In Winter of 2012, I approached my partner Raath to see if expanding our operation into Heavy Industry was a viable means to take excess liquid capital and start to produce return for our efforts. After scouting markets, running numbers, and placing production characters in proper locations the operation formed.
We’ve reached a state of industrial nirvana as our operational inefficiencies have been reduced and logistic kinks have been worked out over the past few months. Given that we’ve nailed down a solid production cycle, we know what we are going to be spending in minerals every few weeks.
A large portion of capital went into the start of our Heavy Industry branch as seen by the grand change in expenses between November and December.
Two periods of expansion can be seen in December and February’s relatively small growth numbers as during these months we poured more capital into Carrier and Dreadnought BPOs, reducing final growth numbers. Also in February a large amount of minerals were purchased for another production cycle that extends into March. Since we operate on a two week cycle, materials purchased at the end of the month show up on the books in the next month.
Historical profits clearly show when the operation started to run.
In January and February we acquired three researched Dreadnought blueprints, two with perfect ME research. Our production lines have expanded to include these ship hulls and in March we should start seeing profits from these jobs.
*rabble rabble rabble*
*throws fuel into the fire*
*rabble rabble rabble*
Having the Tech 2 variant of the BPO means I run a serial production operation (1 BPO) at high margin with a lack of ability to change items in reaction to market changes.
The Tech 1 invention process is a parallel operation (1 or more BPOs) involving lower margins that can over saturate a Tech 2 producer. Inventors do need to maintain of a POS for ME/PE/Copy slots, but the ability to change items in response to market shifts is highly beneficial for Inventors.
Here is a quick rundown of the performance of my Tech 2 BPO vs inventing from one copy of the Tech 1 BPO.
If it was such a poor investment, then why get one? For me the lack of clicks in the invention process and the removal of the wretched POS in the production equation is worth the cost. I have stayed away from large-scale invention specifically due to these two reasons.
No major expansion desires are on the plate at the moment. Right now we are in a ‘slow and steady wins the race’ mode.
With two major collations forming cartels to control the flow of raw moon materials, I wanted to take my database of moon minerals and cross reference that with sovereignty data to see just how much control each cartel holds on each respective moon type.
Consider these numbers a back-of-the-envelope calculation.
OTEC: Organization of Technetium Exporting Corporations operated by the CFC.
I’m showing that 22.7% of all Neodymium moons are under TEST’s direct control, meaning that the moons are in HBC space. If we expand the coverage to the CFC and their allies, this group has 50.7% of all the moons.
The OTEC grip on Technetium is much stronger, with 81.1% of the moons under CFC and ally control.
Geographically Neodymium is far more dispersed with moons covering 36 different regions. Technetium is mainly concentrated in the North and only spans 23 regions.
CFC’s control over Technetium is much stronger than HBC’s over Neodymium.
The best way that I have found to make money for the lest amount of effort is stocking nullsec hubs. Forget mining, mission running, invention, or any type of item or ship production. If you spend time doing market research, planing your logistics, reducing your risk, and monitor sales you can make far much more than any other type of activity in Eve.
What follows is a guide for stating up your own operation to stock the warchests of eager PVP pilots (at a profit of course).
I’m using three years of trade and logistics experience to help me outline the operation. Your style may differ, but here is the outlay that has worked for me time and time again despite political change.
If you can parse information in the form of Dotlan map statistics, notice price disparity between two locations, have a basic understanding of jump mechanics, learn to avoid common ganking techniques, and maintain a basic level of proficiency in Nullsec politics you can easily break into this style of gameplay.
Buy low in Jita, move things to nullsec, and sell for a profit. To grow bigger take the profits generated and reinvest in your operation to increase its product scope and logistical power.
In order to properly reach several places and reduce the amount of midpoint jumps, you will need Jump Drive Calibration V. If you don’t have this yet, go train it as it is one of the most valuable skills for jump capable pilots.
