Updated: April 7, 2021
Welcome to my new and improved industry guide for the glorious Workers & Resources: Soviet Republic game. Now that I've racked about 200 hours worth of playing, in a remarkably short period if time, mind, it is time for a second guide that will show you how to build a flourishing and profitable socialist paradise!
In my first article, I gave you some basic tips and tricks on storage facility, transport, how to lay down an efficient industry zone, with easy access to raw materials and fast throughput of goods. Now, I want to show you an even more advanced way of doing things. Let's get on with some imperialist-capitalist ideas, shall we, comrades?
Road cargo stations
One of the things I've discovered in the last few weeks of fervent gaming - road cargo stations. These are buildings that should help you streamline the transfer of your goods to and fro. Instead of sending a truck to say a warehouse or an open storage area, you send it to a cargo station, which is connected to one or more storage facilities. Now what would you do this? Because it's more efficient.
The cargo station is designed to accommodate four vehicles simultaneously, and they go "through", meaning they don't need to U-turn as they would with most other buildings. Moreover, most other storage units can accept only one (maybe two vehicles) at a time, which can lead to a resource bottleneck. With the cargo stations, you are 4-6x faster.
Then, you can improve the situations even more. Have a separate ingress and egress road cargo stations. In other words, vehicles will unload goods at one station and load goods at the other. This way, you can improve your overall throughput by an order of magnitude, especially if you have multiple distribution centers handling multiple goods (and levels of goods).
Near, far, wherever you are
Another useful trick is to avoid any shipping bottleneck at any one waypoint in your goods journey. Let's say you want to send fuel, steel and fabric to a customs warehouse. Like storage facilities, the customs warehouses at your border have limited capacity. Small ones can accept only one vehicle at a time - the medium ones can do three. Both can only do a single train. To make things even more complicated - train traffic is quite complex, especially since the signaling system in the game is rather buggy.
This means you should technically opt for single-rail connections. Now, there are workarounds for this, and we will talk about them in my dedicated trains guide. But what happens above is the following - your vehicles travel a very long distance. Because of that, you need more of them - to ferry the required amount of goods and prevent either overloading or starvation at your storage facilities - which means you will end up with queues at the border facilities. Not a good thing. You will be losing profit - and you won't be lugging back the imports your industries need.
The problem is even more acute with trains. They take a long time loading and unloading - typically 1-2 tons of goods per second. So if you have a train with say a total fuel capacity of 480 tons, it can take several minutes for the vehicle to load/unload at the station. This is a major bottleneck. At this time, the steel and fabric trains will need to wait - provided you managed to get around the signals issues, which you won't - or you could opt for trucks as an alternative, exacerbating the queue problem at the customs house.
What's the solution? Long and short haul journeys!
The way around the customs house bottlenecks is to ship large quantities of goods over long distances via train to a separate storage (unloading) facility close to the border. This will be your internal route. Then, at this second facility, you will use a second transport - either a train or a truck - to load goods and ferry them a short distance to the customs house. This will be your external route. More illustratively:
- Train A carries 500 tons of goods from your industry to near-border facility X. This journey cycle takes 300 seconds, i.e. every 300 seconds, the train deposits 500 tons at the near-border facility X.
- Train B or truck B carries a tiny portion of goods from facility X to the customs warehouse. Let's say that the quantity is only 20 tons, and the journey takes 15 seconds. This means that in the time train A completes the long journey and brings a second load of 500 tons, train B or truck B will have cleared the first batch in the time in between the trips.
This is not unlike how the distribution of goods work in real life. Think even postal email. You don't send a large truck to each individual address from 100 km away. Instead you send it to a central post office in a city somewhere, and from there, smaller quantities are dispatched to the destination addresses via smaller - and faster - couriers.
Using this method, you will streamline your industry and transport. One, you will reduce the bottlenecks at any which station. Two, you will cut down on the transport cost - you can use a smaller number of vehicles to do both the long and short haul. Three, the buffering up of goods can be quite useful for imports, so you don't end up starving your industries.
