Interoperable manufacturing knowledge systems

For many years now, the importance of semantic technologies, that provide a formal, logic based route to sharing meaning, has been recognized as offering the potential to support interoperability across multiple related applications and hence drive manufacturing competitiveness in the digital manufacturing age. However, progress in support of manufacturing enterprise interoperability has tended to be limited to fairly narrow domains of applicability. This paper presents a progression of research and understanding, culminating in the work undertaken in the recent EU FLEXINET project, to develop a comprehensive manufacturing reference ontology that can (a) support the clarification of understanding across domains, (b) support the ability to flexibly share information across interacting software systems and (c) provide the ability to readily configure company knowledge bases to support interoperable manufacturing systems.