Start-up capital may vary. I started my operation with 2 B ISK and have grown from there so tailor the scope of the operation to your level.
- Always look to reduce risk. This extends from not putting too much ISK into the operation in case it fails, not getting a hauling ship ganked, keeping assets under your control, or even not telling people about your timetable and route for logistics.
- Because time is money you want to reduce time sinks. The end goal for this operation is to spend as little time as possible managing it and more time doing other activities. For me that meant more market research and blogging, but for the majority of people I imagine funding endless PVP activity is the goal.
- Improve sales by using a program to produce reporting and business intelligence out of your data. EVE HQ, Eve Mentat, or EMMA are all good solutions, but I spent a lot of time flexing my PHP muscle to build my own wallet manager. Goonswarm has built their own import tool called Goonmetrics for people that lack the technical expertise of setting up databases and operating code.
Finding a suitable hub depends on many factors including traffic, location, and the ease of logistics getting into the destination system.
- To maximize your ISK velocity, find a place with a lot of traffic. Use the filters on Dotlan and the in-game map to discover numbers for the number of pilots docked and jumps per 24 hours. Major nullsec hubs will standout on the filter with thousands of jumps per day.
- Find an Alliance and location that is politically stable. When assets are moved into a conquerable station, you run the risk of loosing access to that station. If this happens, you will need to keep your trade alt docked and either slowly sell off your items or firesale them to quickly liquidate. Do keep in mind that without notice major shift in power can occur; look up the history of Band of Brothers or GoonSwarm to discover how powerful the click of a mouse button can be.
- Consider the logistical hurdles to getting to the destination station. More midpoints means more time spent doing logistics and the lack of midpoint stations can mean the use of alternative jumping methods as outlined in the Jump Technique #2 section.
- Check cynojammer status for your destination and midpoint systems. Some alliances will jam their system to reduce the likely hood of enemy capitals entering. Others alliances won’t care and have found joy in the opportunity of a large-scale capital engagement in their home system (ie Titan battle of August 15 in K-6K16).
- Alliances have many CTAs so get on Jabber, look at forum posts, or talk to PVP people about where they are staging. You want to stock where things are blowing up. Note: stocking a staging station for a campaign is very risky and I would not recommend this type of stocking for people that lack heavy logistics to move goods out at a moments notice due to the sometimes fickle nature of alliance leadership decisions and campaign politics.
The more cyno alts the better. Moving characters around will cost time and slow you down. In my operation I have 5 cyno capable alts around the galaxy that shift depend on where I am currently operating.
A trade alt will remain pertinently docked in the Nullsec destination system and only exit station to light the occasional cyno.
I have a character in Jita that holds ISK and does all of the purchasing. This helps isolate all the purchases to one character to keep my bookkeeping tidy.
The goal of the operation is to move items from a Highsec trade hub, to a Highsec station system next to a Lowsec station system, and then into Nullsec by means of either zero or many midpoints.
This illustration shows two legs on the operation. The Highsec and Lowsec activity can be handled by a NPC character while the Midpoint and Nullsec end is dedicated to your Alliance character.
I use Jump Freighters in this example, but based on your capital the number and types of ships, each setup will vary. When I started my operation I used standard Industrial ships to get around Highsec, a Blockade Runner to get into Lowsec, and a Carrier to perform the cyno operations into the destination system.
Logistics Stage 1: Product Selection
There are many ways to find profitable items and I’ve already published some of the things that are very volatile in nullsec in this post.
Logistics Stage 2: Getting out of Jita
A proper Jita insta-undock bookmark is a valuable things. Using this will reduce a large amount of your risk as it will place you off of the Jita undock grid within seconds.
Logistics Stage 3: Getting Across Highsec
There are many options for transporting across Highsec that include doing it yourself or outsourcing with services such as Red Frog Freight. The volume, time, available capital, and risk will dictate what method to use.
