Every minute counts

See Schaeffler at MachineBuilding.Live, 4 October 2023, on stand 69

Schaeffler’s linear technology experts have worked closely with Siemens Healthcare to develop a drive system that allows computer tomography machines to be moved from one treatment room to another, which means patients can now be diagnosed more quickly.

Time is money. For Wolfgang Reith, doctor of medicine and director of the Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology clinic at the Saarland University Hospital in Homburg, time means brain function – ie how much brain function is retained after a stroke. “Too much time goes unused when patients have to be moved from the emergency unit to a specialist department so that the condition of their blood vessels can be checked using an imaging process,” Reith explains.

The new ‘sliding gantry’ technology developed by Schaeffler and Siemens Healthcare eliminates the problematic time factor and reverses the technological principle that has been used to date. Computer tomography (CT) machines are usually installed in a fixed location and the patient passes through the machine on a moving bed during the examination.

Sliding gantry refers to the entire rail guidance system including the drive that moves the CT machine while the patient remains stationary on the treatment table. The key benefit is that a rail guidance system several metres in length can be used to move the sliding gantry directly between adjacent rooms, for example from the routine scanning room to the trauma room.

Examinations on the spot

“The sliding gantry also opens up new possibilities when it comes to CT imaging in the operating room,” explains Dr Christoph Dickmann, product manager at Siemens Healthcare. When invasive treatment is carried out in, or on blood vessels, the doctor must immediately be able to tell whether the treatment has been successful. The operating team also has the space it needs, as the mobile CT machine can simply be moved out of the way when necessary.

“Whenever the CT machine is not needed in the trauma room, it is available for routine examinations in the adjacent room, which significantly increases the level of utilisation for the investment,” he adds.

Schaeffler and Siemens Healthcare worked together intensively on the development of the travel system for CT machines. Siemens Healthcare were responsible for the CT machine, imaging technology and scanner control system, whilst Schaeffler contributed the entire mechatronic drive system. This includes the rail guidance system and drive electronics, floor module, drive technology, cable column and ceiling cassette, which guides all of the supply lines required by the CT machine.

Ralf Moseberg, responsible for Industrial Automation Europe at Schaeffler, recalls: “We completed the development within a year. The rapid implementation would not have been possible had we not had an intelligently configured modular system of components and sub-systems at our disposal.”

1,600 variations of the Sliding Gantry are currently available, which allow the system to be adjusted to suit the individual device and the hospital building. “However, we were still able to exploit the benefits of volume production,” explains Henning Dombek, system solutions specialist at Schaeffler Linear Technology.

Half-millimetre accuracy

The requirement specification is demanding. The floor module, for example, must reach its target position with a maximum tolerance of half a millimetre – irrespective of whether the machine has travelled a few centimetres or several metres.

The speed at which the immensely heavy CT machine is moved, ranges from 1 to 120 millimetres per second. Furthermore, it must always be ensured that the CT machine is brought to a complete stop within 10mm if its impact protection system identifies an obstruction in its travel path.

“The Sliding Gantry system developed by Siemens and Schaeffler is the first travel drive in the world to fulfil these requirements,” states Dombek.

Schaeffler (UK) Ltd

Unit 308, Fort Dunlop
Fort Parkway
B24 9FD

+44 (0)121 313 5830



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