It is common for goods to be vertically stacked during transportation and storage, which endangers their integrity due to the added weight. The ASTM D642 standard analyzes a package’s ability to protect the goods against compression forces, being therefore essential to guarantee their safety.

 

What is ASTM D642?

The ASTM D642 standard is 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. It measures the resistance to compression of different types of packages and load units, as well as components when facing the compression forces that the load might experience during the distribution cycle. Shipping containers to be analyzed include different types such as boxes, buckets and drums, etc. 

This ASTM standard 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.

 

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Who it is aimed at and its benefits

This standard by ASTM international can be performed with two purposes: on one hand, it measures whether the shipping container complies with the requirements of the standard; and on the other, this test can be used to compare the results between two different shipping systems to choose the most appropriate. This allows the packaging to be studied in order to find a long-lasting, protecting solution. 

Therefore, any large e-commerce company, logistics company, automated warehouse or distribution platform could include this standard among its ASTM standards to perform, in order to guarantee the safety of the goods during the distribution cycle.

As a result, the standard offers relevant information to ensure that the weight of the stacked units will not degrade the ability of a container to effectively protect its contents.

The main benefit of performing this test is obtaining an optimized packaging (whether a box, bucket, drum, etc.) so that the products that they contain remain undamaged during transportation or storage, and arrive in mint condition to their final destination. 

This optimization results in multiple benefits, both economic (reduction of costs related to shrinkage) and related to safety (foreseeing potential accidents related to an unsafe load). 

 

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ASTM D642 requirements and procedure

The ASTM D642 testing protocol can be performed on the container itself, on its components or on the entire system. In addition, you may opt to include the goods inside the testing unit.

Likewise, the company could decide to apply environmental conditions during the compression test, such as temperature, humidity and altitude, so that it resembles as much as possible the real transportation conditions that the load will have to endure. 

In order to guarantee the validity of the data, ASTM recommends performing this test up to 5 times. In all cases, the procedure will be as follows:

  1. Place the sample at the bottom of the compression tester.
  2. Apply the desired compression force on the sample, following the protocol’s specifications at a constant rate. 
  3. The test continues until the sample fails or the required compression force is reached.

Furthermore, the test report will need to include the following information:

  • Shipping container specifications, including internal dimensions, the description of the products to be transported and the weight of the full container. 
  • Results of each of the tests performed on the sample, specifying any damages to the container and its contents, the type of failure and tables indicating the individual maximum load and deformation. 
  • Information of the equipment in use (manufacturer, model and technical specifications) and information detailing how the compression test was performed (chosen orientation or type of pre-load applied to the sample).

Machines required for this test

The ASTM D642 testing protocol requires a compression tester that can apply the force and speed outlined in the protocol. In addition, the machine must include a test controller that can display and register a load-position curve. 

The innPress compression tester  family is designed to test how packaging responds to compression forces as per these specifications. 

All models have an intuitive design with different pre-established testing modes:

  • Constant compression rate: apply an increasingly higher compression force until the unit being tested fails. 
  • Apply and hold: forces are applied to the load and the pressure is maintained, in order to test the resistance against these situations. Through this test, the compressometer offers a simulation of the type of hazard that might be experienced by a package when load units are stacked for a given amount of time.
  • Apply and release: compression forces are applied to a load and then released, verifying whether the package has resisted.

The machine measures the displacement of the compression platen through a linear encoder with micrometric precision and the force with a load cell. These two technologies can meet the precision demands of international standards. 

The machines by Safe Load TT are also outfitted with intuitive controls through the use of a touchscreen, which allows operators to easily perform the test and control all variables, generating an automated report at the end of the test. 

Do you want to be ASTM D642 compliant? At Safe Load Testing Technologies we can help by putting our know-how and experience in the packaging simulation industry at your service. Contact us and let’s talk about how we can help you. 

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