6 ISSUES FOR JUST £6 Subscribe to Business & Professional Life today CLICK HERE

Siemens Magnet Technology reached finals for the 2016 MacRobert Award

PUBLISHED: 09:24 12 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:24 12 August 2016

A team from Siemens Magnet Technology

A team from Siemens Magnet Technology

Teri Pengilley 2016

Siemens Magnet Technology (SMT), an Oxfordshire-based subsidiary of Siemens Healthcare UK, has developed a groundbreaking 7 tesla (7T) magnet which is at the heart of the first Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) system suitable for both research and clinical applications

With more than double the field strength of most MRI scanners, the MAGNETOM Terra enables much higher resolution images. Siemens Healthcare will be seeking FDA and CE approval in the next year and, pending approval, it could help to achieve earlier diagnoses for neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis.

MRI scanners use strong magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of the inside of the body. They can be used to examine almost any part of the body, and the stronger the magnetic field, the higher the resolution of the images produced. The first MRI scanners, developed in the 1970s, had a magnetic field strength of well under 1.0 tesla. Today, most MRI scanners operate at 1.5 to 3.0 Tesla, and have become an invaluable diagnostic tool, used to help treat billions of patients around the world.

The Siemens ultra-high magnetic field (UHF) 7 tesla system delivers exquisite image quality to show vascularity of the brain without the need for an injection of contrast media often required at lower field strengths. This allows researchers to identify lesions and bleeds more easily, and the specific areas of the body affected - potentially enabling unprecedented insights into hard-to-diagnose conditions.

The MAGNETOM Terra could also assist in drug development through improved pre-screening of clinical trial participants to ensure their clinical conditions are similar, enabling more cost-efficient drug trials. It could also be used to help develop treatments for early stage diseases and enable monitoring of the efficacy of existing treatments, detecting, for example, whether chemotherapy drugs have penetrated a cancerous tumour.

Achieving such a jump in magnetic field was a huge engineering challenge. An MRI magnet is composed of a number of coils of thin wires carrying a very high current. The move from 3T to 7T required the addition of enough wire to stretch between London and Brussels. These coils then need to be cooled to 4.2 Kelvin (minus 269 Celsius) – the temperature of deep space – to enable the wire to become superconducting and carry enough current to generate a magnetic field 140,000 times that of the Earth’s magnetic field. The magnet is vacuum-insulated, like a thermos flask, in order to maintain the large temperature gradient between ambient conditions and -269°C around the inner magnet coils.

SMT’s system is less than half the weight of incumbent technologies and is pre-assembled and cooled at the factory ready for air freighting, unlike conventional ultra-high field MRI scanners, which have to be shipped in parts and assembled and cooled in situ. This saves several weeks and also cuts the helium requirement - a key advantage given the finite helium reserves on earth.

SMT, which employs 420 people at its Oxfordshire site, was able to achieve this step-change in MRI capability by starting from scratch rather than making incremental improvements to existing technologies. By investing heavily in R&D, and probing the absolute physical limits of the technology, the team completely re-invented the superconducting magnet, creating a smaller, lighter, better-integrated structure.

The team invented and patented a number of entirely new technologies that they are now using to improve the cost and accessibility of their mainstream MRI magnets. Just as Formula 1 technology pushes the boundaries of automotive technology but has subsequently ‘pulled up’ mainstream car technology, SMT’s 7T magnet technology has the potential to be deployed across the portfolio. SMT employed next-generation ‘lean engineering’ techniques and redesigned their factory to accommodate the 7T production line, moving 50% of the equipment in six months, with no impact on production of their existing products – whilst also keeping the new project secret. Such smart manufacturing helped them to win the 2015 Best Factory Award.

