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When evaluating the resistance of packages and containers filled with goods, there are different standards that can be used to test their performance under real conditions. One of the most widespread tests in this regard is called ASTM D4169, which is considered to be the common practice in the field of container and shipping system performance tests. In this article we will discuss this standard and explain how you can comply with its requirements.

ASTM D4169: what it is

ASTM D4169 is a practice that provides a uniform base to evaluate in a laboratory the ability that shipping units have to withstand the shipping environment. To this end, loads are subjected to specific hazards that may arise during the various distribution cycles, in order to learn about their behavior in the face of specific situations and correct potential problems as a result.

Within the ASTM standards list, D4169 outlines different testing protocols based on the distribution cycle, and it is the client who decides which resembles his own the most. This standard proposes 18 different distribution cycles based on the type of load, as well as the type of transport. Within each of these types, the tests to be performed are established based on the hazards that the load is exposed to depending on the distribution cycle, vibration tests, impacts, falls, compression and pressure.

Each of these tests determines the so-called “assurance level”, which is the level of intensity that based on the probability that an incident occurs during the distribution cycle.

ASTM D4169 is a practice that provides a uniform base to evaluate in a laboratory the ability that shipping units have to withstand the shipping environment

ASTM D4169: standards and procedures

This procedure arose from the need to create a real simulation of the package shipping & handling environment. It works as a guide to evaluate the suitability of packaging systems with the purpose of testing their capabilities and level of protection under the same conditions as those under which they are to be shipped.

Achieving better-protected shipments

By applying the ASTM D4169 standard, shipments are better protected, preventing damages to the goods and reducing costs. Therefore, it affects all companies that are concerned about optimizing they loads during the distribution cycles.

Even though companies are not required to perform this procedure, it is advisable for them to do so in order to prevent economic losses due to shrinkage, over-packaging, etc. Furthermore, it helps prevent the poor image conveyed to the customer when receiving a damaged product.

There are other standards that supplement ASTM D4169, such as D7386, Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Packages for Single Parcel Delivery Systems. This is a guideline to evaluate the capabilities of shipping units that do not exceed 150 lb. (68 kg.) in a laboratory. There are also different ISTA procedures that, likewise, seek to optimize the packaging based on the company’s own distribution cycle, even though it is a decision of each company whether to comply with one standard or the other.

By applying the ASTM D4169 standard, shipments are better protected, preventing damages to the goods and reducing costs

How to comply with ASTM D4169 tests

In order to comply with the ASTM D4169 standard it is necessary to pass a series of tests that depend on the type of distribution cycle. These would be some of the main tests that the loads should undergo:


Piling forces generated during storage and transport may result in heavy compression loads on the package. There are two types of compression tests: dynamic compression, which consists of subjecting the package to a vertical compression force with a constant speed until the failure or deformation of the parcel; and static compression, which consists of subjecting the package to a compression under a constant load and inspect what happens to the parcel after a specific time has elapsed.

Compression Tester


It involves dropping the goods from a certain height in order to test their shock resistance.

Rotational fall:

This shock test is based on placing one side of the load on a support and the other side over the ground, so that it is slanted. Then, it is quickly dropped to test whether the load falls over.

Drop Testers


The loads are thrown against a surface at a certain speed. The load on the cart impacts against a surface simulating a lateral impact at a certain speed and acceleration. Another type of impact test involves securing the load on an inclined platform and launching it against the impact surface.

Impact Testing Machines

Vertical vibration:

ASTM vibration tests reproduce the vibrations suffered by goods during transport. There is vertical vibration testing equipment with just one degree of freedom, and more advanced machines with three degrees of freedom (vertical + pitch & roll) which faithfully reproduce the transportation of goods, and even machines with six degrees that are capable of reproducing any motion that may be performed in space (three translations and three rotations).

Vertical Vibration

Temperature and humidity cycles:

Goods are subjected to a number of environmental conditions that may affect their reliability, behavior and structural integrity during transport. These tests can be used to ensure the quality and functioning of the product under any environmental condition.


These testing methods determine the effects of pressure differences when packaged products are transported via certain means of transport, such as cargo aircraft, or land transport at high altitude mountain passes. They are performed to determine the damage a load may suffer during transport when the atmospheric pressure is lower than sea-level pressure.

In order to carry out the ASTM D4169 tests, at Safe Load we have different machines that accommodate the requirements of this standard:

Why Safe Load Testing Technologies

At Safe Load we design all of our machines based on guidelines outlined by the standards of this field, applying the most stringent one in every case. For the ASTM D4169 standard, we design the machinery so that it accurately complies with all of its specifications, which guarantees to the customer compliance with the requirements of the standard.

Safe Load’s machines that comply with the ASTM D4169 standard will enable companies to save on expenses resulting from inventory shrinkage and over-packaging, as well as save packaging and freight transport times. All of this has an effect over the image that the company conveys to its customers, since the merchandise will arrive in prime condition and the customer will be satisfied with the result.

At Safe Load we are experts in the design and production of this type of machinery, which makes us the most reliable choice on the market for all companies wishing to count with a system to evaluate the performance of their packaging and shipping containers. This is why we want to invite you to download for free our ebook Calculate the ROI of investing in packaging testing machines and learn how much you can save with your own transport simulation equipment.