Choosing Between an Auto Feed and Manual Feed Paper Shredder
Knowing how to Choose a Paper Shredder that best suits your needs and budget, can for some be a confusing process, often not knowing where to start. It can be like travelling without a map.
Obtaining sound advice from a reputable supplier with a knowledgeable product specialist, most likely is the ideal starting point.
Most paper shredders being purchased in Australia and New Zealand are to replace an old shredder, so your shredders size and specifications are a useful starting point to determine whether you want to size up or size down or keep with the same size shredder, already familiar with the size and capability of your current machine.
These are some questions to ask yourself and other users:
- Does your shredder take enough thickness?
- Is the feed opening wide enough, most office shredders are available to accept A4 and A3 paper sizes and some brands have extra wide paper entries available.
- Do you want to empty your shredder less?
- Is noise an issue and would you like a quieter office shredder with a lower DB level?
- Would you like to have your paper shredded automatically?
- Would stapled sets of documents need to be automatically shredded?
- Are your shreds secure enough?
- Do you need to shred stapled and other forms of fastened documents?
- Will items other than paper need shredding, such as Credit/ID Cards and CD/DVD Optical Media Discs?
These are the more relevant questions to ask yourself as you assess your preferences and research online.
Then there are common features that many office shredder brands already include which some shredder brands market, such as “Jam Free” or “Jam Stopper” for example. However these marketing statements are possibly about creating a perceived point of difference, so it pays to be discerning about what is simply not a real point of difference that does not really add value.
Shredder Reviews – Valid shredder reviews can also be a useful source of information, being discerning is important as opinions, needs and expectations do vary. For example a negative review may be due to a shredder simply being too small for the workflow, otherwise a good product but used for the wrong application.
Performance and Productivity – The thickness of paper and speed it is shredded all contribute to how productive your shredding will be. For hand feed paper shredders, it is usually important shredding does not take long. If your preference is towards auto feed shredding, choosing a machine that has a deep enough paper tray to accept a sufficient stack is important. Auto feed shredders are usually slower than hand feed shredders, however for the user, the time it takes to load and start the auto feed shredder is a fraction of the time compared to hand feeding the same amount of paper manually. For some, auto feed shredding is a particularly attractive option as it does not consume the users time to hand feed paper through the shredder. In addition, some auto feed shredders can be locked so the un shredded paper cannot be accessed by others, so supervision is not required being a walk away solution. But don’t worry, usually the shredder will unlock the paper tray upon completion of shredding ready for the next user. Many auto feed paper shredders also can be hand fed for those times when just a few sheets need shredding.
Size/Waste Capcaity and Paper Entry Width – Waste capacity and paper entry width have a large influence over the physical size of the shredder, paper sizes that it will accept volume of shredded paper that can be stored in the shredders bin.
Reduced Emptying – With office shredders, you can approach minimising emptying two ways, depending on your preference.
Option 1: A shredder with a larger bin will hold more shredded waste and reduce emptying, however it will require more floor area which may not be ideal.
Option 2: Shredders that Cross Cut paper will significantly reduce waste volumes down to approximately one third compared to Straight Cut shredders, so if you are replacing a Straight Cut shredder, it will be easy to greatly reduce emptying without changing the size of your paper shredder.
Option 3: The latest generation of shredders are trending towards “Micro Cut” and as the minimum standard of security has increased in more recent times, so has the development and the affordability of these higher security shredders. If you already have a Cross Cut shredder, the good news is that you can easily half your shredded waste volume, by replacing it with a micro cut shredder. Micro cut is very efficient in many ways and with that, also brings great conveniences.
Noise Level – Distractive noise generated by office machines can prove annoying for some and a cause of distraction. Ideally you should be able to operate your office machines at any time without inconvenience to others and in the case of some paper shredders brands, this is possible.
Point 1: The best way to reduce noise levels is to Micro Cut your paper, this is by far the quietest way to shred your documents and characteristic of the Micro Cut process, far less noise is generated, due to a more harmonised throughput of paper.
Point 2: Auto Feed paper shredders that enclose the stack of paper to be shredded, naturally reduce noise due to the enclosure. In addition, if the stack of paper to be shredded is fed from the bottom of the stack, further noise reduction benefits can be enjoyed, as the load of paper creates another barrier reducing noise escaping outside of the paper shredder.
It is without doubt, a Micro Cut, Auto Feeding paper shredder that auto feeds paper from the bottom of the enclosed stack, will potentially perform with the greatest silence.
Another bonus is that Micro Cut shredding is the best way available to reduce shredded waste volumes.
