Behind the Scenes Where Power Supplies Support Sites That Protect Lives
TDK-Lambda power supplies have the world's largest share among the sources of electrical energy used for the advanced medical devices and systems (IHS Markit study in 2019), including, but not limited to, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanners, X-ray systems, Computed Tomography (CT) scanners, Positron Emission Tomography (PET) scanners, hematology analyzers, DNA equipment, Patient Monitor, Ultrasound Scanner, surgical robotic systems, dialysis equipment and artificial heart-lung apparatuses. It has contributed to medical device manufacturers worldwide for over 40 years. We asked Kenichi Shiraishi, from Marketing and Promotion Group at TDK-Lambda Corporation why the brand has consistently been much in-demand globally for so many decades.
“First, let me explain about power supplies. Generally, commercial power is supplied by alternating current (AC). AC needs to be converted to stabilize direct current (DC) for use in medical devices. This converter is called an AC-DC power supply*1. Since demands of patient care often requires 24/7 operation of critical equipment, manufacturers have high expectations of the power supply, it needs to be super reliable when it comes to being able to work continuously,” Mr. Shiraishi said . What makes these power supplies so reliable? Let’s take a closer look at this with reference to actual medical devices and equipment.
Supports Image Processing Control by Supplying Power in a Stable Manner during the Rotation of CT Scanners
The first is the CT scanner, which is rapidly evolving. Used by many medical institutions, CT scanner is a special imaging and testing apparatus that using X-ray and computer to capture cross-sectional views of the body. The tube generating X-ray inside the gantry of the CT scanner rotates 360 degrees around the patient's bed while irradiating with X-rays for imaging.
“TDK-Lambda power supplies provide power to the image processing and other controllers during CT scanning. The reliability of our products has been achieved by successfully developing a mechanical design that can withstand this rotation. Our power supplies are able to work without stopping during the rotation of the CT scanner. On top of this, AC to DC conversion is done at a top class high efficiency of 90% or higher,” Mr. Shiraishi said. “Other strengths of our products include long service life for extended use,” which is important given that CT scanners may be expensive with some systems costing hundreds of millions of yen.
Recent years have seen the invention of the multislice CT*2 scanner, which is capable of high-speed imaging (several seconds to several tens of seconds) for capturing clear 3D images. The recent R&D of 4D CT has also made it possible to visualize the heart and brain clearly. Furthermore, the accuracy of diagnostic imaging results is improving in combination with artificial intelligence (AI). Supporting the basis of such evolution, reliable power supplies have thus become indispensable to image processing controllers.
With more sophisticated functions and higher precision of hospital equipment, measures to reduce effects of noise, etc. have become important requirements. As a solution for this, TDK-Lambda also offers power line electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) filters*3 for medical devices. “Because we work together with so many medical device manufacturers, we are in a favorable position to capture the latest medical trends and provide highly reliable products including peripheral devices,” Mr. Shiraishi said.
Compact Power Supplies for Patient Monitors That Assure Continuous Operation of Systems
Next is the Patient Monitor, which has often been featured in recent news of COVID-19. It is a medical device monitoring patient information such as electrocardiogram data and blood pressure in patients at risk of sudden changes in their conditions, including critical patients such as emergency outpatients and patients undergoing surgery.
Patient Monitor is used in operating rooms, intensive care units, emergency rooms, and other cases that cannot afford to miss any seconds. ”Our power supplies have excellent stability, so they can be used 365 days a year, 24 hours a day in environments where system failures must absolutely never happen. Another strength lies in their long service life, allowing use over a longer time than other brands,” according to Mr. Shiraishi. In addition, operating rooms have been increasingly crowded recently with the introduction of large devices such as artificial heart-lung machines, which is why compact power supplies are also in demand. "TDK-Lambda offers some of the industry’s smallest power supply at 2 x 3 inches (AC/DC 60W class) with a low height profile suitable for building into flat screen monitors, thanks to our technology that can meet both difficult requirements of compact size and high reliability," Mr. Shiraishi said.
Finally, when asked about the current situation, Mr. Shiraishi replied, “Due to the increase in COVID-19 patients, securing medical devices for them is a challenge. We will continue our efforts to meet the demand as well as deliver products that provide the reliability required in medical power supplies.”
TDK-Lambda products complies various medical standards such as latest version of medical standard IEC60601-1 (Edition 3.1). The company has already complied ISO13485 certification*4, an international standard for quality management systems for medical devices, at their leading development and design/production bases in Japan, United Kingdom, United States, China, and Malaysia. Speaking of future prospects, Mr. Shiraishi said, “We plan to provide an increased range of power supplies for innovative fast growing medical devices such as robotic surgical equipment to contribute to the practical application of such devices. Our power supplies are already being adopted in some of these products.”
- AC-DC power supply: Also called AC input power supply (AC-DC converter). A device converting alternating current (AC) voltage to direct current (DC) voltage
- Multislice CT: Helical CT with multiple rows of detectors (CT that rotates in a spiral manner and captures images with X-ray)
- Power line EMC filter: Component connected to the line of electronic equipment, mainly used for preventing electromagnetic interference (EMI)
- ISO13485: Globally recognized international standard for quality management systems for medical devices. By building quality systems that are more thoroughly documented than ISO9001 combined with risk management, this standard has become the basis for ensuring the quality, reliability, and safety of medical devices. *Scope of registered TDK-Lambda activities: Design/development, manufacturing, and incidental services (analysis, repair, overhaul of market returns) of active medical device parts (switching power supplies)