This paper was produced for the 2019 NAFEMS World Congress in Quebec Canada
The Amazon.com ISTA 6 over-boxing standard is well known across the industry as a procedure to robustly test against the demands of e-Commerce shipments containing individual retail pre-packaged products placed into a master shipping container, or over-box. The test is used to evaluate the ability of the primary or secondary packaging to withstand damage from forces or other environmental conditions. The testing involves taking the sealed master container with all associated packaging, protection and product inside. This unit is then exposed to 9 consecutive drops from a range of heights onto specified corners or faces. At the end of the initial drop sequence, the package is subjected to a dynamic vibrational loading using an “over the road” spectrum in an effort to capture the demands on the system as a result of vehicular transport. Once the vibration is concluded a further series of drops is carried out making for a total of 17 drop events.
This physical testing can take a significant amount of time and resource, and can often lead to highly inconclusive results where multiple packaging units are tested and a portion may exhibit catastrophic leakage and damage, whereas others have a lower degree of failure and indeed some repeat samples pass the test with relatively little sign of trauma. This eventuality leads the brand owner and designer in a difficult position with significant project risk being carried forward.
This abstract presents the work pioneered by Crux Product Design in the development of a highly sophisticated end to end e-Commerce simulation model. The sophistication of this model is reflected in its ability to execute the entire end to end e-Commerce sequence and capture the influence of multiple back to back cumulative drops, each adding to the accumulative damage and degradation of the product. At any point throughout the simulated ISTA 6 sequence, the pack can be interrogated in detail to understand the integrity of critical sealing interfaces and attachment of components and closure elements.
In the development of this model, many factors had to be accounted for, characterised and modelled. The cardboard was analysed in a lab environment to assess the bi-directional properties, the interaction and behaviour of adhesive tape was investigated and how this provides structural reinforcement to the folded card that forms the box. The tape and cardboard have an adhesive interaction and force to failure, all of which are modelled based on test data. Within the internals of the box, the effect of hazards and inflatable dunnage protection is critical to capture, as this influences not only the damage influencers, but also the protection afforded to the pack.
At the end of this simulated sequence a rich set of data can be extracted. The amount of data from the full sequence of impacts could be considered overwhelming, however an infographics-based results dashboard was constructed to present a top-level pass/fail based on a drop or vibration cycle timeline. This allows the designer to pinpoint the root cause. The model has been constructed such that any pack geometry can occupy the “product real-estate” within the simulation model. A series of coding scripts automate the complete end to end sequence together with the export of videos and leakage data from the test sequence.
The ultimate result is that the product development process, from an e-Commerce perspective can be carried out entirely virtually. The benefits this provides with the removal of the need to mold and physically test products has a significant cost and time to market advantage.