Choosing the Best Shredder for Recycling

Rotary grinders, pierce-and-tear style, hammer mills, pulverizers: With so many types of shredders on the market, how do you decide which one is right for your recycling operation? Jeff Dietterich, president of AES, was interviewed for this informative article published in the August edition of Recycling Today magazine.  A frequent contributor to recycling and materials management publications, Jeff discusses discusses the primary factors that go into selecting the best shredder for recycling applications.

The Right Tool for the Job

By Deanne Toto, Recycling Today, August 2016

When shopping for shredders, recyclers are confronted by an array of options, from pierce-and-tear styles to hammer mills to strip shredders, to name a few. Some of the available technology is more suited to primary reduction, while others provide controlled sizing.

“The nice thing about available shredding technologies is that there is a solution to recycle almost anything,” says Dave Fleming, sales and marketing director for SSI Shredding Systems Inc., a shredding equipment manufacturer based in Wilsonville, Oregon. “If an item contains materials that have value, there is a shredding solution that could be employed to liberate and prepare that material for recovery.”

Despite the seemingly overwhelming array of options available, a few primary factors can help a recycler narrow down the right shredder style for the application at hand.

Click this link to read the full story:

Vendor Relationships Matter: Printers Discuss What To Consider When Buying Waste Paper Trim, Baling Systems

November 20, 2015

Paper recycling systems are to printers what roofs are to homeowners—a necessary evil that won’t exactly make you beam with pride or add value. These systems quite often leave printing executives mumbling under their breath about what they could have purchased instead. Sometimes, the cost of doing business can cost you a piece of your sanity.

Read more here.

FIRE: The Secure Destruction Industry’s Most Feared Four Letter Word

It’s always “Fire Season” for anyone who shreds or bales paper. This reprinted article in the Winter edition of NAID News discusses fire risks inherent to the secure destruction industry and how to mitigate them, with updated content from Jeff Dietterich, President of AES.

Editor’s Note: Now and then, NAIDnews gives subject matter experts the opportunity to update an article published many years ago on a topic that is still relevant. Here we asked Jeff Dietterich, president of NAID Associate member Advanced Equipment Sales to look back at a article published 11 years ago that continues to be as important as ever.

Click Here to read the article.

Take a Close Look: Advice for Buying Used Secure Destruction Equipment

By Jeff Dietterich
President of Advanced Equipment Sales

As published in the Summer edition of SDB Magazine, August, 2015

Consolidation in the secure shredding industry has put a number of surplus shredders and complete shredding systems on the secondary equipment market. The availability of used equipment provides an attractive alternative to new equipment for those looking to enter the secure shredding industry or upgrade existing equipment or systems. But all used equipment is not created equal: There are a number of factors to ensure what you buy is suitable for your intended purpose.

The Basics. For a stand-alone shredder, one should carefully assess the equipment’s capability in terms of throughput capacity, the security level that can be achieved, the electrical requirements, and its overall condition. If these specifications match your requirements, it’s probably a good fit.  On the other hand, shredding systems, whether new or used, are a sum of their individual parts.  The big questions to as is, “Do the discreet components work well as an integrated system or are they mismatched?” Even if the equipment is in top condition, it’s a bad fit if the components don’t work well as a team. For instance, I recently received a solicitation for a used shredding and baling system which consisted of a large 100 horsepower strip shredder with a throughput of up to eight tons an hour. Unfortunately, the baler was a manual-tie unit with a maximum throughput of two tons per hour. Additionally, the only way to feed the shredder was via a 95 gallon container tipper. Needless to say, one could never feed eight tons of material per hour into the shredder with this container dumper, nor could the baler handle that volume of shredded paper. In this case, the only real value of this system was in the shredder itself and not the other system components.

