ASTM D4169 Package Integrity Testing

ASTM D4169 Package Integrity Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems

ASTM D4169 package testing evaluates the ability of shipping units to withstand the distribution environment. As an ISTA and ISO 17025 certified lab, we realize the importance of shipping container testing. Meeting the ASTM D4169 test requirements can be difficult. We understand the challenges and guide companies through the process.

When packages do not meet the requirements, Keystone assists with finding solutions. We have a reputation for helping customers achieve their package certifications. We provide comprehensive reports shortly after the completion of the testing. Keystone Package Testing partners with customers to achieve package compliance.

Request a quote to see why so many companies partner with Keystone Package Testing. Have a question about testing of shipping containers and systems? Contact us and we will determine the best course of action.

Summary of ASTM D4169 Performance Testing Information

The ASTM D4169 standard package test outlines a test plan of anticipated transportation hazards. These hazards replicate the shipping container stress as a form of packaging performance testing.

ASTM D 4169 shipping container performance tests require that all test specimens be samples of the complete shipping units. The units should contain the actual contents. Dummy test loads are acceptable if the testing of the actual product might be hazardous.

It is important that the test specimens do not incur degradation on their way to the lab. This includes both the product and the package. If there is any doubt, the product should be repackaged in a new package.

ASTM D4169 Shipping Test Procedures

The ASTM D 4169 protocol test sequence includes the following steps:

  1. Define the shipping unit in terms of size, weight, and form of construction. It also must be determined if the container will be manually or mechanically handled.
  2. Establish the assurance level or level of test intensity. The level is based on the product value and desired level of anticipated damage to be tolerated. The number of units to be shipped and knowledge of the shipping environment should also be considered.
  3. Determine the acceptance criteria for the shipping container test. The acceptance criteria for package validation of ASTM D 4169 testing must be established prior to testing. The criteria should consider the condition of the product at receipt. The organizations conducting the test may choose any acceptance criteria suitable for their purpose. In most cases, the acceptance criteria can be:
    • Criterion 1: Product is damage-free
    • Criterion 2: Package is intact
    • Criterion 3: Both criteria one and two
  4. Select the distribution cycle. ASTM D4169 package stress testing outlines a number of different distribution cycles. These cycles spell out the various paths a package could experience and include:
    • 1: General
    • 2: User-specified
    • 3: Single package without pallet or skid, LTL motor freight
    • 4: Single package with pallet or skid, LTL motor freight
    • 5: Motor freight, TL, not unitized
    • 6: Motor freight, TL or LTL, unitized
    • 7: Rail only, bulk loaded
    • 8: Rail only, unitized
    • 9: Rail and motor freight, not unitized
    • 10: Rail and motor freight, unitized
    • 11: Rail, TOFC and COFC
    • 12: Air and motor freight (local) over 150 pounds or unitized
    • 13: Air and motor freight (local), single package up to 150 pounds
    • 14: Warehousing
    • 15: Export/Import shipment for intermodal container or roll-on/roll-off trailer
    • 16: Export/Import shipment for palletized cargo ship
    • 17: Export/Import shipment for breakbulk cargo ship
    • 18: Non-Commercial government shipments per MIL-STD 2073-1
  5. Write the test plan and perform testing. The ASTM D 4169 test outlines a number of hazard elements and test schedules to select from. They include types of dynamics testing and climatic testing:
    • Schedule A: Handling, manual and mechanical. Manual handling includes loading, unloading, stacking, sorting or palletizing. The main hazards from these activities are the impacts caused by dropping or throwing. Several test method options are permitted. These include SSTM D4169 free-fall and simulated drop tests using shock machines.
    • Schedule B: Warehouse stacking test method determines the ability of the shipping unit to withstand compressive loads. These loads occur during warehouse storage or vehicle transport.
    • Schedule C: Vehicle stacking test requires that the loading must consider the effects of the length of time in storage. Other considerations include container stacking pattern, container strength variability, method of load transport, and vibration. Environmental impacts such as moisture content and temperature must also be considered.
    • Schedule D: Stacked vibration. This test method determines the ability to withstand vertical vibration and the compression resulting from vehicle stacking as simulated by an ASTM vibration test.
    • Schedule E: Vehicle vibration. This vibration does not include the compression from vehicle stacking. Acceptable vibration testing can include sine vibration and random vibration.
    • Schedule F: Load testing services such as loose load vibration. This simulates the repetitive shocks that occur during the transportation of bulk or loose loads.
    • Schedule G: Rail switching. There are various acceleration levels and compression forces that occur during rail switching operations.
    • Schedule H: Environmental hazard. This schedule accounts for the rapid changes in ambient conditions. These are most associated with the military distribution of material. These conditions include moisture, temperature shock, solar radiation, and water spray. This type of testing is also known as environmental testing.
    • Schedule I: Low-pressure hazard testing. The reduction in pressure when packaged products are transported via certain methods must be accounted for. These methods include feeder aircraft or by ground over mountain passes.
    • Schedule J: Concentrated impact. Packages often experience numerous impacts during sorting operations and in transit. This package test schedule simulates those impacts.
  6. Evaluate the results to determine if the units meet the acceptance criteria.
  7. Document the test results by reporting each step.
  8. Monitor shipments to ensure that the type and quantity of damage obtained by the lab

