In 1974, Siemens was the first medical technology manufacturer to exhibit a tomographic image of a human head at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago. A year later, we introduced SIRETOM, our first computed tomography (CT) scanner for the brain. A typical examination took less than six minutes these days. The X-ray tube and a detector unit scanned the skull from various directions, and generated an image of absorption distribution in the brain.
Today, Siemens Healthineers produces more than one thousand systems a year at several sites spread around the globe, and ships them all over the world. Our plant in Forchheim is home to the largest and most advanced computed tomography production facility worldwide.
SIRETOM, the first CT from Siemens Healthineers
A head scan using the prototype, 1974
Since 1974, 55,554 CT systems have been delivered to healthcare providers across the globe. On November 25th, the 55,555th CT scanner left our Forchheim factory towards Stavanger in Norway. The University Hospital Stavanger has ordered a SOMATOM Force, which is still the most powerful system in the market. As a Dual Source scanner, it comprises two X-ray tubes and two detectors and can scan a human heart in less than half of a heartbeat – which is an advantage for the cardiology department of the hospital, where the SOMATOM Force is going to be installed. Today, the portfolio shows unique arguments with regard to artificial intelligence, low dose, workflow optimization, and image quality.
Another extremely important aspect, besides the powerful technology, is the joy of accomplishment that is experienced by our CT team. It has a direct influence on the success of the systems that leave our production halls in Forchheim, Bavaria, and travel to customers around the world. In a 5-part series, we’d like to tell the stories of the people who are also responsible for seeing that no. 55,555 reaches the Norwegian hospital safe and sound.
Chapter 5 - Mar. 04th
Chapter 4 - Jan. 21st
Chapter 3 - Dec. 22nd
Chapter 2 - Dec. 10th
Chapter 1 - Nov. 25th
CT number 55,555 in routine use at Stavanger University Hospital
Here is the first impression from the radiologists
It’s been 12 weeks since CT number 55,555 arrived at Stavanger University Hospital in Norway. The system was carefully installed and then there were four days of adjustments, connections, and drawing of cables. Finally, Section Lead Radiographer Therese Svihus could comment on the first images from the brand-new SOMATOM Force: “With this new and advanced CT model, we already see improved image quality and lower radiation dose, which will benefit our patients, doctors, and the radiographers who operate the machine.”
After having a SOMATOM Definition Flash for several years, the clinic is used to the benefits of dual source CT scanning. But in Therese Svihus’s opinion, the new system offers several improvements for radiographers.
Finding the best combination of image quality and radiation dose
Keth-Mona Berg has worked with CT since 2012. As a radiographer, she performs all kinds of radiology examinations. She has a special professional responsibility for CT protocols, and she works closely with the other radiographers: “We need to ensure the best possible combination of image quality and radiation dose.” Berg likes using advanced imaging equipment to support early and precise diagnoses: “My job is really meaningful to me, because people come here with major health problems that require fast and accurate clarification.” Asked about her experience with system number 55,555 after its first few weeks at Stavanger University Hospital, she says: “The CT is similar to the systems from Siemens Healthineers I’ve worked with before – but when you work with a new system, there are more possibilities.”
Feels like detective work
CT no. 55,555 has arrived in Stavanger:
Installation starts right after shellfish counter is closed
A long journey has come to an end: After CT no. 55,555 has arrived at Stavanger University Hospital, Norway, a crane lifted it some ten meters before it was wheeled in through a door with just four millimeters of clearance at the top! The careful installation by specialized colleagues from Siemens Healthineers and Geis Logistics took four days for adjustments, connections, and drawing of cables … past a shellfish counter.
The sun was shining when the crane lifted the CT about ten meters in the air: The crane operator, the Project Manager, and the installers were all there,...
...along with a person from the local electricity company who made sure that it had the right distance to the high-voltage lines.
The Stavanger University Hospital’s outpatient clinic is located on the second floor of a local shopping center. The CT is installed directly above the fresh food department, and the technical room is located right above the fish shop. When the room was finally prepared with cores drilled and cables pulled through the floor, it got a little dusty at the shellfish counter.
