Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Packaging
Approved Commercial Packaging

Approved commercial packaging permits use of non-specification materials. ASTM D3951, Standard Practice for Commercial Packaging, provides standard commercial guidelines and will be utilized when specified by the contract/purchase order.

ASTM D3951 is the “Standard Practice for Commercial Packaging."  It covers the requirements for the commercial preservation, packaging, packing (exterior container), and marking for supplies and equipment. It provides for multiple handling and shipments by any mode of transport, and storage periods of a minimum of one year in enclosed facilities without damage to the product.

Access to commercial standards requires purchase of the standards from the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) (Non-DLA Web Site).

Military versus Commercial Packaging:

Military packaging requires the use of specification materials, interpretation of preservation/packing instructions, MIL–STD–129, Military Marking, and the preservation methods of MIL–STD–2073–1, Standard Practice for Military Packaging. Military packaging should be used for items expected to enter the military distribution system. The military distribution system is the process by which material, not intended for immediate use, is stored and/or moved within or between Defense Department facilities. It may also cover items intended for delivery-at-sea, items delivered during wartime, or items requiring reusable containers.

Commercial packaging permits use of non-specification materials. ASTM D3951, Standard Practice for Commercial Packaging, provides standard commercial guidelines. Application of preservation/packing techniques is at the discretion of the contractor or the activity. Items not going into stock, items intended for immediate use (e.g., Aircraft on the Ground (AOG)), items for Not Mission-Capable Supply (NMCS), items intended for depot operational consumption, small parcel shipments (Continental United States (CONUS), not-for-stock), and customer direct deliveries (CONUS) shall be packaged in accordance with standard commercial practice as defined in ASTM D3951.

ASTM D3951 Overview:

Preservation, packaging, packing, and marking furnished by the suppliers shall meet or exceed the following minimum requirements:

  • Cleanliness—Items shall be free of dirt and other contaminants which would contribute to deterioration of the item or which would require cleaning by the customer prior to use. Coatings and preservatives applied to the item for protection are not considered contaminants.
  • Preservation—Items susceptible to corrosion or deterioration shall be provided protection such as preservative coatings, barrier protection, volatile corrosion inhibitors, or desiccated unit packs.
  • Cushioning—Items requiring protection from physical and mechanical damage or which are fragile shall be protected by wrapping, cushioning, pack compartmentization, cartonizing, or other means to mitigate shock and vibration to prevent damage during handling and shipment.
  • Loose-fill Cushioning/Dunnage—Loose-fill material shall be prohibited for all DoD and/or General Services Administration (GSA) shipments and shipments to aerospace facilities.

A unit package must contain the contents with no damage to them, and with minimal damage to the unit pack during shipment and storage in the shipping container, and will allow subsequent handling.

Unless otherwise specified in the contract or purchase order, the unit package quantity (QUP) shall be one each part, set, or assembly.

Unit packages and intermediate containers not meeting the requirements for a shipping container will be packed in shipping containers. The shipping container (including any necessary blocking, bracing, cushioning, or water resistance) will provide safe delivery to the destination. The shipping container will be capable of multiple handling and storage periods at a minimum of one year in enclosed facilities without damage to the product.

How to identify adequate commercial packaging:

  • Material must be free of dirt and other contaminants.
  • Material must be protected from corrosion.
  • Material must be protected from physical damage and mechanical malfunction.
  • The unit package must withstand normal shipment and storage without damage to the material and without major damage to the package for ONE year.
  • Loose fill is not acceptable cushioning.
  • MIL-STD-129 identification markings must be present and correct.

Examples of inadequate commercial packaging:

The item shown below is in inadequate commercial packaging. It is not protected from physical damage or mechanical malfunction and contains no markings.

Binoculars in a bag

Had the binoculars been cushioned and placed in a box then marked in accordance with MIL–STD–129, it would have been adequately packaged and marked in accordance with ASTM D3951.

Binoculars plus plastic wrap plus box plus label equals ASTM D3951


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