Test Product Packaging – Make Sure Yours Passes
6 October 2014
A first-rate crating company should be able to help you design and build affordable, reliable and durable crates for your particular product needs. While most shipping performance can be observed and measured, there may be times when it becomes important to test your crating for regulatory and safety reasons. For instance, you may find yourself shipping goods that need to be UN certified or ISTA compliant, etc. Alternatively, if you are bringing a new product to market you may need to test for specific shock and resonant frequency dampening before shipping. Whatever you require, packaging failures are disruptive and potentially far more expensive than testing. In short, it pays to test.
The Lansmont Six Step Testing Methodology
At Larson Packaging Company we recommend and follow the Lansmont 6 Step Testing Methodology when we assist customers with their product packaging and testing needs. It’s a model we will be referring to in future blogs as we discuss packaging issues that appear within different industries and product lines. What follows is a very brief description of the Lansmont method and why we like to use it.
1. Define the Environment – The first step is to determine the severity of the environment in which a product will be shipped, and to define the pass/fail criteria. Potential hazards and the extent to which they are present are identified. These include things like being dropped during handling, vehicle vibration, shock, extreme temperature and humidity levels and compression load failures. Try to replicate the actual environment for your products rather than a sterile test lab.
2. Conduct Product Fragility Analysis – Products are tested for their “ruggedness” to determine thresholds of tolerance to shock and vibration. Package ruggedness is measured against what’s known as the “boundary theory” which identifies which shock inputs will cause damage to a specific product and those which will not. Shock contains two components, acceleration level and velocity change. The point of critical velocity is when damage begins to occur; packaging is designed around this measure.
3. Product Improvement Feedback – If a product is being shipped in great volume, shows a low tolerance for shock and therefore requires expensive preparation, it’s possible that it’s more cost effective to change the product than to incur steep cushioning costs. This can result in a small increase in the product’s cost but realize a savings in lower packing and shipping expenses.
4. Cushion Material Performance – Cushioning materials used in packing goods is typically rated by the manufacturer. There are however occasions when we will recommend independent testing. Here the materials are tested against a “shock cushion curve” where units are tested by having objects dropped onto them from different heights and at different weights. Similar tests are conducted to measure vibration tolerance.
5. Package Design – If you ever thought this field was dominated by artists, think again. At this step the engineers evaluate the performance of the various materials tested and what’s required to withstand predictable shipping conditions. Creativity and judgment are required because what’s ideal for shock protection is rarely best for vibration resistance and vice versa. The design has to factor all these variables into the final equation.
6. Test the Product /Package System – Integrating all the information that has been gathered in the first five steps, the prototype then needs to be put to test, insuring that all the design goals have been met.
At Larson Packaging Company we appreciate the Lansmont system since we understand that most products aren’t shocked to death – they vibrate to death. Since it is difficult to protect against both shock and vibration, focusing on the shipping environment, as Lansmont does, tends to produce optimal outcomes.