ISTA Packaging Certificate

The International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) is a global alliance of shippers, carriers, suppliers, testing laboratories, and educational and research institutions focused on the specific concerns of transport packaging.

1)    History and background
A “world-wide accepted” packaging standard is the: ISTA (International Safe Transit Association).

 Therefore Sebert Trillingstechniek, an accredited ISO 17025 test laboratory, use this ISTA standard as the guideline to specify the test-procedure for the packaging’s. 

2)    Test Protocols
ISTA has organized its test protocols into series, as following;
ISTA 1 Series: Non-Simulation Integrity Performance Tests. Challenge the strength and robustness of the product and package combination. Not designed to simulate environmental occurrences. Useful as screening tests, particularly when used as a consistent benchmark over time. 

 ISTA 2 Series: Partial Simulation Performance Tests. Tests with at least one element of a 3 Series type General Simulation performance test, such as atmospheric conditioning or mode-shaped random vibration, in addition to basic elements of a 1 Series type Non-Simulation Integrity test 

  • Procedure 2A: Packaged-Products weighing 150 lb (68 kg) or Less
    Basic Requirements: atmospheric conditioning, compression, fixed displacement or random vibration and shock testing.
  • Procedure 2B: Packaged-Products weighing over 150 lb (68 kg)Basic Requirements: atmospheric conditioning, compression, fixed displacement or random vibration and shock testing.
  • Procedure 2C: Furniture Packages
    Basic Requirements: atmospheric conditioning, compression and shock testing.OVERVIEW and EQUIPMENT REQUIRED.

 ISTA 3 Series: General Simulation Performance Tests. Designed to provide a laboratory simulation of the damage-producing motions, forces, conditions, and sequences of transport environments. Applicable across broad sets of circumstances, such as a variety of vehicle types and routes, or a varying number of handling exposures. Characteristics will include simple shaped random vibration, different drop heights applied to the sample package, and/or atmospheric conditioning such as tropical wet or winter/frozen.

  • Procedure 3A: Packaged-Products for Parcel Delivery System Shipments 70kg (150 lb) or Less (standard, small, flat or elongated)
    Test Procedure 3A is a general simulation test for individual packaged-products shipped through a parcel delivery system. The test is appropriate for four different package types commonly distributed as individual packages, either by air or ground. The types include standard, small, flat and elongated packages. Basic Requirements: atmospheric pre-conditioning, random vibration with and without top load, and shock testing.OVERVIEW and EQUIPMENT REQUIRED.
  • Procedure 3B: Packaged-Products for Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) Shipment.
    Procedure 3B is a general simulation test for packaged-products shipped through a motor carrier (truck) delivery system, where different types of packaged-products, often from different shippers and intended for different ultimate destinations, are mixed in the same load. This type of shipment is called LTL (Less-Than-Truckload). Procedure 3B is appropriate for four different types of packages commonly distributed in LTL shipments: Standard 200 lb (91 kg) or less, Standard over 200 lb (kg), Cylindrical, and Palletized or Skidded. Requirements may include atmospheric conditioning, tip-tipover, shock and impact, random vibration with top load, concentrated impacts, and fork lift handling.
  • Procedure 3E: Similar Packaged-Products in Unitized Loads for Truckload Shipment
    Basic Requirements: atmospheric conditioning, compression, random vibration and shock testing.
  • Procedure 3H: Performance Test for Products or Packaged-Products in Mechanically Handled Bulk Transport Containers
    Basic Requirements: atmospheric conditioning, random vibration and shock testing.
  • Project 3K: Fast Moving Consumer Goods for the European Retail Supply Chain
    Project 3K is a general simulation test for fast moving packaged consumer products shipped through the multiple-retail supply chain environment in Europe. Project 3K is appropriate for the range of packages commonly merchandised through large retailer stores and large retail chain convenience stores, and where retailer operations include shipment of store-specific mixed loads in roll cages or as mixed pallets. Many European grocery packages are in shelf-ready format; this method applies equally to shelf ready and non-shelf ready packages. Basic requirements: atmospheric conditioning, picking (handling), shock, random vibration.

 ISTA 4 Series: Enhanced Simulation Performance Tests. General Simulation test with at least one element of focused simulation, such as test sequence or condition linked to actual known distribution. Project 4AB, an Enhanced Simulation Performance Test, has been released as version 1.0.0 and is currently under further development by ISTA. It closely ties the tests and sequence to a user-defined pattern of distribution, and includes a broad range of current and quantitative information on distribution environment hazards. The Focused Simulation elements are test-tailoring to individual situations, and usage of up-to-date and specific hazard profiles and parameters. Project 4AB is a web-based application to generate customized test plans; most of the complexity will be handled "behind the scenes" without burdening the user. 

ISTA 6 Series: Member Performance Tests. Test protocols created by ISTA members to meet their particular purposes and applications. The tests may be completely original, or may be modifications or variations of ISTA Procedures or Projects or other published and accepted tests. ISTA reviews and approves these tests, but primary responsibility rests with the originating members. 