If you are just beginning your operation, you will have to be frugal and move items with a Industrial. Later you can move on to Blockade Runners (Crane, Prorator, Viator or Prowler) since their cargo area is unscannable as of the Retribution patch.
Though scannable, an Orca has a large tank and can be used to transport larger amounts of goods than Blockade Runners. Freighters do have a large amount of capacity, but they are often targets for ganking activity. If money is no object, choose to use a NPC Jump Freighter to move items as they offer a larger amount of HPs and align faster than normal Freighters.
Logistics Stage 4: Getting from Highsec to Lowsec
This move can be done with standard Industrials, Blockade Runners, Orcas, Freighters or Jump Freighters. The riskier methods involve scouting the gate on the Lowsec end and moving goods only when clear.
The fastest m3 per time method is to have your goods staged in Highsec in the adjacent system, light a cyno on the Lowsec station, jump to Lowsec, dock, unload, undock, align to the Highsec gate, and enter warp when you reach velocity returning to the Highsec system to begin the cycle again.
Note that I stated to align and not Warp To as a method for killing Jump Freighters is to bump or web reducing the maximum speed below the current speed, effectively locking you in the Warp operation. Read up on the ‘Vindicator Triple Web’ exploit if want to know more about this exploit. If you don’t issue the Warp To command and are aligning, at any sign of trouble you can dock.
Logistics Stage 5: Getting Across Lowsec
Use the Station to Station technique outlined later.
Logistics Stage 6: Getting Across Nullsec
Use the Station to Station technique outlined later.
Logistics Stage 7: Destination System
The D2-HOS system in Pure Blind was FA’s capital system and jammed. The best route in was jumping into a adjacent system and scouting the gate. Higher risk, but at the time it was worth it.
Before Widly Innapropirate were absorbed into GoonSwarm, they homed in G8AD in Cloud Ring. They had an active beacon. If you scouted the system and had Carrier backup, your risk was reduced.
The best method is to find a major Nullsec hub that lacks a jammer so your trade alt can undock, light a cyno within docking range, and let your ship land right within docking range. This technique reduces your risk to almost nothing if done properly.
Jump Technique 1: Station to Station Jumps
The most efficient, low risk method of moving items between Lowsec <-> Lowsec, Lowsec <-> Nullsec, or Nullsec <-> Nullsec system is to have two characters in two systems light cynos within docking range of each respective station.
The Jump Freighter will jump in, dock, unload, undock, and jump back to the original cyno. If you are quick, you can get 5-6 jump cycles under one cyno timer. Done efficiently this method can move around 1,750,000 m3 per cyno depending on your Freighter skill level and racial Jump Freighter, both which affect the ship’s cargo capacity.
Jump Technique 2: POS Container Jumping
If you absolutely cannot get a station system as one of your midpoints, you can use a riskier method using an anchored container and a POS with a Cynosural Generator Array module. The goal with this method is to jump in and warp to 100 km to the anchored container, landing you inside the POS shields.
If done correctly, you will only be vulnerable for a few seconds as your ship aligns and warps withing the POS shields. I do, however, recommend that you only jump into the system when it is empty with a character in the system to monitor activity. There is still a chance of an enemy logging off next to the Cynosural Generator Array and logging back in as they see you leave the originating system, but it is low.
When I would perform this type of operation I had a Carrier on standby within jump range of the POS system. If anything went not according to plan, the Carrier came into system to serve as support while the POS guns fended off the attacker or Alliance reinforcements arrived.
Jump Technique 3: Right Out of Jita
A quick, lowrisk method for moving billions out of Jita involves bypassing Highsec altogether as a large number of systems are jump accessible right out of the Jita undock as seen here.
Using this technique, you can put a large amount of ISK into your NPC Jump Freighter and bypass the deadly gank systems of Uedama and Niarja.
Here are two route examples of when I would stock for the former Northern Coalition. The three Lowsec systems of Chardalane, Maut, and Oulley served as three options for extending myself into Nullsec as they were each Lowsec station systems with a connection to contiguous Highsec. If either system was busy with cyno popping pirates, I would switch to one of the other two options.
