single or double belt lines between furnaces?

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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by SteelGiant »

NeoForce wrote:You don't need fast inserters, just use regular inserters for this. It uses less energy
Actually, surprisingly, fast inserters use less energy than regular. Fast inserters have a higher power usage while moving, but they're so much faster that they move for much less time and overall use less energy to get the same job done.

Someone has done a test using an accumulator powering inserters moving items and the fast inserter can move more items than the regular for the same stored energy. There was a thread somewhere, which hopefully someone else can find.

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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by BurnHard »

NeoForce wrote:You don't need fast inserters, just use regular inserters for this. It uses less energy
No, they don't :) They use more energy when they are working, yes, BUT: They work a lot faster and so need less time for completing their tasks thus less energy (or in this case more or less the same energy for handling one item)

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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by ssilk »

https://forums.factorio.com/wiki/inde ... ower_usage

A good reason to use basic inserter is it's lower production cost. But it doesn't work with speed modules.
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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by cpy »

I don't know man, i use 1 belt for coal and ore at the same time (split lines ftw).

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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by n9103 »

Guarantee that can't work for more than 10 upgraded furnaces.
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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by MeduSalem »

In my early days of playing I used single belt lines on each side of the furnace... one for input, one for output. Later I switched over to double belt with long handed inserters (much like in the first post of the thread) but never have been quite satisfied with the result. It was space efficient, but not really workload efficient. Also I don't like long handed inserters as it means that I can't upgrade them to smart inserters whenever I'd like to.



But well, currently I'm experimenting with something entirely different in my current map (look at the attachment below to see an early concept).

I basically use the same smelters for Iron Ore as well as Copper Ore and regulate the flow with the output smart Inserters so they don't mix up on the same output belt.

The thought about that layout arose when I noticed that my massive smelting areas from another map were idling alternately. Basically either I was short on Copper Plates or I was short on Iron Plates, but not both at the same time. Most of the time there's an average consumption of both, but at the peak I started to notice that my furnaces where not able to keep up with one particular type while the smelterbanks of the other type where bored to hell.

So that's when I started fiddling around to find a solution on how to feed a furnace both types but not having to deal with the mess of sorting the plates out afterwards with a too complex sorting-circle mechanism.

My layout result works quite well to be honest and even left space to place 4 beacons around each furnace, something I hadn't space for in most of my other designs (only in double belt setups between two rows of furnaces). It's quite expandable and only suffers once the express belts can't feed the furthest furnace anymore. At least I'm quite happy that it works and that it is a symmetrical solution. I just hate asymmetric stuff. ^^

As for how much furnaces I'm able to save through that design that dynamically assigns the furnaces depending on the workload I can't practically say yet, but hypothetically since my old maps used to have a capacity 3000 Copper Plates/min as well as 3000 Iron plates/min but never being fully utilzed to their maximum capacity both at the same time but rather something like 3000 Copper plates/min and 1500 Iron Plate/min in average - and vice versa of course - I'd say I'm able to save at least 25% of the furnaces, if not more during lower loads. The overall energy consumption is much better than before, because now the beacons will be useful ALL the time rather than consuming energy even when one of the smelter banks is idle fulltime. It's an overall win-win in my opinion.

One thing that surely needs some advanced research is what happens when the whole smelterbank is loaded to 100% usage. Because then there might kick in some weird stuff like inserter-priority, in terms which inserter will be picked first then... the Iron or the Copper one? I guess that it won't be 50%:50% but rather depending on if A) There's already a type of ore being smelted in that furnace so it will take the same or if it is empty B) it takes the one that is placed north/south/east/west of the Furnace or C) which one was placed first or D) whatever other weird mechanic the game uses to determine that. That's something I leave for somebody else to find out. xD

At least I'd like to see more applications like that... some assemblers/chemical plants also auto-picking what they are crafting when different resources are put into them... Would make one nice factory where everything is re-used for something else during different workloads. Would definitely increase the efficiency of Beacons. ^^


Important side-note to prevent clogging:

And nope, the output gets never stuck in a furnace so I never experience the possibility that a full output blocks the entire furnace. Only in the first iteration (with the example picture below) I experienced that, but in an updated version I regulate that problem with the Input Smart Inserters by looking up how much Iron/Copper plates are already in the main storage system so that I don't overproduce one plate type leading to blockage for the other type. The exact threshold on when they work is probably up to how your storage system works.

So the output belts in front of the Furnaces should ALWAYS have at least a little less than 100% utilization otherwise you did something horribly wrong and furnaces will start to clog! (So ironically the picture below shows how it should NOT look like on the output belts xD) Most of the time it will be probably 50%:50% up to 75%:25% of usage split up between both output belts, that's my observation and within that condition the system works well, probably even beyond that, but I never really stress-tested it.
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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by ssilk »

Besides that this locks quite amazing I tested a lot around with furnaces smelting both stuff and found it is not a good idea. The problem is, that once there is some iron ore left in the furnace, it cannot take copper ore.

