Standard Title
Test Method for Performance Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems

Overview for ASTM D4169 Performance Testing:

ASTM D4169 Performance Testing is the primary starting point for testing and validating packaging systems for Distribution. By comparing your packaging systems to the hazards that will happen in distribution, the correct distribution cycle will be selected. This distribution cycle is shown to closely simulate the environment the packaging system will experience through shipping. Purple Diamond Testing offers ASTM D 4169 Testing as part of our packaging compliance and validation services. Purple Diamond Testing offers ASTM D4169 as part of our packaging compliance.

This testing standard supplies companies and users of this method with a guide for the evaluation of loads shipping following a particular distribution system. The test methods are set up and are used at different intervals and levels of actual distribution. Each recommended test is determined to be of use depending on the specific shipping and handling environment, as well as the current level of technical expectation as it pertains to the laws in place by both industry and government. The tests should be performed at any given time, but in sequence with the same containers. It is important that the packaged goods stay unopened during the entirety of the test to ensure correct analysis and findings. This may change though, if the packaged goods are in a different part of the development phase, such as the engineering or design of said packaged goods. It may be helpful to inspect the packaged goods inside to see how they are affected at each interval, under each condition. If, the customer wants to have better container closure integrity, different options may be assessed and evaluated to see which ones work best for the given packaged goods.

The different simulated distribution cycles include (and may change in order), 

DC1 – A general distribution cycle

DC2 – A specially defined distribution cycle

DC3 – A single package without a pallet or skid

DC4 – A single package with a pallet or skid

DC5 – A motor freight, not unitized

DC6 – A motor freight, LTL-unitized

DC7 – A rail only, bulk load

DC8 – A rail only, unitized load

DC9 – A rail and motor freight, not unitized

DC10 – A rail and motor freight, unitized loads

DC11 – A rail, with trailer or container on flatcar

DC12 – An air distribution with motor freight for over 150 lbs.

DC13 – An air distribution with motor freight for under 150 lbs.

DC14 – A warehousing distribution cycle

DC15 – An export/import shipment of a container

DC16 – An export/import shipment for a palletized cargo ship

DC17 – An export/import shipment for break bulk cargo ship

DC18 – A non-commercial government shipment distribution cycle


 

Rationale of ASTM D4169 Performance Testing:

ASTM D4169: Standard Practice for Performance Testing of Shipping Containers and Systems. Can be used to simulate Motor Freight, Rail & Air shipping environments. The standard is used to recreate hazards associated with distribution in a laboratory environment to evaluate and ideally perfect packaging systems. 

According to ASTM.org:

“1.1 This practice provides a uniform basis for evaluating, in a laboratory, the ability of shipping units to withstand the distribution environment. This is conducted by subjecting them to a test plan consisting of a sequence of anticipated hazard elements encountered in various distribution cycles. This practice is not intended to supplant material specifications or existing reshipment test procedures.

1.2 Consider the use of Practice D7386 for testing packages for single parcel shipments.

1.3 The suitability of this practice for use with hazardous materials has not been decided.

1.4 The values are said in inch-pound units are to be regarded as standard. The values given in parentheses are mathematical conversions to SI units that are supplied for information only and are not considered standard.

1.5 This standard does not purport to address all the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to set up proper safety, health, and environmental practices and figure out the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.

1.6 This international standard was developed in accordance with internationally recognized principles on standardization established in the Decision on Principles for the Development of International Standards, Guides and Recommendations issued by the World Trade Organization Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Committee.”

Working together in partnership, our experts and your engineers will decide on which distribution cycle to evaluate. Every company and its shipped packaged products will have a different distribution path. It’s important to home in on that before the actual testing is started. Doing so will ensure that the samples given to Purple Diamond will be evaluated, analyzed, and reported on as accurately as possible. To be successful in finding exactly what your packaged products distribution cycle is, we will need to consider all the steps that the package will take through its journey from Point A to Point B. Will the packaged product hit turbulence due to being in a plane? Will the package only be traveling via truck, experiencing only short vibrations? Does your package have to travel across the sea at any point, enduring potential external harsh weather conditions? Will your package experience all three, air, sea, and land? It’s up to us to work together in order to figure that out. Then the ASTM D4169 testing process can begin.

As mentioned earlier, there are a total of 18 different types of distribution cycles that include: air, train, truck, boat, and more. Each of the distribution cycles aims to be as realistic as possible to yield the most exact results. Each distribution channel stands for a combination of travel types along with the associated risks they pose to the packaged product being evaluated. For example, one of the distribution channels stands for a distribution process that involves intercity air freight as well as local truck freight for a single packaged product weighing up to 150 lbs. This scenario is typical and is simulated often. Other distribution channels are more in depth and difficult to prepare for, but nevertheless, possible and necessary. 

Once the distribution cycle is chosen, an assurance level needs to be chosen next. The assurance level is selected based on the likelihood of certain events occurring, such as dropping from certain heights, being compressed to certain extents, and vibrating at various levels of intensity. 

