Tutorial:Production line design tips
This page is dedicated to useful tips to help design production lines. This does not include item optimization information, as optimal production lines are covered on each items individual page.
NOTE: Per community guidelines do not add promotional material to this page.
Research, Progression and Alternate Recipes
Late Game Items and Buildings
Mk5 Conveyor Belts allow the maximum throughput of items attainable in game, which aids in delivering on a large scale. Because of this, scaling up to larger builds should wait until items can compactly transport the required inputs/outputs at that scale. Early game, consider building smaller factories to attain the required items for progression as soon as possible, and redesigning end-game factories at a larger scale once Tier 7 / 8 is unlocked.
Alternate recipes allow less valuable resources (Eg Iron Ingots into Iron Wire saving on Copper), and/or better input to output ratios (Solid Steel Ingots have better resource efficiency than Steel Ingots). Utilizing these, the maximum potential of all resources in the game can be reached to produce the maximum amount of throughput.
Most recipes also deliver resource optimization, allowing a smaller number of buildings overall. Additionally they can use less complex components minimizing production lines leading up.
Number of Unique Items and Input Simplification
Alternate recipes allow less number of unique items required in a production line
- Iron Ingot into Iron Rod into Screws
- Iron Ingot and Coal into Steel Ingot into Steel Pipes
- Copper Ingot into Wire
Early game players can experience the temptation to build large scale factories to deliver early-game components en-masse. This should be avoided, and smaller, tileable production lines for mid-to-late game components should be used instead.
When determining the size of a production line, consider the below:
Limiting Input Rates
Consider creating as few input belts as possible. A good starting place can be to limit any particular input to within 780 items/min (a Mk5 Conveyor Belt). However this doesn't necessarily mean a limit of 780/min of one item type.
For example, a module with the following recipes
- Iron Ingot into Iron Wire
- Iron Ingot and Coal into Steel Ingot into Steel Pipe
- Steel Pipe and Iron Wire into Rotors
Limiting inputs as much as possible helps when expanding. Building additional modules that require a large number of belts means acquiring a proportional number of resources before being effective.
Additionally, this helps finding space to get belts to the starting point of a production line. If a module requires a large number of belts, adding modules means finding space for these belts or start the production line elsewhere. A smaller number of belts can optimize any space between or within modules without 'only fitting in 9 out of the 10 belts needed'
As resources go through stages of production, they can be compressed into a smaller number of items.
- 15 Iron Ingot/min into 15 Iron Rod/min: 1 : 1 compression
- 10 Iron Rod/min into 40 Screw/min: 4 : 1 inflation
- 20 Iron Rod (20 Iron Ingot) + 100 Screw/min (25 Iron Ingot) into 4 Rotor/min: 4 : 45 compression
Producing a dedicated Rotor factory allows 45 Iron Ingots to be compressed into 4 Rotors for export. In comparison, a dedicated Screw factory causes larger strain on the logistic network by increasing the output ratio.
Once a production line with a fair compression ratio has been designed, consider exporting this onto a larger logistics network, such as Trains or Trucks. Compressed items generally have smaller item/min requirements proceeding recipes, making them easier to transport to meet the needs of other factories.
Using standard recipes, a perfectly balanced Rotor production line requires
Taking up 3,540m2 for machinery to produce 4 items/min. Inserting this into a larger endgame factory can be difficult, while inserting a smaller Screw Constructors into other production lines would be less impactful.
Production line stages
Consider limiting the number of stages within a production line, eg Copper Ingot into Wire into Stator has 3 stages while turning Stators into Motors has 4 stages. Consider at which stage it would be best to send items to separate factories to continue processing.
Minimizing stages in a factory has the following benefits:
- Mid-production line items (eg Rotors and Stators) can be expanded and tapped into directly for export.
- End-of-line items are mutually exclusive to mid-line item production, allowing old production lines that now have better alternatives to be reconstructed, without needing to rebuild an end-to-end production line.
- Additional required simple components (eg Screws) can be easily inserted into detached production lines closer to their end-of-line machinery.
Inputs, Outputs, and Logistics
Consider excluding raw material refinement (Eg Smelters or Refineries) from production lines. Raw materials themselves have multiple methods of production including normal, alloy, and pure alternate recipes. Inserting an explicit type of raw material refinement into production lines can lock out better alternatives later in the game.
Process the materials needed in a dedicated, nearby factory out of the way from potential expansion. This will allow old raw material processing factories to be rebuilt, and send along the same belts without impacting the rest of the production line.
Load Balancing vs Manifold
Load Balancing is the process of delivering exactly the number of items/min to the destination, eg splitting a Mk1 belt 3 ways will deliver 20 items/min/belt, merge 2 for 40/min, and so on.
Arguments can be made for either system, however here is a general breakdown of pros and cons
- Production can be run at 100% of the time. With each production stage receiving equal resources all the machinery can run at an equal capacity.
- Balancing can be complicated to get specific values, as well as space consuming.
- Minimal backlogging of resources, all items are consumed as soon as they are ready.
- Extremely compact
- First in - first served can cause factories to have a 'boot time' (especially with high-stack items, like Wire)
- First in - first served can improve resource utilization (3 Constructors with 1 item vs 1 Constructor with 3 items and 2 empty)
- Using Smart Splitter Overflow can cause a large time invested into configuring Overflow and Any parameters (normal Splitters are advised)
When designing, a combination of these can be most effective. For example, use a manifold on the main belt, splitting off into balancers, and resupply the main belt utilizing belt compressors from other adjacent belts.
Output Merger Balancing
When merging outputs from a large number of sources, avoid filling a belt to full from a single line of Conveyor Mergers. Mergers take equally from each input, meaning a item output at the end of a Merger belt will supply 1:1, while the next will supply 1:2, the next 1:4, etc. When output items are constructed in large sets (Eg 13 Pure Iron Ingots at once) this can cause issues with backlogging other outputs. Instead make 2 or more belts that merge together throughout the process before joining to a single output line.