Who is the ISTA?
The International Safe Transit Association (ISTA) is a nonprofit organization which researches and tests various packaging formats. It develops also standards for the packaging transport industry. The ISTA are the industry leaders in package performance testing and are at the forefront of Responsible Transport Packaging.
With extensive research and testing behind the ISTA standards, many companies are requesting that their packaging be tested to specific ISTA standards.
Most importantly manufacturers of cold chain packaging can test with ISTA ambient profiles and demonstrate the performance of their systems. As a result, customers can then compare alternative suppliers packaging performance with the same ambient challenge.
Cold Chain Packaging Operational Qualification
The ISTA ambient profiles are a great place to start Operational Qualification (OQ) testing. Many cold chain packaging manufacturers “pre-qualify” the shipping system using representative payloads and test to ISTA’a summer and winter profiles.
OQ testing is always done in the laboratory with equipment where temperature can be precisely controlled. The ability to repeat the testing with different scenarios greatly increases the understanding of the boundaries of the cold chain packing system. Some of the variables include:
- min & max payloads
- products of various thermal mass
- testing the system on its side or even upside down
When a distributor is Qualifying their chosen packing system, it’s always better to temperature map the transit lane and use that data to formulate your own ambient temperature profile. This is the beginning of the Performance Qualification (PQ) for the shipping system.