Siemens Magnet Technology
Siemens MR Magnet Technology, part of Siemens Healthineers is a world leader in the design and manufacture of superconducting magnets for MRI body scanners. Since its introduction in the early 1980's, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) has quickly become accepted as the leading diagnostic imaging modality in healthcare. SMT has contributed to this through its position as a world-leading manufacturer with proven capability to incorporate high quality aspects of volume production into novel high-field superconducting magnet designs for MRI. More than a third of all MRI scanners installed in hospitals around the world have at their heart a superconducting magnet designed and manufactured by SMT.
Siemens Magnet Technology in Oxford which has around 500 employees, around 70 of which are in R&D. Innovation is key to the Company’s success and this innovative DNA had been recognised by winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation 2012, becoming MacRobert Award finalists in 2016, a number of Best Factory Award wins and seven Queen’s Awards for high-tech achievements, export success, innovation and contribution to the development of MRI technology. At this Siemens Magnet Technology has manufactured more than any other MRI magnet factory on the planet.
Meet the team
Creating the Siemens Magnetom Terra – the groundbreaking, new 7 Tesla (7T) ultra high-field magnet for use in MRI scanners – took four years of hard work and dedication. Here we meet some of the key people at Siemens Magnet Technology involved in its development as they share their experiences…
Name: Dr Matthew Longfield
Role: Project Manager for the 7T Project
Background: Matthew has a PhD in Physics from the University of Liverpool. He then worked in France for six years for the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility and the University of Warwick. He joined Oxford Magnet Technology 14 years ago, which then became Siemens Magnet Technology in 2004. He started as an engineer and then moved into project management.
In his own words:
“With super-conductive magnets you don’t know if you’ve achieved what you’ve set out to do until the final stage in the testing of the magnet.
“Personally, I realised we’d achieved something really great when we assembled all the magnet coils together on the shop floor of the factory. We did a room temperature field plot and knew the magnet was going to have the right homogeneity.”
Name: John Laister
Role: Head of Manufacturing
Background: John has worked at Siemens Magnet Technology for 16 years. Prior to this he was in the automotive business for 15 years. He started as a Process Engineering Team Leader and did a spell as an Operations Manager. He then became Head of Process Engineering and is now Head of Manufacturing in its entirety.
In his own words:
“From conception, we tried to make a 7T magnet that was accessible for a broader range of customers, not just research establishments. The fact that it’s half the weight means that it can be sited much more easily, it’s easier to install and the reliance on helium is much less – opening doors for it to be used clinically in hospitals, benefiting mankind in terms of healthcare.
“To be finalists of the MacRobert Award is fantastic and underpins what we do here at Siemens Magnet Technology as a centre of excellence. In the world we’re a big player.
“In our day jobs we focus on the day to day and the problem solving, and it’s at times like this when we can step back and acknowledge that we’re actually doing something amazing.”
Name: Graham Hutton
Role: Principal Magnet Engineer
Background: Graham studied physics at the University of Oxford and after graduation worked at Oxford Instruments. He primarily worked on high-resolution nuclear-magnetic resonance magnets and animal imaging magnets. He joined Siemens Magnet Technology 10 years ago, helping to design and develop products such as the 7T.
In his own words:
“I’ve been working in the field of commercial super-conductive magnets for 33 years.
“My role on this project was to lead the magnet design. One of the really interesting things about this project is that the conventional approach before with magnet technology has always been incremental, an evolution. This time we’ve taken all of the diagnostics and measurements, and mapped it back round with finite element analysis, and other tools, and actually created something revolutionary. It’s taken magnet technology onto a completely new level. Nothing like this has ever been made before.
“There were two or three occasions on the project when I was told that it couldn’t be done, but we did it. Making the seemingly impossible, possible, is what I’m most proud of.
Name: Simon Calvert
Role: Director of Research & Development, now Head of Product Innovation & Chief Technology Officer
Background: Simon started in the business by accident in 1985, leaving school to work at Oxford Instruments testing super-conductive magnets. He then did a degree in engineering. Once qualified, he worked on a variety of magnet projects, including the Large Hadron Collider. He joined Siemens Magnet Technology in 2000.
In his own words:
“My role during the project was to head up the R&D function and supply support and guidance to the team. The core of the innovation was a new approach and material development to reimagine the whole active part of the magnet, the field generating part. It’s a project I had a vested interest in, as I was the co-inventor of the technology behind it.
“One of the main innovations was making the magnet 50% lighter, reducing it from 38 tons to 17 tons.”