Offices are among the top stakeholders of different technological advancements, especially those that have to do with security systems, IT equipment and furniture, electrical devices, and the like. Unfortunately, as beneficial technologies become more sophisticated, the same happens to the ways by which thieves can breach security, steal confidential information, and cause huge losses to businesses.
Because of this, setting up appropriate security measures is a must. There are plenty of ways to do this, and one is by using paper shredders that can destroy files in an instant--making their contents unretrievable and, therefore, safe against possible leakage and theft.
In this article, we will look into some of the best paper shredder features that offices are looking for--features we collected from a number of recent surveys and reviews. If your office doesn’t have a shredder yet or is preparing to purchase a new one, be sure to read this article first and take some notes as you go.
I. Quick Look into the Basics
- 1. Shredder types according to cut
- 2. Shredder types according to application
- II. 10 Best Office Paper Shredder Features
Quick Look into the Basics
Before we dig into the features, let’s first look into some basic facts about paper shredders. If you’re well familiar with modern shredders, you can skip this part and head over to the next section. If you aren’t, then this part should give you a background that could help you in choosing a paper shredder.
To start, it’s important to know that most paper shredders are actually not for ordinary or premium papers exclusively. Most can also shred credit cards, ID cards, and even media storage like CDs and DVDs. Also, because documents are usually bound together with paper clips or staples, most shredders are designed to shred these types of materials too.
Having established that, the other basic facts you must know are the general types of paper shredders according to the kind of cuts they make and the application they’re designed for.
1. Shredder types according to cut
Different shredders produce different types of cuts, the most common being (1) strip-cut, (2) cross-cut, and (3) micro-cut.
A. Strip-cut shredders
These are the most basic types, and they provide the lowest level of security. They cut files vertically and produce long and narrow strips that could be taped together if needed.
However, this doesn’t mean that they are outdated. In fact, these shredders are the best choices for non-confidential documents, like bills and promotional letters that don’t contain personal or sensitive information. They’re usually suitable for personal use and small offices.
B. Cross-cut shredders
While strip-cut shredders cut vertically, these shredders do it diagonally. They could cut an ordinary A4 document into more or less than 400 thin pieces, making them suitable for confidential files.
C. Micro-cut shredders
Among the other types of shredders mentioned, these ones provide the highest level of security. They are ideal for highly confidential files, including those of government agencies and security forces. They turn documents into very tiny particles so that it will be impossible to put the pieces back together.
2. Shredder types according to application
Shredders can also be classified according to the application they were designed for. Under these classifications, the main differences usually involve the shredder’s size, feed capacity, and bin capacity.
Feed capacity refers to how many papers a shredder can tear up in a single go. As for bin capacity, it is determined by how much weight--usually measured in gallons--a shredder’s waste bin or container can carry before it gets full.
A. Personal-use paper shredders
These are usually small and lightweight. They aren’t designed for multiple users, so they usually have low sheet capacity and bin capacity. Some shredders of this type are made for homes and home offices while others are suitable for offices as a deskside shredder.
B. Commercial paper shredders
These shredders come in light-duty and heavy-duty designs. They’re designed with the assumption that several people will use them, so they’re engineered to accommodate high-volume shredding. As such, these are the types that most offices go for.
Some shredders of this type, specifically shredding kiosks, are designed for public use. Shredding kiosks are pay-per-use shredders, usually offered as self-service units. What this means is that people can go to the kiosk location, make their payment, and then shred what they need to shred. Kiosks provide a cheap alternative to offices and businesses that don’t usually need to shred files and, therefore, might not find buying a shredder a wise investment.
C. Industrial paper shredders
Need a powerful, high-volume paper shredder? Go find an industrial model. Industrial paper shredders are intended for heavy-duty use, and their feed capacity is usually hundreds of sheets per operation. Their feed opening is also usually wide to accommodate different paper formats.
10 Best Office Paper Shredder Features
Having covered these basic facts about paper shredders, let’s now cut (or shred?) to the chase and zoom in on commercial office shredders. Here are the 10 best features that offices usually check for before purchasing a paper shredder:
1. Security Level
Paper shredders are security devices, and different offices need different levels of security. Because of that, it’s only reasonable that paper shredders are rated based on the level of security that they offer.
The security level of paper shredders is determined by using the Deutsches Institut für Normung (DIN) 66399 standards. DIN, which in English is translated as the German Institute for Standardization, is the equivalent of the United States’ American National Standards Institute.
The DIN 66399 is the updated version of the old standards published in DIN 32757. Its sets seven security levels--the higher the level, the smaller the particles produced and, therefore, the better the security. Today, these standards are used not only in Germany where they originated but also in different parts of the world.
