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The always growing need, for innovative products, forces manufacturing plants to improve their ability to quickly respond to market requirements by designing competitive products and modifying existing ones. The function block concept, promises to improve productivity in terms of reuse, reliability, flexibility and interoperability. IEC, with standards like 61499, defines the basic concepts and a methodology for the design of modular, re-usable distributed Industrial Process, Measurement and Control Systems (IPMCSs). To support the whole life cycle of these systems, new function block oriented Engineering Support Systems (ESSs), are highly required. In this paper, we consider, the process of interconnecting heterogeneous fieldbus islands and, the design and implementation of integrated distributed applications over them. The architecture of the interworking unit was defined, to obtain interoperability in fieldbus level and to allow a uniform development of applications from the ESS point of view. A 4-layer architecture was also defined to facilitate the design and development of the new generation function block oriented ESSs.