from flickr user nixter
Most of my planning/thinking time has gone into Planetary Interaction (PI) lately. With a free JF service available to members of Aideron, and our 0% tax rate on Player Owned Custom's Offices (POCO) in Fliet and Heydieles, I realized that the best way to maximize my PI profits (see fuzzwork's PI list for guidance, set to 0% tax)was to go straight to the top end of town, by making 100-200K profit per item, and making as many items as possible per day. This occurs at the P3 to P4 levels, making, for example, Broadcast Nodes, Sterile Conduits, Nano-Factories etc. This yields me about 43M ISK profit, per planet, per day, if the markets don't swing too far, with each world producing 270 finished P4 items in 30 hours, or 216 per 24 hours if you prefer to measure that way.
Starting up an operation like this is pretty capital-intensive: a full load of P3 inputs averages about 160M or 240M, depending on which P4 output you're building. I've spent over a billion isk so far, but the returns are starting to come in.
You will need access to a POCO that charges 0% tax and also a cheap jump freighter service to Jita.
LayoutI currently run three barren/temperate planets, (later expanding to five) each of which has a PI layout with 3 launchpads (LP) and 9 High-Tech Industrial Facilities (HTIF). I buy all the inputs I need from Jita and have them shipped to me (thanks, free JF dude!), then use an Epithal to ferry the inputs out to my planets. Each LP is linked to 3 factories, and is loaded with one product only, and of course that output is routed to every factory. Each factory will chew through its inputs in 30 hours, so maintaining a steady supply of inputs is important. The outputs are sent back to the LPs, then picked up each day and shipped off to Jita for sale, again with 0% tax paid and our excellent corporate jump freighter service delivers to Jita at very low cost (woohoo! Join Aideron!)
I spent some time considering the use of Storage Facilities instead of Launch Pads. SFs use much less CPU, which would let me have more HTIFs chewing through the inputs, and creating more output per day. But the realities of "cooldown time" on transfers between storage units made that unfeasible. Yes, you can get cooldown time as low as 5 minutes, but 5 minutes delay, twice, per planet would make the logistics of doing a pickup AND reload run too annoying. Let me know if you found a way to make it work, I'd love to hear it!
Market FluctuationsAt 200K profit per item, and about 216 (9 factories times 24 hours) items made per day, this works out to about 43M ISK profit per day, per planet.
The market for the outputs can be fairly volatile. For example, by the time I got my Broadcast Nodes to market, the sale price had dropped from 1.4M to 1.2M...profits all gone. What's more, the cost of Neocoms, one of the inputs, had jumped from 50K to 70K, making the process unprofitable. Luckily I had secured a good amount of inputs at good prices and was able to continue with building. Look around for sources outside Jita and, if you find them, use PushX or RedFrog to ship them to you. And buy from buy orders, not from sell orders. Even though the price of sell orders went up, for some reason the buy orders stayed cheap. And if THAT isn't possible, just wait till things cool off, buy large amounts be ready to ride out the storm.
I'm continuing to produce Broadcast Nodes, since I got my inputs fairly cheap, and am waiting for the price to increase before I sell it.
My second planet is making Sterile Conduits and things are better there. For 600K of inputs I get 800K of value out and just completed my first sale at Jita overnight, selling 207 of them for 160M, yielding 40M profit.
My next world will probably make Nano-Factories. I'm hoping that by diversifying across other P4 commodities, there will always be something selling at a good price.
[Update from Oct 2014: I'm also making Self-Harmonizing Power Cores now. All the P4 items fluctuate in price and so do their P3 inputs. When the input prices drop below about 40K I buy a lot of stock. I hold the P4 output at Jita until there's a price spike.]
Loading Your Launch Pads
This is important! Don't load your launchpads to full, because, remember, the completed P4 items will be stored there. Leave room for them! Each LP has 3 HTIFs routed to it, so every hour 300m3 will arrive. If there's not enough room at the LP, your expensive output will be destroyed!
Broadcast Nodes eat 108m3 (6 x 6 x 3) for each 100m3 item created, and all inputs are the same size. So this one is easy: load 1616 units of each input into the LP. That occupies just under 9700 m3, leaving 300m3 for the first 3 completed items to arrive in. I don't know if the game, when faced with output and input on an LP at the same time, takes the inputs OUT first, or tries to put the finished items IN first. Playing it safe, I left room for the finished items to be placed in first.
Sterile Conduits are an example of the other kind of P4 item: six each of two P3 inputs of 6m3 each, and 40 input of water at 0.38m3 each. You should build a spreadsheet (This! Is! EVE!) to figure this out, but I came to 1616 again for the 6m3 inputs and 11,000 for the P2 inputs such as water. Both types will run out after about 30 hours.
I'd share my spreadsheet, but it's a messy piece of crap that should not be seen by human eyes.
Final thought: most people do PI covering more than one stage of production; that is, they go P2 to P4, or raw materials to P2. I've done that too, but if you have the ability to pay 0% tax and can do very cheap or free transport, it seems to me that going straight to the most profitable stage of the process makes the most sense. I'll write more posts on this as the story unfolds! One of my Aideron PI buddies prefers having 2 LPs and 2 storage facilities, which would allow me to fully load the LPs, direct the output to the SFs, and let the factory run for longer.
(BTW if you can't do free/cheap transport, consider making a huge amount of output before paying PushX or Red Frog to move it for you. A JF can holds 337500 m3, or 3375 items of P4 output. If you're making 200K profit per item, that's 675M ISK profit, of which the cost of transport would surely be a small-ish part.)