What is a package vibration test?
A package vibration test aims to simulate the types of vibrations that packages suffer during handling, transportation, and shipping. If vibrations are too severe they could cause packages to become damaged by losing their integrity. Therefore, this kind of test aims to discover if your export packaging is going to keep goods safe when being jostled around in, say, a truck, or whether it’s going to come apart at the seams!
What does a vibration test look like?
The sample export page with product inside will be subjected to vibration (measured in root mean square acceleration or Grms) created by hydraulic tables with fixed displacement (using relevant apparatus as per ASTM D999) or random (using relevant apparatus as per ASTM D4728) vibration.
The vibrations created are equivalent to those felt during transit on a train, plane, or truck.
You can see a random vibration test on packaged goods on pallets below:
This is one of a series of package tests that make up the industry-standard ISTA 2A, and if you’re serious about reducing damage it should make up a part of your quality standard along with a package drop test, too.
Do I need to run this test?
Any importer shipping products to customers should consider package reliability testing like vibration tests. Testing in advance of shipping could save you a lot of money on recalls if the packaging is later found to be defective. It goes without saying that FBA sellers also risk being penalized by Amazon, too.
The package vibration test process
Here is the process we follow for random vibration testing on packages:
- Program the apparatus to provide the correct vibration profile.For your reference, you can see the random vibration spectrum used here:
- Place the test package (packed in retail packaging inside
export packaging) on the apparatus’ table. The package may be prevented from falling from the table, but vertical movement (bouncing) may not be restricted.
- Start the test.
- Switch the package to rest on a different face after the allotted time has passed per face.
- When complete, unbox all units.
Check the export packaging for damage.
Check the inner retail packaging for damage.
Check the product itself for damage and check its operation.
Note, when performing this test it is imperative that you use sample packages which are identical to those that will be shipped in order to get accurate results. This means the same product in the same retail packaging, with the same dunnage, and the same export packaging or carton.
Has my package passed the test?
Your product must pass all functional tests and cosmetic specifications after unboxing for the test to be considered a pass.
Minor cosmetic damage to the export package or carton is to be expected, however, any damage to the product being shipped is unacceptable.
If any damage is found, you may consider making adjustments to the packaging before shipping the whole production and your supplier should be prepared to support you with this.
Common package or carton vibration test standards
- ASTM D999 – Standard Test Methods for Vibration Testing of Shipping Containers
- ASTM D3580 -Standard Test Methods for Vibration (Vertical Linear Motion) Test of Products
- ASTM D4728 – Standard Test Method for Random Vibration Testing of Shipping Containers (truck & air)
- ASTM D5112 – Standard Test Method for Vibration (Horizontal Linear Sinusoidal Motion) Test of Products
- ASTM D7387 – Standard Test Method for Vibration Testing of Intermediate Bulk Containers (IBCs) Used for Shipping Liquid Hazardous Materials (Dangerous Goods)
- International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) Procedure 2A: Packaged-Products weighing 150 lb (68 kg) or Less
- ISO 2247:2000
Packaging — Complete, filled transport packages and unit loads — Vibration tests at fixed low frequency
Note, certain organisations such as carriers and Amazon, also have their own testing demands, so check with them if applicable and then be sure to carry out the correct test.