Making NRP is no longer a possibility for me. NRP requires an ice or ocean planet to produce Biomass and neither are currently available to me. In high-sec this isn't a show stopper. It only decreases your potential margin by the cost of the Biomass you have to purchase in order to make Supertensile Plastics. In wormhole space you can forget about it. There is no such thing as an easy run to the store for things you can't produce yourself.
I've had to find something else to produce. I wanted it to be just as profitable as the NRP was. It took some planning, but I figured out what the new system is really good at producing. Before I tell you though, I'd like to use this as an opportunity to reiterate the nature of PI.
Some people have called PI Farmville in space. Those people are wrong as well as not being true industrialists. PI is not Farmville in space. I've never played Farmville, but my mother and several other family members did. Farmville is a social game where you get ahead by knowing lots of other people and making trades for what you need. Go ahead and try that in New Eden. I dare you. Please send video.
The true nature of PI is mathematical. Specifically, it is a game of ratios. Once you understand that, setting up profitable manufacturing lines are relatively easy. I once went into detail on PI setup formulas so here I'll just give a summary.
- Start from the top down (what you want/can make)
- All facilities run on a one hour cycle except P1 facilities which are twice as fast (30 minutes)
- One P4 facility takes two P3 facility per ingredient to run at full capacity
- One P3 facility takes two P2 facilities per ingredient to run at full capacity
- One P2 facility takes one P1 facility to run at full capacity
To produce one Wetware Mainframe every hour requires one P4 facility, six (2x3) P3 facilities, 18 (6x3) P2 facilities and 36 (2x18) P1 facilities.
That's a lot of power demand and you've not even built the extractors yet. It will take one extractor per P1 facility to stock it. The number of extractor heads depends on the availability of resources on the planet. That in turn is determined by where the planet is. High-sec planets have the worst yields. Null-sec and wormhole planets have the best. Bottom line, you will need more extractor heads in high-sec than in a wormhole to get the same amount of resource.
And the amount of resource is what you should key on, not how many heads, etc., etc. Here is another key number for your ratios game. It takes 144,000 m3 of any resource to keep one P1 facility in production for 24 hours. PERIOD. If you are running anything other then a 23 hour cycle on your extractors, you are taking ISK out of your own pocket. PERIOD. Why? Because the P1 facility runs on a 30 minute cycle. At 23 hours, so does the extractor. It's a perfect match (or as near perfect as you'll get.)
If you run longer extractor times, you won't get as much resource. You will have to use more heads. That costs you ISK in terms of lost production because every megawatt you use for an extractor head means less production making something you can sell. If you are running less than a 23 hour cycle, you will produce more than one P1 facility can handle. That will take ISK for storage you shouldn't have to use as well as potentially causing you to upgrade routes which is also wasted ISK. If you build more P1 facilities, you have to expand the number of other facilities too or have the same storage issue. Any way you slice it, it costs you ISK. Plan for 23 hour extractor times - PERIOD. (I really can't stress this enough. If you can't make the commitment to be there every day at that same time you need to re-evaluate if you want to be a PI industrialist. Longer times are fine if you are a casual PI user who really just makes POS fuel. If you are running shorter times... I roll my eyes at you.)
That all said, let's go back to our planning. You will need to setup four scenarios here: 144k, 288k, 432k and 576k resource extraction rates. That corresponds to one, two, three and four P1 facilities. In the example above that's 36, 72, 108 and 144 total P1 facilities. Guess what, there isn't enough grid total in six level six command centers to run a P4 production line at the upper two extraction rates. You run out of power long before the line is complete. You'll be hard pressed to do it at 288k and forget that rate in high-sec. The extraction rates just aren't high enough no matter what. In short, very profitable P4 production takes a corporation, not a lone wolf industrialist and that's a completely different post.
So, back to what I've decided to do in the new hole. Without giving planet types away, etc., I determined the most productive PI I could do is producing one P3 item in large quantities. It takes two planets per P3 line. I am running a total of six P3 facilities, 18 P2 facilities and 36 P1 facilities. That's a [(2xP3) <-- (3xP2) <-- (6xP1)] setup on three planets and a [(3xP2) <-- (6xP1)] setup on the other three. These production lines require 432k resources every 24 hours which required three or four extractor heads depending on planet. At current Jita prices, the lines produce 750 mISK of P3 product a month. There is one catch though. It was easy transporting the NRP out of the hole. P3 products take a lot more cargo space so plan accordingly.