A study was conducted of the drops that small packages encounter during handling operations in the small parcel ground delivery system of United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (FedEx), two of the largest small parcel carriers in the USA The purpose was to determine if the drop heights listed in the International Safe Transit Associations (ISTA) standardized 3C and 3D testing procedure for small parcels replicate or are representative of the real environment. This is important to those who use ISTA tests to validate their package designs. The results of the study showed that relying on ISTA tests may result in over packing or under packing. Over packing is costly for the packager and results in unnecessary packaging material in the waste stream. Under packing may result in product damage which is also costly for the packager in terms of actual material costs and other expenses related to damage, such as the filing of damage claims with the carrier, lost business, reshipment of a replacement and customer dissatisfaction to name a few. If the environment is worse than the ISTA test procedure for small parcels, then the results could help the users modify the test procedure using some of the data collected in this study to come up with new drop heights for pre-shipment testing. If the environment is less severe than the current ISTA 3C and 3D test procedures, the data from this study could be used to develop a more representative drop test.

Publication Date


Document Type


Student Type


Degree Name

Packaging Science(MS)

Department, Program, or Center

Packaging Science (CAST)


Kausch, Thomas

Advisor/Committee Member


Advisor/Committee Member

Young, Dennis


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