Engineering finesse shaves downtime: Shred-Tech

Shred-Tech has released its ultra-high security STX-Line to the Australian market, revealing a unique feature which reduces the need for historically used technology.

Once a criminal catches wind of your personal information, the consequences can be destructive.

In the business world, document theft can be precarious, with both data security and intellectual property theft on the line.

Moreover, the erosion of customer trust can have serious financial and reputational consequences.

According to IBM Security’s Cost of a Data Breach Report, lost business was the biggest contributor to data breach costs. While the brave new world of digital opens up the immense risk of data breach, secure document destruction is an area within an operator’s sphere of influence and control.   

A high-performance shredding system can ensure businesses mitigate and eliminate the risks of fraud surrounding the disposal of paper-based and other physical documents.

High throughput and reliable pieces of technology leave less room for error, providing operators with the necessary peace of mind.

The European Union introduced General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, indicating the scale and seriousness of the issue. One of the implications is individuals can request companies reveal or delete personal data they hold.

Australian businesses of any size need to comply if they have an establishment in the EU, if they offer goods or services  in the EU or if they monitor the behaviour of individuals in the EU.

Additionally, the GDPR and Australian Privacy Act 1988 share a number of common requirements, including to implement a privacy by design approach to compliance and being able to demonstrate compliance with privacy principles and obligations. Moreover, adopting transparent information handling practices is another key trait.

Australian businesses may need to comply with the GDPR and if so, take steps to ensure their personal handling data complies with GDPR. Shredding with accuracy led data-conscious regulators to respond with the development of legislative standards such as DIN 66399 Level 4 (P-4) Protection Class 3.

The decades-long evolution of data protection has opened the door for companies like Shred-Tech to put their engineering finesse to the task, developing smarter and more efficient ways of doing business. Around 10 years ago, Shred-Tech released its ultra-high security STX-Line to the international market.

In 2013, the units evolved from a truck-based to plant-based operation, opening up a new round of capabilities. In the last few months, the machine has made it Down Under and is available in both systems for paper and other products, such as CDs, DVDs, ID cards and other forms of media.

This time round, the biggest innovation is a revolutionary dual mode system, allowing STX shredding units to switch between standard and high security modes at the touch of a button.

Justin Johns, Sales Manager at Shred-Tech Asia, says the activation of high-security mode produces an incredibly small DIN-certified shred size and maintains high throughputs. He says high-security mode reduces a reliance on screens or moving additional shredders in and out of position.

“When operators want to change the shred size using a screen shredder, they often have to shut down the machine, pull the screen out and insert a new screen, which can be a timely process,” Justin says.

“This is the first technology that is able to shred to a high security process on the fly.

‘The machine can switch from high-speed to high-security mode within seconds.”

In addition to productivity benefits, the technology can eliminate the need for users to purchase specialised machinery. Justin says the technology was designed by Shred-Tech engineers overseas. He helped drive the initial research and development phase just under 10 years ago which was driven by GDPR reform.

Moreover, he says it meets stringent DIN European standards emanating from GDPR and increases the operator’s competitive capabilities, helping them to take on new work.

Available in the ST-15 E and STX-1E models, the machines are powered by an electric drive and comprise knife widths of 15.3 millimetres and 9.3 millimetres respectively. For example, the ST-15E shredder achieves throughputs of up to 1134 kilograms per hour.

Justin says the unique design of the machined hex shafts maximises knife placement options and supports easy knife removal and machine maintenance. He says Shred-Tech’s hex shaft drive system offers one of the highest knife-tip cutting forces of any comparable shredder on the market.

“The motor and gearbox is finely tuned for maximum cutting force.”

The STX control panel has been designed and fabricated by certified Shred-Tech engineers and features a Siemens touchscreen, with simple operation and graphical feedback on machine status.

The programmable logic controller supports knife reversal on overload. Optional features comprise custom stands and hoppers, feed and discharge conveyors and explosion-proof motors.

Justin says that quality is supported by an extra heavy duty stand and hopper which can be fit in to existing customer installations.

Importantly, several design refinements have been made for ease of maintenance and to improve shredder durability. These include bulkhead walls at either end of the cutting chamber to support high-quality bearing and seal protection. The modular lightweight cast construction also allows for quick and easy assembly. Justin says the machine body was designed in-house and access to skilled Shred-Tech engineers means the sales department can work closely with the customer to solve their unique challenges.

