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Status:Closed    Asked:Jul 05, 2011 - 07:41 AM


What are the differences between ISTA procedures and ASTM standards?

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ASTM International has a group which is concerned with packaging (designated Committee D10). Most of the ASTM packaigng tests are for various material properties or are "Test methodologies"; i.e. the considerations and steps needed to run a particular type of test, such as a drop test. In this case they don't tell you what drops to perform or the orientations or drops heights, but do detail the general procedure, type of equipment, equipment installaion, accuracy and repeatability, documentation, etc.

There are only two ASTM standards devoted to packaged-product performance in distribution, and those are D4169 and D7386.

D4169 (Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems) is a preshipment General Simulation test covering a range of package types and distribution scenarios. The user must chose from tests, alternatives, intensities, sequencecs and specific procedures based on packaged-product and distribution characteristics. Its comples, and there are some gaps and difficulties, but an experiences user can create from D4169 a test plan that will be a good general laboratory simulation of the selected distribution cycle.

D7386 (Standard Proactice for Performance Testing of Packages for SIngle Small Parcel Delivery Systems) is a relatively new (2008) General Simulation test specific to the small parcel distribution environment.

Typically, testing to ASTM D4169 and ASTM D7386 involves rather sophisticated, extensive and expensive equipment, and relatively skilled operators.

The mainstream ISTA tests are also pre-shipment test procedures; i.e., test used to compare or evaluate the effectiveness of protective packaging and/or a packaged-product;s ability to withstand the hazards of distribution. ISTA classifes procedures and projects in Series:

ISTA 1-Series: Non-Simulation Integrity tests that evaluate the ruggedness of the product and package unit but don't necessarily simulate what happens in actual distribution. The tests require relatively simply and inexpensive equipment, simple test methods and minimal operator skill.

ISTA 3-Series: General Simulation tests that are based on broad definitions of the hazards of distribution. Equipment and operator skill requirements are similar to ASTM D4169 and D7386, however, there are individual specific procedures covering a number of packaged-products and distribution systems, so much less interpretation is required.

ISTA 5-Series: This Series is not currently beign used by ISTA, however it is reserved for Focused Simulations, based on user-measured or observed hazards. This test series is intended for the highest-value products, and/or the most demanding situations. Equipment and operator requirements are much like the 3-Series, but test design requires thorough knowledge and complete information.

ISTA 2-Series and 4-Series are combinations of the Series above, with elements of each.

Each procedure or project within the Series' reference ASTM methodologies for equipment requriements.

In summary:

ASTM has two performance test protocols, intended to cover essentially all situations. It ay be difficult to understand and use, but can be effective if properly applied. They require relatively expensive equipment and skilled operators. The rest of the ASTM document line-up are test methodoligies and do not give specific details on what levels, sequences, orientations, etc. to use during testing.

ISTA offers a variety of test protocols, often tailored to specific situations or package configurations. The different Series give the user a choice of cost, comlexity and operator skill requirements. All Procedures and Projects are in a "mapped" (step-by-step) format for easy interpretation.

Click Here to review the Overviews of ISTA Procedures and Projects.

Source: ISTA Staff


Jul 05, 2011 - 07:46 AM

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