Here are some additional things to consider when shopping for a used secure destruction system or other components:

Understand your needs and objectives, and be realistic. The security level of the shredder should be one of your first considerations. Make sure you understand the difference between strip shredders, pierce and tear shredders and single-shaft shredders, and how these different types can be arranged within a system for maximum performance. Carefully consider your throughput requirements in terms of the pounds per hour needed to address incoming material stream, and add in a factor for inefficiency in system throughput (nothing is 100% efficient). Understand the labor required to operate the system in a manner that will deliver your desired throughput, which will determine your true operating costs. As a stand-alone component, shredders can be rated by the manufacturer to handle up to ten tons or more per hour. Think carefully about the labor resources required to effectively prepare, deliver and feed a given volume into a particular type of shredder. Remember that each time the material is physically touched by an employee, there is an associated handling cost. If everything coming into your plant is already packaged in dump-ready containers your choice of equipment could be considerable different than if most of your material is coming in the door boxed on pallets.

Be realistic with your budget. The budgeting process can be challenging, as pricing for used equipment can vary greatly. Knowing the cost of equivalent new equipment can be a starting point to formulating a realistic equipment budget. Fully reconditioned equipment, ten years old or less with some form of warranty will generally command 50%-80% of the cost of new equipment, depending on age and operating hours. From this point, however, many factors coincide to determine the actual market value. Do some web research to determine market values of comparable types of equipment. Sometimes, it’s all about timing. Seller duress can certainly be an advantage to a buyer if there is a timeline in play to liquidate the equipment.

Know the condition of the equipment. Determine the equipment operating hours and look into the service history. Most shredders are equipped with non-resettable running hour meters that will show you just how long the equipment has been in operation since it left the factory. Get the equipment serial numbers and consult with the parts and service department of the manufacturer. Most manufacturers have historical records of parts sold and factory service provided for that particular machine and will be happy to share this information so they can sell you replacement parts. Look for red flags such as missing or obliterated serial numbers, missing safety guards or covers, or the lack of repair parts and service history, either from the seller or original equipment manufacturer (OEM). For instance, if you find a ten-year old shredder with 8,000 operating hours and no history of replacement cutters having been purchased, expect to be buying and installing a new set of cutters in the near future. If possible, physically inspect the equipment and observe it in operation processing material that is similar to what you will process. Check the quality of the shredded product, test for material throughput rates, take photos, and listen to the equipment operate both with and without material. If you don’t feel comfortable making these assessments yourself, engage the service of a recycling equipment sales and service professional to test, inspect and evaluate the equipment on your behalf. Be as specific as you can regarding the things that are most important to you as a prospective buyer.

Know the seller. Is the seller the actual equipment user, or are they a reseller? If dealing directly with the user you may be able to negotiate the lowest price but will likely be buying the equipment “as is, where is” with no warranty and little to no logistical or technical support. If you are dealing with an equipment broker, recycling equipment dealer, or in the case of remanufactured equipment, the factory, you can expect to pay more upfront but should also receive a higher level of logistical support for equipment removal, transportation, and installation into your facility. In some cases, the OEM can offer the equipment as factory rebuilt with a warranty. While it carries a higher price tag, you’ll gain the peace of mind knowing your equipment will be reliable and productive right out of the box. In addition to OEM’s, some equipment distributor have the capability to rebuild shredders, balers, conveyors and other system components, and can handle removal, transportation and installation.

Safety first. I cannot overstress the importance of checking all safety components of the equipment and making sure it is structurally sound and mechanically safe to operate. Make sure it is equipped with all the factory installed safety covers and guards, clearly marked emergency stop buttons and electrical service disconnects, and confirm they are all in working order. This can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for. Does the equipment come with a manual? If not, can you get a replacement from the manufacturer? You need to know how to safely operate and maintain the equipment. Remember, too, that safety standards have changed greatly over the years. As a general rule, the older the equipment, the less likely it meets with current safety standards. This is not to say that it can’t be brought up to spec by a qualified equipment dealer or the OEM, but it is something to consider in the big picture. Again, engaging an expert here can pay big dividends in peace of mind and protection for you and your employees.

Electrical Power. A common pitfall when buying both new and used equipment is not matching up its electrical requirements with the available power supply at your facility. Incompatible voltages and lack of sufficient electrical supply and infrastructure are the most common problems. This is particularly true if purchasing used equipment manufactured for use in the US and intending to use it in Canada, or vice versa. Once again, it is important to seek the help of an outside resource such as an electrical engineer or a qualified industrial electrical contractor. Upgrades to your power or changes to your electric system can be expensive, so you’ll want to be prepared with estimates for this work before you buy the equipment.