“The idea behind it was because we wanted to make these machines global, we made maintenance minimal and able to be performed easily in-house without requiring specialised equipment,” Justin says.

“Through our head office in Ontario and manufacturing offices in Australia, US, the UK, Thailand and Japan, we have the capability to respond to our customers’ market needs quickly.”

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Genie in a bottle: Shred-Tech

Shred-Tech Sales Manager Sean Richter talks to Waste Management Review about the company’s 20-year history in e-waste recycling and data destruction. 

Governments and manufactures of electronic hardware are increasingly coming under pressure to implement policies and practices around safe e-waste disposal.

E-waste’s status as a problematic waste stream has a long history. In 1976, the United States Resource Conversation and Recovery Act made it illegal to dump e-waste. Likewise, in 1989 the Basel Convention made it illegal to dump e-waste in developing countries.

As a Basel Convention signatory, Australia is bound to this agreement. E-waste is also banned from landfill in Victoria, South Australia and the ACT.

Legislative measures like these are incentivising recycling equipment manufactures to engineer technology and machinery capable of processing multiple material components present in electronic products.

Shredding and recycling system manufacturer Shred-Tech has been in business for over 40 years. Sales Manager Sean Richter says in that time, the company has designed and manufactured some of the largest e-waste reduction systems in North America.

“These systems were originally designed to use high horsepower and brute force to shred and granulate everything from large main frame computers, military electronics, telecommunications equipment and high-tech electrical switching gear,” Sean says.

As electronics have become considerably smaller and lighter than Shred-Tech’s initial systems were designed for, the equipment and processes have evolved.   

“Today’s systems have advanced to encompass newer technologies in reduction, usually with lower power requirements, better material handling and separation of the materials prior to smelting or electrochemical processes for extraction,” Sean says.

An end-of-life laptop or phone could expose the financial records, health records, photographs and personal communications of its prior owner. Data and privacy is therefore a key consideration for e-waste recyclers.

According to Sean, the level of shredding provided by Shred-Tech plants makes it virtually impossible to extract data from the end material.

“Computers and telecommunications equipment are subject to massive reduction forces, shattered into hundreds of fractions and mixed with thousands of other materials before heading to final recyclers. Finding one with usable data would be like finding the genie in the bottle.”

Sean says one of the challenges with e-waste processing is how varied the waste stream is, encompassing a range of materials requiring different cleaning and processing methods.

“We have designed and built custom machines and systems ranging from portable hard drive shredders, systems that shred only circuit boards and stand-alone machines designed primarily for destruction purposes,” Sean says.

A key component of Shred-Tech’s business is the design of modular e-waste shredding plants.

“Our shredding systems can be custom configured using proven system modules to meet specific capacity and separation requirements,” Sean says.

“The systems reduce and separate component material such as plastic, aluminium, copper, steel and precious metals.”

According to Sean, a typical Shred-Tech e-waste recycling plant starts with an incoming triage.

“The triage sorts material into type slots, such as hazardous material, material suitable for manual disassembling and resaleable components like integrated circuit chips and power supplies,” Sean says.

The next stage is primary reduction, typically completed by a large twin shaft shredder.

“The goal during primary reduction is to break the material into sortable fractions. The material is then sorted manually on pick lines or via magnets and additional size screening devices,” Sean says.

“Ferrous-based and commingled material is then removed by an initial magnet before being sent for secondary reduction and liberation to minus 50 millimetres.”

According to Sean, there are several schools of thought on how to best achieve secondary reduction. The first is sending all ferrous based material to a high-speed reduction unit such as a ring mill.

“The ring mill liberates all ferrous material with the help of a secondary magnet and removes clean steel for resale. All remaining materials carry on to secondary reduction,” he says.

“Others like to send all material to a large four shaft shredder for liberation and final reduction. I find the high content of ferrous material in this stream results in accelerated wear, however, and leads to high maintenance costs for the four-shaft shredder.”

Following this, material fines are removed by screeners, which eliminates all particles minus two to five millimetres. Sean says removing fines enables increased tuning of the downstream separators.

“All material is then passed over by an eddy current for aluminium removal. Additionally, the stream is then sorted manually to ensure the highest purity of aluminium for resale.”

Remaining materials such as circuit boards, copper and plastic continue to further separation. “The plant then optically sorts using a wide variety of technologies that specifically targets plastic of colour, green circuit boards, wire, copper and other materials into various resalable streams,” Sean says.

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