For offices, the popular choices of security levels are P-2 to P-6. Some examples of these are Dahle 40406 (P-2), Dahle 50414 (P-4), and Dahle 40430 (P-6) paper shredders. Let’s look into all security levels to see in detail what they mean.
2. NSA/CSS Approval
Aside from a defined security level, most offices are also after paper shredders that have relevant certifications or markings to backup their claim of quality and functionality. In the USA, many offices trust the standards set by the Central Security Service (CSS) of the National Security Agency (NSA). Dahle shredders, for instance, are NSA/CSS-approved.
3. Shred Speed
What’s a high-quality paper shredder if it cannot do its job efficiently? Yes, efficiency is a key factor in choosing an office shredder. This can be determined by checking a shredder’s shred speed or how quickly it feeds paper through its cutters or shredding component.
Shred speed is usually described in feet per minute (FPM) or meters per minute (MPM). Word of caution: faster isn’t always better when it comes to shred speed. For instance, some high-security shredders have relatively slow shred speed, which is attributed to their motors working harder to produce finer particles. Thus, when considering shred speed, be sure to weigh it against a shredder’s security level.
Most offices also consider shred speed in tandem with a shredder’s continuous run time. Run time is how many minutes a shredder can shred files without having to stop or cool down, and the general preference is to look for a model that can operate faster and for a longer period of time.
4. Low to No Cool-Down Time
Related to shred speed and run time is a shredder’s cool-down time. This is the minimum length of time that a shredder needs in between operations. Efficiency is always a must in offices, and, apparently, the same goes for office devices like shredders.
The general preference of most offices, especially those with high-volume shredding needs, is to go for office shredders that have short to zero cool-down time. If you’re looking to use a shredder for heavy-duty use, this preference is something that you might like to go with.
5. Feed and Bin Capacity
A shredder’s feed and bin capacity reveal a lot about the convenience it offers. Feed capacity is the maximum number of sheets a shredder can process in a single operation. The higher this capacity is, the more materials can be shredded within a shorter period of time.
Bin capacity, on the other hand, is the volume of particles--usually expressed in gallons--a shredder’s waste container can hold. The higher it is, the fewer times a person has to empty the waste bin and the more convenient the shredding task becomes.
With this, it becomes obvious why most offices prefer shredders with high capacities in terms of both their feed and bin. However, if you’re not likely to engage in high-volume shredding, then you wouldn’t need very high levels of these.
6. Jam Protection
Paper jam is a common problem when using a paper shredder. This is both annoying and inconvenient, especially if you have several piles of shreddables in the queue.
Fortunately, most office shredders today are engineered with automatic jam protection. For example, some shredders have a motor that automatically stops, reverses, and pushes papers back out when it senses a risk of jamming. Unsurprisingly, many offices put this feature in their checklist when choosing a paper shredder.
7. Quiet Operation
One of the biggest downsides of old shredder designs is the noise that they produce. Distracting noise is a type of pollution, and it’s important to minimize it as much as possible, especially in offices that have to stay conducive for focused work.
Consistent with this, recent surveys and reviews reveal that quiet operation is one of the most in-demand features for paper shredders. In fact, having a Whisper-Quiet operation has become a popular selling point among the newest office shredder designs in the market.
8. Standby Mode
When multiple people use a single paper shredder, the common practice is to keep turning the device on and off after every use. While that might seem like an energy-saving practice, in reality, it is actually the opposite, especially if the shredder is used several times within a day. Plus, such a practice could also damage the shredder or its switch buttons.
To address this, most offices look for a paper shredder with a Standby Mode. This mode allows users to keep the shredder on while saving energy when not in use. It’s also convenient for multiple users since they will not have to keep turning the device on and off repetitively.
9. Automatic Oiler or Oil-Free Operation
Oiling is an essential maintenance practice for paper shredders. However, for busy professionals, oiling is an inconvenient job, and it can also get messy if one doesn’t know how to do it properly.
The good news, however, is that most modern shredders are either oil-free or are built with an automatic oiler. Oil-free shredders, like some of Dahle’s small office paper shredders, are specially engineered to operate without having to rely on oil. As for shredders with an automatic oiler, they have components that automatically squirt and spread oil when the need arises.
Last on our list is mobility, or the quality of being easily movable from one spot to another. This feature is a practical one, especially if multiple people are expected to use the shredder for long periods. For situations like this, there are paper shredders that come with swivel casters. These casters give them a portable quality, allowing users to easily push the shredder to their work area when the need arises.
As this list reveals, security, efficiency, and convenience remain to be the most significant considerations in offices in choosing paper shredders. Does your office value these things, too? If it does, be sure to be guided by this list as you go and find the perfect shredder for you and your personnel or colleagues.
For more detailed information, check out the different models of modern and high-quality office paper shredders here on Engineer Warehouse.