Other “hidden” costs.  Nobody likes to be surprised by unexpected costs. I asked our resident service and installation expert for his take on the most common expense items that buyers often overlook. “Freight is one of the biggest variables of any job,” according to Steven Vaccaro, Service Manager at AES. “While some smaller equipment can be strapped to a pallet and placed in a van, larger equipment requires a flatbed trailer, which is a huge difference in cost.  Also, don’t forget that heavy equipment will require a forklift or even a crane to both load and unload, plus riggers to perform the work”, Vaccaro says. Then there’s the actual shipment details: “I always suggest using a dedicated carrier with adequate insurance to cover the full value of your investment. Make sure any flatbed loads are tarped, too, to protect the equipment from the weather. Going across the border? Expect freight forwarding costs and possible import duties, which can be complicated and costly. These are the kinds of things that you just don’t think about until you have to”, Vaccaro says.   “And don’t forget about spare parts and repairs. Unless you are buying fully reconditioned equipment, you can expect to invest at least another 25% to 50% above the purchase price on parts and service, depending on age. The cost benefits from purchasing used equipment goes away immediately if there is a major malfunction or injury as a result of operating equipment that is in disrepair.”

If your head is spinning after considering all these variables, don’t despair: Despite the potential pitfalls, good used equipment can deliver real value at significant savings over new and help you take your secure destruction business to a new level. It all comes down to knowing your needs, doing the research and buying the equipment or system best suited to your business objectives.

Trained in Time: Contracting out your equipment’s preventive maintenance program can save time and money

Reliability is the number 1 reason to keep up with equipment maintenance, but many companies lack the internal resources and technical skills to handle their preventive maintenance in house. Using an outside contractor can bring a higher level of expertise to ensure your recycling equipment stays in top form. Read about how Pro Shred of Paoli, PA keeps their secure destruction operations running smoothly and reliably by contracting their major maintenance service with AES. This informative article was published in the February 2015 edition of Recycling Today magazine and can be accessed via the link below:

Digital flipbook.

Five FAQ’s for a Successful Baling Operation

As mobile shredding companies grow their business they often think about adding baling to their operations, and for good reason. Baling can be a vital part of your business strategy and allows you to gain control of a valuable by-product of your operations, the shredded paper. Following are five frequently asked questions, or FAQ’s, that you should know if you’re thinking about getting into the baling business.


Not a Lot of Hot Air:

Air separation and pneumatic conveyance systems increasingly are finding a home in material recovery facilities.

By Jeff Dietterich
As published in Recycling Today magazine, April 2014

Material recovery facilities (MRFs) use automated equipment for much of their sorting and separating processes but have traditionally relied on a good deal of hand separation to achieve the highest rate of recovery with the lowest amount of contamination. However, that has begun to change as technological advances improve separation processes and as health and safety mandates demand better protections for workers.

Today’s MRF operators have more choices in how they move and separate their materials, and increasingly that choice involves using air.

A history of air conveyance

Air is among the most efficient means by which to separate materials and move them from one place to another. The laws of fluid dynamics and gravity combine to make air an ideal separation and transport medium for any number of materials. Consider the seed head of a dandelion; a light breeze is all it needs to disperse its seed and establish the next generation, much to the chagrin of lawn enthusiasts everywhere. Since ancient times, people have used the power of air to separate materials of different densities. Winnowing is the age-old process of separating chaff from grain by tossing it into the air, using wind to separate the lighter chaff from the heavier grain.

In one form or another, air separation has been in use from prehistory through the industrial revolution to today. The ability to separate materials based on their weight or density is why so many industries rely on air separation and pneumatic conveyance equipment for sorting, separation and processing.

The basic principles governing this process are being applied more commonly today in MRFs to separate and convey materials. Air separation and pneumatic conveyance can help to improve separation efficiency, increase automation, upgrade material quality and to create a cleaner and safer working environment. Equipment manufacturers have modified and adapted air separation equipment and systems from unrelated industries to work in the MRF environment.