Indeed, having reserves of raw materials can be extremely useful in maintaining a good, efficient round-the-clock industry. Let's say you have a steel mill. It needs coal and iron. You can "feed" these to the steel mill in different ways. You can ferry in the resources via integrated train lines, you can offload at a train unloading station outside the mill and use conveyor belts to transfer the goods into the mill, or you can have ore processing plants close by, sending their produce (coal and iron) directly to the manufacturing line.
The one problem with this method is - if there's a shortage at any one point in the chain, your mill will have downtime, even if only for a few seconds. Indeed, your mines could be pumping ore at a rate that is currently below the steel mill's productivity rate, or you have trains bringing in goods, but the journey cycle is too "slow", so you end up with downtime periods.
The solution? Buffers.
If you can, you should place multiple aggregate storage facilities in between the producers and consumers. Whether you generate the produce at your own plants or bring it in via train/truck, you should dump it into a separate facility (open storage, aggregate, warehouse, etc) BEFORE it is fed to the consumer. This may sound counterintuitive, but it actually helps minimize downtime.
For example, your food factory needs crops. It can only hold so much in its own internal storage. If you're bringing in crops via truck, you could end up with the food manufacturing not working for extended periods of time. But if you can buffer up the crops inside nearby silos, you could then allow for resupply periods. Again, this ties into long and short haul concepts. You bring in large quantities in one go, then buffer them up until the next run.
Going back to the steel mill example, if you have say 1,000 tons of coal and iron reserves, and you resupply with train 500 tons every time, then technically, you have two train loads worth of buffer in your production line. Should there be a delay in your delivery, the steel mill can continue operating without disruption. If a train journey takes say 300 seconds, then you have 10 minutes to figure out how to improve your input, and resolve any potential bottlenecks without losing on your mill's productivity. Because there's a long knockout effect to this. No steel, no mechanical components, no car, ship or airline assembly. Boom!
Therefore, before you put a plant into production, get enough raw materials ready. This applies to crops, chemicals and plastic too - as well as oil and fuel, because these are needed in large quantities, and there are always little problems and complications, so you can't afford to run without any reserves. The storage itself doesn't really cost anything. So it's quite good to have some extras. You can always re-export the surplus if you need to at some point.
Another thing you can do to minimize cost is to have your vehicles wait until unloaded - provided they don't block access to other vehicles. This way, if the destination storage is full, you won't have trucks and trains running back and forth carrying goods they can't unload. Similarly, if you're exporting, there's no sense sending an empty vehicle to a cargo house or a customs house. In this case, you want to wait until they are loaded. Tick the right box in the vehicle menu.
The question of speed versus capacity always comes up. But then, there's also the matter of power. Say a train that can go 120 km/h. This is the top speed, and it takes time accelerating, especially if the train is loaded with cargo. Therefore, if you have two locomotives with the same top speed, but one has more horsepower, that one will attain its top speed faster and complete the journey in less time.
When the top speed difference isn't as significant, then you also need to take into account the capacity. In general, the function is EFFICIENCY = (SPEED/DISTANCE) * CAPACITY. For the same distance, the function becomes the SC product of vehicle A versus vehicle B.
Looking at the example above, some trucks can carry one nuclear fuel container, some two. In this case, capacity definitely wins, as you get 2x more cargo. The top speed difference will never be 2x - if your truck goes 88 km/h, the smaller vehicle would need to go 176 km/h to beat that. At best, you will get ~ 100 km/h.
Thus, for best and cheapest throughput, you want:
- More powerful vehicles if they have the same top speed - they will accelerate faster.
- Faster vehicles for long haul IF the capacity difference is small - the power element evens out.
- Larger capacity for short haul - you can carry greater quantities over a short journey, where the top speed might not even be attainable.
Forklifts versus trucks
The best thing you can do is a direct factory connection. No throughput limit there. But sometimes, you will have to add junctions, and then you need forklifts. Indeed, the question of speed and capacity is most clearly illustrated by the use of forklifts and trucks to resupply buildings. Say, an aircraft assembly line - it needs a lot of aluminum and steel. You could use a small army of forklifts to ferry roughly one ton each time, or you could use a truck that can load 12-13 tons. In other words, a single truck can accomplish in a single run what it takes 12-13 forklifts runs, probably in the same time. So you need to figure out what works best for you, what is cheaper, and more importantly - if you have enough haul to satisfy the demand.