Keystone is accredited to complete testing to all revisions of the ASTM D4169 package test standards. These include, but are not limited to the following:

  • ASTM D4169 01
  • ASTM D4169 05
  • ASTM D4169 09
  • ASTM D4169 14
  • ASTM D4169 16
  • ASTM D4169 22

Why is ASTM D4169 Transportation Testing Important?

ASTM D4169 is a standard practice for performance testing of shipping containers and systems. Testing is vital to ensure any of the following:

  • Product safety
  • Reducing costs
  • Complying with regulations
  • Enhancing customer satisfaction
  • Optimizing the supply chain
  • Promoting environmental sustainability
  • Accessing global markets.

By subjecting products to the realistic transportation simulations of ASTM D4169, companies can identify weaknesses, make necessary improvements, and ensure their products arrive at their destinations intact and ready for use.

ASTM D4169 Drop TestingCost Reduction: Transportation-related damages can lead to significant financial losses for manufacturers, retailers, and consumers. By subjecting products to realistic shipping conditions and identifying potential weaknesses, ASTM D4169 ship testing helps companies make necessary improvements to packaging and handling procedures, thereby minimizing product losses and associated costs.

Customer Satisfaction: Ensuring that products arrive at their destinations in optimal condition enhances customer satisfaction. When customers receive products in good condition, they are more likely to have a positive perception of the brand, leading to increased loyalty and potential word-of-mouth referrals.

Supply Chain Optimization: Transportation testing helps identify vulnerabilities and inefficiencies in the supply chain. Addressing these issues can lead to improved logistics planning, reduced lead times, and overall supply chain optimization, resulting in cost savings and increased competitiveness.

Expert ASTM Performance Testing of Shipping Containers

Keystone Package Testing is a leader in testing the ASTM D 4169 test standard. As an ASTM D4169 testing lab, Keystone has significant ASTM testing experience. We not only provide transit testing but also assist in developing the test plan. In addition to ASTM D4169 testing, Keystone has a full scope of expertise including accelerated aging, drop, and sterile barrier. We can accommodate flexible and rigid packages of all sizes, including large pallets.

Contact us to see firsthand why so many companies partner with Keystone. Request a quote and utilize our package testing services for package testing for shipping containers and stress testing for packaging.


For more referenced ASTM standards and similar testing, please follow the links below:


Interested in the EMC/EMI, climatic, dynamic, shielding effectiveness, or IP Code testing of a product? Follow the corresponding links or for more information.