Production is the basis of a successful empire. If you are not producing enough of one Goods or another you will fail to meet the Needs of your citizens or be held back in growth and expansion, if you produce too much of something you could suffer economic setback or even Debt, or waste materials and space. Fully functioning Production Chains are essential to properly conducting Research, making lucrative Trade deals or preventing dangerously low Ecobalance.
Production operation consists of three separate stages:
- Gathering materials
- Setting up logistics between production plants and your population
- Creating and maintaining positive production conditions, such as positive energy and ecobalance
For example: To satisfy the Need for basic level 1 population food, a Fishery must be built along the coast, the supply of fish which accumulates in the Fishery storage picked up by a depot, at which point the fish is free for consumption for that island's Residences.
Production chain productivity consist of either two or three stages:
- Gathering raw materials
- Alternatively processing them for the final production building
- Turning the processed goods into final goods which will satisfy certain Needs
For example: To satisfy the Need for Food for Eco Engineers, you have to grow Vegetables using the Farmhouse, Durum Wheat using the Grain Farm, process it into Flour using the Flour Mill, process the Flour and Vegetables in the Pasta Production plant into Pasta Dishes, then get the finished goods to the island your Eco Employees live on.
When producing Goods which fulfill the Needs of citizens, the goods merely have to be available in the Warehouse of the island the citizens live on, the population will then consume the needed goods automatically, at a rate which depends on the number of citizens belonging to each type of Residences. The more people you have, the more goods they consume.
Materials are provided by farms which utilize an island's Fertilities and mines which exploit an island's raw materials, aquiring Goods via Trade and receiving supplies from E.V.E. using your Ark. Trade is only an alternative method of procuring goods, since NPC Arks and trading Ships will only have a limited supply of materials to trade, thus are unreliable for maintaining sizeable populations.
Setting up logistics
Once obtained, materials need to be transported to production plants and the finished Goods made available to your population. Production logistics are handled in the following ways:
- Collector units belong to their corresponding production plant. They carry goods within the plant's influence area, and travel in one-way (pick up only) between the plant and any type of storage depot or from a production building producing needed goods. They require a Road connection. In other words, to use the latest example, these are the local plant workers who simply pick up the vegetables from the depot or a farmhouse and carry it to Pasta Production, they won't bring the finished Pasta Dishes back to the depot.
- Transportation units belong to various storage depots; Warehouses, Depots and Port Authorities. They carry goods within the storage depot's infuence area between production plants and the storage depot. They also require a Road connection. These are the depot employees who can fetch the Pasta dishes from Pasta Production and bring it back to central storage.
- Cargo lifters belong to every level 3 storage depot, (note: Depots must be upgraded) need no Roads because they can carry goods from plants to the storage depot in the air, but each depot can have only one of these per depot. They also carry goods within the storage depot's infuence area and travel one-way between the plant and a storage depot, thus are very useful for farms and mines but they alone can't service final production buildings. Cargo lifters are eventually upgraded into the larger Cargo haulers at Executive level for all warehouses.
Most commonly, it is advantageous to produce final goods on the island your Residences are on. However when goods have to be transported from other islands you have to set up a trading route using the Strategic Map and make the required goods available to your production plants and your population on the island they are on. Especially when playing Continuous Games, it pays to be aware and prepare in advance for island Fertilities and Raw Materials and the location and expanse of future settlements and industrial parks.
Local storage: Farms and production plants have a storage capacity of 5 or 10 tons of finished or to-be-processed goods. When full, they require the pick-up of goods from a depot and will stop production until their storage is collected. When this happens E.V.E. will notify you at once: Production halted!
Island-wide storage: In addition, every island has a maximum possible capacity of 999 tons of Goods. By default the initial capacity of the first Warehouse allows storage of 40 tons on the island, and every depot built will further increase island-wide storage. Upgrading depots and your warehouse will also increase island-wide storage. It is possible to increase the individual capacity of each depot by researching Trade technologies, such as the Depot expansion 1-star Ark upgrade, which increases every depot's capacity by +20.
Productivity is the actual effective production rate of a plant. The required goods (either raw materials or to-be-processed goods) must be supplied fluently for a plant to operate at 100%.
For a detailed listing of the ideal ratio of Production Buildings to operate at 100%, see the Production Chains page.
For example: for specifically Pasta Dishes, 3 Grain Farms must supply 1 Flour Mill, and 1 Flour Mill plus 2 Farmhouses must supply 2 Pasta Production plants for both plants to keep up 100% productivity (assuming every farm itself operates at no less than 100%).