- Buy things in Jita and place 5-10 B in a Courier Wrapped Freighter Container on my Jita purchasing character.
- Undock with a NPC freighter character and move to Adacyne, the Highsec system next to Chardalane.
- Use a NPC Jump Freighter to move goods from Adacyne into Chardalane Lowsec.
- Use a Alliance Jump Freighter to jump into D2-HOS or G8AD-C.
- Hand off goods to my Trade alt in the station and price items for sale.
If you look back at any of my monthly reports, you can review the success of my efforts. My recommendations for people that want to get involved with Nullsec trade and production is to always keep one eye on Nullsec politics. Take notice of who is attacking, defending, advancing, and maintaining homogeneity; the key to your success is situational awareness.
The Sagain Lowsec system in the Tash-Murkon region is a major hub for jump capable ships as it allows you to reach Khanid, Querious, Stain, Catch, and the majority of Providence within one jump with Jump Drive Calibration V. Since Sagain is also a Lowsec station system that connects to contiguous Highsec, it is popular for Jump Freighter pilots as a midpoint connection into Highsec.
The system has two stations that can be used for cyno traffic. Sagain VIII – Moon 11 – TransStellar Shipping Storage is a Gallente station that has excellent cyno placement opportunities while the other station, Sagain V – Inherent Implants Biotech Production, is much more problematic due to its shape and how Eve handles object barriers.
All objects in the Eve universe have a sphere around them that dictates their physical barrier. With the Gallente station being flatter and in a curve shape with a large section missing, you undock within the sphere barrier and can dock immediately. As shown here you are well within the station’s edge sphere when undocking.
The design of the Amarr station pushes you out the bottom and right out of 0 docking range — hence the ‘kickout’ nickname for stations of this type.
Even with my speedy shuttle that issued a stop command after undocking, I was at 1,000 m on the station after the space environment rendered and ultimately ended up 3,300 m after reaching a full stop.
Be careful when choosing a station for cyno activity by keeping the geometry of the station in mind. You don’t want to end up like these careless Jump Freighter pilot that I can only assume used the wrong station and got bumped out of docking range after undocking.
Knowing the price and volume of items moving in the Eve market at a specific point in time is a very powerful piece of information that can help further your space empire.
Historically eve-central was the repository of market data but with new advances in cache scraping, data transport methods, and large archival storage methods have brought us exciting new capabilities.
What the heck is EMDR and why should I care?
Original implementations of market aggregation sites had a user click the Market Export button in the Eve client to produce text files in their local Documents\EVE\logs\Marketlogs folder and then use an application to transfer the exported files to a database. This method was tedious, lacked region and item coverage, and was prone to people editing the data before it was sent off.
A renascence was generated when developers began to explore the cache in the Eve client. The client cache is a location that serves as temporary storage for information that you are working with in the client; it is volatile and changes all the time rather than holding static art, formulas, or universe data as seen in the client .stuff files.
EMDR is a service that takes market orders from the cache of your local client and sends that immediately upon viewing it in the client to a relay service that people can subscribe to. If you click on an item in the market window, that piece of data is immediately sent off to many people that can receive it. The transfer is quick, the data is not tampered with, and it can easily be relayed to many interested parties. This is pure data, a statisticians dream!
Working with Eve-Central
What follows are notes from my partner, Raath, who has been withing with the EMDR method to improve our industrial operation.
When I first began adding price dependencies to the DRK Industry Tracker, it was back in the day before we had the EMDR. Eve-central was the bespoke out of game price lookup service and with the aid of their API I pulled prices from there.
At the time I don’t think it had the option to do a full pull of prices on every item in game so I devised a system where the tracker would cache prices locally and update them when they were older than an hour on a need to know mechanic so only the relevant data was requested.
