Torn to shreds: how to sell a shredder

A good shredder is an important aspect of compliance for any business

A paper shredder is a mechanical device that is used to destroy paper by cutting it into strips, small blocks or particle. Businesses, government institutions and private individuals use shredders to ensure that classified or confidential information is properly disposed of.

Why use a shredder?
A good starting point when selling shredders is to explain to customers why they need to own one. Due to the increase in fraud and identity theft, it is important people shred their bills, tax documents, credit card and bank statements and CDs that contain confidential information.
Businesses are at particular risk when it comes to compliance. Acts such as the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) stipulate that the onus falls on the company to correctly collect, store and destroy data. Any company that fails to responsibly handle information will face a fine of R10-million or serve 10 years in prison.
According to CNBC, R1-billion is lost in South Africa annually as a result of identity theft, while there are an estimated 20-million ghost identity books. The rising incidence of identity theft in the country is cause for concern, and shredders have an important role to play in protecting businesses and individuals from data loss.

Types of shredders
Shredders range in size from small, inexpensive units designed for light office use to large commercial shredding units. Shredders are classified according to the size and shape of the shreds (or chad) they produce.

Strip-cut shredders are the least secure. They use rotating knives to cut narrow strips that are as long as the original sheet of paper. Because the strips are neither compressed nor randomised, they can easily be reassembled by anyone with time and patience. An A4 sheet of paper will be cut into 39 strips. This level of security is acceptable for home use, where general information is being shredded. It is not ideal for personal information such as bank statements or passwords.

Cross-cut or confetti-cut shredders have a medium level of security. They use two contra-rotating drums to cut rectangular, parallelogram or diamond-shaped shreds. These strips are very difficult to reassemble, as an A4 page will be cut into approximately 300 strips.
Cross-cut shredders cut paper into smaller pieces and five times as much chad can fit in the waste bin, which means that your customers will have to empty it much less often than with a strip-cut shredder. Cross-cut shredders are suitable for disposable of confidential documents, including personnel details and sales and marketing plans.

Particle-cut or micro-cut shredders create tiny square or circular pieces of paper that are almost impossible to reassemble. If your clients are shredding highly confidential documents, such as those that would jeopardise personal or institutional safety, a micro-cut shredder is ideal. It will cut an A4 sheet of paper into more than 3 700 particles.

Disintegrators or granulators repeatedly cut the paper at random. They have a single cutting shaft called a rotor. The material to be shredded is cut into different sized pieces, much like happens in a wood chipper. Shredded material is passed through the holes of a mesh screen. These screens are swappable and have different sized holes, creating finer or courser chad. These machines are used in highly-secure environments, such as government departments.

Hammermills are similar to disintegrators, as they pound the paper through a screen. Rotating hammers pulverise the material to be shredded and pass it through a sizing screen for high-level destruction. The hammers may be blunt, have blades or a combination of the two. Users can change the screen size to fit their particular needs. A hammer mill can reduce paper to dust if the right screen is fitted.

Pierce-and-tear shredders have multiple rotating blades that pierce the paper and then tear it apart. These types of shredders are used primarily in industrial applications and manufacturing operations, to dispose of cardboard or specialty papers like newsprint. Pierce-and-tear shredders are usually used by mobile shredding companies.

Grinders have a rotating shaft with cutting blades that grind the paper until it is small enough to fall through a screen.

Cardboard shredders are designed specifically to shred corrugated material into either strips or a mesh pallet.

Security levels
Your customers’ security needs will depend on the confidentiality of the materials they are shredding. There are four main levels of security: low, medium, high and very high; the higher the level of security, the smaller the cut size. There are numerous standards for the security levels of paper shredders. DIN standards are used to indicate the level of shredder security in South Africa. DIN stands for Deutsches Institut für Normung (German institute for standardisation). The levels according to DIN 66399 are:

  • Level P-1 (strip shredders) – ≤12mm wide strips of any length;\
  • Level P-2 – ≤6mm wide strips of any length;
  • Level P-3 (cross-cut shredders) – ≤2mm wide strips of any length or ≤320mm² particles (of any width);
  • Level P-4 – (micro-cut shredders) ≤160mm² particles with width ≤ 6mm;
  • Level P-5 – ≤30mm² particles with width ≤ 2mm;
  • Level P-6 – ≤10mm² particles with width ≤ 1mm; and
  • Level P-7 – ≤5mm² particles with width ≤ 1mm.

Additional features

Aside from the main specifications of a shredder, there are other features that you can sell to your customers.
Anti-jamming technology is important for shredders that are used in an office environment and have heavy duty cycles. This feature will eliminate paper jams, and some shredders are even able to reverse a paper jam before it occurs.
Versatility is another important criterion that your customers will need to consider before purchasing a shredder. What type of materials do they want to shred? Some machines are capable of shredding staples, paper clips, credit cards, CDs and DVDs in addition to paper. This is an important aspect to consider in an office environment.

How to select the correct shredder for your customer
When helping your customer select a paper shredder, be sure to ask these five questions to ensure they have the best machine for their requirements:

  • How much shredding will be done weekly?
    Less than a ream a week? Over 2 000 pages? More than a tonne? This will help correctly identify what type of machine is required, and the work load the machine needs to handle.
  • What kind of documents are going to be shredded?
    Shredding bank statements, daily work spread sheets, junk mail or price lists? The types of documents your customer shreds will determine what security level they will need.
  • How many people will use the paper shredder?
    Will it be one user, fewer than five users, or five or more? Determining this will help narrow down the selection of machines, so your customer will have the correct size motor for the number of users.
  • Where will the machine be located?
    Will the machine be placed under a desk, in a central position in the office or in a shredding department? This information will determine how big the machine should be with regards to the bin size, weight and dimensions.
  • How often will your customer have to use the shredder?
    Will they use the machine for less than five minutes at a time, or more than 30 minutes? This will determine if they need a machine with a continuous duty cycle and no cool down period, or if a cool down period is OK. It will also open up the option of an auto feed machine, as it saves time.

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