Varian unit expands from OEM supply

February 27, 1991

Varian Canada Microwave Products of Ontario is building a NorthAmerican dealer network to sell a high-frequency upgrade kit forSenographe 500T and 600T mammography systems, formerly manufacturedby Thomson-CGR. VCMP, a unit of Varian Associates of Palo

Varian Canada Microwave Products of Ontario is building a NorthAmerican dealer network to sell a high-frequency upgrade kit forSenographe 500T and 600T mammography systems, formerly manufacturedby Thomson-CGR. VCMP, a unit of Varian Associates of Palo Alto,CA, is a supplier of power sources to medical OEMs for use intheir x-ray generators.

The Senographe retrofit business marks the first time VCMPhas worked with dealers to sell its medical imaging technologydirectly to end users, said Gordon Hall, product manager.

"This is the first time we have offered a kit for dealersto present to users for upgrading existing equipment," hetold SCAN. "We don't want to alienate existing OEM customersby competing with them, but on the other hand, we have identifiedopportunities where the OEM would not normally respond to thoseopportunities. That is roughly where the retrofit falls."

However, VCMP will compete with GE Medical Systems in the supplyof the high-frequency upgrade. GE purchased the French Thomson-CGRbusiness in 1987, thereby taking over sales of the popular Senographeline (SCAN 8/05/87).

GE did not appear interested in providing a high-frequencyupgrade to the installed base of Senographe systems when VCMPfirst discussed its plans with the firm over a year ago, Hallsaid. However, the larger vendor disclosed plans to provide anupgrade of its own last fall, he said.

"We were quite flattered. Obviously, they (GE) think ouridea is good enough to do it themselves," Hall said. Thereshould be room for both efforts. About 8000 Senographe systemsare installed worldwide, he said.

VCMP is part of the same operating unit within Varian Associatesas Eimac, a manufacturer of replacement x-ray tubes and otherimaging components. The two companies expect to cooperate in theSenographe effort. Eimac has introduced a replacement tube forthe CGR mammography system, which could be offered as a packagewith the generator upgrade, Hall said.

Eimac and VCMP will likely use different routes to end users,however. Eimac's dealers are mainly tube-loading operations, whichmay not have the expertise required to install the generator upgrade,he said.

"We have to have people familiar with working on theinside of equipment as opposed to replacing tubes," he noted.

VCMP has three beta sites of the generator retrofit runningin Canada and has commenced shipments to U.S. dealers to set upbeta sites in that market. Commercial shipments should begin bythe end of March in North America and about two months later inEurope, Hall said.

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Intermagnetics General (IGC) has signed a three-year contractfor the supply of superconducting wire for GE magnetic resonanceimaging systems. The total value of wire to be supplied by IGC'sAdvanced Superconductors subsidiary under this agreement couldamount to $45 million. The amount of GE business is significantlyhigher than under past agreements on an annual basis, accordingto IGC president Carl Rosner.

Along with its wire business, IGC is an independent supplierof finished magnets to MRI vendors. GE manufactures its own MRImagnets in its factory in Florence, SC.