Whenever a product is made, it is packaged and designed to represent the company.
It must go through vigorous testing to ensure that it meets the standards.
The company itself performs some of the packaging tests while others are tested by OEM’s.
Two types of tests are performed on each packaging, common and specialized.
These tests will ensure that packaging will last under stress and be able to maintain their functionality while keeping their aesthetics.
Why happens to packaging during delivery?
When a product is shipped out, it goes through a tremendous amount of wear and tears through the delivery process.
Companies want to make sure that their packaging is stable enough to withstand extreme conditions.
Packages that are shipped through the ocean must be able to withstand a large amount of salt and moisture since they will be exposed to it continuously during the journey.
Not only that, but they should also be able to handle the drops and hits when packages are loaded and unloaded.
Packages that g through railways need to be robust enough to handle the vibrations from the train and should not get too affected by the bumps along the track.
Truck transport, although the cheapest, faces the harshest conditions.
On top of the usuals bumps, falls and hits, the packages will also have to bear with the extreme temperatures, such as heat or thunderstorms.
This is one of the reasons companies test their packaging to make sure that they will be able to bear the compressions and impacts of delivery.
Types of testing
There are many different types of tests conducted by companies to make sure that the packaging is robust, durable, aesthetically pleasing while maintaining its integrity.
Some of the tests conducted by companies include:
- Machine testing
- Testing with humans
- Environmental conditions test
Machine testing is when the packaging is put into stressful situations to measure features of the packaging such as elasticity, strength, heat shrinking conditions, thickness, and heat-sealing conditions.
This provides the company information about the packaging which they can relay to the consumer.
This also allows them to make changes to the packaging as needed.
Testing with humans
Some packaging requires humans to test it further.
For human testing, the packaging is given to a focus group.
These groups are generally from 50 to 100 people.
E.g., if a package is supposed to be childproof, the focus group will consist of children trying to open it.
The packaging will clear the test if 70-80% of the children are unable to open the packaging.
The same test is also conducted on adults to check their ability to open the same packaging.
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For food packaging, companies often use organoleptic tests.
In these tests, the focus group is usually blindfolded and made to taste the food.
This is to ensure that the food hasn’t been spoiled or ruined due to the packaging.
Another way of testing new packaging is by offering the product with new packaging for free or at a discounted price to a customer in return for an honest review.
This customer feedback is essential for companies so they can evaluate how their packaging works in everyday use.
Environmental conditions test
One of the most important factors in testing any packaging is environmental factors.
E.g., paper-based packaging cannot handle moisture and will deteriorate in humid conditions and rain.
Plastic, on the other hand, is negatively affected by temperature.
In extreme temperature, high heat will melt the plastic and disfigure its shape.
These conditions need to be written on the packaging and warnings must be placed to convey to the user, the effect of such conditions on the packaging.
Controlled tests are conducted to find out these conditions for packaging.
Another way in which companies gather information regarding their packaging is through already published technical articles regarding their material or by getting a hold of documentation from the manufacturer of the material.
Other tests that companies may do to ensure the stability of their packaging include:
- Rub & tape testing
- Inspection for corrosion
- Stiffness of board
- Humidity tests (in a controlled chamber)
- Bent test
- Overall usability
- Resistance to punctures
- Rolling and toppling of material
- COF testing
- Test against fibers
- Cutting Strength
- ESD Testing
Degradation of packaging
All packaging degrades over time.
Companies also perform tests to find out this degradation time so they can then use this information to determine the shelf life of the product.
Some test includes the test for corrosion, polymer degradation, weather testing of polymers.
Some companies will go a step further and do accelerated aging of the packaging.
Shelf life tests can usually be accomplished relatively cheaper and are conducted by all companies, whereas the control chambers need specific laboratories and are generally undertaken only by larger companies.
They use this feedback to improve their products further and ensure that the customer is receiving the package in its optimum condition.
Have validation standards changed?
There haven’t been any significant changes in the validation standards over the past years, they have made documentation and roof of testing stricter.
The validation standards for different companies are different.
In previous years there was little to no proof of the testing conducted by larger companies.
This has now significantly changed where they now need to provide plans for the validation test, the full trace of the test conducted, reviews as well as records in the public record.
This gives the companies more accountability of their products and allows them to improve their packaging, which results in a better product for the end-user.
Although there have been many improvements in terms of testing and procedures, many more changes need to be made in the industry to improve standards.
In conclusion, packaging design testing is one of the most crucial steps a company must go through and pass to be able to sell any product.
By setting validation standards, the company is not able to sell anything in the market and assures that what they receive is of top quality.