Automatic Feeding VS Manual Feeding Paper Shredders - What’s best for your office?

From a security perspective, there is no better way to destroy your documents than to shred them onsite. Compared to offsite and outsourced shredding services, you take total control of your paper-based information.

From a health and well-being perspective, now more than ever with the onset of Covid-19, shredding onsite is a sure way to reduce outsiders associated with engaging outsourced shredding services entering your offices.

Be it for better security or for health and well-being reasons, or even both, auto feeding paper shredders are the perfect way to seamlessly shred documents in today’s modern workplaces.

Because hand feeding a paper shredder is less embraced nowadays, automatic feeding paper shredders are marketed in a “Perfect World” context, promising to solve your every shredding need, however there are notable differences. To avoid disappointment and find the best paper shredder for your needs, it pays to research products and associated reviews to help determine if and what brand and model of auto feed shredder is best for you.

Shredding confidential documents is taken very seriously by the government and private sector and using products aligned to policy surrounding physical security, efficiency and sustainability is high on the shopping list for government and private sector buyers. Now more than ever, some automatic paper shredder brands tick the physical security, efficiency & environmental sustainability policy boxes by including the ability to:

  1. Supply secure P-4 Cross Cut and higher security P-5 Micro Cut automatic feeding paper shredders
  2. Lock unshredded paper from unauthorised access
  3. Automate the process of shredding paper
  4. Reduce energy consumption
  5. Shred without the need to maintain the blades.
  6. Minimise shredded waste volumes.
  7. Recycle of the device itself at end of life.

The technology available that shreds your documents automatically, can make this important task happen smoothly without the time traditionally required by using a hand feed shredder.

How do you know if shredding paper with an automatic or manual feed machine is better for you?

This depends on your expectations about using these types of shredders and differences which will be expanded on shortly. The introduction of auto feed paper shredders changes the user experience like never before, because the time taken to hand feed shredding is not required. With time savings made, users can focus on other tasks. There is no doubt that automatic shredders save the majority of time taken to shred associated with hand feed shredding.

Real-world comparison of time taken to manually vs auto shred paper

Expressed as processes, one user is hand feeding 600 sheets versus the other user automatically shredding the same 600 sheets. Time savings are substantial by shredding automatically, with just 7% of the time required compared to hand feeding.

Some shredder brands claim even greater time savings when automatically shredding. The same time savings could be demonstrated here, however this comparison is more realistic. On order to fairly compare between the two ways of shredding, hand feeding a more realistic thickness will help avoid interruption dealing with paper jams caused by over feeding.

  • Manual Feed Shredding requires approximately 222 Seconds to complete, involving 38 x processes
  • Auto Feed Shredding requires approximately 15 Seconds to complete, involving 5 x processes
    *Manual feed shredding expressed hand feeding 600 x A4 sheets at 16 x A4 sheets per pass at 6 second intervals. Feeding at 80% of maximum sheet capacity to help avoid overfeeding and extra time required clearing paper jams.
    *Auto feed shredding expressed shredding 600 x A4 sheet pile.

Manual vs auto feed example process to shred 600 sheets

Rexel auto feed paper shredders
MERCURY RDX2070 Cross Cut

*20 Sheet Hand Feed
P-3 4 x 45mm Cross Cut
70 Litre Waste Capacity

Hand Feed 600 Sheets:

  1. Turn shredder on
  2. Hand feed 16 x sheets
  3. Hand feed 16 x sheets
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  38. Hand feed 16 x sheets

INFOSTOP auto feed paper shredders
automaster AS650M Micro Cut
*600 Sheet Auto Feed Capacity
P-4 4 x 10mm Micro Cross Cut
53 Litre Waste Capacity

Automatic Feed 600 Sheets:

  1. Open auto feed tray cover
  2. Place paper stack into auto feed tray
  3. Close auto feed tray cover
  4. Turn shredder on
  5. Lock paper tray (optional)

Users first thoughts after using an automatic feeding paper shredder are varied to say the least. It is easy however to place comments into categories.

1: Reliability of auto feed shredding to be successfully completed unsupervised.
When choosing an automatic feeding paper shredder, there is no substitute for professional auto feed shredder brands. Auto feed shredder brands that reliably work include INFOSTOP Automaster Load & Go, Fellowes Automax Walk Away and Rexel Auto+ Stack & Shred.

2: Auto feed shredding being slower.
This can appear slow in comparison to some hand feed paper shredders due to the way auto feed shredders present paper to the blades. Our first instinctive behaviour is to watch over and see the machine automatically working, however, once the novelty has worn off and the shredder is left to work, the time savings are usually embraced. In fact, users rarely replace an auto feed shredder with a manual feed machine.

Auto feed shredder considerations

Although professional auto feed paper shredder brands can shred A4 documents automatically with consistent success, there are other operational factors to consider when choosing a suitable machine including:

Security of Un-Shredded Documents is important to prevent unauthorised access to un-shredded paper. With this in mind, many medium to large size multi-user auto feed paper shredders include a user generated pin locking feature, which prevents access to un-shredded paper. This function automatically unlocks upon the completion of shredding.

