Production Next Door

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The unpredictable occurrence of a global pandemic as well as intensifying trade conflicts have recently been exposing the fragility of global, industrial value creation based on the division of labor. The promotion of local value creation structures, on the other hand, has numerous potentials to meet current ecological, economic, and social challenges (by, e.g., strengthening the resilience of the production economy, reducing greenhouse gases, and empowering regional companies and residents).

Production in the neighborhood for more sustainability

Over the course of the project “Digital, urban production – promoting local productions. [local.networked.produced.]”, a new form of local production, which is geared towards the cost-efficient, local production of individualized products, is being researched. For this purpose, the “Production Next Door” concept (ProNeD) developed by us is being implemented in the Hamburg metropolitan region. The focus is on the production of furniture. The value creation network involves global developer-communities in the product development phase to build up a product range. The products are manufactured locally by regional craftsmen and small or medium-sized production companies. The product can be customized by customers to meet individual preferences as comprehensively as possible. Customers are also given the opportunity to have a say in the criteria according to which the producers of their respective pieces of furniture should be selected (e.g. economic, socially-sustainable or ecologically-sustainable criteria).

Project goals

The goal is to contribute to a sustainable circular economy by promoting local value-added structures:

  • Empowerment of regional players for the cost-efficient, demand-driven manufacturing of individualized products
  • Reduction of emissions and use of resources by avoiding transport and overproduction
  • Providing a high variety of licensable and freely available product models by including global developer-communities 
  • Increasing the resilience of the production economy by promoting regional production structures

In the project, methods and technologies from the research areas of Industry 4.0, machine learning, and data mining are transferred to the context of regional production. The goal is to establish an end-to-end digitized value creation process that integrates product development by global online communities, manufacturing by local producers, and individualization by customers in a highly efficient manner in order to minimize initiation and coordination costs along the value chain.

Decentralized and self-learning

Dr.-Ing. Pascal Krenz is working with an interdisciplinary team (Engineering, Economics and Social Sciences) at the Laboratory of Production Engineering at the Helmut-Schmidt University to investigate approaches to digitizing production in urban value networks. The focus is on research into self-learning systems for planning and controlling production processes in decentrally organized, dynamic value creation networks. Experts from the association HITeC (Hamburger Informatik Technologie Center) advise and support the project team in regards to the evaluation and development of technologies in the field of machine learning and artificial intelligence. UNITY AG provides support for the strategy and business model development as well as the realization and implementation of the development and planning system in local networks.

Facts and figures

Project title: Digitale, urbane Produktion – Förderung lokaler Produktionen. [lokal.vernetzt.produziert.] (Digital, urban production – promoting local productions. [local.networked.produced.])
Runtime: 2020-2024
Sponsored by:


Krenz, Pascal; Saubke, Dominik; Stoltenberg, Lisa; Markert, Julia; Redlich, Tobias (2022): Towards Smaller Value Creation Cycles: Key Factors and their Interdependencies for Local Manufacturing. With assistance of Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB), David Herberger, Marco Hübner: Hannover: publish-Ing. Available online at

Markert, Julia; Saubke, Dominik; Krenz, Pascal; Hotz, Lothar (2022): Cross-Company Routing Planning: Determining Value Chains in a Dynamic Production Network Through a Decentralized Approach. With assistance of Technische Informationsbibliothek (TIB), David Herberger, Marco Hübner: Hannover : publish-Ing. Available online at

Krenz, Pascal; Stoltenberg, Lisa; Markert, Julia; Saubke, Dominik; Redlich, Tobias (2022): The Phenomenon of Local Manufacturing: An Attempt at a Differentiation of Distributed, Re-distributed and Urban Manufacturing. In Ann-Louise Andersen, Rasmus Andersen, Thomas Ditlev Brunoe, Maria Stoettrup Schioenning Larsen, Kjeld Nielsen, Alessia Napoleone, Stefan Kjeldgaard (Eds.): Towards Sustainable Customization: Bridging Smart Products and Manufacturing Systems. Proceedings of the 8th Changeable, Agile, Reconfigurable and Virtual Production Conference (CARV2021) and the 10th World Mass Customization & Personalization Conference (MCPC2021), Aalborg, Denmark, October/November 2021. 1st ed. 2022. Cham: Springer International Publishing; Imprint Springer (Springer eBook Collection), pp. 1014–1022. Available online at

Krenz, Pascal (2020): Formen der Wissensarbeit in einer vernetzten Wertschöpfung, Dissertation, Helmut-Schmidt-Universität. Available online at .

Related links:

Zentrum für Digitalisierungs- und Technologieforschung der Bundeswehr (

Project website „Production Next Door“ (ProNeD)

Are you interested in an exchange on urban production, developer communities, local value creation structures, or related topics? Then please feel free to contact us.


Dr.-Ing. Pascal Krenz