Why Disintegrator Maintenance Should be Prioritized During Budget Cuts

June 5, 2019 at 9:28 am by SEM

Tight budgets can affect data destruction machines. How can you be prepared?

Fluctuating budgets are not new. As the DOD budget declined in the 1990’s, managers thought costs could be cut by eliminating regular disintegrator knife maintenance. By ignoring the care and maintenance of these major systems, sometimes costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, they eventually ended up sitting idle because they weren’t fit to run any longer. Many ended up in surplus yards auctioned at a small percentage of their original cost.

How a Disintegrator Works

The cutting mechanism consists of three or five knives mounted on a solid steel rotor that pass two stationary bed knives at 500 – 600 RPM for up to 6,000 cuts per minute. Waste is cut until small enough to fall through a steel sizing screen beneath the cutting rotor. The screens are interchangeable so you can vary the degree of destruction with particle sizes from less than 3/32″ to 3″ (2.5 to 76mm).

As knives become dull, the capacity of the disintegrator starts to drop. Eventually the knives will stop slicing and start pounding. Noise and dust levels go up. The system is stressed much harder and the capacity may drop to 30% of its optimal level. The added stress can make motor and bearing failure more likely. In extreme cases, stress cracks can develop in cutting chambers and feed hoppers because of the added vibration. The worst part of it is operators are now spending double or triple as much time in front of the disintegrator because of the lower capacity. This pulls away from time that could be spent doing separate work, causing additional delays and reducing work proficiency in areas unrelated to data destruction.

How to Prepare

Review the operation of your disintegrator. How much is being destroyed? How often? How careful are you about the materials going into it? How often does it get jammed by overfeeding? Well trained operators will help to keep the cost down in two ways. First, it will prevent malfunctions and potential damage to the machine. Second, the more careful you are about the materials that go into the disintegrator, the longer the life of the knife will be. Remember, the less metal the better.

SEM-spare-knivesThrough the life of a set of knives, you should get 8-10 sharpenings per set. If there is additional year-end money, buy extra knives. Filter bags, belts, screens, and waste bags are all important, but knives are the most costly consumable supply, and the most important for the data destruction process. Buying ahead of time can help protect the disintegrator in the long run.

Need Additional Help?

When reaching the point where a cut in the frequency of  knife maintenance is being considered, contact SEM customer support. They will be glad to visit, inspect your system, and then go through the ways to cut costs. If your program is at its limits and can’t afford cuts without jeopardizing the equipment, SEM can help you make that case too.

SEM also offer packages to train members of your organization to service these machines. We can do it in one of our facilities or we can do it at your location. Whatever the need, don’t let your investment go to waste. Contact SEM at 800-225-9293 or info@semshred.com.