3 Mistakes Made When Deciding to Purchase a Home/Small Office Paper Shredding Machine.
Time and time again I get customers down at the shredding facility who complain about how they burned out one, two, or even three shredders trying to get all their shredding complete. Even if you could get away with buying a shredder for $40 each, that still potentially comes out to $120 in burned out shredders.
Here’s what I’ve determined are the three common mistakes people make when buying an office shredder.
Mistake #1: Miscalculate the size of their job
Just about every last paper shredder you can buy at the store is not designed to handle more than about 100 or so sheets of paper PER DAY – and that’s only if you get into the $150 to $300 price range.
These Paper Shredders are designed only for extremely low volumes of paper shredding.
Basically, we are talking about shredding the stuff that comes in the daily mail. Anything more than that and you might as well pack a lunch because you’re going to have a pretty long and frustrating time investment ahead of you.
Mistake #2: Assume “Theoretical Throughput” equals to “Working Throughput”
I find it extremely comical when I see a paper shredder that advertises 8 sheets of paper per pass and sells for only $69.95. I’m sure some technician working for the manufacturer was able to get 8 sheets of paper to pass through the shredder and successfully shred in one pass.
However, you must be aware that this shredder was not designed to continually shred 8 sheets at a time at a continuous rate for a very long time. In order to get that kind of throughput, you’re going to have to pay a lot more for a shredder.
I have a “small” industrial shredder at our facility that can take somewhere between 70 to 80 sheets per pass and can keep up that pace for 8 hours a day. But this machine runs upwards of $40,000 new. In theory, I could buy 10 of these 8 sheets at a time shredders and get the same throughput for just about $700.
But, as you can see… there’s a massive disconnect from theory and working throughput when it comes to these store bought machines. Buying 10 of these office shredders just wouldn’t cut it for my business (pardon the pun).
50% Throughput Rule: In my best estimation, your best bet for determining working throughput is about 50% of what is stated by the manufacturer.
Mistake #3: Don’t understand “Duty Cycle”
Every paper shredder you can buy from the store has a “Duty Cycle.” Otherwise known as an On/Off run time. This is the amount of time that that shredder can run continuously before it must be shut off.
From a sample of 12 paper shredders, I found an average on time of 9.34 minutes with a following off time of 60.84 minutes.
That means, on average, you can get about 10 minutes of continuous shredding before you have to stop and let the machine cool down for about an hour.
Remember that shredder for $69.95. You can only continuously run it for 2 minutes before you have to turn it off for 30 minutes.
As you can see, if you have a large amount that needs shredding, you’re going to have to spend most of your time letting the machine cool down as opposed to actual shredding and that will lead to a very long project indeed.
Here’s my research:
I recently pulled the specification on 12 common Home/Small Office Shredders and performed some analysis on what it would take to shred 5000 sheets of paper (1 case of copy paper) when using the correct Duty Cycle, the listed number of sheets per pass, and 10 passes per minute.
These shredders ranged in price from $69.95 to $299.99.
I also ran the same simulation using 50% of the manufacturers listed throughput per pass and 5 passes per minute (I reduced the number of passes per minute in order to take into account staple removal and other prep work) – which is what I think is closer to reality.
Here’s what I found:
VERY BEST: The very best shredding machine would shred 5,000 sheets of paper in 1.38 hours. It would’ve taken the same shredder 5.52 hours to shred those same 5,000 sheets if I applied the 50% Throughput Rule and five passes per minute. The listed price for this shredder was $249.99.
THE WORST: The shredding machine that performed the worst under this simulation shredded 5,000 sheets in 66.17 hours – and that’s before I apply the 50% throughput rule. When I apply the 50% throughput rule and limit the number of passes per minute to only five, it took a staggering 266.17 hours to shred the 5,000 sheets. And this wasn’t the cheapest shredder I looked at! The price for this shredder was $89.99.
Now here’s the real kicker…
If you were to pay someone $8.00 an hour to shred 5,000 sheets of paper, that 266.17 hours translates into $2,135.67 when you include the cost of the shredder along with sales tax.
The “Very Best” shredder would cost you $66.78 if you paid someone $8.00 an hour along with the cost of the shredder.
In the absolute most perfect world, where the shredder performs at the manufacturers listed specifications and you can pull off ten passes per minute, the cost of 5,000 sheets is still $33.69.
All in all, buying a paper shredding machine for your home or office can be a very logical and cost effective choice if you understand some of the very basic constraints involved in using these machines. However, if your requirements exceed simply shredding just a few sheets of paper a day, you may want to consider your options.
Until next time…
Keep Totally Secure,
Head Shredding Guy
Total Secure Shredding, Inc.