Today's manufacturing plants are faced with continuous changes and enhancements. They are equipped with heterogeneous software systems for different types of tasks, both manufacturing operations and factory planning. To remain competitive, plant operators have to respond quickly to the situation and requirements of the market. Technology has to support this. Any change has to be considered, and the equipment and the information technology have to be able to adapt quickly. Technology has to support this: Efficient modifications result in an increased demand for adaptability or flexibility.
For an efficient and usable information exchange, all systems involved have to interact as seamlessly as possible in the heterogeneous environment. This is called interoperability, which is based on the compliance with consistent standards. Therefore, it is not only important how to communicate, but also what to communicate. Data descriptions must be examined as well as suitable communication. MES have to form a part of the integrated industrial engineering chain from mechanical engineering, PLC programming to operations. This contribution deals with some of the challenges that have to be handled to achieve interoperability.