The drop test or free fall test is one of the most applied tests in the industry of transport simulation and packaging optimization. This test allows us to know how a vertical drop can affect the integrity of the packaging and the goods inside. As such, it provides information for the packaging’s design or redesign and confirms whether it is adequate to withstand the risks of the distribution cycle or not.
We analyze the benefits of performing a drop test, how it should be carried out and what standards require it, and some other information.
What is a drop test and why should you carry it out
A drop test, or free fall test, simulates vertical and rotational impacts that can put goods at risk in the context of a distribution cycle, mainly during handling and storage.
The drop impact test is performed in a laboratory context using Drop Tester machines. These are simulation systems with a series of features that make them indispensable to comply with numerous international standards.
Conducting this test is an essential step for distribution and marketing companies to ensure the safety of loads during transport.
The main reason to carry out a package drop test is therefore to obtain information that allows designing a suitable packaging and securing the goods during transport. This results in the reduction of unnecessary costs or loss due to damage.
Likewise, the image of the company is improved, since customers will be able to receive their purchases in optimum conditions at their destination.
What drop test standards are there?
Drop test standards involve a series of safety protocols that, at an international level, include this type of test among their regulations. Ultimately, meeting these shipping testing standards allows companies to ensure that their product-packaging systems are ready to face the risks of the distribution cycle.
Among these standards, the following stand out:
ISTA drop test
Numerous ISTA protocols include the drop test among the tests to be performed. As such, there are two types:
- The Free Fall Test, which involves dropping the unit load in different orientations and at various heights, depending on the weight of the load.
- The Impact tests, in which a dense box is used on which the package to be tested is dropped.
The standards that include this test are ISTA Procedures 1A, B, C, D, G, H; 2A, B, C; 3A, B, F; K; 4 Series; 6-FEDEX;6-SAMSCLUB, 6-AMAZON.COM.
This multinational company tries to guarantee that its shipments arrive safe and sound to the final customer by applying a series of simulation protocols, among which is the drop impact test. In this case, the organization applies the ISTA 3A series.
FedEx drop test
Another leader of intercontinental express shipments, which secures its goods through the application of a package drop test. In this case, they have developed a series of their own protocols known as ISTA-6-FEDEX-A, which must take place before shipping.
Other drop test standards
In addition to ISTA, other organizations include the drop impact test among their protocols, including:
- EN 15552:2008 Packaging: Complete, filled transport packages and unit loads. Performance testing schedules for common distribution chains.
- ASTM D4169-16 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.
What is the drop test procedure?
In order to carry out the drop test procedure, a series of steps must be followed:
- Choosing the sample. The sample must be representative of a lot and should therefore be chosen at random from identical product-packaging systems.
- Determining the appropriate surface to perform the test. Drop Tester equipment includes a platform specially designed to comply with international regulations. The model for smaller goods also allows obstacles to be placed on which the load impacts and includes a release mechanism so that the leaves do not interfere with free fall.
- Dropping the unit. The different drop test standards determine in their regulations how many times and from what height loads should be dropped. For instance, the standard would include the repetition of the drop 10 times from a height of 76cm for packages weighing between 1 and 9 kg.
- Testing all angles of the unit. This is an essential step, as there are more fragile places, such as joints, on which it is necessary to carry out a test in a specific way. To do this, the unit is rotated so that it falls over the desired area.
- Checking the state of the goods inside. This is the stage in which the protective capacity of the packaging is verified or discarded. On the one hand, the appearance of small deformations in the packaging is considered normal. On the other hand, if considerable damage has occurred, the packaging system must be redesigned so that it is capable of protecting the goods inside.
Which companies should carry out a drop test?
The drop test is recommended for any company that markets or distributes goods and is concerned about their integrity during the distribution cycle. Generally, it is a common test for goods transported in cardboard boxes.
In order to carry out the package drop test there are two alternatives: hiring the services of a simulation laboratory or creating your own testing and validation laboratory. There are a series of criteria that help to choose between the different options, as well as to find the appropriate laboratory for the simulation needs of each company.
Ultimately, however, it is the different situations and contexts of each company that will determine which is the best alternative. It is common in this sense to take into account the calculation of ROI (Return of Investment) to make sure the right decision is made.
In other words, can the company save costs in the medium and long term if it invests in a drop test team? In many cases, the answer is yes.
In any case, the package drop test is imposed as an essential test that guarantees that the goods arrive safe and sound at their destination, avoiding unnecessary costs and generating satisfied customers.
At Safe Load Testing Technologies, we have been working together with companies for more than two decades to achieve the safe transport of their goods through transport simulation equipment.
Get in touch with us and we will study the best option for your company.