I did this so that I didn’t swamp eve-central with hundreds of requests every hour for information that 95% of which would never be used. It was a system that worked well except for the occasional lag caused by the prices updating. As I said before, it only updated when prices were older than an hour as the users requested them. But when I started to think of releasing the tracker publicly, I needed something a little more reliable.
Transition to EMDR
At this point in time the EMDR was a fully developed solution so I started to look into how I could begin using this as my price basis and integrating data into our industrial workflow. Not really knowing the volume of information that would soon be assaulting our little virtual machine, I make a few mistakes.
Flood of Data
The term for the EMDR feed that people have adopted is the “fire hose” as it is literally a flood of overwhelming data being constantly sent at you with no regard for your ability to process it. As clients all across the world are clicking around the market window, updates are being sent to you in near real-time. The function name of “engage_fire_hose” only seemed natural.
Our Industry site currently consumes 8 gig of data, serves 6-700 MB and calls around 150,000 API requests per day with the vast majority of our incoming data coming from the EMDR updates. In January we received 179 GB and sent 17 GB for an average of 5.8 GB/day of incoming data.
With the large amount of incoming price data, we needed to be able to efficiently process and store it while keeping the server responsive.
The first method I devised was a system where I stored transactionIDs in a hash table. This design soon showed its weakness as we hit a memory limit when the hash table started to fill up with millions of transactionIDs.
Additionally my attempts to keep load on MySQL server down were also in vain as the information was coming in so quickly that my consumer was having trouble keeping up. We soon had problems with locked rows and inserts failing so I had to completely revise my entire approach.
What resulted was a consumer process that guzzles around 8 GB of data per day and spits all the information to CSV files. There is no logical processing done in the consumer now, it just munches and spits data to file. Another cron job that runs every minute scans the temp file directory for CSVs, parses them all into one single large CSV, and then performs a LOAD DATA IN FILE into MySQL, a method which I’ve found is not only lightening fast but also keeps the load down.
Not all of the data is useful as the majority of it is duplicates. When the server has free time, we run a cleanup process in the form of flag checking remove expired records so that the data we display is as up to date.
All this work for clean price data. We have plans to further expand some of the market data functionality in projects to start using the cached market history to show the historical price or items and build costs compared to live data.
Our Heavy Industry branch has been increasing in capacity over the past three months and we’ve reached a point where we now have an established, balanced cycle.
This balance comes from many factors including the amount of compression or ship BPOs we own, ISK velocity coming in from purchases or sales, and time needed to haul or compress materials. Too much or too little of either factor and our porridge is no longer ‘just right’.
The optimal cycle we have found settles is around 18 days. With every cycle we are consuming around 12-13 B ISK worth of materials in order to keep our BPOs busy.
With the aid of the DRK Industrial Tracker, we can easily see how long it takes to compress, build component parts, and finally build the capital hulls in a easy to read visual timeline. If you produce items and need a solution for tracking materials, quotes, projects, and sales I highly recommend this product.
As the amount of time put into daily trading slowed down towards the 2012 holiday season, I put the direction of the Heavy Industry branch in the hands of Raath (@staticmapper), my partner. The operation started to get its legs in December and the results are apparent.
Our Highsec industrial operation had a minor setback last week as we logged on after a few days out of game to discover an active and then closed war declaration.
We had a Highsec POS setup a few jumps out from Jita and it looks like we were targeted by a group of people looking to clear our tower. It seems that there is a profession out there where you hop corporations clearing POSes from Highsec.
After researching their activity on Eve Who, Eve-Kill, and strike pattern on Dotlan, I haven’t found any reason that we were specifically targeted besides our proximity to Jita. I’ve also been unable to link a sale of a open Highsec moon on the forums to them.
Always remember to write off the cost of a POS as soon as you purchase it. Assume you will not be recovering it as random acts like this can happen at any time.
Nothing of value besides the POS and modules was lost as all BPOs were kept in the Corporation office in a station and researched remotely.