But fortunately, that had all been planned in advance by an old hand: Project Manager Roar Stensåsen made all the technical drawings for the room solution and the location of the CT in the building. To get all the technical details, parts, and components required for a successful installation, Roar talked to a dozen electricians, plumbers, and the various users of the scanner: “No projects are alike, and it’s important to me to help the customer find the flexibility they need for a good patient flow.” One of many special challenges during installation no. 55,555: All the cables had to be pulled after the grocery store in the basement was closed at 10:00 p.m. and the shellfish had been removed from the counter!
A special installation during the pandemic
The overall installation workflow was conducted in a different way due to COVID-19. Usually, the specialists work in parallel and together, with good conversation along the way. But now they had to work serially. Roar summarizes: “The installers from Geis got the scanner inside. Then they had to go out before the electrician could do his job, with all the surfaces being disinfecting in between. Then the installers could come in again. Then it was the plumber’s turn. It took longer than normal, but we reached the finish line exactly as planned.” Factory Technician Felix Ladwig normally works in the CT factory in Forchheim. To support the norwegian colleagues with the installation of the SOMATOM Force, he traveled from Forchheim to Sandnes. The scanner was finally ready, and Felix was able to turn on the power to test the system. Roar is convinced: “The specialists from Germany have done a very good job! Thanks to their flexibility and a solution-oriented attitude, they contributed to a successful installation.”
Right after the power switch had been turned on, the crew started the final round of the delivery and Application Specialist Knut Botten Bjørklund took over.
Talking to the smartest CT radiographers
Knut worked as a radiographer for 17 years. He divides his work 50/50 between Oslo University Hospital and Siemens Healthineers, and he says that he’s now “getting the best of both worlds.” In his job as an Application Specialist, Knut travels around with the goal of “teaching the customer super-users all the cool and useful functionalities in their new CT scanners” and making sure that they operate the scanner effectively so that it takes the best possible CT images. Usually he trains two or three super-users, and then they train the rest of the staff themselves. “I’m lucky to have a job where I get to travel around and talk to the smartest CT radiographers in the country! We get to know each other well during these intense training days and usually have a conversation afterwards,” he says.
The training on the new system at Stavanger University Hospital took him four days, with many interesting discussions. “It’s fun to play around with this high-end technical equipment, and even more so since it’s an important job to support the diagnosis of patients. You can almost look at it as a computer game, where the goal is to take the best possible images,” he sums up. And number 55,555 is now ready to go for a new high score...
CT no. 55,555 on its way through Norway – Stavanger University Hospital is eager to get the system up and running
After our 55,555th CT scanner arrived at the harbor in Kristiansand, truckers are now guiding their air-cushioned road trains another 150 miles down the winding roads of Norway to Stavanger, with wonderful views of ocean, mountains, and fjords along the way.
A crucial modality in modern healthcare
Kjell has been Product Business Manager at Siemens Healthineers Norway since 2009. He sells CTs that are developed and built at the factory in Forchheim, Germany – and it’s not a job for lone wolves: “Selling CTs requires a close collaboration with our Sales Colleagues, Project Managers, Service Colleagues, Application Specialists, and in-house support resources.” Kjell has made the journey to Stavanger University Hospital many times before: “I like customer interaction, whether it’s in person, by phone, or by email, or – as we've learned in this year of the pandemic – via video call. To me, my job feels meaningful because Computed Tomography is such a crucial modality in modern healthcare. And I know how important it is for our customers to have the best possible CT service for their hospital.”
“I love it when our users enjoy working with our systems”
Radiographer Therese Svihus is excited to get the scanner up and running and
says: “For the staff, it will provide access to several new functions and
improvements.” After having a SOMATOM Definition Flash in the hospital for several
years, the clinic is used to the benefits of Dual Source CT scanning. Being part of the
latest Dual Source CT generation, SOMATOM Force is among the most advanced
CTs on the market: “With this new CT model, we’ll have improved image quality and
lower radiation dose for the benefit of patients, doctors, and the radiographers who
operate the machine. We expect to be able to do successful CT scans on patients
with very high or varying heart rhythms and Dual Energy will provide doctors with
better information for a more precise diagnosis”, Therese explains.
