Rebuilding Ironers Saves Prison Laundry Money


Jon Robbins
Chase Laundry Manager Jon Robbins poses alongside one of three flatwork ironers rebuilt by Talley Machinery. (Photo: Talley Machinery)

Staff Writer |

RALEIGH, N.C. — Correction Enterprises recently completed the rebuild of three older flatwork ironers at its Chase Laundry plant in Goldsboro, N.C., a move designed to save state taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Chase Laundry employs 13 staffers and manages more than 75 inmates in a 43,000-square-foot facility that is annually responsible for processing an average 5.5 million pounds of inmate rough dry, fluff and finish laundry, as well as state hospital linens.

The plant’s aging American Laundry Machinery Hypro flatwork ironers had processed millions of pounds of laundry over more than 30 years in service. Though production rates remained relatively high and linen quality remained acceptable, the ironers had begun showing increasing signs of wear and tear.

“We were having more trouble than we should’ve been having, but it happened so gradually over so many years that the decline was almost invisible until, suddenly, it was a costly issue,” says Jon Robbins, the facility’s veteran laundry manager with nearly 40 years of experience.

While replacement parts were often sourced and installed in-house to keep the ironers operational, it was becoming clear to Director of Laundry Operations Ronald Young and Deputy Director Andrew Artola that the ironers might need to be replaced or completely refurbished.

Through required state purchasing protocol and procedures, Talley Machinery was selected to rebuild the equipment, and a timetable was established.

To avoid disrupting Chase’s mid-week operations, Talley’s operational staff met with the affected plant manager in advance. A three-man crew arrived on a Thursday evening with a truckload of replacement parts and equipment, including their own grinders, drillers and other machinery for repairing any existing parts that could be reused.

Working straight through to Saturday night, they dismantled the first ironer, checked every part—from the largest rolls to the tiniest drive train components—against the original specifications and determined whether each of the hundreds of parts could be repaired or returned to service, or if it had to be replaced.

The ironer chests were carefully sanded smooth and polished.

“They went through great pains to ensure every part fit perfectly, that every gear was aligned perfectly, regardless of the time involved,” says Robbins.

The crew worked three consecutive weekends to complete the three ironers. The rebuild also included upgrading the ironers’ drive systems to solve sluggish start-ups and shutdowns.

After the ironers were rebuilt, Talley provided several hours of hands-on training for staffers and inmates.

Months after the rebuilds, Robbins and Guyton say they have noticed the finish quality of the linens has improved, maintenance troubles have been reduced, and the ironers continue to operate as good as new. The rebuilds are projected to add 15 to 20 years of production life.


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