ISTA Test Procedure 3E provides a comprehensive means to evaluate the protective performance of packaged products during handling and transportation, their stability under various conditions, and the interactions between the packaging and the product.
It is important to note that certain transit conditions, such as humidity, pressure, or unusual handling, may not be covered. Additionally, the tests are based on general data and may not represent a specific distribution system.
The primary use case for ISTA Test Procedure 3E is when an entire trailer is filled with unitized packaged products, a scenario often referred to as Full Truckload (FTL). This methodology can be particularly useful for businesses that regularly ship large volumes of similar products.
Key Elements of Procedure ISTA 3E:
1. Product Damage Tolerance and Packaging Degradation Tolerance: The shipper must determine what constitutes damage to the product, what level of damage tolerance is acceptable, and how to determine the condition of the product and its packaging at the end of the test.
2. Test Sequence: Climatic preconditioning, climatic conditioning, compression, random vibration with and without load, and drop/shock test.
3. Test Sample Requirements: A unit load test sample is required for testing. However, to allow for representative determination of performance, it is recommended that the procedure be performed five times or more using new test samples each time.
4. Packaging Considerations: Packages that have been transported cannot be assumed to represent standard conditions. Therefore, for accurate testing, products and packaging must be overpacked for shipment to the laboratory or reconditioned in new packaging at the laboratory.
In terms of alternative test procedures, ISTA Test Procedure ISTA 3F may be appropriate for individually packaged products that could be shipped non-unitized from a distribution center to a retail point of sale. ISTA Test Procedure ISTA 3B may be suitable for packaged products prepared for shipment through a Less-Than-Truckload (LTL) delivery system.