Advocate Research & Value Delivery Program

The ISTA Advocate Research & Value Delivery Program has been active conducting research and adding new members. The Program's 23 Advocates have pledged $1,850,000 in support of the Program's goal: To conduct research and data collection that improves testing and design methodologies to keep pace with the rapidly evolving global supply chain and enhance the knowledge of existing channels.

For status reports and updates for each research project, please see below:

Eliminate Over-Packaging, Ideation

Project 0001: RFP closed

The Eliminate Over-Packaging project seeks to develop and validate a new technique that quantifies how far beyond a chosen performance and confidence level a package is able to protect the product it contains.


ITENE was awarded and has completed the discovery portion of Phase 1. The next step in the project is Ideation accomplished through the identification of Subject Matter Experts (SME's) who will process the discovery materials and make recommendations of the best methods to further explore in Phase 2- Experimental Design.

View full RFP

Research Transit Damage Scenarios

Project 0002: RFP closed

This Research Transit Damage Scenarios project entails researching product damage as a result of hazards experienced during distribution in order to quantify their monetary impact and to understand typical damage levels for various commodities shipped via various modes. This project is very large in scale, and as such, will involve multiple phases. The specific work sought for this RFP is directly related to the following:

Research potential cargo claims data sources that could be analyzed to (at some future time) publish a white paper addressing the impact of cargo claims on a specific region and/or mode and/or commodity/industry.


We have Limited initial scope to LTL mode in order to take a manageable step. The process has been progressing slowly as we need a broad enough base to assure the information is able to be de-identified and reflective of actual experience. A task team has been formed to accomplish this and/or make recommendations back to the Council.

View full RFP

Measurement and Multi-Axis Simulation of Unit Load Stability Transportation

Project 0003: RFP closed

This project aims to collect statistically significant data on the motion and forces in real-time history format in various orientations to which unit loads are subjected during transport, and translate this data into tools and test methods that allow users to design and optimize their unit load packaging.


Two phases of this project have been completed. The first phase of this project was a pilot to determine the best methodology to record staged hazards of short and long duration as well as multi-axis vibration. Both Clemson (in conjunction with Purdue) and MSU completed this data recording phase. Phase 2, laboratory reproduction of the data showed that we could reproduce the 6 degree of freedom vibration profiles that were collected, and a White Paper has been published and is on file at ISTA. However, the data collection set-ups did not collect long duration events. Funds have been allocated for Phase 3, whose goal is to collect long duration events, is in the RFP development stage.

Phase 3 update: an ISTA Load Stability Work Group has requested funding to analyze vehicle data focusing on horizontal impacts (> 10 ms) and constant horizontal acceleration events with the goal of quantifying potential test levels separately for test impacts and long duration constant acceleration test events. An Advocate Council Task Team has been formed and they have received funding approval to develop an RFP to study these events.

View full RFP

Develop Test Protocol for eCommerce Retailer Shipping System

Project 0004 Phase 1: Mapping Packaged-Product Handling Within eCommerce Retailer Shipping Systems; RFP closed

Study of the various eCommerce supply chain environments, including consolidators, to understand the hazard levels and handling methods. This data will translate into testing that optimizes packaging in the rapidly expanding eCommerce channel.


Phase 1 of our eCommerce project, whose goal was to Map packaged-product handling within e-retailer's distribution systems to determine similarities and where hazards exist, has been completed and reported out to members. Chainalytics mapped six different Supply Chains in the top 25 volume shippers in 2016 and were able to identify the major hazards associated within several e-retailers (58% of total volume) who allowed a deeper dive into their handling and delivery system.

Project 0004 Phase 2: Identifying and Measuring Hazards within eCommerce Retailer Internal Shipping and Handling Systems; RFP on hold

Establish a data driven packaged-product pre-shipment performance test protocol that can be used to evaluate the suitability of the transport packaging to protect its contents from the hazards encountered in the eCommerce retailer shipping environment.


Observational Data Collection inside 3 unique e-retailers has been completed by Chainalytics and will be reported out in the third quarter with the data, a gap analysis to ISTA 3A, Amazon 6 SIOC and Amazon 6 Overbox, a correlation of problem items as well as their recommendations. The final report will be distributed to members as well as to ISTA to assist their Work Group in the development of a generic eCommerce test protocol.

View full RFP Phase 1View full RFP Phase 2

Distribution Environment Data Collection

Project 0005: RFP closed

The Distribution Environment Data Collection project aims to enhance ISTA’s value proposition by ensuring we continue to offer the industry’s most current testing procedures. This data will be leveraged by packaging professionals to design optimized packaging solutions for both domestic and global distribution. The ARVD has determined this to be a four (4) phase research program. The specific work sought for this RFP is directly related to the following phase:

Documentation of the transport modes, storage, and handling methods involved in the distribution of CPGs, including last segments, in predetermined regions around the world.

Phase 1 Status:

Observational Data Collection of the transport modes, storage, and handling methods involved in the distribution of CPGs, including last segments, in China (performed by RIT) and India (performed by CalPoly) has been completed and reported to the members. ISTA has subsequently retained CalPoly to collect data on hazards on major routes within India. This study has been reported out and a Work Group established to consider how to best show this differentiated hazard profile in its test protocols.

