September/October 2011
ISA Automation Week: Automation Founder Circle

EDITOR'S NOTE: ISA continues its tradition of honoring leaders throughout the automation industry by presenting the Automation Founders Circle awards. This year's recipients are Martin Klein with the Arnold O. Beckman Founder Award, Gerald Wilbanks with ISA's 2011 Life Achievement Award, and Andy Chatha with the ISA Honorary Member award, the highest honor bestowed by the Society.

Chatha, ARC Advisory Group Founder, wins highest ISA award-Honorary Member

By Jim Strothman
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Twenty-five years after founding research and consulting firm, ARC Advisory Group, Andy Chatha is still thinking about industry's future.

When he and other ARC consultants predict what manufacturing technologies and business infrastructure concepts will be important near-term and well into the future, virtually all major industry suppliers and end users listen.

"We do a lot of thinking about the future," said ARC's founder and CEO. "Looking five years out is typical for our market forecasts, but we're also constantly thinking about and researching new concepts, new technologies, and new processes, and how companies can use new and existing enabling technologies to become more competitive. Increasingly, we've been looking at the human side of the equation, as well," Chatha said.

ARC was a one-man research operation when Chatha started the industrial consulting and forecasting business in 1986. Since then, Dedham, Mass.-based ARC has grown to nearly 80 employees with offices in North America, Europe, Japan, India, China, and Brazil.

Prestigious client list

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ARC's clients include many Fortune 1000 user companies and other industrial giants. The list includes 3M, ABB, BASF, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Emerson, ExxonMobil, General Dynamics, IBM, Invensys, Microsoft, Mitsubishi Electric, Nestlé, Oracle, Procter & Gamble, Rockwell Automation, SAP, Schneider Electric, Siemens, Yokogawa, and others.

Recognizing his contributions to the automation industry, ISA has awarded Chatha its highest honor-Honorary Member. The award recognizes "special individuals for support of, and/or contributions to the advancement of the arts and sciences of instrumentation, systems, and automation." The society will present the honor to Chatha on 17 October, the opening day of ISA Automation Week 2011 in Mobile, Ala. ARC industry experts will also be participating in the conference.

"The ISA Honors and Awards committee is pleased to bestow upon Andy Chatha the prestigious designation of Honorary Member. He is recognized for his many accomplishments to the field of automation," said Gerald W. Cockrell, committee chair, an ISA past president, and Professor Emeritus at Indiana State University.

Industry experience cited

Chatha's citation credits him for his "over 35 years' experience in enterprise applications and automation and as a successful CEO of the respected ARC; executive advisor to some of the largest companies in the world; market analyst in the automation industry; project manager, software engineer, and designer of automation systems."

"Aside from establishing ARC as a respected market research and consulting business and hosting the very successful annual ARC World Industry Forum, Andy has also worked closely with ISA over the past few years by including ARC forum programs in Automation Week and other activities," said Steve Huffman, chair of ISA's Honorary Member subcommittee, which recommended Chatha.

"He is a supporter of the ISA core competencies and our efforts to get more definition and recognition for our automation profession," Huffman added.

Before founding ARC, Chatha was an engineer and marketing manager at The Foxboro Company (now Invensys) for six years (1979-1985) during the early-distributed control system (DCS) days.

He served as a project manager at Westinghouse Electric Co. for five years (1974-1979) helping implement a blast furnace and a rolling mill automation project for two steel makers. From 1970-1973, he was a project engineer at General Electric Co. in the U.K., working on a rolling mill project.

Receiving the recognition "is a great honor," Chatha said.

Organized in teams

ARC has many teams, which focus on specialized areas such as automation, asset management, field devices, supply chain management, enterprise software, product lifecycle management, and energy optimization, among others.

Clients, who typically pay an annual fee, receive weekly and monthly research reports. In addition, "Clients can call us at any time if they have an issue," Chatha said. "We provide consulting services and also host forums and other high-value events that clients can and do attend."

ARC's annual World Industry Forum in Orlando, Fla., typically attracts top industry executives from around the world. The next such forum will be 6-9 February 2012 at the Renaissance Seaworld Hotel.

"Our success is because of our people," Chatha said. ARC's analysts are "experts from the industry" who have spent most of their professional careers working with industrial companies on multiple business issues and technologies," he said.

Chatha is particularly proud of ARC's global perspective. Not coincidentally, he was born in India, where he earned an electrical engineering degree at Panjab University. He obtained a Master of Science degree in systems engineering at Queen Mary University in London, where he also lived several years working for GE. He earned his MBA at Boston University's School of Management.

Asked about today's "hot button" issues, Chatha listed energy management, cyber security, new production management technologies, lifecycle management, cloud computing and mobility.

Collaborative Process Automation Systems, a well-received ARC model created to encourage suppliers to develop easier-to-use, easier-to-implement automation systems, is also a major ARC focus, Chatha said. Another is Collaborative Value Networks, which encourages end users to develop collaborative, integrated networks with their suppliers.