It follows then that air separation and pneumatic conveying equipment and systems have been developed specifically for use in MRFs to separate lighter materials from heavier materials. Some of the benefits of these systems include reducing the manpower needed for hand sorting, increasing sorting system capacity, reducing equipment wear and tear associated with traditional mechanical separating systems and reducing personnel exposure to airborne contaminants.

Let’s take a look at some of these systems to get a better understanding of how they work and why they are growing in popularity in the recycling industry.

Air separation systems

Air separation systems are used to separate one type of material from another based on material density as well as on their aerodynamic properties. They are also used to segregate and capture material from the conveyance air stream for further processing or disposal. In both cases, the principle of terminal velocity is used to influence the target material to move in the desired direction.

In the sixth edition of the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, terminal velocity in fluid mechanics is defined as “the velocity with which a body moves relative to a fluid when the resultant force acting on it (due to friction, gravity and so forth) is zero.” In the case of air separation systems, the fluid is air of a given density, and the forces are gravity and the pressure exerted by a moving air stream, expressed as cubic feet per minute, or CFM. By varying the pressure of a focused stream of air, you can overcome the force of gravity over a certain distance and achieve the desired separation of materials with different densities.

One common application of this principle is found in optical sorting equipment, where a burst of compressed air is used to separate one type of container from another, such as metal cans and plastic bottles. Another common use is a glass cleanup system, a secondary process whereby broken glass drops through a stream of upward moving air at sufficient velocity to remove the light fraction materials, such as paper and plastic labels, resulting in less contamination and increased value of the commodity.

Today, we are beginning to see more sophisticated air separation systems that have the ability to automatically separate materials of varying densities in two, three or four successive stages. While the separation efficiency is not nearly 100 percent and typically requires some hand sorting of the materials, the end result is a more productive and efficient way to separate high volumes of light fraction materials from the waste stream. This is even more important today with the influence of China’s Operation Green Fence policy, which requires cleaner bales of recyclables with fewer contaminants.

Even the residue at the end of the recovery process is getting one last pass through an air knife, which can be a more effective method of capturing small fiber and film than traditional fiber polishing screens. The idea is to remove and capture as much recoverable material as possible.

European manufacturers of air separation and pneumatic conveyance systems have lead the way into North American markets with equipment and systems that have been successfully used overseas for decades. The challenge for the domestic market is to justify the cost of these systems based on their ability to remove what are generally considered to be lower value materials from the stream of recyclables, thereby upgrading the value of the more desirable materials.

Pneumatic conveyance systems

Pneumatic conveyance systems use high-speed air to capture and transport materials from one point in the process to another, usually through overhead ducting. One advantage of these systems is their ability to move materials at a high rate of speed across great distances. The systems can be fed from various capture points along the process via drop chutes or capture hoods.

In MRFs this is often done as a series of pickups along a sorting conveyor, with personnel selecting the material to send up through the system. Sorters pull the desired material from the line and introduce it to the chute. The updraft of the suction line takes it away to another point for collection or further processing.

Most of us are familiar with aluminum can blowers, which are used to convey the cans from the eddy current separator to the storage bunker. One benefit of this type of conveyor over a traditional conveyor belt is that the materials travel through lightweight ducting over long distances, with very few moving parts to wear out, break down or maintain. Another benefit of pneumatic conveying is that it can “recycle” the conveyance air in a closed-loop system, so there is no loss of heated or conditioned air and no additional dust is introduced to the facility. We see this type of closed-loop design being employed in bag capture systems. These systems convey plastic bags and films from hand-sorting stations via a high-velocity airstream to an air/material separator, at which point they are dropped into a storage bunker, container or compaction unit.

Pneumatic conveyance systems also are being used to help clean the air within the MRF itself. All you need to do is look across the processing area of any automated MRF to see the haze caused by dust-laden air. In addition to being a lung and eye irritant for personnel, accumulated dust can become a potential fire and explosion hazard. Each rotating disc separator, ballistic separator and conveyor transfer point in an automated MRF is a potential generation point for airborne dust. In Europe, it is common for these types of mechanical separators and conveyor transfer points to be enclosed. The conveyance air is used to draw the dust-laden air away from the process and into a dust collector. While this has not been a common practice in North America, change is coming for air quality inside the modern MRF.