The Advocate Council is cooperating with the ISTA Research Council to jointly fund a data collection project for China. The RFP is in development and will be issued in the 3rd qtr. When this study has been reported out an ISTA Work Group will be established, much like with the prior India and European studies, to consider how to best show these possibly differentiated hazard profiles, in its test protocols.

View full RFP

Single Parcel Shipping Environment

Project 0006: RFP closed

This is a 4-part project involving Data Collection and Methodology Development applicable in the Single Parcel Shipping Environment. A significant amount of effort has been expended in the past to characterize the handling of the high-volume package types, weights and sizes that go through the single parcel shipping channels. However, these projects have been scoped to address potential gaps that exist in ISTA 3A, Packaged-Products for Parcel Delivery System Shipment.

  • Parts 1 and 2 involve the collection of field data in the single parcel shipping environment and offering recommendations on potential improvements to ISTA 3A with focus in the following areas.
  • Part 1 - Measuring the effect of packaged-product size and weight on the drop heights experienced.
  • Part 2 - Measuring the dynamic compression forces experienced due to the combination of stacking and vibration.
  • Parts 3 and 4 relate to testing methodology development as is felt that the technique and tools required to conduct these studies are not currently defined or validated.
  • Part 3 - Develop a methodology to measure the effect of packaged-product dimensions on the flexing forces experienced.
  • Part 4 - Develop a methodology to measure the effect of packaged-product dimensions on the concentrated loading / impacts.


Collect field data in the single parcel shipping environment and offer recommendations on potential improvements to ISTA 3A with focus on the effect of packaged-product weight and size on the drop heights experienced. A design of experiment was developed by an Advocate Council Task Team and an RFP that required researcher(s) to construct and validate instrumented decoys representing 13 different package configurations, that would be shipped to 6 different regions via FedEx, UPS, and USPS, was jointly awarded to MSU and RIT. The project requirements of 1,040 shipments are 70% complete and should be reported out in the 4th Qtr. An initial directional report representing 33% of shipments has been distributed.


LTL Hazard Data Collection

Project 0007: RFP OPEN

The objective of this research project is to measure, the hazards encountered by LTL (less than truckload) freight in their standard handling, transport and delivery environment not adequately covered, or supported by field data, in the existing ISTA 3B standard.

This research will be conducted in three Phases and this RFP is only for Phase 1:

Phase 1 - Build a partially instrumented (2 contiguous sides plus top) pallet that will record each of the identified hazard inputs during Phase 2 as shown in Appendix I. Validate the measurement device capabilities in a laboratory environment.

Scope of work sought in this RFP states requirements for the project, including the services and the tangible work products to be delivered, and the tasks the Advocate Council has identified as necessary to meet those requirements. Proposals should be tailored specifically to only Phase 1.

  • Conduct a literature search to discover if prior art regarding data collection and methodology for the hazards within the scope of this research exists in this space.
  • Design and validate a fixture, a proof of concept, which would answer the question Can we measure the things we know are happening? Make updates as necessary until reviewed and approved by the ARVD Team.


View Full RFP-0007Appendix I – Possible Pallet Construction IdeaAppendix II – Phase 2, Staged Events Examples *ISTA Advocate Research Report FormISTA Data Collection StandardsISTA NDAISTA Sample ARDV Consultant Contract

* If you are interested in being considered for Phase 2 of this project as described in the RFP, Use the partially instrumented pallet to measure staged hazards (as shown in Appendix II) during 5 shipment legs in a controlled LTL staging, loading and in-transit trailer environment, you should declare intent at this time and provide a cost estimate for personnel and project management portions assuming the vehicle, required lading and instrumented pallet would be handled by ISTA.

Advocate Council Members

Current members of the Advocate Council represent all areas of ISTA membership and include:


ABF Freight Dow Fibre Box Association General Mills International Paper L.A.B. Equipment, Inc. Lansmont Corporation Eli Lilly and Company Packaging Corporation of America Pepsico Pratt Industries SC Johnson Sealed Air Westpak WestRock


Bay Cities Smithers Pira


gh Testing Harley Davidson Pro-Pack Testing Laboratory, Inc. Ring Container Technologies TEN-E Packaging Services

Become an Advocate Member

The benefits of being an Advocate member company are numerous:

  1. Allows direct input into the type and scope of research that will drive the future of distribution packaging.
  2. Demonstrates to your customers you are vested in their goals of design and testing aimed at lowest cost and environmental footprint to get your, or their, products to market safely.
  3. Leverages the research dollars and technical expertise of other Advocate Council members and ISTA’s international network of packaging experts to deliver meaningful project results.
  4. Provides strategic direction to your company by knowing where package design and testing is headed.
  5. Assists in achieving your sustainability goals while supporting your sustainability leadership image in the market.
  6. Enhances your ability to provide optimal packaging solutions to strengthen existing customer relationships and aid in securing new business.
  7. Gives you access to the information generated as much as 18 months ahead of release to the broader ISTA membership.

Research findings will begin coming in continually, but, it’s not too late to get involved. We are currently accepting at the leader level.

Leader: $100,000 (voting rights)


For information regarding the Advocate Program or its Research Projects please contact:

Brian O‘Banion
ISTA Vice President of Research