This article describes the basics of setting up production lines, how to read the UI of buildings (such as input and output item rates), and how to calculate building ratios.
For more information on planning a production line, see Tutorial:Production line design tips.
Reading building interfaces
A simple production line involves Miner → Smelter → Constructor → Storage Container. The example shows the buildings' UI, which can be accessed by approaching and interacting E with each building. In this example, each machine's item production matches up perfectly with item consumption (marked in red) making a 1:1 ratio.
A Miner extracts ore at a rate that depends on both Resource Node's purity and the Miner's mark. The Resource Node's purity, either impure, normal, or pure is fixed based on its location on the map. Higher marks of Miners can be unlocked in later Milestones, which have a higher extraction rate. In this example, the Miner Mk.1 extracts 30 Iron Ore/min from the Resource Node below it.
Per-cycle and per-minute rates
Each building shows two rates: per crafting cycle and per minute. The Constructor in the above example has the following rates:
Per-cycle values are shown in bold text. The cycle duration is shown in the middle of the UI, under a timer icon.
- 3 Iron Ingots are consumed per cycle
- 2 Iron Plates are produced per cycle
- Crafting cycle duration is 6 seconds
Therefore, each Iron Plate takes 1.5 Ingots to craft (3 Ingots make 2 Plates).
These per-cycle values are useful for determing item costs. However, in automated setups, it is easier to use per-minute values instead, shown in smaller, orange numbers below the bold text.
- 30 Iron Ingots are consumed per minute
- 20 Iron Plates are produced per minute
Conveyor Belts automatically transport items from one building to the next, removing the need for manual labor to move items between machines. Belts have a maximum item/min flow rate depending on the belt's mark. If a higher item flow rate is required, consider using higher marks of Conveyor Belts, or constructing multiple parallel belts. Else, the entire production line will slow down due to insufficient item flow.
The Storage Container in the above example is optional. Its purpose is to store and buffer produced items so that the machines before it can run smoothly. Most production buildings can only store up to one stack of items in its output slot, and once it is full, the machine stops.
The production speed of machines can be altered with overclocking, which will be discussed in the section below.
Splitting and merging
Production chains rarely work in a 1:1 crafting ratio; the example shown in the previous section is a special case. If there is a mismatch in the buildings' ratio, the entire chain is slowed down proportionally to the slowest element in the chain. This reduces the efficiency and should be avoided.
The term 'Efficiency' is used to describe the uptime of a machine, usually denoted in percentage (%). Efficiency is indicated in the lower right of each machine's UI.
To achieve 100% efficiency, the input rate should be greater or equal to the consumption rate. If more items/min are required, build more machines and use Mergers to bring these items onto a single belt. If there are too many items/min are being input, consider using Splitters to send items into multiple machines.
If only one Smelter is built, the Copper Ore produced by the Miner will not be consumed fast enough, and they will backlog into the Miner and causing it to run at only 50% of the time. This is equivalent to 50% efficiency.
Each Constructor consumes 15 Copper Ingots/min. Similarly, split each Copper Ingot belt two ways, which can supply up to four Constructors.
30 / 15 = 2 (each Smelter output belt split into two)
2 x 2 = 4 (two Smelters support four Constructors)
Each Constructor produces 30 Wire/min.
Each Constructor produces 30 Cable/min.
Conveyor Belt Mk.1 can only transport 60 items/min. In the above example, the belt carrying Copper Ores after the Miner, and the belts transporting Wires after the Mergers are operating at their maximum capacity.
A Storage Container is used to store stacks of items. Avoid mixing items in Storage Containers, as they have an output that can be used to further automate your production line and mixed items can cause your production to jam. A Merger is used to merge two Wire belts into one before the Container to eliminate the need for two Wire Containers.
Overclocking and Flow Rate
As the number of Resource Nodes in the world is finite, there is a hard limit on the total extraction rate. To maximize the potential of a Resource Node, Miners can be Overclocked. The overclocking ability can be researched in MAM via Power Slugs.
