Lightweight Shredder Doesn’t Sacrifice Power

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An SSI M55-L Shredder installed into a Shredfast PT-326 Mobile Shredding Truck.

Shredfast, Inc. was looking for a way to extend the power and efficiency of its PT-300 Series Mobile Document Shredder into a non-CDL (Commercial Drivers License) configuration. The PT-326 Mobile Shredder would provide the production capability of the PT-300 Series yet reside in a smaller overall footprint.

The 26,000 pound weight restriction imposed on non-CDL vehicles comes with a few challenges specific to the realm of shredding. Foremost is how to maintain throughput and still haul an economically viable payload.

Shredfast formed a design/consulting team to best configure the PT-326 Mobile Shredder to meet the its goals: (1) high shredder production; and (2) maximized transport capability. The team consisted of Shredfast employees and ownership, many with considerable experience not only in manufacturing shredding trucks but in the document destruction industry itself.

Shredfast PT-326 Mobile Shredder.

Shredfast PT-326 Mobile Shredder.

One option that was completely off the table when configuring the PT-326 was to downsize shredder production capacity. This would be a simple fix to throw in smaller shredder and remove the patented SFS-100 Feed System. The overall weight of the shredding components would be reduced, but the throughput would be severely affected. That just wasn’t an option for Shredfast.

The solution that the Shredfast team came up with was to reduce the weight of the shredder head itself. By trimming weight from non-critical parts they could realize the weight savings they were seeking.

Shredfast, Inc. worked closely with SSI Shredding Systems to redesign their Dual-Shear™ M55 Two-Shaft Shredder to better fit Shredfast’s non-CDL application.

The M55 Shredder has been used in Shredfast’s Pierce & Tear line of mobile shredding vehicles for over 12 years. Its robust design and quality components have made it the industry leader in throughput and reliability.

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Shredfast wanted to take the power of the M55 and install it into a smaller 26,000 GVW chassis PT-326. Traditionally, Shredfast has installed the M55 on a 33,000 GVW or larger chassis. This allowed the PT-333 to shred at a rate of 6,000 pounds per hour and haul a 9,000 pound payload. The problem with putting the standard M55 in a 26,000 GVW truck is that the available payload is reduced to 4,000 pounds.

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In order to create a truly powerful and useful non-CDL document destruction vehicle with a sufficient payload, Shredfast had to have a lighter shredder. SSI stepped up and created the Dual-Shear™ M55-L Two-Shaft Shredder.

Working closely with input from the Shredfast team, Dave Wilson, Technical Sales for SSI, took on the challenge of removing 20% of the weight from the M55 without incurring any reduction in service factor. The intensive process took four months to complete. SSI’s strategy was to retain core parts of the shredder and only trim weight on non-critical components.

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SSI looked at every single component on the M55 in order to determine where to reduce weight. They determined that the frame and the components around the cutter is where they could decrease weight and still keep the M55’s superior production capability. They also incorporated aluminum alloys in areas where it made sense such as the gear box covers. SSI was able to trim significant weight. In fact, they reduced the weight of the M55 by 700 pounds.

We looked at every part of the design and kept the critical components such as the shaft size and knives the same but reduced weight in other areas. (Dave Wilson)

The redesign of the M55 has met all design requirements. It has allowed Shredfast to continue upon the proven success of its PT-300 Series Mobile Shredder but in a smaller 26,000 GVW platform. It is installed in the PT-326 Mobile Document Shredder. It’s a great option for shredding business seeking to retain the power of the PT-300 Series Shredders but enjoy the benefits of a non-CDL truck.

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New RL-520 Freedom in Operation

Check out our latest video of the RL-520 Freedom in operation. The Freedom uses a tip-and-replace model instead of bin swapping at your route locations. This dramatically decreases load times. It also cuts the inventory of bins needed by a shredding service provider. This cost cutting feature alone saves thousands over a typical box truck operating methodology.

One of the great features of the Freedom is its ability to load bins at both ground and dock heights. This feature is incredibly handy for drivers and gives them options when servicing their routes.

This video also shows how easily and quickly the Freedom unloads using a forklift. You can literally unload the Freedom in five minutes at your plant, saving you many man hours per year.

