Smithers working to improve ISTA 3H protocol with insights gathered from field research

Smithers working to improve ISTA 3H protocol with insights gathered from field research
The supply chain experts at Smithers are in the process of updating the ISTA 3H testing protocol, which has been successfully utilized at the Smithers distribution testing laboratory in Lansing, Michigan, for years.
The revision of the ISTA 3H standard, which is currently in development, was born from a client project that began over a decade ago. In 2006, Smithers started working with an automotive OEM to develop a testing procedure for their mechanically handled bulk loads, including racks, tray packs, and expandable packs of assembled parts or individual components.
Smithers conducted a long-term monitoring study of the OEM’s supply chain, including shipments between component manufacturers, assembly plants, distribution centers, and point-of-sale locations. The study uncovered a few gaps in their testing procedures and an opportunity to redesign a protocol that better predicted field conditions, minimized damage, and improved efficiency.
“The protocol we developed is closely correlated to ISTA 3H,” said Kelby Thayer, senior project engineer and quality coordinator. “We’ve proven that it’s more efficient and addresses a few opportunities for improvement in the existing protocol.”
A few of the proposed modifications include:
  • Optimization of testing sequence
  • Addition of stability impact testing
  • Modification of rail impact testing to address common field issues
  • Modification of vibration testing to account for top loads and other field factors 
“Our goal is to leverage the data we’ve gathered with our OEM client to improve the ISTA 3H standardized procedure, so the industry as a whole can benefit from what we’ve learned,” said Thayer.
To learn more about Smithers’ distribution testing and supply chain consulting services, get in touch with Tim Rice at 517-322-2400 or You can also connect with Tim and Michael on LinkedIn.

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