Disintegrator Maintenance: Prepare for Tight Budgets And How They Could Affect Your Classified Destruction Program.
I have seen it before. As the DOD budget declined in the 1990’s, managers thought they could cut cost by eliminating regular Disintegrator knife maintenance. Before you know it, major systems (some costing hundreds of thousands of dollars) are sitting idle because they weren’t fit to run any longer. Many ended up in surplus yards auctioned at a small percentage of their original cost.
Here’s what happens:
The cutting mechanism consists of 3 or 5 knives mounted on a solid steel rotor that pass two stationary bed knives (0.005 inch gap) at 500 – 600 RPM for up to 6,000 cuts per minute. Waste is cut until small enough to fall through a steel sizing screen beneath the cutting rotor. The screens are interchangeable so you can vary the degree of destruction with particle sizes from less than 3/32″ to 3″ (2.5 to 76mm).
As knives become dull, the capacity of the Disintegrator starts to drop. At some point you stop slicing and start pounding. Noise and dust levels go up. The system is stressed much harder and the capacity may drop to 30% of its optimal level. The added stress can make motor and bearing failure more likely. In extreme cases, stress cracks can develop in cutting chambers and feed hoppers because of the added vibration. The worst part of it is you are now spending 2-3 times as much time in front of the Disintegrator because of the lower capacity. I don’t know about you, but an hour I waste during business hours usually means an extra hour spent at night or on weekends catching up. What can you do?
Review the operation of your disintegrator. How much is being destroyed? How often? How careful are you about the materials going into it? How often does it get jammed by overfeeding? Well trained operators will help to keep the cost down in two ways. First, they will jam the machine less. Jamming stresses the whole system. Drive belts can break. Fuses and other electrical components can fail as the result of frequent jams. Second, the more careful you are about the materials that go into the Disintegrator, the more knife wear you will get. The less metal the better. You should get 8-10 sharpenings per set. If you have year-end money, buy extra knives. Filter bags, belts, screens, and waste bags are all important, but knives are the most costly consumable supply. Buy them first to protect yourself long term. Here is another suggestion.
If you are to the point where you think you may have to cut the frequency of your knife maintenance, contact your SEM Regional Manager. They will be glad to visit, inspect your system, and then go through the ways to cut costs. If your program is at its limits and can’t afford cuts without jeopardizing the equipment, you Regional Manager can help you make that case too.
We also offer packages to train members of your organization to service these machines. We can do it in one of our facilities or we can do it at your location. Whatever your need, don’t let your investment go to waste. Contact us at 800-225-9293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.