Biomedical engineering conference; thermometer in space; ultrasound service; safeguarding program; notebook computers

Mark Your Calendars

 The 29th annual Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Conference (CMBEC) is set to take place June 2006 in Vancouver, Canada. The event, organized by the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society (CMBES of Orleans, Ontario) will provide a forum for information exchange among researchers and clinicians working in biomedical engineering. Presentation and discussion of new research will take place at the event as part of the objective to improve communication within the industry.

The theme for CMBEC29 is, “The Future of Medical Device Technology.” The CMBES invites physicians, engineers, researchers, students, technicians and technologists, including those from the United States, to learn more about trends that are shaping the future of biomedical technology.

More information about the event, such as the call for papers or upcoming program activities, can be found at www.cmbes.ca.


 New Ultrasound Service by TriMedx
TriMedx (Indianapolis) has expanded its company catalog to include ultrasound service, which gives customers a targeted approach to the ultrasound market. The company has added additional expertise and will implement an intense internal cross-training approach. “Not only does this focus give us the ability to improve ultrasound services to our current customers, it also allows us to offer quality services to health care providers whose needs are specific to ultrasound equipment,” said Dave Francoeur, VP of service operations at TriMedx.The new plan also details a curriculum of continuous education for its technical staff, in addition to a low customer-to-service-representative ratio. The company hopes these changes will differentiate TriMedx’s ultrasound offering from others in the market.


 What a Fluke: Thermometer Takes Space Voyage
The crew of the US space shuttle Discovery used the 54 Series II digital thermometer from Fluke Electronics Corp (Everett, Wash) to demonstrate space-based repair of the shuttle’s thermal protection system (TPS) tiles during its “Return to Flight” voyage. One of the primary goals of Discovery’s August 2005 mission was to test emergency inspection and repair techniques.

The Fluke 54 and a Fluke 80PK-27 surface probe were adapted for work in space by Swales Aerospace (Beltsville, Md). The equipment was used by crew members Steven Robinson and Soichi Noguchi during their space walk on day 5 of the mission to gauge surface temperatures while testing a “space spackle,” or nonoxide adhesive experimental (NOAX), that may be used to patch small cracks in the thermal tiles if they are damaged during launch or in flight.

During its time in orbit, the thermometer provided accurate readings that helped analysts compare the sealant’s properties under “real-space” conditions with thermal-analysis predictions made prior to the mission. NASA decided to leave the unit with the crew of the international space station rather than bring it back to earth as planned.

“Since it’s vital that any equipment sent into space be rugged and reliable under the extreme conditions of space, NASA required Fluke’s involvement in our modifications,” said George Tansill, mechanisms engineer for Swales Aerospace. Tansill noted that the thermometer required few changes to prepare it for its space voyage.

The device was enclosed in a protective aluminum chassis with a plastic window over the screen and was wrapped in a multilayer blanket of protective Mylar to prepare it for space duty. This protective covering allowed the Fluke 54 to stay within its operating range outside the shuttle for up to 8 hours. In the event of a cosmic-particle strike, Swales engineers installed an external switch to disconnect the Fluke 54 battery and automatically reset the software. The space thermometer was also modified for single-button operation for the one temperature test required. The 80PK-27 industrial surface probe was shortened and attached rigidly to the aluminum chassis.


 Siemens Safeguarding Program Popular at Health Care Facilities
Siemens Medical Solutions (Malvern, Pa) is now safeguarding more than 100 imaging systems at sites across the United States with its Guardian Program™, an enhanced productivity service designed to detect potential system problems that could jeopardize productivity and patient safety.

The Guardian Program provides angiography/x-ray, computed tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging customers with comprehensive, preventive care for increased availability and functionality of medical systems. By running constant diagnostics to check the parameters of modality systems, remote technical service engineers can spot and seamlessly repair many malfunctions before they cause system downtime—and lose revenue for health care providers and diagnosis time for patients. If a problem is not easily corrected remotely, a field engineer is deployed to provide on-site support or to replace defective parts. The process begins without customers placing a single call. Guardian customers have already embraced the benefits of proactive monitoring throughout the facility, including the cath lab.

“We had an issue with potential loss of function in a foot pedal,” said James Ruggeiro, manager of biomedical engineering services, Sarasota Memorial Hospital (Sarasota, Fla). “Guardian picked up on that, and a field engineer showed up and replaced the foot switch, all of which was totally seamless. Guardian predicted the potential deviation and avoided unnecessary downtime that would have cost us thousands of dollars.”

Additionally, Guardian’s remote real-time monitoring capabilities and uninterrupted access to technical experts offer customers up to a 99% system-uptime guarantee, providing hospitals with the security necessary to increase productivity and patients with more accurate and efficient imaging.

“As health care facilities continue to grow with the constant addition of medical systems, it becomes increasingly difficult to monitor these technologies for malfunctions,” said Randy Hill, senior VP of the national service costumer solutions group at Siemens. “Guardian customers rely on Siemens’ technology and service to make sure their systems are productive and safe. The fact that there are more than 100 systems benefiting from Guardian just one year since its introduction [in 2004] confirms it is a powerful solution.”


 Notebooks Deployed to Field Technicians
Panasonic Computer Solutions (Seaucus, NJ) has deployed 1,000 Panasonic® Toughbook® CF-18 convertible tablet computers for STERIS (Mentor, Ohio), as part of STERIS’ initiative to streamline and automate service requests.

With their integrated wireless capabilities, the Toughbook CF-18 tablets already provide STERIS’ field technicians in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Germany, Finland, and Sweden with real-time online access to service manuals and other key customer information residing in STERIS’ CRM applications from Siebel Systems (San Mateo, Calif).

The automation of paper-based processes has led to improvements in work flow, resulting in reduced time-to-repair, improved customer satisfaction, and increased job satisfaction among field technicians, according to STERIS.

“The ruggedness of the Toughbooks was an obvious concern, because our techs are working around water and steam,” said Charles Forsyth, VP of North American operations for STERIS. “They also use computers just like they use other tools—they’re thrown in their toolbox or sliding around in the van. In addition, we found in Panasonic a partner who understood how field service organizations work, and who was committed, through ongoing service and support, to ensuring that we always stay up and running.” 24×7