“High integrity” system for patient imaging

01 April 2007

Hammersmith Imanet upped its capacity for patient imaging and boosted integration and interface systems.

Cyclotron open to show construction
Cyclotron open to show construction

A pharmaceutical research company has invested in an additional cyclotron, a high-energy machine that produces isotopes under computer control, supplied by GE Healthcare. The cyclotron is used in imaging processes, where body parts are dosed with minute amounts of radioactivity, in order to diagnose severe illnesses.

Hammersmith Imanet, a business unit within GE Healthcare, also requested integration and operator interface systems to make a number of standalone components work together.

Ashvin Sunak, of Hammersmith Imanet, handled project management and selected Cougar Automation as the system integration partner. Cougar was awarded a pilot project and recommended the use of Wonderware’s InTouch SCADA system as the standard operator station. Cougar is a Wonderware UK certified system integrator.

“Cougar provided the high calibre of engineers necessary for this safety critical integration project and their attitude, application and good team working led to a successful completion of this key control system”, said Sunak.

The cyclotron has its own computer control and a Beckhoff soft PLC was used for the sequencing. Paul Edwards, project engineer at Cougar, adopted InTouch8 for Terminal Services. He claimed it allowed easy connectivity to the Windows XPe.net that was within the Beckhoff PC, TwinCat soft PLC providing the software solution. The InTouch Terminal Services system has five clients. Further integration with the robot controllers, that run the automatic handling in the isotope dispensing cells, was achieved using Modbus and Siemens MPI Link. Cougar also provided connectivity between the Cyclotron’s Sun UNIX OS and IBM’s Informix Database. Web publishing is used to allow other users to view data live from the system. The entire system was validated to GAMP 4.

In use the primary control task is failsafe correct routing. The operator selects the number for the route and then, when conditions are correct, opens up the valves to enable the route. The Cyclotron provides the isotope and this is then fed through the route. At the end of the batch the operator closes the route causing the system to clear down that route so another can be entered. The tested and verified routes are held in a SQL database and are accessed through the InTouch screens.

The facility at Hammersmith Imanet has three cyclotrons, which are integrated to form a comprehensive resource for this critical work. The use of the equipment is primarily for research, thus flexible operating and high integrity of function, to protect operators and patients, is needed.

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