If you are interested in learning more about how the RL-520 Freedom can increase efficiency in your mobile document collection business, please call us at 800-299-8437 or email us at

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New RL-520 Freedom In-Action Video

Our newest document collection vehicle, the RL-520 Freedom, is put through its paces in the congested city of Seattle.  Known for its incredibly hilly streets, Seattle is a challenge for many large trucks. The compact Freedom navigates this urban terrain without difficulty.

Note how the Freedom easily accesses an underground parking garage to service one of its routes. Another item to note is that the Freedom is roughly the same size as a FedEx truck. Anywhere a FedEx truck can go the Freedom can also go.

If you’d like to see a real-world demonstration of the RL-520 Freedom at your location please call us at 1-800-299-8437 or simply sign up for the RL-520 Freedom Tour online.

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NAID 2014 Annual Conference and Expo

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The NAID 2014 Annual Conference and Expo was held April 4-7 in sunny Phoenix, Arizona. The “Grand Canyon” State is also the home to the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), an international trade association for companies providing information destruction services which put on the conference.

Suppliers of products, equipment and services to destruction companies  are also eligible for membership.

The conference brought NAID members to the historic Arizona Biltmore Hotel. Built in 1929, the Arizona Biltmore stretches over 39 acres of immaculately maintained gardens, swimming pools and restaurants. It has hosted many celebrities and presidents. Attendees who just can’t get enough golf had the opportunity to take in the adjacent Arizona Biltmore Country Club, boasting a challenging 36-hole championship golf course.

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From Shredfast, we brought a contingent of six staff members to the convention this year. Manning a booth in the Expo hall and a demonstration truck in the lot required us to bring enough staff to effectively connect with our customers.

A major reason that we attend NAID 2014 every year is to meet up with existing clients and find out how our technology and equipment is performing in their operations. It’s by talking with our customers face-to-face that we learn of their specific needs, their unique ways of using our equipment and ways we can improve our technology.

It is also was an excellent opportunity for us to introduce our superior document destruction equipment to a new audience. Attendees came from as far away as Japan, Germany, Austria and Spain. With document destruction being mandated by many governments and required by many businesses, shredding is becoming a profitable business overseas. Anecdotally, the the attendees we talked with from Europe indicated that plant-based shredding is far more prevalent there than here in the States.

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Overall, NAID 2014 was huge success. Members attended seminars that will enable their businesses to become more profitable and to meet the challenges of a changing industry. Most of all, we, as an industry, strengthened our connections with each other and a stronger industry is beneficial to everyone.


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Price vs. Cost When Purchasing a Mobile Shredding Truck: Part 1

In the age of retail consumerism, price seems to be the only battle that wins the war. As any astute owner of mobile shredding equipment knows, price and cost are two very different things.

In business, initial purchase price is always a major decision maker. A lower price is often perceived as protecting the bottom line, but making the right purchasing decision is a compilation of many factors.

The current trend among many manufacturers in the document shredding industry is to build it lighter, build it cheaper. Buyers are attracted by the lower price of these lighter weight components and are sold that the lower GVWR will result in a higher payload. If all things were equal, these two factors would easily lead you to make a smart purchase. But as we know, price and cost are two completely different things.

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(L to R) Used 2 and 1/4 inches diameter shaft; used 2 and 3/4 inches diameter shaft; a broken 2 and 3/4 inches diameter shaft; new 2 and 3/4 inches diameter shaft; new 4″ inches diameter shaft.

Here are a few strategies that manufacturers use to cut prices on shred trucks:

  • 2 ¾” diameter or smaller shredder main shaft instead of a 4” diameter. The smaller the main shaft the greater likelihood of catastrophic shredder failure. The average cost to replace will run you $14,000.00.
  • Fiber reinforced plywood (FRP) body construction instead of extruded aluminum panels. This means less structural integrity and greatly reduced life expectancy. Body replacement runs $35,000.00 and up.
  • Augers for material compaction instead of a real compactor similar to a baler. The main failure point of augers is the bearings. If you have auger, you will have bearing failure. Also if augers compact too much, they can deflect and bend. The average repair cost is $5,000.00.
  • 6” diameter shredder knives instead of 11” diameter. Larger knives are reported to last 2 longer and are comparable in price. Average coast to replace a set of shredder knives is $7,000.00.
  • Gravity feed systems instead of hydraulically powered active feed systems. Gravity feed systems are simply a hopper on the top of the shredder. They are prone to clogging due the uncontrolled feeding of paper to the shredder.
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6″ and 11″ diameter shredder knives.