Shorter Paper Sizes
can present limitations including the inability to auto feed documents shorter than A4, such as A5 papers being too short to reach over the auto feed mechanism (depending on where placed in the pile). It is more likely that shredders that auto feed paper from one end can present with this type of limitation.

Auto feed shredders that draw the paper into the blades towards the centre, usually include two counter rotating auto feed mechanisms which can better auto feed smaller sized documents successfully. This is because the distance to each auto feeder from the end of the paper tray is approximately 90mm. Due to the very nature of this design, smaller sized documents are far more likely to contact at least one of the two auto feed mechanisms. 

Paper shredders that auto feed A4 paper from one end can present with limited success while auto feeding documents of a shorter length. This is due to the greater distance required to reach the auto feed mechanism of approximately 160mm. Shorter documents such as A5 not positioned over the auto feeder can remain un shredded.

The good news is that professional auto feed shredder brands include a hand feed option to cater for shorter sized paper.

Rigid Paper Stock can prevent paper being fed into the blades, causing obstruction to the paper path. For example, light card stock does not shape as easily compared to general office paper. A3 folded in half to an A4 size can also prevent auto feeding.

Another time saving factor includes frequency of emptying and although cross-cut shreds do compact well, emptying can easily be halved. Micro cross-cut and micro cut shreds compact at over twice the rate of cross-cut shreds, clearly this is great news to reduce emptying.

Auto Feeding Stapled Documents and the shredders ability to do so is dependant on the design of machine and the operator following the user instructions, to minimise user error.

Most automatic feeding paper shredders using two counter rotating auto feed mechanisms, can automatically shred documents with staples placed at either or both ends of the document. There is no need to identify what document is fastened at what end.

Some paper shredders that auto feed paper from one end, can shred stapled documents automatically when the fastened end is loaded into the paper tray, at the same end as the auto feed mechanism.

Some open sheet feeder shredders can auto feed staples documents when the fastened end is loaded into the auto feeder at the top. Placing the fastened end at the bottom can potentially cause jamming to the auto feeder mechanism.

Noise is an important consideration when choosing any office device including paper shredders. The majority of auto feed paper shredders include a paper tray which encloses the paper while shredding or an open sheet feeder, like that of a small printer.

Automatic feeding paper shredders with a paper tray are naturally quieter in operation due to professional design and the stack of paper placed above the blades helping to contain noise generated while shredding. In addition, the paper tray has an access door to load the pile of paper which when closed, further contains nose generated while shredding.

Auto feed paper shredders with an open sheet feeder are often referred to as hybrid shredders, having the ability to auto feed and hand feed paper simultaneously. With the paper entrance not enclosed, these paper shredders can generate noise levels beyond what is acceptable for the average office environment can tolerate, particularly when used frequently and over extended periods.

Choosing the Right Duty Cycle is important so the chosen machine suits the amount of amount of use it will receive. The Duty Cycle or Duty Factor is the ratio of time a load is on compared to the time the load is off. In the context of an office shredder, the duty cycle is the maximum time the paper shredder will operate for until overheating and the cool down period required. For general daily shredding, the duty cycle of most auto feed shredders will be sufficient not to overheat. For constant shredding when clearing redundant records or scanning projects are involved for example, a continuous and long run time is a must to avoid inconvenience and disappointment.

CD/DVD/Blu-ray Discs and Credit/ID Cards can be shredded by many auto feed shredder brands. Depending on the size of auto feed shredder: small, medium or large, some will shred only Credit/Id cards while others, especially medium to larger sizes will in addition, shred CD/DVD/Blu-ray discs.  In the case of shredding these items, hand feeding via the manual feed paper entry or via a dedicated media feed entry is required.

Emptying the Shredders Bin has been taken seriously by expert manufacturers of auto feed paper shredders. Some cross-cut auto feed paper shredders are physically large and include a large bin capacity. Some auto feed paper shredder manufacturers that focus more on office efficiency and sustainability focus on reducing shredding waste volume. Reducing shredding waste volume is achieved by micro cross-cut or micro cut shredding paper into far smaller particles. Compared to cross-cut shredded waste, characteristic of micro cross-cut and micro cut particles, waste volumes are vastly reduced to less than half. Furthermore, the inclusion of a waste sweeper above the shred pile, ensures they are evenly distributed as the shredded paper rises to full capacity in the bin.

cross cut vs micro cutShredded paper in binPaper being shredded

Sustainability and Recycling Initiatives have been carefully considered by professional shredder manufacturers during the design and development stages. With these initiatives in mind, a professional paper shredder of complete design includes:

  • Media Bin separates media shreds from paper shreds helping prevent contamination of paper prior to recycling.
  • Energy Saving Eco Standby Mode during periods of inactivity.
  • Parts Support and after sales serviceability.
  • Recyclability of the device itself at the end of lifecycle into E-waste.
  • DTS Distributor Takeback Schemes
  • WEEE Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Schemes.

Following Your User Manual Instructions will help get the best use from your machine. Due to the uniqueness and recency of paper shredders that shred automatically, reading the user instructions is even more important.

For Professional Advice choosing the best auto feed shredder model for your needs, feel free to contact a product specialist at Shredder Sales by phone: 1800 808 880 or email:

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