Storage And Distribution Test Method

A. Introduction 

DestructiveTo eliminate fragility of packages using vibration, compression and impact at levels typical of the distribution system for which they are designed. After the test, the packages are examined. Defects are quantified and described in ralation to package failures observed by design changes in the package system.Not applicable> 1 day> $15,000

B. Operation 

Packages are subjected to vibration, compression, and impact at levels typical of the distribution system for which they are designed. After the test, which is a conditioning regimen, the packages are examined. Defects are quantified and described in relation to package failures observed in normal distribution. Fragility is eliminated by design changes in the package system. Whenever possible all samples should be incubated for 2 weeks at 100oF before abuse-testing.

  • Drop tests simulate the abuse which packages could be subjected to during the distribution cycle. Commercial drop testing equipment can simulate a variety of impact scenarios. These machines can vary the angle of impact, magnitude of impact, frequency of impact, and the nature of the contact surface. Effect of single and multiple drops can be quantified and used to assess package strength requirements. Drop tests can be followed by leak detection tests to check the effect of simulated distribution abuse on package integrity. On a comparative basis, drop tests allow judgments to be made on the adequacy of the basic package design, but will not guarantee the adequacy of daily manufacturing operations. Furthermore, the correlation of this laboratory abuse test with actual distribution experience is generally low.

  • Vibration tests are also used to simulate the effects of distribution on package integrity. Commercial vibration testers can subject packages to various frequencies of vibration while rotating the package to ensure uniform vibration. Modern vibration testers can also be programmed to deliver a preset sequence of vibrations of varying frequency and duration to better approximate actual transportation effects.

  • Compression tests measure the ability of packages to withstand crushing during stacking in warehouses or other storage areas. Compression testers are essentially hydraulically driven plates that can deliver measured amounts of pressure to a package placed between them. The weight (pressure) at which a package exhibits signs of destruction is considered to be the failing load. A safe stacking load is normally 25% of the failing load.
  • Packages to be tested
  • Drop tester
  • Vibration tester
  • Compression tester
  • Standard laboratory conditions 23+ 2oC, 50+ 5% RH
  • Incubator at 100oF to contain all test packages

See ASTM D-4169 Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems. Select distribution cycle 6 for flexible packages in shipping cases transported by motor freight. Before testing, incubate all packages for 14 days at 100oF and inspect visually for defects. Perform the following 10 steps (see Section 9 of ASTM D-4169).

  1. Define shipping unit: Shipping unit to be tested is a typical pallet load.
  2. Establish assurance level: Assurance level II will be used, based on value and volume of shipment.
  3. Determine acceptance criteria at assurance level II: Criterion 1 - no product damage; criterion 2 - all packages in good condition.
  4. Select distribution cycle (DC): DC-6 will be used for pallet shipments.
  5. Write test plan (values for X must be determined before conducting the test). Select representative samples for test and condition samples to 23+1oC, 50+2% RH, in accordance with Practice D 4332.
  6. Perform tests in accordance with test plan in step 5, as directed in the referenced ASTM standards and in the special instructions for each shipment.
  7. Evaluate results: Examine products and packages to determine if acceptance criteria have been met.
  8. Document test results: Write a report to cover all steps in detail.
  9. Report fully all the steps taken. At a minimum, the report should include all the criteria, including number of samples tested, conditioning used, acceptance criteria, variation from recommended procedures, condition of specimens after test.
  10. After testing, examine all failed (positive) packages to determine location and cause of damage. Incubate all containers that do not fail (negative) during testing for 14 days at 100F and inspect visually for defects before destructive testing by other methods listed in this chapter.


A package loses hermetic integrity during any one phase of the testing protocol or during the incubation period that follows.


A package retains hermetic integrity through the test, and contents do not show evidence of microbial growth after incubation.

False positive

A package appears to be defective, yet confirmational testing by incubation or dye penetration reveals that no loss of the hermetic barrier occurred during the abuse test.

False Negative

A package appears to pass testing but later exhibits failure when incubated.

C. Application 


DEFECTS Flexible Pouch Semi-rigid and
Rigid plastic container
Plastic Can (Double-seam Metal End) Paperboard
Corner Dent   
Cut (Fracture)
Double Seam Defects*   
Foreign Matter Inclusion  
Label Foldover   
Leaker (Channel) 
Leaker (Corner)    
Leaker (Notch)   
Leaker (Perforation)   
Leaker (Pulltab)   
Leaker (Seal)   
Loose Flap or Ear   
Puncture (Pinhole)
Seal Defects (Blister)   
Seal Defects (Blocked)   
Seal Defects (Burnt)   
Seal Defects (Compressed)   
Seal Defects (Contaminated)  
Seal Defects (Convolution/Embossing)   
Seal Defects (Creep)   
Seal Defects (Crooked)   
Seal Defects (Incomplete)   
Seal Defects (Misaligned/Deformed)  
Seal Defects (Nonbonding/Weak)   
Seal Defects (Plastic Lumps)   
Seal Defects (Seal-width Variation)   
Seal Defects (Stringy)   
Seal Defects (Uneven Impression)   
Seal Defects (Uneven Juncture)   
Seal Defects (Wrinkle)  
Swell (Swollen Package)

D. Source 

  • ASTM D4577 - 05(2010) Standard Test Method for Compression Resistance of a Container Under Constant Load
  • ASTM D4003 - 98(2009) Standard Test Methods for Programmable Horizontal Impact Test for Shipping Containers and Systems
  • ASTM D5276 - 98(2009) Standard Test Method for Drop Test of Loaded Containers by Free Fall
  • ASTM D880 - 92(2008) Standard Test Method for Impact Testing for Shipping Containers and Systems
  • ASTM D4332 - 01(2006) Standard Practice for Conditioning Containers, Packages, or Packaging Components for Testing
  • ASTM D642-00(2005) Standard Test Method for Determining Compressive Resistance of Shipping Containers, Components, and Unit Loads
  • ASTM D999 - 08 Standard Test Methods for Vibration Testing of Shipping Containers
  • ASTM D4169 - 09 Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems
  • ASTM D4728 - 06 Standard Test Method for Random Vibration Testing of Shipping Containers