Technical Workgroup Updates

ISTA’s technical community has been hard at work addressing protocol change requests for existing tests such as ISTA 3H and 3B as well as tackling new test method development.  All efforts are being executed as part of workgroups formed at the direction of ISTA’s Testing Council

Below is a brief overview of the workgroup efforts:   
Load Stability
Load stability is a distribution hazard that has been discussed for many years and proved very challenging to address with a singular test method.  Knowing the complexity of the situation, the workgroup defined their initial project scope to developing a test method that predicts the effects of non-restrained horizontal impacts on unit loads in a generalized supply chain.  

Existing research and variety of testing concepts were reviewed by the workgroup at the onset of this effort.  Through extensive discussions and with the defined scope in mind, a proof of concept lab trial using a newly design test artifact was conducted.  The objective was to develop a method that can quantify the effect of both “an impact” and “the level of restraint” a unit load is subjected to.  For both elements to be captured, a new artifact was created by Michigan State Univeristy School of Packaging.  The unit load artifact was built with independent layers so that movement could be accessed at different vertical locations, while ensuring repeatable use.  

Based upon positive trial work, the workgroup is now building out a plan for collecting field data.  Once collected, the field data will be compared to laboratory testing using the same artifact at varying impact levels or test fixtures until there is a correlation between the field and lab response.

Future efforts will focus on other aspects of load stability such as those associated with constant accelerations & decelerations.  These forces are commonly experienced during braking events and transitioning through cornering, roundabouts and cloverleaf ramps.

If you have interest in participating or are curious to learn more about this workgroup's progress, please contact ISTA for more information.

Artifact credit to Michigan State University School of Packaging and testing credit to Smithers Pira.
Concentrated Forces
This workgroup is tasked with developing test method(s) that account for forces exerted onto a focused area of freight.  These focused areas are typically due to common load restraining practices within a trailer such strapping used to secure freight to the side walls of a trailer, air bag or pallet dunnage used to fill void spaces and stabilize freight as well as load beams used to minimize freight movement.  

A design of experiment for five potential different test methods has been drafted by the workgroup.  These methods are attempting to gain an understanding of abrasion damage due load beams and strapping during vibration as well as crushing and load sheer that could occur during impacts with load beams, strapping and or air bag dunnage.

Laboratory work and a correlation study are forthcoming so if there is interest in helping either by sharing your experiences, executing some or all of the test methods, or contributing packaged-product to the correlation study, please reach out to ISTA for more information.

Illustration credit to ABF Freight.
Get Involved! ISTA’s Test Series Group (TSG)
Getting involved with ISTA’s Technical community is a great way to not only ensure you’re staying connected to the most current information out there but provide influence over the technical matters that impact the packaging industry.  

If you would like to contribute to ISTA and the packaging industry by volunteering, ISTA’s Test Series Group (TSG) is a great place to start.  The TSG is ISTA’s consensus body responsible for voting on proposed new ISTA Test Protocols, technical revisions to existing and reaffirmation of existing ISTA Protocols as well as the addition & termination of TSG members.  To ensure balance and openness, involvement in the TSG is open to ISTA members and non-members.

If you have interest in ISTA’s TSG, please submit the following TSG Membership Request Form to If you would like more information about the group, please contact Eric Hiser at