Vibration Testing of Shipping Containers

Shipping containers are exposed to complex stresses when subjected to the vibration that is present in all transportation vehicles. Exposure to vibration can affect the shipping container, its interior packaging, means of closure and its contents. Resonant responses during shipment can be sufficiently severe to lead to package or product failure. To identify the critical vibration frequencies along with the nature of the package stresses can assist in minimizing the effect of these occurrences.

It is strongly recommended that you understand the most common packaging or product failures that result during supply chain activities, and then attempt to replicate those failures in the laboratory. Once they are replicated, the test can also serve to become the minimum necessary for the modification of future packaged products to pass.

Random vibration is most often the test of choice to test the robustness of the shipping container and its contents. It may be conducted to simulate known stresses such as pot holes or when containers are loaded in stacks. Random vibration may be conducted in any axis (vertical or horizontal), in any package orientation or on different test levels for each axis depending upon the field environment that is being simulated.

The American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM), for example, has developed various standards for the testing of shipping containers and the design of transportation packages. Within standard ASTM D999, methods A1 and A2 produce different vibration motions which will generate different forces which may result in different damage modes and intensities.   Those standards can be found at www.astm.org/Standards/D999.htm

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