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ASTM D4169 provides a guide for the evaluation of shipping units in accordance with a uniform system, using established test methods at levels representative of those occurring in actual distribution. This is accomplished by subjecting them to a test plan consisting of a sequence of anticipated hazard elements encountered in various distribution cycles. The recommended test levels are based on available information on the shipping and handling environment, and current industry/government practice and experience.

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ASTM D4169 Distribution Cycles and Test Schedules

There are 18 different distribution cycles,10 different test schedules and three assurance levels defined in ASTM D4169. Choosing the right combination of distribution cycle, test schedule and assurance level is crucial to ensuring your shipping containers will withstand the distribution process and arrive in the hands of customers unharmed. Our expert technicians can help you identify the appropriate distribution cycle and test schedule for your given application. 

Distribution Cycles

  1.  General cycle - undefined distribution system
  2.  Specially defined distribution system, user specified
  3.  Single package without pallet or skid, LTL motor freight
  4.  Single package with pallet or skid, LTL motor freight
  5.  Motor freight, TL, not unitized
  6.  Motor freight, TL, or LTL-unitized
  7.  Rail only, bulk loaded
  8.  Rail only, unitized
  9.  Rail and motor freight, not unitized
  10.  Rail and motor freight, unitized
  11.  Rail, trailer on flatcar or container on flatcar
  12.  Air (intercity) and motor freight (local), over 150 lb, or unitized
  13.  Air (intercity) and motor freight (local), single package up to 150 lb
  14.  Warehousing
  15. Export/import shipment for intermodal container or roll on/roll off trailer
  16. Export/import shipment for palletized cargo ship
  17. Export/import shipment for break bulk cargo ship
  18. Non-commercial government shipments per MIL-STD-2073 

Test Schedules

Schedule Hazard Element Test Type
A Handling - manual and mechanical Drop, impact, stability
B Warehouse stacking Compression
C Vehicle stacking Compression
D Stacked vibration Vibration
E Vehicle vibration Vibration
F Loose load vibration repetitive shock
G Rail switching longitudinal shock
H Environmental hazard Temperature/humidity
I Low pressure hazard Vacuum
J Concentrated impact Impact

Example Performance Test Schedule Sequence

Here is an example testing sequence for one of the more common ASTM D4169 distribution cycles:

ASTM D4169 Distribution Cycle 13: Air and motor freight, single package up to 150 lb

Sequence Schedule Test Type
1 A - Handling Drop
2 C - Vehicle stacking Compression
3 F - Loose-load vibration Vibration
4 I - Low pressure Vacuum
5 E - Vehicle vibration Vibration
6 J - Concentrated impact Impact
7 A - Handling Drop


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