Kjell is proud to be handing over the very special CT system no. 55,555 to the Stavanger team. “I was originally trained as a radiographer, so I am continuously staggered by the innovations the Forchheim CT team brings to the market”, says Kjell, “and I love it when our users express that they really enjoy working with our systems.”
But before the first scan by no. 55,555 can be performed, the system needs to be installed by our experts.
Responsibility and a longing to see the world: Experienced CT logistics take to the road with number 55,555
Our partners in logistics: Geis Eurocargo on the left...
...and Simon Hegele Healthcare Solutions on the right.
So far, Siemens Healthineers has supplied 55,554 CT systems to customers around the world. In the second part of our five-part series marking the upcoming celebration of the next CT, we’re telling the stories of the logistics specialists who are making sure that number 55,555 arrives in Norway in top condition. Like in a relay race, specialists from several logistics companies are working together to transport the CT systems, which weigh up to 8 metric tons, to their destinations in perfect shape.
More than just packaging
The CT scanners begin the check-in process right next to the world’s biggest CT factory: the logistics center of Simon Hegele Healthcare Solutions. As a partner for logistics and service, Simon Hegele has been supporting Siemens Healthineers with highly specialized full-service solutions for over 30 years. A variety of medical goods in stock are picked and packaged for Siemens Healthineers in a 50,000 m² hall. Mario Frühling makes the system ready for shipping. “We pick and pack each system according to the customer’s individual wishes,” says Mario, who talks about how much he enjoys his logistics work with its responsibilities. “I was looking for this profession and I found it. We’re a first-rate team! And my job plays an important role within the healthcare system. I’m helping other people. What we do in this hall involves a lot more than you might think.”
Smoothing the way
For transportation and installation purposes the CT system is handed over to Geis Eurocargo. Experienced planners coordinate all tasks needed to ship the machines throughout the world. In this case, full service means ensuring that roads are closed from time to time, special cranes are put in place, and direct routes are organized to transport the systems to a medical facility. To do all this, permits must be obtained and other specialists hired.
Air-cushioned transport to all parts of the world
Simone’s first career was in bakery sales, but she wanted to get out of the bakery and “see something of the world.” That’s why she began training as a commercial driver and today she says, “Trucking has become my passion. It’s a career that offers a lot of variety. And this job also lets us do good things for other people because we drive important medical equipment wherever it is needed.”
Once a system has arrived safely at its destination, it is rigged and mechanically installed by Geis employees and handed over to the experts from Siemens Healthineers for start-up.
Nothing is taken for granted
Andreas also loves traveling, and his experiences make him both grateful and reflective. “The local conditions are different everywhere, and sometimes installers like us from Germany have to get used to them. In one hospital, I remember, the floor where we were supposed to set up a CT scanner literally crumbled. Sometimes unpredictable incidents arise, and it makes me aware of the high standards we enjoy in Germany and the things we take for granted.”
Let's visit the CT factory in Forchheim and listen to three colleagues who helped build the 55,555th scanner.
Lukas Kratz is an installer and tester in Forchheim and has the following to say about his job:“We build devices that help people become or stay healthy. Today in particular, I think this task is extremely important and I enjoy my work. As testers, we have to quickly identify problems as well as making sure that they’re solved. I can honestly say that I’m working side by side with friends. This enables us to overcome every challenge.”
Michael Stark completed his training as a device and system electronics technician in 2013 and continues in this same career today.“I was always interested in electronics. Working for Siemens Healthineers has been a dream come true.” Many of the settings require absolute precision. According to Michael, “It’s extremely important that everything functions perfectly. Our device is a means to an end. By serving medicine, we’re serving humanity as a whole.”
Oliver Göthert has been at CT since 2009, ensuring perfect quality through
the final inspection of Dual Source scanners. “The job is meaningful because it
allows us to help others and do something good.”
CT no. 55,555, a SOMATOM Force, is being used for examining cardiac patients in Norway. When asked what the system might say about the team in Forchheim, they all agreed: “It would say that we’re a fun team and have taken excellent care of the system. Bon voyage, no. 55,555!”