Data Destruction Devices and The Importance of Maintenance

September 9, 2019 at 8:02 am by Paul Falcone

Data destruction devices are pretty simple when it boils down to purpose: destruction – put a drive in, it gets shredded. With that in mind, how important is maintenance? Just like with all machines, maintenance is vital with data destruction devices, and the machines need to be periodically checked and serviced to make sure that they are running safely and properly.

Types of Maintenance Needed

An IT data destruction device is made to disintegrate, shred, or crush drives; as a result, they generally have trays to catch any bits of drive that missed the take-away conveyors. These bits can be harmful to the longevity of the machine if they are left in the tray, so the trays should be emptied daily to increase the lifespan of the machine. Furthermore, the backs of the devices can get buildups of metal fragments, which need to be cleaned out. In the case of HDD shredders, the cutting heads should be checked for excess magnet buildup. These are all fairly simple tasks, and if possible should be taken care of daily to help increase the health of the machine.

For more in-depth maintenance, technicians should check the machines about three times a year. Essentially, they will take a look around the interior of the machines and clean it out whilst also making sure that everything is running as it should be. The technicians will also lubricate the important parts of the machines to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Why Maintenance Matters

Maintenance is vital for the shredders and crushers, like it is with most machines. The first and simplest reason for its importance is if the machine isn’t running properly, it could function poorly, and data could be recovered from improperly destroyed drives. In that case, a data breach happens, and you could be held accountable for the negligence. On top of that, if the machine isn’t properly taken care of, it could become slower and sluggish, and could even break down completely. In that case, your data destruction programs stops and that you cannot dispose of safely. Lastly, a machine that is not serviced can become damaged, whether from dull blades adding strain onto the motor or loose belts allowing too much gear movement or any number of issues. Repairing a damaged machine is far more costly than preventing the damage in the first place with a scheduled maintenance plan.Maintenance is a simple way to save money in the long term. By ensuring your machines are in tip top shape, you grant them the longest lifespan possible, which in turn means not spending unnecessary money on costly repairs or new machines when the older ones could still be running perfectly well. While technician check-ups cost money short term, the money saved in the long run easily provides a significant return on investment.

The day to day maintenance will eventually become routine and simple, and you will get a feel for the machine and know when the daily maintenance is done. For the less routine maintenance, factory authorized service technicians will be able to determine parts that need maintenance, such as worn belts or cutters, misaligned gears, or any number of mechanical issues. Their eyes are trained to see problems or potential issues with the machines, and they will be able to see things that the operators cannot.

To Summarize

Maintenance is extremely important for data destruction devices. There is the daily maintenance, which becomes routine and is fairly simple to do. There is also the more technical maintenance, where service technicians come in for routine service. Both types of maintenance are vital to the machine to ensure maximum lifespan and to ensure everything is running properly, and, most importantly, is safely destroying your data.

Maintenance Matters

July 24, 2018 at 2:27 pm by Heidi White

Yes, maintenance matters. The main purpose of maintenance is to ensure that all equipment required for production is operating at 100% efficiency always. Simply stated, it’s less to maintain than repair.

When you are fortunate enough to work for a company like SEM that employs a full department of service technicians, you know you are in great hands.  I recently walked out of my office, walked to the factory floor, and decided to interview the newest member of our team to the most senior and those not on service calls in between.  The result: “It’s like owning a car. “What’s more interesting, when I walked over to the business side and asked what are the three most important things you need when buying a car? Not one person said a maintenance plan.

Why are both conversations just as important? We want the shiny, solution-based machine to do the work it was intended: destroy after we decommission for security and compliance purposes in the data center.  Yes, those shiny machines are EPL listed, support the NIST standard, are approved for compliance with SOX and more, but wait — you are putting drives with platters 10 high through them, blades are shredding them, and you must maintain? Is that another set of decision makers and supply chain engagement? You bet that is.

The SEM service team

Back to the car.  Models don’t matter, users do.  The “business” purchases the machine, the “users,” the security staff, the facility ops, and the decommissioning team (or however you are structured) now must maintain it.  They don’t want to own this task in many cases. For the record, there are some data centers that are very appreciative of their people when doing this task — and they are doing it well.  It’s the minority.

I don’t change my own oil or rotate my tires; rather, I happily pay someone. As Don Donahue, head of our Technical Service Team, stated, “If you don’t maintain equipment, it will let you down.”  The net net: pay for maintenance upfront or pay for service at a higher cost later. In the end you are still going to pay. The question is, can you afford down-time? With what level of risk are you secure?

Safety — let’s go there.  If your car is making weird noises and you keep driving it, thinking “I’ll get to it after one more errand,” you’re gambling with your own safety. Likewise, if your data destruction device is making weird noises and you think “just one more drive to destroy,” you’re asking for trouble. It’s like the insurance company commercial: “We’ve been here, we’ve seen this”.  Don’t go there. Choose safety first, because it matters.

Whether brakes and tires or bearings and belts, parts wear out. Wouldn’t you rather hear the service maintenance person tell you they replaced the belts because there was wear without you asking or assuming everything was fine?

“But the operational manual says….”  Hold that phone.  Do you drive your vehicle the exact same way that I drive my Volvo? No.  Do you put the exact same drives through your destruction machine that we do? No. Manuals are guidelines, you can argue until the belts break but, in the end, I drive my car in the Northeast through horrors of snow and ice with no garage, while you drive your car in sunny California and have a climate-controlled garage. From humidity to environmental erosion to mis-use to proper use, no miles or hours on a machine will be the same.

Now you understand no two experiences are the same, but the common understanding is the necessity of maintenance of your machines. Each of us will value this investment differently, but which one of us will do it for preventative reasons and which one will do it as an emergency?

For the record, when I buy a car it’s about the maintenance and warranty – I spend too much time at SEM to not be smart – maintenance first and then the machine. By the way, my Volvo not only doesn’t break down – it’s also sapphire blue.