Conveyor Belt Mk.1 is not fast enough (60 items/min) to pull out all the ore extracted by the overclocked Miner (150 items/min), thus higher marks of the belt are required. Else, the Miner will only run at 40% Efficiency and not at its overclocked potential.
Conveyor Belt Mk.3 (270 items/min) can handle the 150 items/min flow rate and should be built right after the Miner. Conveyor Belt Mk.2 (120 items/min) and Conveyor Belt Mk.1 (60 items/min) are then used as items split off the Conveyor Belt Mk.3 line. Alternatively, all belts can be built with Conveyor Belt Mk.3, if there are sufficient materials to do so.
Splitters are organised in a manifold, where each split sends items off the main belt onto belts into the Constructors. The main belt will begin sending items 50/50 down the first split off line, and as the Constructor backfills the split off line will only consume the 30 Iron Ore/min (as consumed by the Smelter). The last Splitter at the far left is optional; it is built for future expansions, when higher marks of Miner are unlocked.
Fractions and decimals
There are many occasions where the building ratio doesn't end up as whole numbers. The Limestone -> Concrete setup is the first production chain that contains a fractional ratio:
60 / 45 = 1.333 or 1+1/3
The Limestone produced by a normal Miner can support one and a third Constructors.
Below are approaches to solve this issue:
Build more machines
Exceeding requirements continues to work without issue. Building two constructors will give both approximately 33% idle time (aka 67% Efficiency). In general, any decimal building ratio can be rounded up to the next integer, for example:
60 / 45 = 1.333 -> 2
400 / 30 = 13.33 -> 14
100 / 110 = 0.909 -> 1
Overclocking and Underclocking
The below show ways to utilise Clock Speed to reach maximum efficiency:
Overclock the Miner
Overclocking the Miner to 150% or 225% will make the ratio an integer.
45 x 2 = 90
90 / 60 = 1.5 (150% overclock, one Miner to two Constructors)
45 x 3 = 135
135 / 60 = 2.25 (225% overclock, one Miner to three Constructors)
Overclock the Constructor
Underclock the last machine
- Dragging the slider to 34% (Underclocking to 33% loses the additional 0.33% processing speed required)
- Clicking the Clock Speed value (Yellow under label) and typing "33.3334"%
- Clicking the Target Production Rate value (Yellow under label) and typing "15 / 3" (Input fields can handle equations)
Underclock all machines
Underclock both Constructors to 67% has the benefit of improved power saving compared to the previous method. You can examine the power consumption of each underclocked building and add them up.
1.3333 / 2 = 0.6666 = 67%
Complex production line
An example Reinforced Iron Plate production line consists of multiple ingredients. In the above image, the buildings are 1:1 showing each stage of the production line with lower efficiency due to incorrect building ratio. Below is an analysis with a walkthrough to correct ratios:
Miner Mk.1 on a pure Iron node extracts 120 Iron Ore/min. Pure nodes are quite common in Northern Forest and yield double rate. The Conveyor Belt Mk.1 after it is not fast enough and should be replaced with Conveyor Belt Mk.2.
Iron Ingots are divided among Iron Rods and Iron Plates, in an unknown ratio. The top-down method is an effective means to determine how to divide resources: start from the end product, then work backward to its raw ingredients.
Reinforced Iron Plate
Math it out
To produce 5 Reinforced Iron Plates/min, the Assembler requires, 45 Iron Ingots/min to produce Iron Plates, and 15 Iron Ingots/min to produce Iron Rods, for a total consumption of 60 Iron Ingots/min.
45 + 15 = 60
By dividing these numbers, the ratio can be simplified to 3:1. Three quarters of the Iron Ingot production is dedicated to Iron Plates, and one quarter dedicated to Iron Rods.
45 : 15 == 3 : 1 (divide both by 15)
After finding the ratio, work from the bottom-up reversing the calculation process, then multiply the setup by 2.
Constructor (Iron Plate)
Constructor (Iron Rod)
Assembler (Reinforced Iron Plate)