The importance of impact testing in today’s globalized, highly competitive landscape is undeniable: it can make the difference between a company that is successful in transporting its products, and one that is not.

Impacts experienced during the distribution cycle can be associated with a number of causes, including methods that are nowadays widespread such as the mechanical handling of pallets and other large containers (as typically found in sea freight).

On one hand, we have drops from significant height resulting from mechanical handling as well as small drops caused by manual handling. On the other, accelerations, decelerations and hard braking can be experienced during transportation, leading to other types of impacts

In the face of these hazards, companies have learned the value of prevention. Implementing an impact load test protocol allows you to study the type of damages caused by these contingencies on the goods to be transported. In this way, it is possible to characterize and design a packaging that is suitable for the distribution cycle, capable of withstanding the impacts. 

We analyze the main impact testing methods (impact resistance test and drop impact test) and study their importance in today’s competitive landscape.


What is impact testing?

Impact load test is a simulation of the most common impacts experienced by goods during the distribution cycle, performed in a laboratory setting. These impacts include product drops from various heights, impacts between products during transportation or shock against other objects.

The goods are subject to a series of impact and/or drop tests, allowing you to predict how the potential impacts related to their transportation and storage will affect the load. 

The importance of impact testing therefore stems from the ability of these tests to determine how much energy a material is able to absorb when impacted, with the purpose of obtaining an exact measurement of its resistance or fragility against this impact.

To perform these tests, there are several transport simulation solutions on the market, such as the impact simulation machines and drop testers, which offer accurate and reliable data for the optimization of the package.


Load stability guide

Advantages: the importance of impact testing

The ability of impact load tests to quantify the damages caused by impacts, shocks and accelerations translates into a series of benefits for the companies.

The main advantage is that, through the information collected after performing the tests, companies are able to design suitable packaging to protect the goods. This, in turn, implies a reduction of costs arising from shrinkage and a better brand image before the end consumer.

In addition, impact testing can also reduce your packaging costs by identifying suitable protection levels and materials since their design phase, reducing the amount of waste linked to over-packaging. During this packaging characterization phase, many companies research new, more sustainable and recyclable materials with the purpose of minimizing their footprint on the environment.

Lastly, performing impact resistance tests allows companies to compare several samples and repeat the tests as many times as necessary to obtain an optimized packaging. The repeatability of the tests is a very important factor for companies that transport large volumes of goods, such as UPS or FedEx, which have designed their own drop test protocols in collaboration with ISTA. 


Find out more about the impact tests of UPS and Fedex


Types of impact tests

Drop test

Drop impact tests simulate vertical drops caused both by manual and automated product handling.

The simulation consists of dropping the goods from a specific height onto an impact surface (usually the floor), so that its resistance to the drop can be ascertained. 

This drop can be performed vertically, though machines such as the Drop Tester can also be configured to simulate edge and corner drops.

Some standards that include the drop weight impact test are ISO 2248, ASTM D5276, ASTM D6179 and ISTA 3A.

Impact tests

There are four types of impact load tests:

  • Having the goods impact a surface at a specific speed. 
  • Keeping the sample stationary and strike it with a moving object. 
  • Cause the impact through the use of a machine that simulates pendular motions. 
  • Mount the sample to be tested on a dolly and then slam the dolly against a surface at a specific speed. In this case, the dolly may move along a horizontal surface or at a slope. This imitates the impacts that commonly take place during the transportation of goods.

There are a number of solutions on the market to perform these simulations, such as the Inclined impact tester and the Horizontal impact tester, which allow for the simulation of the horizontal shocks that affect the safety of the loads. 

horizontal impact testHorizontal impact tester: allows for the simulation of the most important shocks and impacts that affect a load’s safety and stability. Furthermore, it allows for the simulation of the accelerations and decelerations experienced by the goods during transportation and for analyzing how the load behaves so as to subsequently optimize its packaging. To this end, the load is placed on the dolly and accelerates in a controlled manner until it hits the impact surface.


Inclined impact tester: evaluates the ability of loads to withstand horizontal impacts or compression forces due to gravity. In order to perform the inclined impact test, the load is placed on a dolly that slides along a steel track due to gravity, since the track is at a 10º slope, and finally strikes the impact surface.



There are some impact test standards that include these simulations, such as ASTM D880, ASTM D4004, ISO 2244 and ASTM D5277.

If you are aware of the importance of impact testing in protecting your goods during shipping & handling, we invite you to learn more about our transport simulation solutions, which you can use to perform impact load tests and drop impact tests.

At Safe Load Testing Technologies, we have been helping companies optimize their packaging for two decades. Get in touch with us and let’s talk about how we can help you.

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