Does ISTA 3A Really Simulate Transport?

Does ISTA 3A Really Simulate Transport?

Written by Modality Solutions

Posted on: September 5, 2017

There were concerns voiced over whether ISTA 3A is working for our industry at the recent 2012 ISTA International Transport Packaging Forum held at the Disney Yacht and Beach Club Resort in Orlando. While we were in the land of fantasy and make believe, topics on the latest ideas and advancement of responsible transport packaging and the physical distribution of products were seriously presented to ISTA Forum attendees.

My presentation titled, “Does ISTA 3A Really Simulate Transport in the Parcel Delivery Environment?” covered the topic of the validity of the ISTA 3A drop test profile. The profile has been in place for many years. My findings indicate that we, as an industry, may want to revisit the assumptions and consider updating the test plan. As our understanding of the transport environment continues to improve, it should be a given to review and update standards. It was interesting to note that there were two other speakers making the same point on other ISTA standards.

  • Michael Sek, Associate Professor, Victoria University presented “What Happens to the Critical Element in a Product During a Vibration Test?” He covered the limitations of time-compressed or time-accelerated vibration testing.
  • Luther “Chip” Stone, Senior Packaging Test Specialist, Hershey Company presented “Stacked Versus Traditional Compression Testing.” In his talk he suggested that current test methods available for compression testing do not generate accurate data on the type of compression damage a company may see in real world transport.

While I went into the conference with the narrow goal of gaining agreement to update to the ISTA 3A drop test profile, I found other engineers have looked into the standards, and we have common concerns. Our goal is one of making sure that our field-to-lab simulations remain vital through a constant review and update cycle.

In brief, as we see the changes in the transport environment and the evolution of data collection tools and methods, updates to ISTA standards should be considered normal.

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