High precision linear guidance systems help speed up treatment of cancer patients

2 min read

Varian Medical Systems (VMS) UK, a manufacturer of radiotherapy machines, is using precision linear guidance systems on its patient couches to help speed up and improve the safety and reliability of cancer treatment. Over the last 10 years, the linear guides have operated without any failures.

The guidance systems, supplied by Schaeffler (UK) Ltd, are being used by VMS on the company’s latest range of radiotherapy machines and patient couches. Schaeffler’s KUSE range of six-row ball monorail guidance systems offer extreme accuracy, high rigidity and high load carrying capacity. KUSE systems have a full complement rolling element set with integral lubricant reservoirs.

Headquartered in California, USA, VMS is a world leader in the design and manufacture of radiotherapy machines, equipment and software. The company currently holds a 60 per cent share of the global market for these products and has installed more than 6,000 machines around the world. Approximately 100,000 patients are treated each day by VMS equipment and machines, which have to be reliable, efficient and fast.

VMS UK’s manufacturing site is based in Crawley. The plant has around 200 employees and produces more than 600 patient couches each year, as well as the company’s ‘Acuity’ imaging, simulation and verification system.

Derek Flanagan, Manufacturing Manager at VMS UK comments: “Schaeffler has been supplying Varian for several years now and our working relationship is very good. Varian and Schaeffler have very similar cultures, in that both companies are always looking to continuously improve their products.”

According to Flanagan, Varian specifies Schaeffler’s KUSE linear guidance systems for patient couches because of their high rigidity, high static and dynamic load carrying capacity, smooth running and good lubrication characteristics. “We also subject Schaeffler’s linear guides to in-house tests, which involve the guides being extended to their maximum length and subjected to very high moment loads.”

“With the guides in operation on the patient couches, the cancer patient sees benefits in terms of improved comfort, faster treatment cycles and quieter operation. Treatments that used to take 20 minutes, can now be completed in as little as two minutes,” explains Flanagan.

Medical staff see improvements too in terms of motion management. The linear guides enable more precise positioning of the couch, which helps to ensure that more healthy tissue is spared during the radiotherapy treatment process. “More patients can be treated and so waiting lists are reduced,” he adds.

“As the manufacturer of the couch, we see benefits in terms of product performance, reliability and safety. For example, we haven’t had a single failure of a Schaeffler linear guide in ten years. In fact, so pleased are we with the guides that we’ve awarded Schaeffler UK our annual Varian Supplier of the Year Award on seven separate occasions in the last eight years.”

Schaeffler’s KUSE system is available in various sizes, from 20mm up to 55mm guideway widths. The guidance systems are also available with Schaeffler’s ‘Corrotect’ anti-corrosion coating.

Bearing Solutions for Medical Technology
In addition to monorail guidance systems, Schaeffler also offers a range of other linear guidance systems for medical devices, CT scanners and radiotherapy machines.

Medical technology is a worldwide, dynamic growth market and it demands the most stringent standards in terms of quality and reliability. Its comprehensive expertise and wide product portfolio make Schaeffler an ideal development partner and supplier for this industry. With its INA, FAG, Barden and Lacey brands, Schaeffler is the only manufacturer to offer all bearing solutions, from miniature bearings for dental applications through to large-size thin section bearings for CT scanners, supplemented by solutions for linear motion and direct drive technology.

For more information on Schaeffler’s range of linear guidance systems, please visit www.schaeffler.co.uk or telephone the marketing department on 0121 351 3833 and ask for free copies of brochures LP7 and PMT.

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