The parameters for ASTM D4169 testing include:

  1. Distribution Cycle: 1 to 18
  2. Assurance Level: I to III
  3. Number of Samples: 1 or more for critical shipments
  4. Specimen Dimensions: Same as the actual distribution
  5. Conditioning and Testing Temperature: Ambient unless specified otherwise
  6. Conditioning and Testing Relative Humidity: Ambient unless specified otherwise

Key Points and Takeaways of ASTM D4169:

Related Standards to ASTM D4169:

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Mechanical 

Specific Tests and/or  

Properties Measured 

Specification, Standard, Method, or Test Technique 

Items, Materials or  

Product Tested  

Key Equipment or Technology 

Compression Testing 

ASTM D642, ASTM D4169 49 CFR 178.606, 178.815 (d)(2) & 178.980 (d)(2) ISTA 1C / ISTA 1D ISTA 2A / ISTA 2B ISTA 3E / ISTA 3F ISTA 3H / ISTA 6 – AMAZON.COM-SIOC, ISTA 6-SAMSCLUB/ ISTA 6- FEDEX A & B 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Compression System 

Incline Impact 

ASTM D880, ASTM D4169 ISTA 1A / ISTA 1B ISTA 1C / ISTA 1D ISTA 1E / ISTA 1G ISTA 1H / ISTA 2A ISTA 2B / ISTA 2C ISTA 3B / ISTA 3E / ISTA 6-AMAZON.COM-SIOC, ISTA 6-SAMSCLUB  

ISTA 6- FEDEX A & B 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Incline Impact Tester 

Loose Load Vibration 

ASTM D999, ASTM D4169 49 CFR 178.608, 178.819 & 178.985 ISTA 1A / ISTA 1B ISTA 1C / ISTA 1D ISTA 1E / ISTA 2A / ISTA 2B 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Vibration System 

Environmental 

Conditioning 

ASTM D4332, ASTM D4169 ASTM D7386, ASTM F2825 ISTA 1C / ISTA 1D ISTA 2A / ISTA 2B ISTA 2C / ISTA 3A ISTA 3B / ISTA 3E ISTA 3F / ISTA 3H ISTA 6 /  

ISTA 7D, ISO 2233 / ISTA 6 – AMAZON.COM-SIOC, ISTA 6-SAMSCLUB/ ISTA 6- FEDEX A & B 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Temperature / Humidity Chamber 

Random Vibration 

ASTM D4728, ASTM D4169 ISTA 1C / ISTA 1D ISTA 1E / ISTA 1G ISTA 1H / ISTA 2A ISTA 2B / ISTA 2C ISTA 3A / ISTA 3B ISTA 3E / ISTA 3F / ISTA 6 – AMAZON.COM-SIOC, ISTA 6-SAMSCLUB/ ISTA 6- FEDEX A & B 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Vibration System 

Bridge Impact 

ASTM D5265, ASTM D4169 ASTM D7386, ISTA 3A / ISTA 3B / ISTA 6 – AMAZON.COM-SIOC, ISTA 6-SAMSCLUB/ ISTA 6- FEDEX A & B 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Hazard Unit Free Fall Drop Tester 

Drop Testing 

ASTM D5276, ASTM D4169 49 CFR 178.603, 178.810 & 178.965, ISTA 1A / ISTA 1B ISTA 1C / ISTA 1D ISTA 1G / ISTA 1H ISTA 2A / ISTA 2B ISTA 2C / ISTA 3A ISTA 3B / ISTA 3F / ISTA 6 – AMAZON.COM-SIOC, ISTA 6-SAMSCLUB/ ISTA 6- FEDEX A & B 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Free Fall Drop Tester 

Mechanical Handling of Unitized Load 

ASTM D6055, ASTM D4169 ISTA 2F / ISTA 3B / ISTA 6-AMAZON.COM-SIOC /  ISTA 6-SAMSCLUB 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Fork Truck 

Rough Handling of Unitized Loads 

ASTM D6179, ASTM D4169 ASTM D7386, ISTA 1B / ISTA 1D ISTA 1E / ISTA 1H ISTA 2B / ISTA 2C ISTA 3A / ISTA 3B ISTA 3E / ISTA 3H ISTA 6, SAMSCLUB 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Fork Truck 

Altitude Testing 

ASTM D6653, ASTM D4169 ASTM D7386, ISTA 3A 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Vacuum Chamber 

Sinusoidal Vibration 

ASTM D3580 

Any Packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Vibration Systems 

Concentrated Impact Testing 

ASTM D6344, ASTM D4169 ASTM D7386, ISTA 6, FEDEX A 

Any packaging or Product not Exceeding 5 000 lbs 

Dart 

Accreditations

Achieving ISO 17025 Accreditation is the pinnacle in third-party laboratory testing accreditation. It confirms that the facility has management, quality, and technical systems in place to ensure accurate and reliable analyses.
ISTA is revered as the certification standard for package testing for distribution. ISTA’s Testing Protocol remains a series of testing methodologies and standards well recognized within the packaging community.
A select few companies are authorized by PHMSA as an approved third-party packaging testing laboratory in accordance with Hazardous Materials Regulations, critical to ensuring safe transport of dangerous goods.

Affiliations

With over 12,000 standards globally, ASTM International’s fully transparent standards development enhances performance and confidence in consumer choices.
The Technical Association of Pulp and Paper Industry’s peer-reviewed standards improve production through operational methods and industry recognized best practices.

 

 The APASS program was designed by Amazon to help support vendors, sellers, and manufacturers in obtaining certification of their products as Frustration Free Packaging (FFP), Ships in Own Container (SIOC), or Prep-Free Packaging (PFP).

At Purple Diamond, we offer a free consultation or a guided tour of our facilities. Consultations can be done over the phone or on zoom, so choose what suits you best. To get in touch, go to our Contact Us page and fill out the form or book an appointment using the calendar below. Our goal is to assist you in any way possible, so please don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Thank you so much for reading down this far and thank you for considering Purple Diamond as your dedicated testing, engineering, and design facility for all of your packaging needs.

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