A single forklift garage can only do four forklifts, so if your between-factory connection only has
one or two garages (limited by space and building orientation), then you can do only about 4-8 tons at
a time. If the destination facility needs more than that, the production line will be starved. You
might need to opt for a truck, as well. Or even multiple trucks. And don't forget to buffer up.
Profitability? Resources or finished goods?
I asked this question in my first article. Should you import the raw materials and just export goods? What is more effective? Selling 100 VW Beetles in a month or just two trolley buses? Selling ships or selling steel? I decided to do a proper mathematical calculation to figure this out. We're gonna crunch some numbers!
Let's illustrate with ship building at the dry dock facility. In my example, I purchased two blueprints. I've got the Meteor 342 hydrofoil and the Sofia tanker. Now, let's assume you manufacture all the goods yourself, i.e. you're not importing anything - electronics, electronic components, mechanical components, fabric, and steel are all yours. Let's also assume you have no downtime, and in fact, everything works at 100% capacity. Thus we only need to focus on the actual time (workdays) needed to manufacture each vessel, and we can then compare that against their sell cost.
The Meteor takes ~7,000 workdays. The Sofia takes ~175,000 workdays. With 400 people in the dock, you can complete the build of the former in about 17-18 days, i.e. you can churn out 20 vessels/year. With the latter, it takes roughly a year to build, so one tanker per annum.
In other words, the Meteor is x20 times more "cost effective" - BUT, what about the price?
This is where it gets a little tricky. With time, the prices change. For example, in 1969, I was selling a Sofia for ~5M rubles. But in 1974, this has gone up to ~8M. Noice. However, the price of other commodities has also gone up.
With the Meteor, the 1967 price was about ~180K rubles, which would mean ~250-300K value in 1973. In other words, while you can build Meteors x20 faster than the Sofia tanker, you will be far more profitable selling the slow-building vessel. If we compare even the first tanker I had made in 1969, then it is worth 28 Meteors or so, give or take. So you're better off being patient.
However, what about raw materials? Say steel?
In the game, the steel mill can produce 40 tons/day, and if you're super-efficient, about 14,500 tons of steel in a year. In the game, the cost of one ton of exported steel is about 1.2-1.5K per ton. In other words, you would make something like 20M rubles if you managed to send all of them to export - x2.5-4 times the value of the Sofia tanker!
But ... it doesn't have to be an exclusive this OR that. You can mix. The Sofia tanker only needs about 3,500 tons of steels, and if we add the extras for mechanical and electrical components, then essentially, you have something like 4,000-5,000 tons invested in the vessel, and another 10,000 available for export. This translates into 15M rubles profit from steel and 8M rubles profit from the tanker (1973 money), so 23M total profit, another 10-15% over raw steel.
On the other hand, if you were to import all the raw materials for the ship to the dry dock, you'd make a tiny, tiny profit. The lessons to be had here are as follows:
- Building higher industries pays. You will have more profit but ONLY if you're productive!
- You should build the most expensive and complex product available - ship, car, etc. In fact, as satisfying as it is watching my VW Beetle production line churn out cars like hot cakes, I am going to switch to something fancy and expensive and slow.
- You should export your extra raw materials and resources if you can, following the rules from earlier.
There you go, capitalist. Now you have all the tips and tricks to accrue your materialistic possessions and generate profit. But this is not the end of the journey. Far from it. We still have to explore the rail traffic, the plane traffic - and then touch on the topics of energy management - power, heating, fuel. And then, let's not forget the ship transport! Oh, this opens a whole new range of options. So far, we've been playing on the easy level, so to speak.
Hopefully, this guide will help you have more fun, especially early on in the game. Remember, the main purpose of all and every game, physical or digital, is to have fun first and foremost. Therefore, if some things don't feel quite as realistic as they should be, it's because I've deliberately decided to focus on the joy element. But in future articles, we will up the ante, and go hard mode on our socialistic endeavors, so expect more guides and more fun. Take care, and see you soon, comrades.