These are a few real-world considerations to factor into your total cost equation, and they are only a few. We’ll be covering more in future posts. Understanding what goes into formulating price when it comes to purchasing a mobile shredding truck can greatly affect your cost down the road.

For more information on this topic, please feel free to give me or any of our qualified staff a call at 1-800-299-8437. We’d also appreciate your comments. Just add them below.

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Shredding Technology: Part 1-Hammermill

When it comes to purchasing a mobile document destruction truck, the underlying shredding technology is the most critical factor that should influence your decision. In this three part series we will discuss how the technology will affect many aspects of your business including: the purchase price, the cost of ownership and the level of service you can provide your clients. Before laying down the money for a mobile shredder make certain that you pick a technology that best fits your business model.

The oldest technology in the industry is the hammermill. Its technology uses swinging metal bars called “hammers” that are attached to a high-speed rotor. The rotor spins at roughly 2,200 RPM, whipping the hammers that in turn impact the paper. As paper is fed into the hammermill, it is first beaten into a smaller but still sizeable chunk. That chunk is eventually grated through a screen at the bottom of the machine thereby reducing the particle size.

Hammermill Components

Hammermill Components

Hammermill is an effective technology with a rough throughput of 5,000 lbs. per hour. This technology is less expensive to produce and those costs are reflected in lower purchase prices for hammermill equipment. It can be an effective first unit, but owners of one rarely purchase a second unit for their fleet.

There are a few major drawbacks of hammermill technology that new startups should be aware of before investing in one. Hammermills are very noisy, very dusty and very intrusive. Many businesses don’t want them onsite disrupting their workplace. Although they are cheaper on the front end, hammermills require considerably more maintenance on the backend. Any savings from the cheaper purchase price can quickly be eaten up with repair costs and vehicle downtime.

The biggest factor that you should consider before purchasing a hammermill is the greater likelihood of fire. With its rapidly spinning hammers, metal from file hangers and three-ring binder spines that are introduced into the system have a greater chance of sparking. Combine that with the dustier environment inherent in the system, you have a truck that is potentially more dangerous to operate.

If you would like to join the conversation please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your opinion on the topic of hammermill technology.

To better understand your options for effective document destruction, get informed by checking out our posts on other shredding technology including pierce & tear and rotary systems. Please feel free to email or call us at 1-800-299-8437 if you have any questions about the right technology for your onsite shredding application.

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Shredding Technology: Part 2-Pierce & Tear

Purchasing a mobile document destruction truck is an incredibly important business decision. There is a risk of investing in a technology that doesn’t fit your business model. We want you to make an informed decision about your purchase. In this second installment of our three-part series on basic shredding technology we’ll cover the standard for mobile shredding – pierce & tear.

Pierce & tear is the most popular technology in mobile shredding. It is the most stable and forgiving style of shredder and will accept a variety of materials.

You have a lot of force behind a pierce & tear system. Contrary to hammermill technology it is a low speed/high torque system. Rotating at a mere 56 RPM, the pierce & tear system’s dual counter-rotating shafts put a tremendous amount force into piercing the material. Each shaft is stacked with many circular blades called “knives”.

Pierce & Tear Shredder Head

Pierce & Tear Shredder Head

Knives are edged with hooks that grab onto or “pierce” the material and pull it toward the counter blade of the shredder. With both shafts counter-rotating toward each other, material is effectively shred as it encounters the surfaces of the opposing blades. First by piercing with the tip of the knife, then by “tearing” from the edge.

One advantage of pierce & tear is that metals that get introduced into the system have a lower propensity to spark.  Paperclips and binder clips aren’t a problem for a pierce & tear. The low-torque design means that materials are sliced as opposed to hammermills that smash and beat material into a smaller particle size. Many plant-based systems are designed to shred nearly everything including forged steel. Check out SSI’s YouTube channel to see some truly mammoth pierce & tear shredders devouring a VW Beatle and steel rebar.

