There are multiple factors that can condition the safety of a load and the integrity of its protective packaging. Performing load testing implies taking into account how these hazards may affect the packaging+product system, to then plan safer systems. 

Here we tell you what load testing is and the advantages of performing it, and we share examples of the most suitable load tests for certain specific industries. 

 

What is load testing?

Load testing consists of a series of tests and simulations related to the unforeseen circumstances that might threaten the integrity of a load and packaging during the distribution cycle. 

The companies that perform these load tests can obtain information that allows them to design a safe packaging that is able to withstand these hazards. 

Stress testing can be used to evaluate the performance of a package in the face of two types of hazards: 

  • Mechanical hazards, such as shock, vibrations, drops or compression. 
  • Environmental hazards, which might threaten a package and its durability, such as an excessive humidity or extreme temperatures.

This means that load testing is aimed at testing the packaging+product system in a lab setting to ensure that it will be able to withstand these conditions and circumstances before sending it off to the real distribution cycle.

vibration stability

 

Advantages of Load Testing

Packaging has become an essential element beyond its use for aesthetics and branding. Defective or inadequate packaging can lead to economic losses, in addition to unhappy customers. This is why companies that design either primary, secondary or –particularly– tertiary packaging are aware of the importance of stress test application to guarantee that the goods arrive in perfect condition after traversing the distribution cycle.

Stress test application is recommended for any company whose business model depends on the transportation of goods, with load testing being essential for palletized load units. 

Several methods exist to perform load testing – that we will see further down –, which enable companies to gain a number of benefits, such as:

Cost reduction

Load tests allow companies to study and optimize their packaging in order to find the most cost-effective solution. 

As a result, they prevent underpackaging (incurring costs due to shrinkage during the distribution cycle) and overpackaging (using too much or expensive material).

Greater safety

Undertaking load testing protocols allows companies to guarantee that the chosen packaging is suitable to protect the goods from the moment a product leaves the factory until it arrives at the end consumer. 

In addition to the financial benefits mentioned above, this also implies a better brand image. Thus, it is an intangible benefit in a landscape of increasingly competitive and globalized markets.

Regulation & standard compliance

The transportation of goods is governed by a series of national and international regulations, in addition to standards and other initiatives, such as the Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging program.

Load tests and stress testing enable companies to guarantee that their product + packaging systems comply with these regulations and standards. 

Better sustainability

The optimization that load testing implies not only offers economic benefits, but also drives companies to generate sustainable and eco-friendly packaging. 

This, in turn, translates into the ability to comply with new sustainability regulations and a better brand image in the eye of consumers that are increasingly aware and informed. 

 

Discover the most used testing methods to achieve load stability during the distribution cycle 

 

Load testing best practices

The purpose of load testing must be to study a product+packaging system in depth. To achieve this, it is necessary to focus this study on at least 3 levels:

  • Lab testing: studying the overall packaging to certify that it is able to withstand the hazards detected in a specific distribution cycle.
  • Materials testing: these tests determine whether the chosen materials are the most suitable to guarantee the safety of a load, while also focusing on cost savings. 
  • Testing for comfortable handling: companies should also test whether the designed packaging allows for comfortable transportation and storage. Here it is, for example, possible to optimize the size of the packaging so that it occupies the smallest possible volume, while allowing for stacking without succumbing to compression forces.

 

Load testing methods for your business

Any company that decides to perform load testing protocols must first analyze the specific characteristics of its products, along with the route that they will follow during transportation.

There are specific tests that are associated with different means of transportation:

  • Stress testing for sea freight must take into account how moisture and salt can affect the chosen packaging, which is why it is recommended to apply environmental conditioning during testing. Furthermore, it is common for drops, shock and movements to occur, making it useful to perform impact tests and drop tests. 
  • For road and rail transportation, in addition to the possibility of environmental conditioning for the chosen route, it is essential to perform a vibration simulation
  • For airfreight, the simulation of atmospheric pressure is a must. 

In addition, there are certain materials and specific industries that are linked to specific load testing protocols:

  • It is recommended for companies that are planning to transport their products in cardboard boxes to perform several specific tests, including the Edge Crush Test, Burst Strength test and Puncture Resistance test.
  • For medical packaging testing, the recommendation is to perform tests to verify the sealing force, a test to confirm the packaging sterility, a package service life test and testing under extreme environmental conditions.
  • In the food industry, it is common to use flexible packaging, which requires a few tests, such as Tear testing, Friction testing, width testing, Hot tack testing, Hot seal testing, Bending stiffness and resistance testing. In addition to these tests, flexible packaging can also be subjected to transport simulation testing.
  • Container freight also requires specific tests. These include extreme temperature tests, container seal integrity testing and transport simulations.

Are you looking to apply load testing in your business? At Safe Load Testing Technologies we put our track-record of two decades in the packaging optimization sector at your service. Our simulation and testing solutions will allow you to obtain an optimized, safe packaging while reducing your costs. Contact us and let’s talk about how we can help you. 

Load stability guide