The MacRobert Award, first presented in 1969, is the UK’s longest running and most prestigious national prize for engineering innovation so being UK finalist is cause testimony to the calibre of engineering and innovation happening at Siemens Magnet Technology. MacRobert Award judge, Professor David Delpy CBE FREng FRS FMedSci, said: “The Siemens team made a radical change from conventional wisdom in the development of the 7T and have achieved a step change in the manufacturability, reliability, performance and cost of MRI magnets, confirming their role as the world’s leader in this field. The result is a technology with the potential to save millions of lives through improved diagnostics and research techniques.”

Team members:

Craig Marshall, Managing Director

Simon Calvert, Head of Product Innovation and Development and Chief Technology Officer

Matthew Longfield, Project Manager

Graham Hutton, Principle Magnet Engineer

John Laister, Head of Manufacturing

This year’s finalists for the 2016 MacRobert were: Siemens Magnet Technology, for making a step-change in MRI technology that could enable earlier diagnosis of a range of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and improve drug development, Jaguar Land Rover, for the world-class innovation behind the company’s decision to design and manufacture its own engines for the first time; and Blatchford, for the development of the world’s most intelligent prosthetic limb.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Cotswold Life

Yesterday, 13:00

Helping clients through divorce, separation and disputes over children, we talk to 8 divorce lawyers in the Cotswolds

Read more
Yesterday, 11:12

We’ve some extraordinary, and inspiring, women in business in the Cotswolds. We talk to 7 female trailblazers in local industry who offer the business advice they’ve lived by

Read more
Wed, 16:26

Swan Lake. We know the music, we know the iconic imagery of the beautiful ballerina dressed as a swan, but I’m guessing that without reading the libretto in the program, most people don’t know the story. Which is why the audience relies on the dancers to tell us.

Read more
Wed, 11:00

Tom and Louise are being joined by other new academic appointments that have been made as part of the RAU’s £2.5 million initiative to help meet the future needs of the land management and agri-food sectors

Read more
Wed, 10:46

“To win this prestigious award is a real compliment to the wider team in Renishaw’s manufacturing services operation, particularly when we consider the achievements of the other excellent shortlisted companies.”

Read more
Tue, 17:16

Stepping up to receive the world’s first MBA Leading Business degrees at the ceremony were Sarah Bryars, Chief Executive of Target; Luke Freeman, Joint Chief Executive of MF Freeman; and Linsey Temple, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Engineering Training

Read more
Tue, 17:04

“I am thrilled to see InfoSec People win this fantastic award which is a testament to the brilliant team we have built in the past few years.”

Read more
Tue, 16:36

After a stress-free shopping experience browsing designer brands this Christmas? Look no further than the luxury offerings of Mailbox in Birmingham

Read more
Tue, 10:24

This year sees the 40th anniversary of the publication of Raymond Briggs’ original picture book The Snowman. With three performances of the animated film – with live orchestra – coming to Gloucester Cathedral next month, we thought we’d catch up with Rachel Whibley, managing director of Carrot Productions (and occasional snowman), to find out more...

Read more
Mon, 14:10

It’s the season of terrible puns, magic lamps, and generous genies: Aladdin, the all-new panto at the Everyman, has been written by none other than legendary Blue Peter presenter Peter Duncan, and stars everyone’s favourite clown, Tweedy. The Barnard family from Nailsworth - mum, dad, Harriet (12) and Lewis (6) - made a Wishee (Washee) for tickets; grabbed their car (Window Twan) keys; and dashed off to see A Ladd In Cheltenham

Read more
Mon, 13:45

Crispy, frosty days and perhaps even a dusting of snow, winter is a magical time in the Cotswolds. If you’re thinking of tying the knot during this beautiful season in the region, here are six winter wedding ideas to help you start planning your special day

Read more

Christmas in the Wilson household is a heartwarming, traditional family affair

Read more
Mon, 13:15

Tracy Spiers takes an impressive, if hypothetical, budget on a shopping spree in Cheltenham’s independent stores

Read more
Mon, 13:09

Veganism is the latest food trend to hit the Cotswolds but it’s something we can all enjoy a bite of

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search