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What is Parcel Integrity Testing?

Parcel Package Integrity Testing

Parcel Integrity testing simulates the challenges of a package to withstand transportation hazards. Generally, parcel testing evaluates four types of packaged products. No matter the standard, parcels must weigh less than 150 lbs to be transported in the single parcel delivery system.

As an ISTA and ISO 17025 certified lab, we realize the importance of package integrity testing. Meeting the parcel integrity requirements can be difficult. We understand the challenges and guide companies through the process.

Request a quote to see why so many companies partner with Keystone Compliance. Contact us to receive more information on our package laboratory testing capabilities.

Parcel integrity compliance testing is accomplished by exposing a parcel or packaged product to a test plan. Test plans consist of hazards expected in the distribution cycle. Furthermore, suggested test levels are based on the handling environment and industry.

ISTA defines the four types of packages below:

Standard: This type of packaged product is defined as any product that does not meet the definitions of a small, flat, or elongated package. A standard packaged product may consist of fiberboard cartons, along with plastic, wooden, or cylindrical containers.

Small: Small packaged products are defined with the following criteria:

  • Volume is less than 800 in cu.
  • Longest dimension is 14 in. or less
  • Weight is 10 lbs. or less

Flat: These are defined as any packaged product where:

  • Shortest dimension is 8 in. or less
  • Next longest dimension is 4 or more times larger than the shortest dimension
  • Volume is 800 in cu. or greater

Elongated: Elongated packages are defined as:

  • Longest dimension is 36 in. or greater
  • Both of the package’s other dimensions are 20% or less of the largest dimension

Why is Parcel Integrity Testing Important?

Parcel package testing assists manufacturers evaluate package integrity when subjecting units to hazards represented in actual distribution. 

Damages to products and packaging during distribution can result in expensive replacement fees. On average, companies lose about $1 billion per year as a result of shipping damage. Sadly, a harsh distribution system can also affect lost sales, lost customer loyalty, and constant interruptions and delays. Many of these costs can be significantly reduced or eliminated with the proper testing and certification.

Package integrity testing will ensure packaging integrity throughout transportation to mitigate risks. When correctly performing parcel integrity compliance testing, benefits will include:

  • Product to market time reduction
  • Confidence in product launch
  • Reduced damages and product loss
  • Balanced distribution costs
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Growing market share

Parcel Integrity Compliance Test Process

The two standards, ASTM D4332: Conditioning Containers, Packages, or Packaging Components, and ISO 2233: Complete, Filled Transport Packages and Unit Loads are used to condition the samples to an ambient temperature and humidity. Conditioning is also based on factors such as:

  • Industry experience
  • Global climate
  • Time products spend in distribution systems

Only one sample is required for most test procedures. However, if a packaged product is declared as fragile or liquid, it is recommended to have two or more samples on hand. Acceptance criteria and identifying the faces and edges of the unit must be considered before starting the test. 

A test procedure consists of individual tests such as:

After the completion of the test processes, a report is written with the following information. This list is not intended to be all-inclusive.

  • Description of the product and shipping unit
  • Location, date, time, and name of the engineer conducting the testing
  • Package test specimen and test plan
  • Assurance levels
  • Conditioning used
  • Acceptance criteria
  • Test results

Keystone Compliance Parcel Integrity Test Equipment and Capabilities

Keystone’s dozens of thermal chambers range from reach-in to large walk-in chambers up to 1,300 cu. ft. Additionally, we own shakers up to 12 kips, and multiple compression/tensile testers. Keystone offers complete pack-out services and testing for all types of flexible and rigid packages.

ASTM D7386 Performance Testing for Single Parcel Delivery Systems

ASTM D7386 provides a uniform test to evaluate a shipping unit not exceeding 150 lbs. This standard is intended for the single parcel delivery system. The test specimen is conditioned with ASTM D4332: Conditioning Containers, Packages, or Packaging Components for Testing or ASTM D951: Water Resistance of Shipping Containers by Spray Method.

For ASTM D7386 testing, hazardous elements are characterized in a test schedule as follows.

Handling: drop, impact

Vibration: Vibration and vibration under load

Impact: Bridged impact

Impact: Hazard impact

Low Pressure: High altitude

Impacts: Concentrated impacts

Impacts: Tip-over impacts

Drops: Rotational edge drops

ASTM F2825 Climatic Stressing for Single Parcel Delivery

ASTM F2825 evaluates a single parcel’s ability to withstand climatic stresses during the transportation cycle. This standard does not apply to refrigerated, frozen food, or cryogenic storage conditions.

After identifying various transportation modes and durations, a test plan is created to indicate different conditions and exposure times. The test plan is performed as follows:

Cold: -20 C / No specific humidity / 4.5 hr of exposure

Controlled Room Conditions: +23 C / 50% humidity / 1 hr of exposure

Hot/Dry: +50 C / 25% humidity / 4.5 hr of exposure

Controlled Room Conditions: +23 C / 50% humidity / 1 hr of exposure

Warm/Humid: +30 C / 90% humidity / 4.5 hr of exposure

Controlled Room Conditions: +23 C / 50% humidity / 1 hr of exposure

ISTA 3A Parcel Delivery System Shipments 150 lb (70kg) or Less

ISTA 3A are advanced tests to determine the effects of general simulation of actual transport hazards. Conditions such as moisture, pressure, or unusual handling may not be covered in this standard.

Before testing, the weight and dimensions of the unit under testing are measured and documented. Tests are performed on each sample in the sequence shown below:

Atmospheric Preconditioning: Temperature and humidity

Atmospheric Conditioning: Controlled temperature and humidity

Shock: Drop

Vibration: Random with and without top load

Vibration: Random vibration under low pressure

Shock: Drop

Shock: Rotational edge drop (for flat and elongated packages only)

Shock: Full rotational flat drop (for flat and elongated packages only)

Shock: Concentrated impact (for flat packages only)

Shock: Bridge impact (for elongated packages only)

Integrity: Leak test (for liquids only)

ISTA 7E Thermal Transport Packaging for Parcel Delivery System Shipment

This standard specifically evaluates external temperature exposures. ISTA 7E is meant to be used with other test standards. Additionally, this test method can be used for the development of temperature-controlled transport packages.

Samples are to be as similar to the original packaging as possible. Temperature conditioning must comply with ASTM D3103: Thermal Insulation Package Testing. Before testing, it is important to measure and document package/product weight and dimensions.

Expert Package Compliance Testing Laboratory

In addition to parcel integrity testing, Keystone has a full scope of expertise including sterile barrier, vibration, and impact. Our team strives to give our customers more time and energy on product development instead of testing.

Have a question about parcel integrity testing? Contact us. Request a quote and learn why we are one of the fastest-growing package test labs in the country.