Consumer products are those items that look back at you as you walk up and down the aisles of typical grocery market. A "typical" market will have approximately 40 to 50,000 items on their shelves, most of which require a specialized package with special testing needs.
The packaging for such articles and products will focus on the protective, containment, convenience, identification, dispensing, and utility functions to deal with the vast array of hazards that occur in the distribution environment as well as the specialized functions the package must perform (dispensing, motivation, brand identity, and a host of others). The testing for such packages may follow the descriptions below.
||Hazards & Sources
||Typical Test Procedures
||Shock related damage from manual handling during storage, transportation, stocking, and in-use.
||Package freefall drop tests
||(8) drop testers
|Identification and motivation: protection from vibration induced scuffing
||Label or container surfaces can become scuffed from transportation vibration resulting in illegible or unappealing package services
||Random Vibration tests, Repetitive Bounce tests, Scuff Resistance tests
|More than (12) different vibration test systems, (4) Bounce Testers, (4) Scuff testers
|Temperature and Humidity protection
||Temperature and humidity extremes in storage and distribution
||High temperature and humidity extremes: low temperature extremes
||More than (60) different temperature & humidity test chambers
|Utility: ability to stack the packages for better space utilization
||Top load compression from storage and from stacking in vehicles
||Compression test to failure: compression test - max load and release
ISTA procedure 2 and similar
|(4) complete container compression test systems
|Utility: the ability to resist pressure differentials from high altitude shipment
||Lower atmospheric pressure of higher altitudes, above 5000 feet by truck or in aircraft, can expand any closed system
||Expansion and over-pressurization of sealed containers or compartments.
||(4) complete vacuum test chambers
|Containment: resisting stress cracking from product interaction and top load
||Highly acidic or highly basic products can cause stress cracking of polymeric containers in the presence of heat, top load, or pressure
||top-load stress crack testing
|Top-load fixturing that can accommodate a wide variety of containers
|Utility: forklift handling stability for unitized pallet loads
||Most consumer product pallet loads are handled with forklifts. A sudden turn by the forklift driver can cause a load to come apart on the forks and fall apart.
||Fork lift stability course test procedure
|Complete forklift handling test courses at all lab sites
|Containment and convenience functions: bottle cap torque retention
||The caps on many polymeric bottles can lose retention torque through temperature cycling, vibration, and other distribution hazards.
||Cap removal studies following temperature cycling and vibration
|Complete facilities for cap torque retention studies at all lab sites
|Utility and Dispensing functions: spray pattern studies
||The spray patterns of pump and trigger sprayers can be affected by heat, product exposure, vibration and other hazards
||Spray pattern evaluation run before and after heat/cold cycling, vibration, and shelf life tests can address this issue
||All Westpak locations have the capability to run this analysis
By subjecting your product/package system to above suggested test procedures, or others, you will quickly determine the ability of the primary, secondary, and tertiary package systems to perform their intended functions in the anticipated distribution and in-use environments. Minor adjustments, major changes, supplier qualifications, material changes, or reevaluations can normally be accomplished at this point, prior to disappointing your customer with poor product quality upon delivery. No one's job in the Corporation is finished until your customer has a quality product and a satisfied look. This very simple concept is what we call quality delivered.
When considering package testing such as suggested above, remember that your package system will always be tested. The distribution environment will make sure of that. The only question to be answered is "who sees the results first, you or your customer?" A brief and cost effective package system evaluation prior to initial shipment is a good policy regardless of your product.