By: Jean Champlain, Supplier Development Manager, Pro QC International

The purpose of the drop-test is to check if the product in the current packaging condition can resist movement during the shipment process by sea or air.

The carton drop test is commonly performed in the factory during on-site inspections. It can also be conducted in-house as individual testing per client requirements. The carton drop test is generally only performed on full master (shipper) cartons. It is performed by dropping the carton a total of 10 times; first on a corner (the most vulnerable one or one likely to cause damage), then once on each edge (shortest edge first) and then on each face (smallest face first).

The height from which the carton is dropped should depend on the weight of the carton, although you may modify it if you feel the height is not appropriate for the item that is packaged.

Once all drops have been made, the carton is opened and examined, starting with the product that was most near the dropped corner first. The engineer will separate any defects and look for suspicious results in regards to how all of the packaging reacted to the drops.

Pro QC uses drop test specifications depending on the category of the product. For example:

ISTA 1A - For all goods packed in carton boxes that are distributed to the end users from store

ISTA 2A - For goods distributed to end users from the warehouse through courier (or regular mail)

ISTA 3A - For items that require more protection or per the client's request (e.g using a wooden board on impact surface, or other requirements according to client's demands).

For some products, which may be considered fragile, or otherwise do not seem suitable for standard carton drop testing, the engineer may adjust the drop method to only dropping on the six sides (eliminating the corner and edges). This point is to be clearly settled with the client beforehand.

Vibration testing can also be performed on-site if the factory has the necessary equipment, but this point is not part of our common practice during pre-shipment inspections.

More information regarding International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) and related procedures, visit the website at