This common question cannot be answered directly, but must be determined in each case through an understanding of the various ISTA tests and their applications.
There are currently over 20 different ISTA Procedures and Projects. Some of these are basic tests: very non-specific in terms of the products, packages, and distribution systems to which they apply. Others, however, are quite specific, and are applicable only in certain situations.
The various tests can be organized by series (1A is a 1-Series, 2A is a 2-Series Test, 3A is a 3-Series test, etc.):
* 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.
* 2-Series: Partial Simulation Performance Tests. Tests with at least one element of 3-Series type General Simulation performance test, such as atmospheric conditioning or mode-shaped random vibration and at least one element of a 1-Series type non-simulation integrity test.
* 3-Series: General Simulation Performance Tests. Designed to provide a laboratory simulation of the damage-producing forces and conditions 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.
* 4-Series: Enhanced Simulation Performance Tests. In many ways similar to General Simulation tests, but incorporating the latest information on environmental hazards, and with test sequences based on user-defined descriptions of distribution means. Not currently in use, but under development.
* 5-Series: **Not currently an active Series** Focused Simulation Performance Tests. Guides to providing a laboratory simulation based on actual field measured hazards and levels.
* 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 for creation, validation, maintenance, revision and support rests with the originating member(s).
* 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.
1-Series tests are typically quite basic, usually require relatively low-cost equipment, and can be performed by moderately skilled operators. In terms of damage prediction/prevention and overall system cost optimization, however, the higher-series tests can be more effective.1-Series protocols can reasonably be expected to be screening tests, with an increasing expectation of predictability through 5-Series. Whether this is true in any specific case needs to be evaluated by comparing lab and distribution results. This important validation process should be a part of each user's normal operations.
This information can be found on the ISTA website with additional detail.
To determine applicable tests for any given situation, the list may be narrowed down based on the above information. Then each individual Procedure or Project should be examined in detail to arrive at the one best suited.
Contact ISTA Headquarters for help with test interpretation (firstname.lastname@example.org / +1 517-333-3437). Assistance with test selection in specific circumstances and/or problem situations is available as a service from many ISTA labs, consultants, and members.
Source: ISTA Staff