ISTA 3K Package Testing

ISTA Procedure 3K shipping testing is the test standard for fast moving consumer goods in the European retail supply chain. ISTA 3K is also known as Project 3K. This project is a general simulation test for packaged consumer products shipped through the multiple retail supply chain environment in Europe. This standard is designed for the range of packages commonly merchandised through large retailer stores and convenience stores. The standard also includes shipments of store-specific mixed loads in roll cages and mixed pallets.

The environment for which ISTA 3K was designed is common with western European countries. These countries include UK, France, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Italy, Spain and Switzerland. Project 3K can also be used for other European countries where large multiple retail environment infrastructure is developed.

Project 3K includes a variety of different package formats. They include the following:

  • Small shrink-wrapped trays of products. These could include groups of deodorant aerosols or glass jars.
  • Large shrink-wrapped trays of goods. Examples could be trays of cans of beverages or detergent packages.
  • Small corrugated cases or wraps. These could include shelf-ready corrugated cases for a snack product.
  • Large corrugated cases or wraps. An example would be a coalition of glass bottle of a beverage.
  • Shrink wrap without a tray. This is common with drinks or paper products such as paper towels.
  • Various bags. Examples would include bags of dog food or packages of sugar or flour.

It is important to note that ISTA 3K only relates to the retailer-controlled parts of the supply chain. Separate testing should be completed at the unit load level to determine fitness with respect to full pallet shipment commonly controlled by the brand owner.

Project 3K analyzes a number of processes that occur at the packing level. For instance, pyramid-picking or overhanging stacks. This often occurs at the retailer distribution center as a result of the way other packages are selected from the unit load. Dragging the product is also considered. Carrying the product is an action simulated during testing. This is essentially lifting and carrying the package using the base or shrink wrap as support. The package horizontal impacts are also simulated since these often occur through automated conveyor operations.

To complete the testing various packages are used. Test packages are used from the start to the end of testing. When multiple identical items are tested, all of them must pass all of the tests. Dummy packages are used throughout the testing process. This allows for accurate simulation of the real hazards experienced. The third type of product used is a roll cage fill package. These are used to enhance the effectiveness of the package hazard simulations.

The following chart includes an overview of the test sequences of ISTA 3K testing:

Format Test Category Test Type Test Level For ISTA Certification
Package Atmospheric Preconditioning TEST BLOCK 1 Temperature and Humidity Ambient, frozen or chilled (to be selected as appropriate for the distribution and merchandising channel for the packaged product being tested) Required
Package Picking TEST BLOCK 2 Pyramid Pick (Overhand Stack) 6 minute test duration Required
Package Picking TEST BLOCK 3 Drag 5 minute test duration Required
Package Picking TEST BLOCK 4 Carry 10 seconds static plus 5 cycles carry-oscillation Required
Package Shock TEST BLOCK 5 Placement Drop 5 impacts in various orientations, 150mm Required
Package Shock TEST BLOCK 6 Drop-on Impacting top of lower package, base of upper package, 150mm Required
Package Shock (OPTIONAL) TEST BLOCK 7 Impact 8 impacts at 1.35m/s Optional
Mixed Load Shock TEST BLOCK 8 Impact 4 impacts of 0.91m/s Required
Mixed Load Vibration TEST BLOCK 9 Random Vibration Overall G level of 0.28 for 40 minutes followed by 0.517 for 60 seconds Required
Mixed Load Shock TEST BLOCK 10 Flat Drop 1 drop from 60mm Required
Package Shock TEST BLOCK 11 Placement Drop 4 impacts in various orientations, 150mm Required
Package Shock (investigative) TEST BLOCK 12 Drop 4 impacts in various orientations, 300mm Advised (Optional)
Package Shock (INVESTIGATIVE) TEST BLOCK 13 Drop-on Impacting top of lower package, base of upper package, 300mm Advised (Optional)
Assessment Package Assessment BLOCK 14 No testing involved Inspection and assessment of test and roll cage fill packages Required

Keystone Package Testing understands the hazards associated with the European distribution network. Our engineers and technicians have significant experience designing and implementing test programs to assist shippers in certifying their products. Contact us today to learn firsthand why so many companies partner with us to meet their ISTA 3K transit testing needs.

 

Other ISTA Standards: