Allegheny Shredders

Equipment Spotlight

Paper Shredders

To most of us, paper is a symbol of frailty and impermanence. To manufacturers of paper shredders for recycling applications, however, the material provides both a sturdy foundation for their businesses as well as no small number of challenges.

Shredding first boomed more than 30 years ago after passage of the federal privacy act spurred interest in document destruction, then again when federal regulations regarding the privacy of healthcare and medical information were passed. Lately, concern about identity theft is driving document destruction.

Granutech-Saturn Systems

At Allegheny Paper Shredders Corporation in Delmont, Pennsylvania, director of marketing Robert Wagner says the company’s first strip-cut shredder was made with approximately 8 horsepower. After more than 40 years in business, their largest model now has 300 horsepower. Machines over 50 horsepower tend to be heavily customized with cutters made of metal with the right hardness, properly selected gear boxes and configurations designed to reduce space, improve productivity, or address other concerns.

One of the biggest market niches consists of contract service firms destroying documents for businesses. Whatever the source, the paper all winds up being recycled. “Nowadays, it’s all baled and recycled,” Wagner says. “There’s such a good return on the paper that if you’re doing any volume you’re going to recoup your costs.”

One trend in the industry is crosscut shredding for high volume document destruction. In this application, two strip cut shredders are installed. A preshredder breaks down bulk material to a particle size of two inches or so. Material then goes to a confidential shredder, which reduces particle size to 5/8 inch. The machines are arranged perpendicularly so shredded paper is conveyed from the first shredder broadside into the second for crosscutting.

“The advantage of this is you can do high volume,” Wagner says. “Typically stripcut shredders on our size equipment can go from 1 ton to 15 tons an hour. When you cross shred, you can get up to 25 tons an hour because you preshred it.” Allegheny typically installs crosscut shredders of 125 horsepower on both machines, although 200 horsepower is also common.

At Industrial Paper Shredders, Inc. in Salem, Ohio, owner DeeDee Thomas says the company custom builds all its shredders to meet end user needs. “The shred size, voltage and the body of the shredder are engineered predicated on the material shredded and its use,” Thomas says. “Because our shredders are custom built, we can make the body and knives from almost any metal.”

Industrial’s best-known line is the Combo shredder. It is available in four feed-throat sizes, from 16 inches to 60 inches. “The Combo shredder’s shred size is variable, from 1/8 inch by 1/8 inch up to 2 inches x 1 inch and anywhere in between,” Thomas says.

Industrial has found quite a wide variety of markets for its shredders. “Some people who use horse bedding have found that wood shavings and sawdust have become scarce due to the decline in housing and they have turned to cardboard bedding,” Thomas says. “Our shredders can make horse bedding in 3/8 inch by 3/8 inch pieces for the muck rakes tines with a 3/8 inch width. It is easier to clean the stalls when the 3/8 inch pieces stay and the manure is raked away.”

Industrial also makes shredders that produce mulch from cardboard by using a disintegrator screen on the shredder. “The product is fluffy cardboard and is also being used for horse bedding,” Thomas says. Other applications include companies that use Industrial’s shredders to crush cardboard cores to reuse in other paper products. “We have large insulation companies chopping waste that was once landfilled into 1 inch by 1 inch pieces and using the chopped pieces for insulated ceiling tiles,” Thomas adds. “We also make shredders for high volume shredding for recycling or document destruction.”

Republic Machine

At Republic Machine, Inc. in Louisville, Kentucky, owner George Sotsky says the company was an early proponent of shredders equipped with solid, one-piece rotors with outboard pillow block bearings. Today its single-shaft rotary shredders are used in a broad array of applications including document destruction as well as wood, plastic and medical waste.

“We offer two completely different cutting systems,” Sotsky says. “One is the common ‘hawksbill’ cutter in 40mm and 60mm sizes. The other is a totally unique Trapezoidal cutting system for carpet, film, and fiber.” The designs are highly productive by virtue of eliminating problems with wrapping, he adds.

“The cutting systems are available in a variety of sizes and with corresponding horsepower options, all of which are offered in both the traditional frame style in our Eagle line, as well as our unique Split-A-Part design, which makes maintenance much easier reducing cleanout time when changing products,” Sotsky says. “We think the future looks bright and has changed dramatically in the past 10 years.”

The future of paper shredding appears promising. Although mobile shredding services are under pressure due to environmental concerns, contract shredders that pick up and shred paper for companies are growing. Companies such as Allegheny are investigating grinders for document destruction, an application that is opening the door to the printing industry’s need to process trim and print waste. “It’s definitely a booming business,” says Wagner.