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Faculty of mechanical engineering


Smart regional economy
(Production sub-sector)

In the "Intelligent Regional Economy" project, small and medium-sized enterprises in the Network Industry Ruhr East (NIRO) are brought together through active cooperation projects to form a regionally networked innovation management and are specifically supported in individual business processes by the expertise of the Chair of Work and Production Systems at TU Dortmund University. Around 1.5 million euros will be available for the project - with the central research areas of production, product development, human resources and procurement - over the next three years. The fundamental goal of the NIRO network is to strengthen the performance of companies in the mechanical engineering and industrial electronics sectors in technological and economic terms in global competition. In this context, the IRE project can make a targeted contribution to the continuous improvement of business processes.


Digital networking and increasing globalisation are making it increasingly difficult for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in particular to keep pace with further developments in standard technologies. SMEs are often faced with these new demands alone, as cross-group alliances and networking activities - which are common among large companies - are only available to a limited extent. They therefore run the risk of losing the leading position in export markets, which they currently hold in many areas, much more quickly.


The aim of the IRE project is to show SMEs new ways and opportunities through innovative strategies so that they can keep pace with the competition and face global competition positively and confidently. The main task of the chair, which is active in the sub-area of production, is to support SMEs in improving their production processes and to achieve a long-term increase in market shares through the use of new forms of organisation in production. Furthermore, innovative production processes contribute to an improved environmental balance through reduced energy and material consumption.


The trusting cooperation of the member companies in the network enables the chair to conduct a comparative process audit on the topic of "low-waste production". For this purpose, the companies were divided into 5 groups according to their type of production, which will be audited by the end of 2009. After the individual evaluations of the companies, each of which revealed strengths and weaknesses in production, the entire audited group was brought together in workshops to identify examples of best practice. On this basis, the participating companies will have the opportunity to identify improvements in their production processes and implement them in their own manufacturing facilities through the exchange of knowledge with the other companies.

Research- and Development Partner

  • Business Development Agency for the District of Unna mbH
  • Network Industry Ruhr-East (NIRO), contact: Pascal Lampe (Managing Director)
  • Business Education Centre

Funding Reference

The research project is funded within the framework of the Operational Programme for NRW under the Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective 2007-2013, which is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).