What is package testing?

At its most basic level, package testing is an experiment or set of experiments to ensure that shipped products both arrive safely and can be used safely.

As we covered in 15 Most Frequent Packaging Mistakes, Wertheimer Box may require or recommend third-party package testing for corrugated shipping containers in some circumstances.

When would you recommend or require package testing?

Three excellent reasons to conduct package testing are when:

  1. It’s required by law.
  2. Your product is fragile.
  3. You’re developing packaging and/or you have a lot riding on the successful delivery of a product.
fragile shipping box and tape

When is package testing required by law?

Specific package regulations and testing is required for foods, pharmaceuticals, healthcare and medical products, among other items.  What’s more, items that are hazardous or dangerous must also meet specific performance requirements, including United Nations (UN) testing requirements.

To help ensure compliance with the law, Wertheimer Box requires appropriate third-party UN testing for hazardous materials.

That’s because a third-party testing facility can certify that your packaging meets federal regulations.

flammable hazardous dangerous symbols

What is ISTA testing?

ISTA (pronounced ISSS- Tuh) stands for International Safe Transit Association. ISTA divides its test protocols in seven Series. This is the normal testing for products that are not hazardous.

Six of these seven Series are performance test protocols. Performance protocols help ensure that a product’s shipping container (box) can withstand the abuse it may encounter during packaging, shipping, and distribution.

For the most part, these protocols include a range of simulation tests.

The last Series includes development tests. These ISTA tests compare your packaging to the designs of competitors.

What are some specific examples of performance simulations tests?

Performance tests can check for shock (drop tests and impact tests), vibration (displacement of products), compression (stacking load), and atmospheric conditions (temperature, humidity, and pressure).

bad packaging design for fragile product

How do I know which ISTA packaging testing is appropriate for my product?

Broadly, the appropriate types of tests for nonhazardous items are predetermined by such factors as the:

  • Weight of the packaged products
  • Truck load and pallet formation
  • Whether packages are handled manually
  • Environmental conditions
  • The retailer or distribution system

For example, Amazon, FedEx, and Sam’s Club all require specific performance tests for any packaging.

“Even a simple lab test used wisely is preferable to trial and error or a total reliance on field experience.”  -ISTA Guidance

Does Wertheimer Box conduct package testing?

We don’t conduct test at the Wertheimer Box facility. Instead, we help coordinate tests with independent, third-party providers.

Additionally, we apply our more than 80 years of packaging experience to help guide in your packaging decisions based on best practices. This helps ensure that your packages will pass their tests.

At the same time, we agree with ISTA’s guidance:

“Even a simple lab test used wisely is preferable to trial and error or a total reliance on field experience.”

Doug Wertheimer

Since 2004, Doug Wertheimer has been the owner and president of Wertheimer Box, Corp. Under his tenure, the company has more than tripled in size. Doug grew up in the corrugated packaging industry and has 40+ years of experience in packaging solutions. He majored in history at the University of Wisconsin Madison. Wertheimer Box manufactures custom, printed corrugated boxes and corrugated point of purchase displays as well as standard boxes and packaging.

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