Even if it would be much better for the furnace to smelt copper, it isn't possible, cause the wrong ore blocks.
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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by MeduSalem »

ssilk wrote:Besides that this locks quite amazing I tested a lot around with furnaces smelting both stuff and found it is not a good idea. The problem is, that once there is some iron ore left in the furnace, it cannot take copper ore.

Even if it would be much better for the furnace to smelt copper, it isn't possible, cause the wrong ore blocks.
Yepp, experienced that with the setup shown above...

But I "fixed" the problem in a later iteration (don't have a picture of it yet) by replacing the Fast Inserters with Smart Inserters for the inputs of the furnaces as well and tuning them to only put ore into the furnace when the storage area (somewhere offscreen) containing the plates has less than what fits into the storage MINUS 5 times the total amount of furnaces, so that they don't start working all at the same time when only 1 plate is moved out the storage area. The 5 times as much as the furnaces comes from the inserter limt... as the inserter will try to put 5 Ores into the furnace, which it will probably succeed in because of how slow the furnace might be depending on which modules you are using.

So for example 1 Chest containing Iron Plates = 100 * 48 = 4800 Iron plates. Then I've like 64 furnaces or something... then i've set the Input Smart inserters to work when there's 4800-5*64 = 4480 plates in the chest. The same goes for the copper plates obviously.

Basically it works in a burst style... the "free" furnaces will take in all at once when the threshold is reached and will continue to do so until the demand at the storage chests is met again. Obviously my furnaces are able to produce more plates/min than I'm able to consume from one particular plate type, otherwise I might end up with the problem that all my furnaces are smelting the same type of ore but never quite catching up with the demand of one ore, thereby reserving all of the furnaces for one type forever, blocking the other type.

The demand is capped through how much I'm extracting from my storage area - normally 2 full belts per plate type. So basically 4800 plates/min and my furnaces have to be able to provide at least that - but I'm normally producing more, normally I'm producing 4800+4800/2=7200 plates/min, so I'm not totally able to serve both plate types to the full belt-capacity, but that's a trade-off I'm willing to take. I'm never really utilizing the full potential of 2 belts per plate type anyways, since most of the assembly lines are idling or throughput is lost due to belt-turns, so even more furnace-time is handed over to the other resource type, since one of the resources will permanently hit the chest-cap and thereby cease to operate and leave room for the other resource to catch up again.

This ensures that the output of the furnaces is never blocked. It might take a while though until the system begins to adapt the exact distribution of workload, since it will take some iterations until the furnaces are mixed with the right load of Iron/Copper Ore, but eventually the system will balance itself out. But that's exactly what I want... as much utilization as possible and the only way to do it is to have the resources compete for each furnace. Sometimes the mixed system turns out to be awkward - true, but having a massive smelting area dedicated for each ore may turn out awkward too, especial if it is idling around, wasting energy when using beacons, while the other resource struggles around.

There's no such thing as a perfect system. So if one is really a hamster though and wants to store millions of plates then I'd not recommend using my approach... because the longer the way to the storage area the more caution it takes that the stuff doesn't clog on the belts since there's some delay until the first plates arrive in the storage facility, which basically means more thought has to go into how to buffer the excess.

In my system I always use a circle where possible, so that the stuff that passed by the storage chests travels back around the chests and is evenly reinserted to the chests. So if too much stuff comes from the smelting area that doesn't fit into the chests it travels around in the circle until it fits. And only if nothing is left on this belt buffer the storage begins to drop, thereby requesting from the furnaces after the threshold.

As the circle grows longer and longer the bigger the storage area gets the more buffer space on transport belts is added to the system, thereby automatically unclogging the system. At least I never had the experience of full transport belts nor with blocked furnaces once I made furnace input dependent on what I've in my storage area. Seems like the Circle buffer works as a natural Plunger that grows with the storage system.
Last edited by MeduSalem on Mon Oct 06, 2014 9:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by MeduSalem »

Sorry for double-post, but ssilk's concern made me think of if there's a way to react to full output belts and yes there is (look below in the attachment)

But it wastes more space than managing the overflow in the storage area itself. The benefit though is that it works independent from the storage system (doesn't require any tweaks to the inserters when the storage system grows) and it doesn't clog at all, since the inserters stop putting ore into the furnaces once there are a specified number of items in the smart chest. As long as there's enough room left in the smart chest it will continue to unload the furnace from eventual excess plates, thereby preventing clogging in the furnace.

