World-Changing Innovation: 20 Years after the Launch of Perfect Harmony, the Effect is Still Profound

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 2:31 pm EDT


Anne Cooney, President, Siemens Process Industries and Drives, U.S.; and Doug Keith, Large Drives Business Unit Head, U.S.

Disruptive innovation often has meager beginnings. Sometimes, it’s an engineer’s simple idea, jotted down in a memo over a weekend in 1993. In this case, an engineer who thought he could create a medium voltage drive that was quieter, less expensive, more effective and more energy efficient than anything else available to the industrial market.

To his surprise, that engineer, Peter Hammond, was given the green light to move forward with his idea the very next Monday morning. Management saw the potential: Today (as well as 20 years ago), the industrial sector stands as the largest consumer of energy, using more than residential, commercial and transportation. Energy – and the price for it – has long been a deciding factor in manufacturing, and companies across the globe are laser-focused on energy savings.

Hammond’s invention, the Perfect Harmony drive, quickly moved from inception to fruition in 1995 and, over the last 20 years, paved a way for medium voltage drives. It is the world’s leading drive with more than 13,000 installed globally and it can be found on nearly every continent. Did you know that nearly 70 percent of all medium voltage variable frequency drives are based on the topology of the original Perfect Harmony?

Peter Hammond pictured in center

Future of Manufacturing

In honor of Hammond and the disruptive innovation he led, we recently announced the establishment of the Siemens Peter Hammond Scholarship Fund to benefit graduate students in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering. The scholarship, worth $40,000 over four years, is available to undergraduate students who have achieved or manifested promise of outstanding academic success.

This type of academic/industry partnership between local employers and higher education institutions has truly helped shape the foundation American manufacturing. We already know the U.S. manufacturing sector employs 12 million Americans, accounts for 60% of U.S. exports and is responsible for nearly 70 percent of private sector R&D investment, according to the White House.

At Siemens, we believe that in order for the U.S. to continue to be a world-class manufacturing leader that is an attractive place for companies to invest, we first must invest in the next generation of skilled workers, those who could be the next Peter Hammond, who has a simple, yet innovative idea that can change the world.


Anne Cooney is President of the Process Industries and Drives division in the U.S. She has 14 years of experience with Siemens, previously serving as the Chief Operating Officer of Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from Gannon University, and a Master of Business Administration from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School. Anne brings more than 35 years of industry and manufacturing knowledge and experience to her role.

Doug Keith is the head of the Large Drives business unit in the U.S. With nearly 25 years of engineering, manufacturing, design, and leadership experience, Doug joined Siemens Drive Technologies, where he served as president in 2011. Prior to that he spent six years with Siemens Energy where he served as vice president for the Power Distribution Medium Voltage business unit. He holds a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.

More information:

  • Perfect Harmony inventor Peter Hammond has been issued more than 40 patents in his career.
  • Hammond is officially retired, but works part-time as a senior advisory engineer for new product development at Siemens.
  • Perfect Harmony’s U.S. patent is now expired, and the Perfect Harmony cell-based topology is the most copied topology for medium voltage drives globally.
  • More than 200 Perfect Harmony drives are installed on North American pipelines, gas processing plants and fractionators, generating more than 850,000 horsepower.
  • Perfect Harmony drives support 52,000 miles of pipelines in the U.S., enough mileage to cross the continental U.S. coast to coast almost 20 times. The pipelines transport more than 7.6 million barrels of crude oil a day.