ISTA establishes some of the most important testing standards and protocols in relation to merchandize transportation. The purpose of ISTA testing labs is to ensure that these tests are compliant and standardized across the globe.

Download free: Calculate the ROI of investing in your own packaging testing machines 

What are ISTA testing labs?

ISTA testing labs are those that have been certified by ISTA to perform the tests developed by this organization.

ISTA makes testing standards and procedures that allow for the reproduction of hazards faced by packaging during the transportation and distribution of goods.

The various ISTA procedures aim to guarantee the safety of goods during the distribution cycle, attaining significant economic savings for all companies involved.

ISTA also accredits certified testing labs worldwide that are capable of performing these tests by complying with certain standards.

A laboratory’s ISTA certification is proof that the facilities are properly equipped to perform these tests, and that the personnel has the necessary skills to implement and analyze them.

This guarantees that tests will comply with the ISTA® Pre-Dispatch Testing Projects and Procedures Guide. In addition, the results are standardized, guaranteeing that they will be within the same range as those of other ISTA testing labs.

Characteristics of ISTA certified labs

ISTA certified labs have certain characteristics that make them optimal for guaranteeing that a packaging complies with the organization’s standards and procedures.

ISTA has prepared a document in which they explain in detail the steps to be followed by certified testing labs to be a part of this network.

As for the required equipment, there are certain mandatory minimums to obtain an ISTA certification:

  • Certifying a fixed displacement vibration table and incline impact tester requires a substantial wooden box filled with sand or equivalent to a gross weight of 100 lb (45 kgs), with end cleats INSIDE and measuring approximately 24”x18”x10”.
  • The certification of any fixed displacement vibration table requires having a carpenter’s level, a calibrated tachometer for determining shaft RPM, a metal shim 1/16 inch thick (approximately two [2] inches wide), a solid surface to perform the Phase Relationship Test, a wooden pencil and a blank paper.
  • Performance of a compression test will require a stop watch or watch with second hand, in addition to a measuring tape.
  • Additionally, extra equipment may be required for certain projects and procedures, such as a top load apparatus (Procedure 3A), hazard blocks (Procedure 3A), consolidation bags (Procedure 3A-small), dunnage materials (Procedure 3A-small) or a fork truck handling course (Procedure 3B).

How to get your laboratory ISTA certified

The ISTA certification is only available to members of this organization and requires filling a series of forms that ensure that the machines are adequate, in addition to producing a short video to prove this fact.

Recertification will be necessary every two years or whenever a modification is made to the laboratory that implies the relocation of the equipment. Furthermore, an ISTA recertification will be required when so demanded by the Technical Division Board.

This system ensures that ISTA certified labs are able to standardize their test results.

ISTA testing labs getting certified as such depends on the laboratory possessing the necessary equipment, and it being adequately installed and maintained.

Furthermore, the operational personnel must be trained to perform the packaged product pre-shipping tests as per the ISTA® Testing Projects and Procedures. Likewise, they should know how to evaluate the results, and fill out and submit Certified Laboratory Test Report forms.

The evaluation of forms and submitted data for the purpose of getting ISTA certified will take place within 30 days following the reception of the request.

In the event that this evaluation reveals the need for adjustments to the laboratory equipment, ISTA’s personnel will make the appropriate suggestions to apply corrective measures.

Where to find ISTA certified labs

There are many ISTA certified labs around the world. To find them, the organization offers an ISTA testing labs search engine that allows searches to be filtered per region, type of testing protocol and services.  

ISTA certified labs also include those that are members of the Amazon Packaging Support and Supplier Network (APASS). 

APASS encompasses over 40 companies, including some certified testing labs, packaging supplies and packaging designers.

Companies combine ISTA testing with protocols devised by Amazon. In this way, they help providers test, design and offer packages that comply with Amazon certifications, such as Prep Free Packaging (PFP), Ships in Own Container (SIOC) and Frustration Free Packaging (FFP).

This is possible, for example, when implementing Safe Load’s Amazon Lab as has been the case for BFSV.

Do you want to learn more about ISTA testing labs?

At Safe Load Testing Technologies we design simulation equipment and laboratories that suit your needs, and provide advice so that you can obtain the ISTA certification.

Get in touch with us and let’s discuss how we can help you.