Because goods depots have a default maximum of 3 transportation units including the cargo lifter, one depot can only fully service a set number of production buildings. When the required goods are not delivered to a production plant, a warning icon is displayed over the building indicating the cause of low productivity. When a type of goods reaches the maximum storage capacity, the producing buildings will cease to function and display a blue warning icon. The News ticker by default also notifies you of halted production.
Building more buildings than the required ratio of optimal production buildings in a Production Chain, maintaining a permanently high ecobalance, or building more buildings that will 100% satisfy the Needs of your population will result in overproduction. When this occurs your plants will function until the island-wide storage capacity of their produced goods is filled, then halt production. It is generally a good idea to avoid overproduction and aim for a perfect balance between the number of the production plants you need and the number that is needed to satisfy your population Needs.
Overproduction is a good way to make Trade with NPC Arks, as the surplus goods you sell will generate cash and contribute to your economy instead of just sitting in your warehouse (unless you specifically want to build up reserves of goods). But be careful when setting up Trade routes because selling off too much of your storage can quickly deplete your stocks if not managed carefully, and selling raw materials instead of finished goods can leave your production plants without source goods.
Effects on productivity
It is possible to increase productivity for both gathering and producing production plants.
For farms, by raising the Ecobalance above 0 (Ecos only), at which point every farm building will output a higher percentage of goods, as well as using Items which boost corresponding farm plant production. On the other hand, missing Fertility or poor ecobalance can prevent or decrease productivity.
For processing plants and final product plants, using Items which raise productivity and slotting them in the warehouse of the same island will increase productivity by the corresponding %, while allowing the building to maintain the same resource consumption. Production bonuses are cumulative so it's possible to use multiple production-boosting items on the same island, as long as there are available warehouse item slots.
For example: Using two Effective Stimulants (+25% productivity) (commonly sold by Hiro Ebashi) slotted in the warehouse, your Energy Drink Factories on that island will operate at 100%+25%+25%=150% productivity.
It is noteworthy, that Ecobalance effects and Productivity enhancement Items influence the productivity in different ways. Namely the ecobalance effect will influence the rate of output of a production facility, where as the Items will increase the yield of one production cycle. These components of total output (Total output being rate times yield) are in fact multiplicative which means that the actual productivity will be more than indicated by productivity in the building window, when both bonuses are present. (Deficit of farm fields also affects rate).
Example: Spice farm at 500 ecobalance has 175% productivity, the 75% productivity bonus is fully added to the rate of output. Now activating ex. Control module will seemingly increase the productivity to 200%, but in fact the production increase bonus of 25% is fully added to the yield of output. This means that actual productivity will be 1,25 x 1,75 = 2,19 Instead of the indicated 2,00. (Tested)
For example: 3 iron mines and 3 coal excavators support normally 3 iron smelters which support normally 6 Tool Factories. With a Control Module activated in a warehouse, you now produce 3,75 iron ore and coal. That will now support 3 iron smelters which will run on 125% and 1 on 75% which in total produces 4,5 iron. Now that supports 9 tool factories that will all run on 125% which will give you 11,25 production of tools total. So instead of 6 you get 11,25 tools that is 87,5% increase in production of final goods (given you build 1 more smelter and 3 more facts).
While not allowing you to directly increase productivity of plants, the relevant Production section of Academy Research Technologies offers a multitude of Ark improvement modules for Raw Material production buildings which reduce their impact on ecobalance and raw material deposits.
Manually shutting down plants may also be needed, this can be done by clicking the center Pause icon on the building's info panel. Both farm and production buildings will have their energy requirements, ecobalance effects and upkeep costs reduced while production is paused. Shift-clicking the Pause button will pause production of every building of that type over the whole island.
Maintaining positive conditions
While ecobalance affects farm production buildings, island-wide Power also plays a part in productivity. With power reduced below zero, production buildings for Ecos will start to function below 100%, but Eco production is much less sensitive to inadaquate power than Tycoon production buildings. Tycoon production is very sensitive to subpar power generation and will suffer drastically from insufficient negative power values, dropping sharply in production % with each missing power value.
Efficient production building layouts are essential for minimizing wasted space on your islands, cutting down transportation travel time to the lowest possible and thus ensuring fluent 100% efficient production of Goods. When space is limited you will want to micro-manage layouts to fit everything in, but pre-designed layouts assembled by players commonly offer the best optimization for your productivity.
For more detailed information about efficient building layouts and optimizing your production buildings chains, see the Building Layouts page.