Air quality considerations

Recent changes to federal and state regulations, more stringent requirements from insurance companies and even local fire codes are bringing about changes in MRF design and operational procedures. For example, OSHA’s Combustible Dust Initiative is targeting all industries that produce combustible dust. Revised National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards focus on limits to the accumulation of dust on surfaces that under certain conditions can become airborne in such concentrations as to create an explosion in the presence of an ignition source.

These dust related problems can be addressed in many ways in new and existing facilities. Hand-sorting stations are being enclosed to provide better ventilation and climate control to improve workplace conditions. Facility design is evolving in ways that enclose or eliminate horizontal surfaces, such as exposed roof trusses and bar joists, that would naturally collect airborne dust as it settles. Even low-tech solutions like more frequent housekeeping can go a long way to reduce dust and improve air quality.

Going forward, MRFs of all types will see an increase in the use of air separation and pneumatic conveyance systems because of their efficiency and utility in an ever broadening range of applications. The integration of this technology in the modern MRF is a natural progression as processors look for new and better ways to enhance their operations and improve their bottom lines.

The author is president of Advanced Equipment Sales, Souderton, Pa., and can be contacted at

Easy Installation: Baling Equipment

By Jeff Dietterich and Jeffrey Burnley
As published in the February 2013 issue of Recycling Today

So, you’ve made a purchase decision for a new baler, but there’s plenty to be done before the truck arrives with your new equipment.  Since baler delivery times can range from six weeks to six months or more, you should take advantage of this time to get ready. How far in advance you need to start planning will depend on your particular situation and the type of baler that you purchased. Some simple steps to be taken in advance of the baler delivery can save you time, money and aggravation. With careful planning and preparation, your baler installation and start-up can proceed as smoothly and safely as possible.

Addressing Electrical Requirements

One of the first things to plan for is the electrical supply required for the new baler. Almost all industrial balers are designed to operate on three-phase electrical power. The size of the circuit required to operate the baler will be dictated by the combined motor load of the baler. The baler manufacturer can provide the motor horsepower information and your local electrical contractor or utility company can tell you the size of the circuit required to operate the baler. Start this process several months in advance of receiving the baler if there is any possibility that you will require additional service from the utility company. Otherwise, your electrical contractor can provide a timeline and cost for the electrical service. In cases where electrical power from the grid is not available a three-phase generator can be used to provide power to the baler. Careful sizing of the generator is important to ensure that it can handle the surge load imposed by induction motors.

Determining Location

The location selected for the baler installation can be influenced by any number of factors such as:

  • Interface with existing equipment or processes
  • Access to storage and loading areas
  • Suitability of the floor to support the baler
  • Delivery method of the incoming material
  • Access for maintenance and repairs
  • Proximity to floor drains or sewer grates
  • Protection from loaders and forklifts

In most cases, the baler is working in conjunction with other equipment. Ensuring efficient material handling to and from the baler is the ultimate goal. Most equipment suppliers can provide assistance with determining the best placement of the baler relative to other processing and material handling equipment.

Many balers can be installed directly on a reinforced concrete slab as long as it is relatively level and in good condition. Larger high-volume balers can require special foundations to support the weight and handle the impact of the shear forces exerted by the baler. Some balers require floor pits to accommodate certain accessories such as vertical wire tiers. Always ask the manufacturer about the type of foundation required for your new baler.

Consider the ambient temperature where the baler will be installed. How hot or cold will it get? Most high volume balers are equipped with oil coolers to deal with the heat. However, depending on the type of baler, you may need to consider oil tank heaters if you expect to encounter low temperatures in the baling area.

The installation location must provide access for maintenance or repairs. This includes access to remove the baling ram and ram cylinders, which are the biggest and heaviest components to service.

