Contract Testing Program
The center assists pallet and container manufacturers and their customers develop new, more efficient pallet, packaging, and equipment designs. Under the Contract Testing Program, research results will be proprietary. Investments of the testing sponsors are protected.
Pallet Component Tests: Bending Strength, Stiffness
Components tests evaluate the bending strength and stiffness of pallet parts. These properties can be used to predict the performance of a pallet. Testing follows ASTM D198.
Pallet Tests: Strength/Stiffness, Durability
Pallet tests are divided into two categories: strength/stiffness and durability. The test protocol is described in ASTM D1185 or ISO 8611. The strength/stiffness evaluation is dependent on the pallet support conditions. Typical supports include warehouse floor stacking, racking across length, racking across width, and conveyor chain. The load is applied using a uniform, flexible airbag as a general purpose load. Specific loads can also be used during testing. Pallet durability is determined using the incline impact tester to impact the end board or stringer/post with a fork tine. The corner drop test is also used.
Package Tests: Compression, Distribution
The most important function of a package is to protect the product it contains. There are several ways to quantify this ability. Typically, compression testing is the key performance indicator. Corrugated and pail compression tests are conducted on a fixed platen tester to understand load performance.
The other indicator of product protection is distribution testing. Distribution testing simulates the hazards a package or unit load encounters during the distribution cycle. These tests follow either ASTM D4169 or ISTA (International Safe Transit Association) protocol. These tests create an understanding of the distribution system and interactions between material handling equipment and the package/pallet. Distribution tests include: Impact Tests (inclined impact, drop), Vibration (random, sine sweep), and Compression (stack load, failure).
Unit Load Testing
Testing of full unit loads often falls under the same ASTM and ISTA protocol listed above. Another area of unit load testing is load stability. Unit loads are tested using vibration and simulated warehouse handling. Stability tests ensure that the unit load will remain intact throughout the distribution cycle.
Evaluations of pallet fasteners allow companies to comply with regulations. Fastener tests include the Fastener Quality Analysis (FQA), which provides information about the effectiveness of the investigated fastener on the durability of the pallet. Fastener tests also provide information about compliance with ANSI Mh1. The FWI (Fastener Withdrawal Index) and FSI (Fastener Shear Index) are calculated as described in ASTM F680. Additional performance evaluations include actual withdrawal/shear/head pull through resistance of nailed joints. These tests follow ASTM D1761.