  • Project 6-AMAZON.COM-SIOC, Ships in Own Container (SIOC) for Distribution System Shipment
    Project 6-AMAZON.COM is a general simulation test for “Ships In Own Container” (SIOC) packaged-products shipped through Amazon’s distribution system to final customer destinations. This testing protocol has been developed by combining data from previous studies of transportation environments, relevant testing protocols, Amazon Fulfillment Center environment visual observations, and customer feedback. This test is for packaged-products shipped by Vendors to Fulfillment Centers and delivered to final customer destinations via Parcel or Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) outbound shipment methods. It challenges the capability of both package and product to withstand transport hazards normally encountered during handling and transportation. Vendors with items intended to utilize Ships In Own Container (SIOC) are encouraged to use this test to understand the protective performance of their packaging.
  • Project 6-AMAZON.COM-Over Boxing, e-Commerce Fulfillment for Parcel Delivery Shipment
  • Test Project Boxing is a general simulation test for e-Commerce fulfillment. In comparison to items ready to ship in its own packaging (Test Project SIOC), this kind of e-Commerce fulfillment comprises an individual retail packaged-product weighing 70 pounds (32 kilograms) or less being placed into a master shipping container (Over Box) either by itself with the addition of dunnage(air pillows, etc.) or with multiple individual retail packaged-products with dunnage for shipment from to an end consumer through a parcel delivery system. This test challenges the packaging and/or products, whether primary package or transport package, ability to withstand the general damage-producing motions, forces, conditions, and sequences of this environment.
  • 6-FEDEX-A: FedEx Procedures for Testing Packaged Products Weighing Up to 150 lbs.
  • 6-FEDEX-B: FedEx Procedures for Testing Packaged Products Weighing Over 150 lbs.
  • Project 6-SAMSCLUB, Packaged-Products for Sam’s Club® Distribution System Shipment
    ISTA® 6-SAMSCLUB was developed by ISTA in cooperation with Sam’s Club, and is designed as a General Simulation protocol. 6-SAMSCLUB is a general simulation test for packaged-products shipped through the Sam’s Club® distribution system to final destinations in the U.S. It was developed from an extensive survey, observation, and field measurement program of the actual Sam’s Club system. The program involved personal visits to various Distribution Centers, overseas suppliers and ports, and U.S. Club stores. Ocean containers, trucks, and fork lifts were instrumented for acceleration and other data. Industry experts translated this information, observation, and data into the 6-SAMSCLUB Project laboratory tests. 

ISTA 7 Series: Development Tests. These tests are used in the development of transport packages. They can be used to compare relative performance of two or more container designs, but are not intended to evaluate the protection afforded packaged-products.

 Procedure 7D: Temperature Test for Transport Packaging
Basic Requirements: atmospheric conditioning, vibration and shock testing.

Standard 7E: Testing Standard for Thermal Transport Packaging Used in Parcel Delivery System Shipment

 3)    Define Shipping Units
Describe shipping unit in terms of size, weight, and form of construction. Determine of the shipping unit will be manually or mechanical handled 

4)    Determine Acceptance Criteria
In many cases, the acceptance criteria can be the following:
Criterion 1 – Product is damage-free
Criterion 2 – Package is intact
Criterion 3 – Both 

5)    Select Samples for Test
Tests specimens consist of representative samples of complete shipping units, including actual contents. Products with blemishes or minor defects may be used if the defective component is not to be studied by the test and if the defect is documented in the report

 6)    Condition samples
Normal condition to 23 +/- 10C, 50 +/-2 % relative humidity with a (pre)conditioning of 72h is recommended for samples which are sensitive for temperature and humidity. 

It is also possible to carry out the (vibration) test under -40°C till +70°C, in combination with till 95% humidity.

 7)    Perform tests
Perform test in accordance with test procedure.

 8)    Evaluate Results
Evaluate results to determine if the shipping units meet the acceptance criteria as defined.

 9)    Document Test Results
Document test results by reporting each step.

10)  Use of the ISTA® certification mark after testing.
For Packaged-Product Shippers: (this section does not apply to the Thermal Certification Mark used for ISTA 7E insulated shipping containers, see the section that follows) The ISTA Transit Tested Certification Mark on a package is visible proof that the packaged-product has passed a valid ISTA preshipment test. It gives the highest level of credibility to the design, test, and packaged-product performance verification process. For legal and management reasons, ISTA only offers this service when the lab which has done the testing is ISTA Certified, the shipper/product manufacturer is an ISTA Shipper member, and all other requirements set forth below are met. ISTA cannot stand behind use of the Mark unless it has appropriate control and oversight of all portions of the process. Due to the nature of ISTA Procedures and Projects, which take into account both the package and the product, ISTA does NOT certify packages for a packaging or services Supplier. The ISTA Certification Mark is a benefit for the Shipper member only. In order for a package to be printed or labeled with the ISTA Transit Tested Certification Mark, or to make claims of ISTA packaged-product certification, all points in the following policy must be met:

• The packaged-product must be tested in an ISTA Certified Lab (current with their lab certification).
• The testing must comply fully with all minimum requirements of a current ISTA testing procedure or project.
• All samples must pass the test(s).
• The results must be submitted to ISTA Headquarters (ISTA members can download our test report forms from the Member Center).
• The report must pass review and be approved by ISTA Headquarters. Certification comes from ISTA, not the laboratory.
• The shipper must be an ISTA member in goodstanding.
• The shipper must sign a license agreement to use the Transit Tested Certification Mark, and will be assigned a Manufacturer's License Number.
• The Mark, with manufacturer's license number, may then be placed on the packaged-products.
Displaying the ISTA® Transit Tested Certification Mark on a distribution package indicates that the packaged-product has passed a particular ISTA protocol. It does not necessarily have a connection to damage claim payments, but shippers that display the Mark are certainly in a better negotiating position. 

11) Monitor shipments (important)
When possible, obtain feedback by monitoring shipments of the container that was tested to ensure that the type and quantity of damage obtained by the laboratory testing correlates with the damage that occurs in the distribution cycle. This information is very useful for the planning of subsequent tests of similar shipping containers.