Make sure there are no open drains or sewers in the proximity of the baler. A hydraulic leak from a broken hose can disperse a lot of hydraulic oil in a very short amount of time. If this oil gets into a storm sewer or floor drain there could be significant environmental impact and cost implications to your company. This can be avoided by using food-grade hydraulic oil. The baler manufacturer can make a recommendation or supply a specification for the type of oil needed for their baler.

Protect your baler against damage from loaders and forklifts by installing brightly painted bollards and guardrails. This is especially important in high traffic areas around hydraulic cylinders and other accessories that extend out from the baler frame. These are critical components that can be time consuming and expensive to repair.

Selecting Freight Carriers

If you are arranging freight for the baler, be sure to work with a freight broker that understands how to ship machinery. Balers are most commonly shipped on flatbed trailers with air ride suspension. Both the loading and unloading conditions must be taken into account when determining what type of trailer is best for the job. Your rigging company can provide valuable advice on the type of trailer that allows for the efficient unloading and handling of your materials. Give specific instructions ensure the baler is tarped at all times while on the trailer, and provide detailed instruction for the dates and times for pick-up and delivery. It is important that all parties are clear on the need for timely pick-up and delivery, as it costs money to have a rigging crew waiting for the trailer to arrive. Make sure the carrier is aware you will need time load and unload the trailer. Some other important considerations include:

  • Freight Insurance: Manufacturers typically do not provide transit insurance, so know how much, if any, coverage is provided by the carrier.
  • Oversized loads: Larger balers may be classified as oversized by Department of Transportation regulations, adding significant cost to your freight bill.
  • Dedicated truck vs. LTL (less than truckload): Some smaller balers may be able to ship with other loads. While this is less expensive than a dedicated truck, it can cause delays in delivery time which will cost you money on the back end.

Unloading and Rigging

Unloading your baler and rigging it into place should always be left to professionals that know their craft and can supply the right equipment for the job. Make sure your rigger is experienced, qualified and insured. You should walk through the affected areas with your rigger well in advance of the baler’s arrival and carefully consider the path of transit from the unloading site to the installation site. Look for building obstructions, floor elevation changes, wires, cables, or other overhead clearance issues.

Installing the Baler

Installation of your baler should always be performed by an experienced and qualified professional that has been factory trained for your specific baling equipment. Make sure that you know what is and what is not included with your baler. Read your contract documents carefully. Some important questions to ask your baler provider include:

  • How much operator training will be provided?
  • What other trades (electrician, mechanical contractor, etc) are involved with the baler installation?
  • Who is responsible for coordinating the activities of the different tradespersons involved with the installation?
  • Are permits required?
  • Does the baler come with hydraulic fluid?
  • How much and what type of baling wire do I need?
  • How much time will installation require?
  • Will the baler installation require a production shut down?

Starting it up

It is important to have an ample supply of the materials you will be baling to start up the baler. This allows you to put it through its paces and make any adjustments while the baler technician is still on site. Some balers require several tons of material to build up hydraulic pressure and bale density. The manufacturer can provide guidance on how much material you will need. It is best to use “virgin” material rather than breaking bales and then re-baling. Having the right materials and the labor required to get them to the baler will make the start-up process as fast and efficient as it should be.

Avoiding Unnecessary Downtime

Your baler is an investment that, with proper use and maintenance, should provide many years of service life. Following the manufacturer’s schedule for routine maintenance and periodic service intervals will help protect your investment and preserve any warranty that comes with the equipment. If you do not have in-house service capabilities, you will need to establish a relationship with a qualified vendor who is experienced with your particular baler. The baler provider and/or manufacturer is a good place to start. Most companies cannot afford to have their baler down for long periods so know how emergency service is handled. If your operations run 24/7, you’ll want to ask how the service provider responds to calls placed after-hours, on weekend, and holidays.

A successful baler installation doesn’t happen on its own. There are many details that need to be addressed before your baler arrives. Planning and coordination are the keys to a safe and successful installation that is on time and on budget.

