Why Your SEM Disintegrator Needs Regular Service

November 3, 2016 at 10:33 am by SEM

A SEM Disintegrator is a large investment. Like a fine automobile, SEM machines also need regular maintenance. Would you buy a Mercedes and then never change the oil? No way! SEM disintegrators are ruggedly designed with precision built knife mills and with proper care and regular maintenance they can and will perform for decades.

Disintegrators operate with very close tolerances to efficiently cut paper. The 5-blade rotor rotates at over 600RPM and within five thousands of an inch over the bed knives. This action creates a very efficient cutting machine-like a big pair of scissors. However, sharp blades and proper tolerances are the key to good performance and avoiding a host of symptoms that slow you down, waste time and energy, put undue stress on the machine components and can cause premature failure of motors, belts and even cause cracks in the machine itself.
If you don’t want to replace your machine earlier than necessary, than the proper maintenance is absolutely vital.

We recommend maintenance for the following reasons:

  • Sharp blades improve performance and productivity while reducing airborne dust and noise. Dull/worn blades can lead to too much of a gap between the rotor knives and bed knives, which will make the machine prone to jamming.
  • Dull blades will also lead to a pounding of the paper instead of cutting. This condition creates a lot more dust and noise and will certainly require longer run times to process paper through the screen, and a longer run time is more costly in terms of power usage, employee time, and lost production. Also, this pounding of material, if allowed to continue, can ultimately cause stress cracks in the hopper and base and potential machine failure.
  • Greasing the bearings, as we do during a PM will also lengthen the life of the equipment. Without regular maintenance and grease the bearings can dry out causing the rotor to turn irregularly, which will cause knife damage. Replacing bearings is a costly repair that can be easily avoided with regular maintenance.
  • Your machine will jam more frequently as blades become dull and wear down. Jams are not only a pain to have to clean up, but repeated jamming causes undue wear on vital machine components and can put your machine in an early grave.
  • Fan systems are another key component of your disintegrator system.
    The fan systems ensure that the shredded material is moving properly through the system. Once the desired particle size is achieved and it falls through the screen, the fan system evacuates it out and deposits it into a waste bag, outside container/compactor or briquettor for disposal. The filter system takes the air used to remove the particles from the machine and filters the dust particles before exhausting the air back out into the room or exhausting it outside.

To support the air system we recommend:

  • Regular bag/tube change to ensure efficient operation. Filter tubes should be checked regularly and replaced when they show signs of damage or wear. Without proper airflow through these tubes or bags the filters become much less efficient increasing the dust levels. If not corrected, jamming can occur, which in turn can clog and jam up the whole system—Something you want to avoid if you can.
  • Flex hoses/duct work are also inspected and should be replaced as holes appear, since any loss of pressure/CFM will cause more dust coming out of the hopper of the machine as well as particulate and dust leakage from the hose/duct, creating a very dirty operating environment. This loss of pressure also slows down the removal of the particle from the machine, and in severe cases can also cause a jam.

We recommend all disintegrator users set up an SEM 20 Point PM service contract so that they can get the most production possible out of their machines, reduce downtime, protect your warranty and avoid the pitfalls caused by poor maintenance practices. SEM provides direct technicians and authorized service representatives on many different models and brands of disintegrators and shredders. Remember, SEM is always here to help. If you have any questions about your disintegrator maintenance or service, contact us today.

SEM High Security Disintegrators – Do They Ever Die?

December 11, 2014 at 9:01 am by SEM

An average car lasts for around 13 years.

Microwave ovens, coffee pots, and many other electrical appliances last in the vicinity of 10 years. In the data destruction industry, high security paper shredders, as well as other destruction shredders, can last for 10 years. But what about an SEM disintegrator?

At SEM, we still don’t know. After over half a century of supplying disintegrators, we still can’t give a good answer to the question. They keep outlasting every application. These machines are the champions of sticking around.

Consider a Reconditioned Unit

In my travels, I have visited many SEM customers with disintegrators that have
been in continuous use for over 25 years. The record that I’ve seen thus far is 28 years. After those 28 years, when that customer finally decided to purchase a new disintegrator, SEM took the old one as a trade-in and that machine was still able to be used.

The disintegrator was refurbished and purchased by another customer as a reconditioned unit at a significant reduced price. The refurbished unit included all NEW “wearable” parts (knives, v-belts, starter, limit switches, belt guards, etc.) as well as a brand new paint job. When it left our facility, it looked and performed like a brand new unit that will last for yet another 25 years.

None of these long lived examples were for machines that were babied. More commonly they were used on a regular basis for central destruction applications. In addition to destroying paper, these machines were used to destroy paper clips, staples, optical disks, plastic based media as well as SSD devices like thumb drives, cell phones, PDAs, etc. These machines will work hard for decades!


When looking at the total cost of ownership (TCO) and the overall value of SEM disintegrators, the exceptionally long life span should be part of the evaluation. If you’re looking for a real deal, consider a refurbished system. There are a few options to destroy large quantities of documents, optical media, and more. But, with 25 to “who knows how many” years of potential service, an SEM disintegrator can easily come out far ahead of any alternative for overall value.