Packaging is considered to be both the presentation of products to consumers, as well as the configuration in which products will be expedited through various channels. The master carton or “pack” design includes the configuration in which product will be shipped through channels for end-user consumption, making it especially important where packaging integrity is concerned. Here’s why: 1) Carefully planned packaging includes both cost savings obtained through the minimal use of materials, weight and labor, as well as reductions in potential rework costs. 2) Packaging has a direct impact on the perception of quality by the consumer. 3) Orientation is an important consideration because the carton itself only has stacking strength in one direction, which is why it is imperative that the pack be designed the way it will be stacked in transit. Labeling is important in communicating packaging requirements. 4) Packaging experiences a number of potentially damaging forces, which might include shock from handling, drops, vibration from transportation or compression from stacking in warehouses and vehicles. 5) Above all else, the objective of packaging is to insure products arrive safely in the hands of consumers without sustaining damage or other potential cosmetic or aesthetic issues. Pro QC uses the International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) 1A standard for special testing during on-site inspections. This evaluation focuses on the drop-test of individual cartons at a corner, edges and sides. The ISTA Series 1 is considered non-simulation integrity performance testing and is designed to challenge the strength and robustness of the product and package combination, not to simulate environmental occurrences. Pro QC considers defects resulting from this test as critical, so any issues noted with the product result in a reject status. Additional test procedures are available through ISTA that also incorporate vibration, compression and atmospheric conditions. “Use of ISTA test procedures reduces risks in the transport environment and increases confidence in the safe delivery of a tested packaged-product.” There are two types of tests that ISTA offers, which includes performance tests and development tests. According to ISTA, performance tests “result in a pass/fail assessment and are used to determine the viability of a packaged product to survive normal shipment. Development tests compare relative performance to two or more designs or the same design from different suppliers.” We posted an article related to the Importance of Packaging in our quarterly newsletter. Contact us for additional information.