the package diagonally (edge-to-edge) or top-to-bottom, simulating what happens when boxes are stacked. The standard works with different shipping containers, including boxes, buckets and drums, etc.
> ASTM D4728 – 17 Standard Test Method for Random Vibration Testing of Shipping Containers
The standard outlines the performance of vibration testing on a shipping container with the purpose of testing the way in which it reacts to this force. The standard describes the test methods for random vibration testing standards in order to simulate the vibrations that take place during the distribution cycle, which can affect both the container and the packaging, as well as the sealing and the products being transported.
This test enables the analysis of how vibrations make these components interact, creating the appropriate resonances within a shipping container and the load that it contains, as would happen in a distribution scenario.
> ASTM D5276 Standard Test Method for Drop Test of Loaded Containers by Free Fall
It provides a protocol for testing the strength and protective ability of packaged products when exposed to a sudden shock resulting from a free-fall impact. This standard is mainly used for full boxes, cylindrical packaging, bags and sacks, particularly for those containers that, due to their size or weight, are manually handled during the distribution cycle.
Keep reading: about ASTM D5276 on Safe Load’s blog
> ASTM D4919 -17 Standard Guide for Testing of Hazardous Materials (Dangerous Goods) Packagings
This standard identifies the information required to pass the United Nations (UN) packaging certification, covering the test procedures for transportation of hazardous material packagings for net masses.
The exceptions include packaging used for infectious substances, radioactive materials, cylinders, and other receptacles for gases. The procedure includes a drop test, a leakproofness test, a stack test, a vibration test, a pressure differential test, a hydrostatic pressure test, and a cobb water absorption test.
> ASTM D7387 Standard Test Method for Vibration Testing of Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) Used for Shipping Liquid Hazardous Materials (Dangerous Goods)
A vibration test method aimed at shipping containers exposed to complex dynamic stresses caused by vibration present in transportation vehicles. The standard aims to identificate critical frequencies and the nature of package stress in order to prevent the failure of the container and spillage or leakage of contents
> ASTM D4169 Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems
The standard evaluates shipping units following a uniform system and using established test methods at levels representative of those occurring in actual distribution environments. Thus, it presents a series of tests to be performed sequentially on the same containers in the order given. The test might also be used for package development.
> ASTM D7386 Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Packages for Single Parcel Delivery Systems
The standard provides a uniform system to evaluate shipping units using established test methods at levels representative of those occurring in actual distribution. In order to do so, it gives out instructions to subject them to a test plan consisting of a sequence of anticipated hazard elements encountered in various distribution cycles.
Does your company need to comply with ASTM Standards? At Safe Load Testing Technologies we share our decades-long experience in transport simulation standards and equipment with companies that need to optimize and validate their packaging. Get in touch with us and find out about how we can help you.