Shredding Bullets and Other Wild (aka Bad Idea!) Destruction Stories

May 8, 2020 at 7:14 pm by Paul Falcone

After over 50 years in business, the SEM service team and service technicians have had some interesting calls to service our machines. After all, our team has travelled all across the world to service these machines for our customers to ensure that they have a long-lasting life of thorough data destruction, so some strange things are bound to happen. So, which of these stories has stood the test of time?

Something Stinks!

One call that came to mind was a service call for a paper shredder that had a jam. The service technician arrived at the scene to get to work, only to find that it wasn’t just a normal jam. As it turns out, there was a disgruntled employee who had thrown a dirty sock into the shredder that caused it to jam. The sock completely ruined the gears and the cutting head inside the paper shredder system as the fabric got wrapped around and slowed it to a jam. That stinks!

Heavy Money

Something that can come to surprise to people is the need to shred currency. As currency ages some is phased out, disposed of, and replaced. At this facility the currency was being prepared to be destroyed in groups of a set weight. In this service call, it was discovered that someone had thrown coins in with bills to make sure the specific package of currency met its targeted weight before being destroyed. The only problem is that the SEM model 1454 disintegrator is not designed to destroy coins, and as they went through the cutting chamber, it sparked and caused a fire to break out amongst the currency that was also being disintegrated.

Remember that it’s not only flammable objects that can create fires but also objects that can create sparks! The sparks themselves may not be dangerous but when you’re shredding paper next to it, things can quickly go up in flames.

Ammunition Disposal

Another service call story happened while our service technician was working on a machine with multiple units on sight. While completing a different job, the service technician noticed that a group of people were loading material into a Model 22 disintegrator nearby, only to hear loud explosions shortly after. The material loaded into the Model 22 disintegrator turned out to be ammunition that had been confiscated and needed to be destroyed. While SEM is proud of how strong our machines are built, no cutting chamber is going to handle live ammunition exploding in the cutting chamber.

Please don’t do this.

Don’t Run (Or Un-Jam Machines) With Scissors

One last story involved a service call to service a paper shredder that had jammed. The customer had tried to troubleshoot the problem independently before consulting SEM by using a pair of scissors to pull out jammed material. The only problem was the machine was still on, and the photo-eye sensor sensed material and began to pull in the scissors that were being used and shredded half of the scissors before the operator could pull them back out. Once the metal went into the paper shredder the cutting head was not only jammed, but now destroyed. Remember to always power down units before attempting to unjam and always consult SEM before going into a machine.

Onto Our Next Call

These are just a few of the stories we gathered here from our service team over the years. While some can be comical, the important thing to remember is that these machines are not invincible, and proper maintenance, upkeep, and care is required to have a long lasting device. The good news is, devices that are maintained and only operated by destroying the approved materials can last decades. Remember, don’t shred bullets.

It’s a really bad idea.