Freight containers have significantly evolved during the last few years, with an industry committed to improving the efficacy and safety of this type of transport. Container testing solutions offer the means to prevent damages to the goods and ensure that they will arrive at destination risk-free. 


The evolution of freight containers

Despite sea freight dating back millennia, it was only in the 20th century that freight container technology emerged.

What we know today as a container made its first appearance in 1955, as the result of a collaboration between shipping magnate Malcom McLean and engineer Keith Tantlinger. McLean was looking for a standardized solution that would enable the direct loading of large cargo units that could be easily moved on trucks and ships.

This is how the freight container and intermodal freight transportation were born, which have simplified processes, allowing the advancement of global trade. During the last few years, container technology has advanced to the point of allowing for a safe and effective transportation for various types of goods.  

Container types and uses

‘Flat rack’. The sides of this type of container can be folded, which makes them perfect to ship boats, large equipment and cars. 

‘Open side’. This type allows doors to be fully opened, facilitating the loading of large materials. 

‘Open top’. ‘Open top’ containers have no roof, allowing for the shipping of goods of any height, such as machinery. 

Refrigerated containers, also known as Reefers, were designed to allow for a risk-free transportation of pharmaceuticals and food. 


How to test the effectiveness of containers: container testing solutions

Container testing solutions aim to guarantee the maximum safety in the transportation of goods when moving containers. 

The most important tests are those used to find out the protective ability of the container against extreme temperatures, in addition to the container closure integrity testing. The transportation simulations that mimic the hazards resulting from the distribution cycle are also essential. 

In this regard, there are different standards that attempt to homogenize container testing: 

ASTM D4169-16: Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems. The purpose of this standard is to forecast damages that may take place when stacking containers, as a result of vehicle vibrations, environmental hazards (humidity, heat, etc.), low pressure or impacts. This standard offers a guideline for the testing of shipping units as per a uniform system, using testing methods that are representative of the conditions that take place during the real distribution. Recommended testing levels are based on available information regarding the shipping & handling, and on the current practice and experience of the industry / government.

ASTM D4728-17: Standard Test Method for Random Vibration Testing of Shipping Containers. This test is part of the family of vibration simulations. In this case, the tests focus on the possible damages that vibrations may cause on the goods inside the containers. This testing method covers the random vibration testing of full shipping units. These tests can be used to evaluate the performance of a container, along with its internal packaging and closure systems, in regard to its resistance and the protection that it offers to its contents when subjected to random vibration inputs.

ASTM D5276-19: Standard Test Method for Drop Test of Loaded Containers by Free Fall provides guidelines for drop tests to ensure containers against this type of incident. This testing method is designed to evaluate the ability of a container to withstand the sudden shock resulting from a free fall impact, or to evaluate the ability of a container and its internal packages to protect their contents during a sudden shock resulting from a free fall impact. This testing method can also be used to compare the performance of different package designs. This testing method can also allow for the observation of the progressive failure of a container and the damage to its contents.


It is particularly suitable for containers that are normally handled manually at a certain point of their distribution cycle. This testing method covers the procedures for drop tests of loaded boxes, cylindrical containers and bags and sacks via a free fall method.

Organizations such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Convention for Safe Containers (CSC) also offer international testing standards for testing containers.  

Container testing is performed using representative units of the type of container that will be used, in addition to the goods that will be transported inside it, so that simulations are as close to real conditions as possible. 

Performing the tests contained in different standards requires container testing solutions that cater to those standards and guarantee that containers are ready to fulfill their role. 

At Safe Load TT we offer ad hoc machinery that allows for the forecasting of any contingency that may take place during transportation as per international standards.

This being the case, for example, our Drop Testers and vertical vibration tables are especially designed to comply with international container testing standards

Get in touch with us to find out more about our container testing solutions.

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