As I mentioned previously, I left my highsec Planetary colonies behind and have started new lowsec colonies. My colonies are all in one system and that system is about 12 jumps from continous highsec. It started because I had a desire to be more self-sufficient in lowsec.
I spend most of my time in lowsec and the only reasons that I was returning to highsec were to ship my loot to market, manufacture rigs/bpc drops, and restock on missiles. I go through missiles fairly fast and I was having trouble finding a consistent supply (especially of the Tech 2 Mjolnir Javelin and Rage missiles) and hauling them in myself wasn’t working so great. So I did some research and found that with a couple of days of training, I could be inventing and manufacturing my own missiles. 5000 missiles takes 75m3 of space. The components to manufacture the missiles take about 71m3 of space. As you can see, there isn’t much size savings. However, tritanium and rocket fuel account for 65m3 of the 71m3 total. That meant if I could acquire the tritanium (usually from reprocessing) and rocket fuel, I only needed to import 6m3 of components per 5000 missiles. So that is what I did (maybe a future post).
So I started a single planet making rocket fuel. Now that I didn’t need to go to highsec for missiles, I stayed in lowsec a lot longer. Since visiting my highsec colonies was a hassle, and since lowsec has more resources, and with the coming changes to highsec Customs Offices, it made sense to me to move all of my colonies to lowsec. But in doing so, I wanted to make sure that I incorporated my previous lessons learned.
Lesson#1 – Don’t forget about PI taxes. They can easily wipe out your margin. With my new setup, all my planets have POCO’s (owned by someone else) with 8-10% tax rates. Also, I am only exporting the highest margin P2 products. I don’t do any importing.
Lesson #3 – Be aware that there can be significant disruptions to your supply chain. Plan accordingly. Right now, all my planets are in the same system, but they are not reliant on each other. I have no supply chain dependencies, all my planets are export only. This was the toughest decision. By doing some manufacturing, I not only increase my margins, but I also lower the m3 that I need to ship to market. However, reviewing lessons #4 & #5 reminded me that the margin gain just isn’t worth it.
Lesson #4 – PI manufacturing is most profitable when you quickly react to the market. But that is a lot of work. This played into the decision above. On paper, the manufacturing gains were 20-50%, but history has shown me that these gains are seldom realized. Since I will only be shipping about every 4-6 weeks, I can’t react to the market quickly. I also have zero desire to be constantly changing routings and factory settings.
Lesson #5 – Unless you REALLY love PI, simplest is probably best. This was the clencher. My planets are super simple. I restart my extractors every 2-4 days (depending how often I play). I export to the customs offices whenenver I fly through the system. I collect using an Epithal every week or so.
Now you probably noticed that I skipped over lesson #2.
Lesson #2 – Don’t forget about the transport time required. It can be significant. This was the main thing that held me back from going into lowsec PI. I didn’t feel like training for 20+ days to be able to fly a blockade runner. And even with a blockade runner, it would be multiple trips. Flying an Epithal with cloak+MWD might work, but it is still risky and a lot of jumps. But then I remembered, that I am an EXPLORER! I scan signatures ALL the time. I started visiting all the wormholes that appeared around my home system whenever I was in the area and I discovered that using wormholes I could usually get to highsec in 4 jumps. And if I was willing to wait, it might even be less. So that is what I do. My last trip to market went like this: Home- LS – Jspace – Jspace- HS (4 jumps from Jita). Since an Epithal holds about 56,000m3 of PI, I can haul about 6 weeks worth of production. If my HS landing point is far from a market hub, I just contract with Red Frog to ship it to Jita. At my conveniece, I will jump clone to Jita and place sell orders. Sometimes (like my last trip) I land so close to Jita that I don’t even need to jump clone it. This is also the method that I use to bring most of my loot to market now. Once I get around 1-2 billion, I start looking for a WH path. I don’t scan more than two jumps into Jspace and usually only one. I usually look for LS wormholes that are NOT K162’s. The reasoning is that if I enter a non-K162, then I know that the Jspace that I enter still has another static exit. I use staticmapper once inside Jspace to determine if it has a highsec static. If it does, I am scan it down and see where it lands. If not, I move on. I see lots of wormholes in lowsec and this method is working out great. I also use it to restock on any needed materials for invention/manufacturing.
As a result, I haven’t visited my highsec base in over a month, I am self-sufficient on ammunition and I don’t waste play time taking the long route to sell and restock. My 4 planets make me around 200-250 million isk per month. My 5th planet just makes rocket fuel and I rotate it around my various lowsec areas. I know I could make more, but it is low effort, low maintenance, and relatively low risk. It works for me.