The tunnel washer was a great idea and one that helped to revolutionise the laundry industry but like all great ideas it needed to develop.

That it did so to great success was due to the commitment both of manufacturers who took the idea and ran with it and of the pioneer launderers who were willing to try it out in their businesses.

That commitment is still there as we see in the way the washer has evolved. As problems have risen manufacturers have come up with ways to solve them, ideas have spurred more ideas and so the evolution continues – water and energy consumption have been dramatically reduced.

Machines with different wash actions have been produced, sometimes with the ability to switch from one to another.

Compact machines have been introduced to suit businesses with limited space and those handling smaller volumes.

It has truly been proved that this is not a “one-size must fit all” machine. The phrase meeting the customers’ requirements is often used but that is what development is all about – adaptability, providing practical benefits that the customer wants, thinking ahead and providing a solution before a problem can arise.

It’s easy to get blasé about technology but the R&D departments help to keep our industry going. They are producing the cost-saving, efficiency improving ideas that are essential to tomorrow’s businesses as well as those of today.

In this month’s issue, various articles trace the evolution of the tunnel washer and the landmark developments that have proved the vital role played by R&D.

Research and development is also highlighted in our news pages. In Germany, two research institutes – The Hohenstein Clothing Physiology Institute and the Textile Research Centre North West are looking into the problems caused by dye transfer from dark fabrics on to light ones – a problem currently underlined by the fashion for light-coloured furniture.

A treatment that could help may be on its way. It is not yet ready for market but it could have implications and benefits for all those involved in textile care.

So it is another example of the value of the industry’s back-room boffins and those who help to put ideas into practice so that eventually they benefit all.

Technology often works and does so for our industry’s benefit.