ISTA 3K covers the testing of packaged-products prepared for sale through multiple-retail environments. From the point of manufacture of finished packaged goods, this supply chain commonly involves unit load (full pallet) storage, until load shipment and unit load handling within the brand owner controlled part of the supply chain, leading to delivery of unit loads of product to a retailer distribution center. This is commonly followed by a series of steps controlled by the retailer, involving order picking and mixed load building at the retailer distribution center, mixed load deliver to store and in –store handling leading to loading of packaged-products on the store shelf.
ISTA 3K relates only to the retailer controlled parts of this supply chain. Separate testing should be undertaken at this unit load level to determine fitness with respect to full pallet shipment commonly controlled by the brand owner.
Research shows that the hazards of distribution are commonly more severe in the retailer controlled parts of the supply chain (largely due to the complex product mix); however successful performance in this test method does not eliminate the need for evaluating packaged-product performance at the unit load level.
Specifically the test investigates the following processes occurring at the package (case or tray) level:
- Pyramid-pick/overhand stack (representing the way a package is often partially supported on the unit load at the pick face at retailer distribution center, occurring as a result of the way other packages are selected from the unit load)
- Drag (representing pulling of a package from a unit load at the pick face at retailer distribution center)
- Carry (representing lifting and carrying of a package over short distance from the pick face to the mixed load, including, as appropriate to the pack design/formal, carrying packs without supporting the base and carrying using openings in a shrink wrap)
- Placement-drop and Drop-on impact (representing impacts occurring to packages during building of the mixed load)
- Package horizontal impacts (representing impacts occurring through automated conveyor operations at automated retailer distribution Center’s) – where it is known or possible that packages will pass through a retailer distribution center with conveyoring/package level automated systems this test should be conducted.
Specifically the test investigates the following processes occurring for mixed loads (mixed pallets or roll cages):
- Both mixed pallet and mixed roll cages are commonly used in retailer distribution in Europe. Based on observation it is deemed that roll cage mixed loads experience more significant hazards because packs are able to press against the roll cage sidewalls as well as other packs (other than this, mixed load hazards are similar between the mixed load pallet and mixed load roll cage formats); the presence of sidewalls provides a horizontal load on packs that is less significant in mixed pallets. Because both mixed pallet and roll cage formats are used widely, the worst case of the two formats was selected for the test.
- Horizontal impact of mixed load (representing horizontal cage to cage (or mixed pallet to mixed pallet) impacts, or impacts between a mixed load and other fixed object, occurring during vehicle loading, road journey and handling at store)
- Vibration of mixed load (representing the road journey segment of the mixed load life cycle, but also representing more aggressive vibration occurring during loading/unloading where mixed loads are moved over chequer-plate ramps or rough surfaces within receiving bay areas, normally at the store)
- Vertical impact of mixed load (representing higher level transient shocks occurring during road shipment and vertical shocks occurring during marshaling/movement of mixed loads over rough surfaces or over door thresholds, normally at the store).
The chart below is from ISTA 3K the standard and provides more guidance on the testing procedure and requirements:
|Format||Test Category||Test Type||Test Level||For ISTA Certification|
|Package||Atmospheric Preconditioning TEST BLOCK 1||Temperature and Humidity||Ambient, frozen or chilled (to be selected as appropriate for the distribution and merchandising channel for the packaged product being tested)||Required|
|Package||Picking TEST BLOCK 2||Pyramid Pick (Overhand Stack)||6 minute test duration||Required|
|Package||Picking TEST BLOCK 3||Drag||5 minute test duration||Required|
|Package||Picking TEST BLOCK 4||Carry||10 seconds static plus 5 cycles carry-oscillation||Required|
|Package||Shock TEST BLOCK 5||Placement Drop||5 impacts in various orientations, 150mm||Required|
|Package||Shock TEST BLOCK 6||Drop-on||Impacting top of lower package, base of upper package, 150mm||Required|
|Package||Shock (OPTIONAL) TEST BLOCK 7||Impact||8 impacts at 1.35m/s||Optional|
|Mixed Load||Shock TEST BLOCK 8||Impact||4 impacts of 0.91m/s||Required|
|Mixed Load||Vibration TEST BLOCK 9||Random Vibration||Overall G level of 0.28 for 40 minutes followed by 0.517 for 60 seconds||Required|
|Mixed Load||Shock TEST BLOCK 10||Flat Drop||1 drop from 60mm||Required|
|Package||Shock TEST BLOCK 11||Placement Drop||4 impacts in various orientations, 150mm||Required|
|Package||Shock (investigative) TEST BLOCK 12||Drop||4 impacts in various orientations, 300mm||Advised (Optional)|
|Package||Shock (INVESTIGATIVE) TEST BLOCK 13||Drop-on||Impacting top of lower package, base of upper package, 300mm||Advised (Optional)|
|Assessment||Package Assessment BLOCK 14||No testing involved||Inspection and assessment of test and roll cage fill packages||Required|
As an ISTA-certified package testing lab, Keystone Compliance can meet your package testing needs, including ISTA 3K. By providing quick turnarounds, competitive pricing and engineering assistance, Keystone Compliance has become a leader in the package test lab industry. Receiving a quote to complete ISTA-3K testing is as easy as completing our online quote form or calling us at (724) 657-9940.