This guide will show you how to use a bus or basic factory expansion. You will find useful information about oil refining and how you can transition to a megabase.
What is the Bus?
The bus is a group of belts that run through the middle of the factory. This allows easy access to the resources needed for production. It can be considered an "organised" way of developing a factory instead of an "unorganised spagheti extension.
Organised buses simplify factory expansion. Late game items are easier to produce and bottlenecks are less difficult to locate.
The blocks of four belts are arranged with two empty spaces between each other. This gives enough space for underground belts that can be used to move resources off of the bus. The main bus has the most commonly used resources and items, which makes it easy to find them.
A bus belt layout may include approximately
8 Iron Plate
8 Copper Plate
2 Steel Plate
1 Stone Brick
4 Green Chip
2 Red Chip
1 Blue Chip
(The exact configurations of) can vary depending on the game settings and objectives.
Placement of the Bus/Factory
It is vital that the bus can expand and has sufficient space to allow for factory production. Unoccupied land must be available in the direction that the bus travels. It must also be free from water and resource patches. Avoid areas with cliffs during the initial stages of the game. Explosives are needed to remove them.
It is possible to avoid costly and time-consuming fixes later by making better decisions about factory development and expansion. The golden rule of thumb is If in doubt, leave space.
Layout for Factory
A bus-orientated factory will have 3 segments. The (and/or) railway stations are the starting resources. An array of furnaces then the bus with production locations. To allow for future expansion it is helpful to leave some space between each segment. It is also important to leave space for belt balancers. These are used for the belts that originate from the railway station or the starting resource patches. Belt balancers distribute the resources evenly over the belts to avoid costly time delays or bottlenecks.
Each map will have a starting resource patch that is close to the player spawn location. These patches will normally be sufficient to start the factory and allow for expansion. The mined raw materials are then belted into furnaces to be melted into the required products.
Underground belts are used to create space for electric lines in a mining setting. This allows for more miners (to be placed and) to produce higher output.
Mid Game Railway Station Replaces starting miners
The next step is an array of furnaces, where the raw materials of iron/copper/stone will be melted. With coal being supplied from the side, organized lines of furnaces ensure that space is used efficiently and that more furnaces can be added in the future.
The number of furnaces that are required for a full belt iron/copper/stone block.
A full belt of Steel
It takes 5x longer to smelt and 5 iron plates to produce one steel plate. This means that the ratio of iron furnaces to steel furnaces is 1:1. A full belt of steel requires five times the number of furnaces. The number of furnaces required to melt steel for a complete belt is 5x for each type of belt.
It is important to note that one iron furnace is needed per steel furnace in order for steel to be produced. This means that the total number required for the process is 10x (+steel furnaces. This means that steel smelting should take up additional space.
The Bus and Production Areas
The factory's next segment is the bus and production area. The bus provides a centralised method of supplying ingredients to the production areas. The production areas will create the required items for the factory, regardless of whether it is for expansion, defense or rocket parts.
It is better not to use extra lanes and to allocate them at the beginning than to run out of space later. Even with robots, it can be time-consuming to fix a bus that's too small later in the game. If in doubt, leave space.
Placement of an Oil Refinery
The furnace segment of the factory is the best location for the oil refinery, but it is not near the main bus. There are many essential products that can be derived from oil and are used in common recipes. It is therefore important that the site for the oil refinery has bus access. Sulphur, plastic, and batteries are all made from oil ingredients and should have their own belts on board the main bus.
An oil refinery needs water and space to produce sulphur, plastic and batteries. It is a good idea not to use coal on a bus for plastic production, but to instead use a direct source such as a miner/unloading station. The same goes for steel production. Don't use iron off the bus. Instead, get it from the furnaces/train stations. This increases efficiency while keeping the bus belts full.
It is also beneficial to leave room in the oil refining zone for the installation of beacons. These beacons can be built later after the technology has been fully researched. The use of modules and beacons can greatly increase production. A small oil refinery that is well-placed with beacons can produce a lot of product. Designs for plastic/sulphur/batteries that are "beacon friendly", can future proof the site and make expansion easier at a later stage.
A substation can also be installed within the (output belt using underground belts. This allows for electricity to be supplied to the battery assemblers and inserters. This allows beacons can be used more efficiently and boosts production.
Be aware that only one chemical plant, or assembler, can benefit from 4 beacons in one straight line. Be cautious when placing beacons to ensure they transmit maximum effect to as many structures possible. (A line of beacons can be incorrectly placed so that each building only gets 3 effects)
Resource Sharing: Take the Bus off the Bus
It is possible to reduce the bus segment's resources by using a splitter on each belt. This allows for a balanced 4 belt bus segment. This design can be used in either direction.
One splitter can be used on one belt to remove items from the bus.
It is possible to use a belt balancer to evenly distribute resources between all the belts for a very long bus.
There are many hot keys that can be used to reposition blueprints, or copy designs, and save time.
R rotates a design
F Flips it Horizontally
G flips this vertically
The initial resource resources will eventually run out. In order to expand, the factory will require higher levels iron/copper. To transport the resources to the factory, a railway station is required. The railway station should be placed before the furnaces in order to allow for optimal unloading.
It is possible to expand the station by unloading at one central location. Belt balancers are also available on all unload belts. This allows for the easy construction of additional furnaces. It can also help to prevent traffic jams. A train stacker allows trains to park. It is also essential in a station design that allows for greater unloading of resources.
Expansion of the Bus
As the factory grows, the bus can be extended to allow for more production. You can create additional lanes for items such as blue chip and red chips that are produced later in the game. This is a good idea as it allows more of the original bus lanes for iron/copper/steel. The expansion of iron/copper/steel/smelting can make use of any bus lanes left over from factory development. Upgrading belts/splitters/underground belts to red increases capacity and allows for greater smelting production.
You can increase the production of the bus by using resources that are produced "offsite". This refers to production that is done off-site, which is usually far from the factory. Offsite production becomes crucial in the late game Factorio because space and logistical difficulties can limit production.
An example of this is the offsite steel production. Steel takes up a lot space and is often the first product to be hampered by production expansions. In the photos below, steel is being melted and loaded onto trains. It is then dropped off at a factory where it is merged with main steel belts further down on the bus.
Extra space on the bus is extremely helpful, especially in between production to allow for offsite connections.
The Transition to Mega Base (. Offsite Production)
Even the biggest buses will eventually run low on resources or become impractical to expand. Gradually, it becomes more efficient towards late game Factorio to increase production by producing "offsite (from the mainbus), then transporting these products to the mainbus or another production hub.
Trains are more efficient at moving large amounts over long distances than belts. Researching technology and using premium fuels can also increase train speed. It is possible to significantly increase production by setting up dedicated production areas and moving goods between them via rail.
The bugs are not a threat in the end game. This is after defense items and military research are completed. In this case, the land and discovered resource patches can be fully utilized to maximize production. Beacons take up additional space but can be used to increase production through speed modules. Utilizing the rail network to facilitate production among "offsite hubs" can greatly increase production, and may eventually propel a factory to mega-base status (1k White Science per Minute).
We appreciate you reading this guide. Good Luck on your Factorio trip!
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