Fire and Dust: Preventing One by Controlling the Other

by Jeff Dietterich
As published in NAID News December 2010

The act of shredding paper produces dust – lots of dust. It’s the nature of the business. Anyone who’s ever seen a mobile truck dump its load is familiar with the ghostly white cloud that rises from the pile. Conversely, plant-based shredding introduces a steady stream of fine particulate into the air. So what’s the problem with a little dust?  Over time, dust build-up will clog equipment and shorten its service life, and airborne particles can irritate lungs and eyes, presenting a health risk for employees. But there’s another often-overlooked hazard that you can’t afford to ignore. Dust is highly explosive, and how you deal with it has never been more important now that the Occupational Health and Safety Agency (OSHA) has established a special program to identify dust-related hazards in the workplace.

OSHA initiated it’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) for Combustible Dusts in November 2007 in response to a massive dust explosion the killed 14 workers at Imperial Sugar’s Port Wentworth, GA facility earlier that year. Since that time the NEP for Combustible Dust has targeted a broad range of industries, issuing nearly 5,000 violations in the past 3 years. Hundreds of compliance officers across the country have been provided with specific training to identify combustible dust hazards in the workplace. While OSHA does not specifically target the secure destruction industry, its inspectors have cited secure destruction facilities for dust violations as a direct result of this emphasis program. Some facilities were also cited for additional violations involving personal protective equipment, electrical equipment for hazardous (classified) locations, first aid, powered industrial trucks, and fire extinguisher standards.  Another common violation is the use of compressed air in excess of 30 psi for cleaning purposes. Not only does this practice violate the standard, but it could potentially cause deflagration or explosion of the resulting dust cloud if ignition sources are present.

Although OSHA, at present, does not have a specific standard on combustible dust hazards, the agency has several existing standards that apply to facilities that handle combustible dust. In addition, there are other Federal and State standards that OSHA refers to in its inspection and enforcement activities.

How does this affect your secure destruction business? Putting it into perspective, the typical secure destruction operation does not generate enough dust to create the kind of massive explosion and fire that prompted this OSHA emphasis program. However, the paper dust generated in a paper shredding operation is flammable, and under the right conditions, explosive. The mere presence of a 1/32” layer of dust on a horizontal surface can be cause for citation. If there is an existing dust collection system in operation it must be equipped or retrofit with certain safety features that mitigate the opportunity for a dust fire or explosion.

Diligent housekeeping is the number one way to keep dust under control. Equipment can be enclosed and equipped with covers that may reduce the amount of dust that becomes airborne in a facility. If that is not enough, additional measures such as equipping you operation with an integrated dust control system may be necessary. If this is the case, engage the services of a qualified, experienced professional that is thoroughly familiar with your process and all of the pertinent fire safety standards. You should also contact the local Fire Marshal or Building Code Enforcement Officer to review your dust collection system design and installation plan BEFORE you purchase or install any equipment.

Making dust control an integral part of your company’s heath & safety program is just good business. A cleaner, healthier work environment encourages greater productivity, reduces accidents, mitigates the risk of fire and reduces the risk of OSHA fines and penalties.

Jeff Dietterich is President of Advanced Equipment Sales, a NAID Associate Member, and chairs he NAID Health and Safety Committee.

Knowing Your Options

When shopping for a baler, shredding companies have many factors to consider

By Jeff Dietterich
As published in Storage and Destruction Business, December 2009

The baling of shredded documents is an important aspect of most secure destruction businesses. It provides a means for effective materials management, revenue generation and increased information security. The revenue generated from the sale of the baled material can be significant when properly managed. The value of the baled material is historically stable over the long-term but can be subject to short-term volatility. In-house baling of the shredded documents allows companies maintain tighter control over the chain of custody and the ultimate destination for these materials.

Baling is almost always employed in plant-based shredding operations. Mobile shredding operations often add on baling capability to take control of fleet management and routing that is otherwise dictated by the availability of a local recycler. Many mobile shredding operations find that they can reduce their fleet or forgo a future shredding truck purchase as a result of more efficient and effective management of their current fleet. A side benefit of baling for these operations is the ability to easily provide plant-based shredding as an additional service to their customers.

There are only a few different types of balers that are used for baling paper in the secure destruction industry. Baler selection depends primarily on the material to be baled and the volume of material to be baled in a given amount of time. Balers are sometimes used to bale secure and recyclable commodities other than paper. These applications are usually very specific and sometimes require specialized equipment.