Automatic Feeding Paper Shredders – Automatic shredding allows this crucial task to be completed while freeing your time complete more meaningful and urgent tasks. That said, the time required to shred the same amount of paper automatically, is generally longer than manual shredding however the time required to hand shred is not required.
Professional, Auto Feed paper shredders have the ability to lock your un-shredded documents and automatically unlock the machine once completed, ready for the next user, this is a genuine fully automatic solution, as shredding can truly be completed without any supervision.
Currently, Auto Feed paper shredders draw paper to into the blades two ways:
Friction Feed – Like your printer, paper is directed into the cutters with Rubber Auto Feed Rollers pressing against the paper creating a gripping effect which separates sheets from the stack into the blades. Rubber rollers can wear out and unfortunately for some shredders, these are not replaceable, rendering the shredders auto feed function useless when worn out. Professional Auto Feed paper shredders are more serviceable, with the auto feed rollers easily replaced.
Truly reliable Automatic Shredding of stapled sets of paper is limited to just a few brands of professional auto feed paper shredders. These brands include to INFOSTOP automaster, Fellowes Automax Walk Away, Rexel Auto+, Boxis AutoShred and Swingline Auto+ Stack and Shred.
Hand feed shredding is usually faster than auto feed shredding however it requires the time of an operator to feed the machine. Auto Feed versus Manual Feed shredding is a topical conversation and is determined by the individual’s preference, after a researched and considered decision has been made. Some users feel more empowered by auto feed shredding as extra tasks are accomplished while Auto Feed shredding. For some, hand feed shredding can in some cases make them feel more productive.
Friction feed paper shredders with two sets of opposing roller shafts can accept document sizes shorter than A4, making them relatively flexible regarding the paper sizes they can automatically feed. Friction feed paper shredders with one feed roller shaft require shorter documents to be positioned over the end where the rubber roller shaft is located to auto feed the papers.
Some friction feed auto feed paper shredders use a short conveyor belt type design, with two sets of opposing rubber conveyor belts. This architecture is arguably the best proven design for successful auto feeding of stapled sets of documents, due the a far greater surface contact area for separating each page from the staple.
Rotating Disc Separation – This way of auto feeding works with the correct sized document (usually A4) and requires shorter documents to be positioned over the rotating disc, to introduce paper into the cutters for successful auto feeding.
Shredding Staples, Paper Clips Credit Cards and Optical Media Discs (CD/DVD) – Most professional Auto Feed Paper Shredders will successfully Auto Feed sets of stapled documents reliably. When Auto Feed shredding of paper clipped sets of documents, with some brands the paper clip will dislodge as the last page is drawn in, being caught by a defined right-angled base tray. The paper clip will usually fall off the page and into the shredded waste or into a recovery receptacle as a convenient means of recycling. More professional brands of Auto Feed paper shredders will shred plastic credit and ID cards directly through the paper cutter or through separate feed entry for CD/DVD discs. Optical Media CD/DVD/Blu-ray discs are almost always fed through a separate feed entry located within the auto feed tray area or via an external disc feed entry. When fed via the auto feed tray area, the shredders lid, has to be opened to access the disc feed entry then the lid closed to start shredding the disc. When shredding Optical Media CD/DVD/Blu-ray discs via the external feed entry, you just insert the disc to shred, just like manually feeding paper into your shredder. Some shredders include a separate additional bin for collecting plastic card and disc waste for convenient separation from the paper to prevent contamination for recycling.
Security Level – P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4, P-5, P-6 or P-7. The higher the number, the higher the security level (shredding into smaller particles). For the requirements of most offices, P-4 and P-5 Cross-Cut and Micro Cut Paper Shredders are well suited for the needs of these offices both in private enterprise and public sector government offices. It is also important to know that some government offices and defence forces and contractors to both, have access to ‘Security Classified Information” which often requires more secure shredding to the P-5, P-6 or P-7 security levels, using an approved, High Security certified Class A or Class B Paper Shredder. P-1, P-2 and P-3 shredders are mostly strip cut and although perform well, are not considered secure enough for the purposes of confidential shredding. A straight cut shredder however can prove useful in warehouse environments for the purpose of creating environmentally friendly void fill and packaging to protect items during transportation. Chances are, if you are replacing an old shredder, it’s more likely to be a straight cut and is no longer considered secure enough for today’s requirements. PCI Compliance is another consideration as shredding according to the PCI-DSS standard, involves documents being “Cross-Cut” (multidirectional shredding) to a maximum particle size of 6x35mm, making reconstruction impossible.
Whatever your shredding requirements are, you will find the shredder you need from Shredder Sales.
Have a question or need free advice, contact Shredder Sales today.
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