Another advantage to pierce & tear is high throughput. Our Shredfast PT-300 Pierce & Tear Mobile Shredder has a throughput of 6,000 lbs. per hour. It also has a lower cost of operation due to decreased routine maintenance costs. Paper recyclers prefer pierce & tear paper because its particle size makes baling easier and it has less dust.

One fact that has to be considered before purchasing a pierce & tear is that of particle size. It’s not a great shredder to destroy particles, it reduces them. Due to the nature of pierce & tear being a single-stage process there is no secondary method to control particle size. Therefore you get larger particles unlike hammermill or cross-cut/STR technology which deliver a higher security (smaller) shred size. The size of the particle is ultimately determined by the thickness of the knives. Our PT-300 comes standard with a 5/8″ knife set but can be optionally fitted with a ½” knife set.

The National Association for Information Destruction (NAID®), the international trade association for companies providing information destruction services has set standards for shredding documents. To attain certification to their AAA rating, companies must have their pierce & tear shredders equipped with knives 5/8″ or narrower.

Most mobile shredding companies will do well with a pierce & tear mobile shredder. They are a robust workhorse that can give many years of profitable service with lower maintenance costs. Their high throughput also can reduce the amount of time spent on each stop on your route.

If you would like to join the conversation please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your opinion on the topic of pierce & tear technology.

To better understand your options for effective document destruction, get informed by checking out our posts on other shredding technology including hammermill and rotary systems. Please feel free to email or call us at 1-800-299-8437 if you have any questions about the right technology for your onsite shredding application.

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Shredding Technology: Part 3-Rotary

Purchasing a mobile document destruction truck is a huge decision. If you are running a small fleet the importance of making the right choice is even more significant. The key to making a smart purchase is understanding the underlying shredding technology sitting inside your truck. In this third installment in our three-part series on shredding technology we will discuss rotary systems.

Rotary-style shredding is a two-stage process that utilizes a single rotary shaft equipped with cutters that engages a cutting bar. A screen can be added to the bottom of the machine to further reduce particle size. Shredfast manufactures the STR-400 Mobile Document Shredder.

Pinking Shears

The rotary shaft is composed of a stack of disc-shaped cutters called “knives”. These knives actually have the cutting surfaces milled onto the outer edge of the disc. These surfaces mate up to a corresponding stationary cutter bar like the opposing edges of a pair of pinking shears. High quality knives and cutter bars are constructed of hardened steel and will last about 200 hours before honing is required. Honing can be accomplished with the cutters still mounted to the shaft and takes about an hour and a half to complete. As with pierce & tear systems, sharp knives make for efficient shredding.

Shredfast Parts-35.jpgWhen documents are added to a rotary shredder system, paper is drawn toward the intersection of the cutter bar and the rotor. This is where the paper is shredded.

For additional particle size reduction an optional screen can be added underneath the cutter head mechanism. Shredfast manufactures screens for the STR-400 in 2″ to 1/4″ sizes.

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What separates rotary from pierce & tear technology is its ability to shred documents to a very fine level of control. An STR-400 fitted with a 1/4″ screen can shred to a DIN 66399 Level P-6 which is considered a high security shred. Level P-6 indicates that shredded particles must be less than or equal to 10mm² with an average width less than or equal to 1mm. At that size virtually no information can be retrieved from the shredded documents. It is basically equivalent to large dust.

Clients that would require this high level of security could include: hospitals, banks, military, government agencies and the NSA.

Another advantage of rotary technology is its ability to easily shred materials other than documents. Operators are increasingly being asked to dispose of uniforms for security purposes. Textiles prove a particular problem for pierce & tear and hammermill systems as they tend to wrap around the shafts and decrease production. Because of the shearing nature of rotary shredders they can cut through textiles efficiently. Rotary shredders also excel at reducing plastic pill bottles.

All that security does come with a price though. The downside of rotary technology is a decreased throughput, processing around 4,500 pound per hour as compared to 6,000 with that of a pierce & tear shredder. Also maintenance costs for rotary systems fall between those of pierce & tear and hammermill systems.