Horizontal balers are commonly used to bale shredded paper processed by a plant-based shredder or a mobile shredding truck. The horizontal baler utilizes a hydraulically driven compression ram that moves horizontally to compress materials that have been loaded into a vertical chute. This type of baler is available in manual-tie, closed-end and open-end designs. An auto-tie unit is an accessory on most open-end balers. Lower-volume applications typically call for a manual-tie baler. Auto-tie balers are generally used in applications of 60-100 tons or greater per month.

Baler throughput is dictated by the main pump motor size and the diameter of the main ram hydraulic cylinder. Generally speaking, the higher the horsepower, the more throughput. It has been demonstrated that horizontal baler throughputs often exceed the manufacturer’s published capacity charts when baling shredded paper from mobile shredding trucks. This is because the paper discharged from the trucks is partially compacted already and is denser than shredded paper processed through a plant-based shredder. Therefore, you will need more horsepower to bale 5 tons of shredded paper per hour from a plant-based shredder than you would for the same amount of paper from a mobile shredding truck.

Vertical balers are commonly used to bale OCC (Old Corrugated Containers). The material is hand loaded into the baler hopper and the baling ram moves vertically from top to bottom to compact the material. After each compaction stroke, the ram retracts so that more boxes can be loaded into the hopper. When the bale chamber is filled, a buzzer activates to let the operator know that it is time to manually insert and tie-off the bale ties.

New customers sometime ask, “Why not use my horizontal baler to bale my OCC too?” The problem is that, a) you don’t want to mix the OCC with the shredded paper, and b) you would need to store about 1,000 pounds of loose OCC somewhere in order to make a mill-sized bale. It’s just more practical to have a dedicated low-cost baler for the OCC that is generated. However, in very high volume applications, a dedicated horizontal baler may be a better choice than a vertical baler.

Balers can be a big-ticket item, so many first-time buyers look to used equipment an economical way to get into the baling business. A high quality, well-maintained baler can provide many years of service, but price alone should not be the deciding factor. When considering the purchase of a new baler versus a used or reconditioned baler, there are a few things to keep in mind and a few questions to ask your equipment provider.

First of all, do your homework. Get to know the basics about the equipment before investing your hard earned money. If you’re looking at used equipment, ask about the age and history of the baler. Get the make, model, serial number, and specifications. Manufacturer’s product literature and photographs are helpful. Make sure that the equipment owner’s manual will be provided and that the manufacturer will fully support the equipment going forward. Make sure you understand the warranty limits. Know what costs are covered in the purchase price: Cost items such as freight, unloading, installation, electrical work, start-up and operator training are often not included in the purchase price of the baler unless they are negotiated up front. Insist on having your personnel trained in the safe and proper operation and maintenance of the baler. Make sure there is a local resource that is trained to provide technical support and field service.

When it comes to used equipment, deal with an equipment provider that specializes in baling equipment. Many equipment sources such as brokers, on-line auctioneers, liquidators, and even Ebay can sell you a baler. However, they cannot tell you if the equipment suits your application, has been tested for proper operation, or meets current safety requirements. An experienced baling equipment sales professional will know how to match a baler for your specific application, have the resources to repair and rebuild baling equipment in accordance with the best industry practices, and support the installation and service of the equipment.

New equipment is generally available through manufacturer’s representatives or dealers. The representative or dealer usually has a long-standing relationship with one or more manufacturers and can provide all of the services required to make sure that you get into the baling business the right way and support you along the way. Ideally, they will be familiar with your business model and know what is important and relevant to your application. They should be able to supply ancillary equipment such as conveyors, shredders, and related equipment. An equipment dealer will also be willing to provide a fair trade-in value for existing equipment. If the dealer is not local enough to provide timely field service, they should identify and train a local resource to provide these services. It is very helpful if the dealer can provide evening and weekend telephone support as these are the times that you will most likely be baling and the equipment manufacturer is not available to take your call.

Baling is an integral part of successful secure destruction businesses. It brings value to the bottom line in many different ways. Making the proper equipment selection does take some effort and when properly done provides a valuable return on investment for many years.