It is critical that the integrity of the American democratic process is maintained. For almost 50 years Runbeck Election Services has been instrumental in doing just that. Since opening, the company has diversified to offer cutting-edge solutions that best support current market needs. Today Runbeck offers printed as well as digital election products and services, which are used in 22 states and Washington, DC. Its products and services are used by 37 percent of the voting population or about 70 million U.S. voters.
“During COVID we experienced tremendous growth due to our increase in vote-by-mail packets. Voting by mail has been popular on the West Coast for about 15 years, but many East Coast counties moved to this voting method during the pandemic,” according to Bryan Dandurand, vice president of operations at Runbeck. “Furthermore, we will be producing ballots for more of the nation’s largest cities and counties next year.” To support its growth, Runbeck is adding another 60,000 square feet to its current 90,000 square feet production facility.
Runbeck has become a true innovator supporting the American democratic process. It provides a print on-demand ballot system that allows ballots to be accurately and cost-effectively printed onsite at jurisdiction polling places. Other innovative equipment includes the Agilis® Ballot Scanning and Sorting System. When the vote-by-mail ballots are received by the jurisdictions, this equipment sorts and scans ballots to prepare for faster tabulation. Runbeck also offers software solutions that address ballot duplication, signature verification, petition processing, and election management.
However, as the nation’s largest print and mail vendor of ballots, Runbeck’s main service is still the printing of vote-by-mail packets. Initially, the company leased Tecnau’s prior generation Stack 2x2x series for a little over a year as a stopgap measure before purchasing the recently launched Tecnau Stack 5251L System, along with the Zero Speed Splicer Unwinder u40 and Dynamic Processor TC 1550 HS. “We knew the Tecnau Revolution 50 series finishing solution was in development and it could accommodate our requirements,” said Bryan. “Thanks to the Tecnau equipment, we can provide a 22-inch or longer document. In fact, we can cut up to 30 inches long, which is non-existent by other ballot printers.”
The Tecnau Stack 5251L System is an efficient cutting/stacking solution that features the double-cutting Cutter c52 and operates reliably as fast as 590 fpm/180 mpm. “We have three different printing presses and the Tecnau stacker is a great complement. It keeps up with the printing process,” stated Mr. Dandurand. In addition, the 5251L features next generation controls for compatibility with the “Internet of Things” (IoT). The system includes natural-language error reporting on the user screen and onboard diagnostics to help keep the system up and running. Also, there are IoT options to support remote monitoring and diagnostics, automatic software updates and preventive maintenance aids. According to Bryan, “The additional technology in the system also allows us more flexibility to process our finishing.”
Runbeck purchased the Zero Speed Splicer Unwinder u40 too. It automatically changes input rolls, eliminating printer stoppages for roll changes and allowing a press to keep running at full speed and full productivity. “It takes anywhere from seven to ten minutes to change a roll, but with the u40, we can have a roll running with a second one on standby. The rolls run in tandem, splicing paper together and then printing continues,” said Bryan. “We have experienced a little over a 20 percent increase in throughput since installing this equipment.”
Finally, the Dynamic Processor TC 1550 HS provides many capabilities such as dynamic vertical and horizontal perforations, dynamic scoring and creasing, a dynamic file hole punching option, and a static pinfeed punching option. It can maintain a speed up to 230 meters per minute or 755 feet per minute. According to Mr. Dandurand, “Our operators prefer the Tecnau perfing unit. It is very easy to use and control.”
Runbeck is not only very satisfied with the equipment, but also with Tecnau’s team and their level of service. “They work very well with HP, makers of our printing press. They collaborated with them to make sure our solution was working properly,” stated Mr. Dandurand. The training was highly regarded too. “Tecnau provided advanced technical training as well as repair and maintenance training for our operators. Overall, the experience has been beneficial and successful,” proclaimed Bryan.