Overall, rotary systems are a great option if your clients are requesting a more controlled particle size or you need a shredder that can do more than office pack.

If you would like to join the conversation please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your opinion on the topic of rotary shredding technology.

To better understand your options for effective document destruction, get informed by checking out our posts on other shredding technology including pierce & tear and hammermill. Please feel free to email or call us at 1-800-299-8437 if you have any questions about the right technology for your onsite shredding application.

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The Most Common Problem for Cold Weather Operation

Winter Storm Hitting Downtown Seattle

Photo by Lee Rentz.

You’re in trouble! You’ve just driven 10 miles on the highway in 15 ˚F weather. You get to the first stop on your route, put your first bin on the lift, press the up control… and nothing happens! Your PTO won’t engage. Try as you might, you can’t get the PTO to mesh gears. Without the PTO you have no power for the hydraulics and no power to the shredder. You are out of luck!

The most common problem for cold weather operation for mobile collection and shredding trucks is moisture in the compressed air system. Every time you run your compressor it takes in outside air. A major component of air is water vapor. The higher the temperature the greater the concentration of water in the air. When the air in your tanks is compressed that vapor will precipitate out as liquid water.

If you run your truck all Summer long, the build up of this residual moisture could be quite significant, but because the temperatures are above freezing it will probably have no effect on your operation. However when temperatures drop, all that built-up water could freeze in your system, leaving you with a PTO that won’t engage.

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That 10 mile trip to your first stop at 55 MPH in 15 ˚F temperatures will subject your compressed air lines and fittings to a chilly -11 ˚F when accounting for windchill. That’s enough to freeze up most trucks.

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Your best defense against excess moisture in your air system is for you to open the drain valve on the tanks every night after operations. This will push out the water trapped in your system. This simple daily procedure of preventative maintenance will pay for itself when the thermometer dips.

Another step to prevent freeze-ups would be to add air brake anti-freeze directly to your system. Available in most automotive parts stores these products are cheap and can be added in a matter of minutes by simply unscrewing an air line and pouring in the fluid.

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Although many compressors are equipped with dryer line filters they are not maintenance free. Filters must be changed on a regular basis for optimal performance. Just because you have your truck outfitted with a filter doesn’t mean you can forget about cold weather operation.

The best advice for beating a frozen compressor line is to keep up on preventative maintenance. A few minutes spent each day will ensure your truck is on the road making money when the temperature plummets.

For more photos of various air systems check out Shredfast on Flickr. For more information on cold weather operation of shredder and collection trucks check back to our blog frequently. You can also send us your maintenance questions via email.

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Are you Compliant?

How will California Particulate Matter Emission Standards effect your business?

California Capital Building

Sweeping environmental legislation in the State of California will have a profound impact on mobile document shredders and collectors. The legislation is complex and includes provisions that require; limited idling times, emission control labels and random roadside inspections. The bottom line is: The State WILL issue staggering fines to those businesses not compliant with the new regulations. Don’t let your business get caught unprepared. The first step toward compliance is a clear understanding and awareness of the requirements. Know the facts.

Do you operate diesel trucks with a GVWR of more than 14,000 pounds? You must reduce exhaust emissions by meeting particulate matter filter requirements and upgrading to 2010 model year or newer engines. Owners of vehicles with engines built in 1994 or earlier must comply with 2010 model year engines by January 1, 2015.

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Vehicles and engines found out of compliance with applicable regulations may be subject to civil penalties. Penalties assessed may be up to $10,000 per day. These penalties will devastate your document destruction business. Be prepared and take action now.

2015 may seem like a long way off but time is truly running out! The opportunity for you to deduct the cost of replacement equipment is significantly greater this year than next. In 2013, Section 179 of the IRS Tax Code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of equipment of up to $500,000. This amount is scheduled to decrease to $25,000 in 2014.

The time to act is now! Get informed on how the new California Particulate Matter Emission Standards will impact your document destruction business.

Learn more about these new regulations and Section 179 by clicking the links below.

On-Road Heavy-Duty Diesel Vehicles (In-Use) Regulation

Official State of California Diesel Truck Information

Balboa Capital Section 179 Tax Deduction Calculator

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