I've set the smart inserter connected to the green wire to run until 4795 plates are reached (again resulting from the inserter-limit of 5 ore that the inserter tries to put into the furnace). It works pretty well... and once the outputbelt clogs then the smart chest will have 4798-4800 items in the chest. If one wants to be completely sure just set it to 4790 and it will always have enough room, since the reaction time is quite fast, even with +60% speed through modules (that's what I had in my inventory, was too lazy to get some module 3s). When using in companion with productivity modules then you'll have to expect the excess item every once in a while so eventually 4790 items might be the better choice.

It will take a while until the chests are full when using 4790 instead of just 1 item, but I like to have that sort of output buffer, because when there's a chest then why not use it to its full potential? Don't like having chests that only contain 1-5 items.

With the additional infrastructure I guess there might be more room for layout optimization but the one below is just a proof of concept.
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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by n9103 »

Interesting layout there. Possible for some pretty extreme buffering. Good fix for the conflicting ores problem.
Entirely wasteful, as far as resource efficiency goes, but I imagine the number of beacons is a sign of a purely post rocket defense setup.
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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by starxplor »

To save some horizontal space, if using any mod that has near/far inserters, you could output both plates to one side. This would allow horizontal expantion where each vertical set only needs a vertical output line on one side. This allow removing the two inserters and chest on one side of the smelter, cutting 3 spaces out of the footprint per vertical set.

I will probably experiment with this in my next game.

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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by MeduSalem »

n9103 wrote:Interesting layout there. Possible for some pretty extreme buffering. Good fix for the conflicting ores problem.
Entirely wasteful, as far as resource efficiency goes, but I imagine the number of beacons is a sign of a purely post rocket defense setup.
Yepp, resource waste all the way... but what else to do with 3 million plates per type if not experimenting around a little bit?


starxplor wrote:To save some horizontal space, if using any mod that has near/far inserters, you could output both plates to one side. This would allow horizontal expantion where each vertical set only needs a vertical output line on one side. This allow removing the two inserters and chest on one side of the smelter, cutting 3 spaces out of the footprint per vertical set.

I will probably experiment with this in my next game.
Yeah with mods nearly everything is solveable... but I tend to play Vanilla Factorio for various reasons because I'm always afraid to break compatibility for my maps when the game gets updated but the mods are no longer maintained by their creators.



I extended my experiment to logistic bots as well, which is super-wasteful on the energy side but funny since this way I can manage all 4 resource types with the same furnaces.

I basically used the same layout but sqished down. I could place even more beacons... Up to 6 effecting 4 furnaces... but well I think 4 is already enough... ^^

So I left the space empty... maybe for future ores that get added into the main game. The system is quite expandable this way, as it would be possible to smelt 10 different ore types in the same facility.

A little bit of care has to be taken that Steel Plates and Stone Bricks don't eat exactly only one Iron Plate or one Stone. Basically this means that the inserter might insert not enough ingredients to fully finish crafting an item and there's no real way to control that without fiddling around on how much Steel Plates/Stone Bricks are allowed in the output chest, which takes some time to find "good" numbers because it will heavily depend on how fast the furnace is working (modules and stuff). The furnace might get stuck that way, especially with Inserter Stacksizes Bonuses that are not 5.

With Inserter Stacksize Bonus of 5 as well as using 170% crafting speed (Productivity Module 3s in all Furnaces and Speed Module 3s in all Beacons) - I've experienced no problems though, so I could leave the input inserters to only take in when the output chest is empty, because once the output chest signals the input inserter to stop then it will surprisingly only end up with a maximum of 10 excess ingredients in the furnace. Which basically means that if it is 10 Iron Plates it works to produce 2 Steel Plates and the furnace is empty again, with Stone it produces 5 stone bricks and it is also empty. It's a funny coincidence that it works because they share the same multiple.

No matter what it will get unstuck eventually if the output chest gets emptied by Bots. Eventually the inserter will put exactly enough ingredients into the furnace to reach the multiple that's needed to fully empty the furnace and thereby enabling the "context switch".

Note: I'm currently not using the facility to it's maximum potential that's why some of them are idling... as I'm only taking 2 full belts of copper plates and 2 full belts of iron plates from it... which is pretty much capping the production speed to 4800-5200 plates/min per type, which is below what the facility would be hypothetically be able to. Once I'm moving my steel production inside there as well the furnaces will be much fuller since they will have to keep up with steel plate production and the therefore increased iron plate production as well.

The estimated throughput of the facility is about ~12400 copper or iron plates. Don't know about Steel plates since they take longer to craft and more ingredients.

Update: Ran a small test with one Requester Chest outputting on a belt with a fast inserter... the production of steel plates is heavily varying between 180-200 plates/min plates per minute (probably due to unexpteced bot travel time)... the iron plates are up to 6500-7000 plates/min while 4800-5000 go onto the belts into my storage system and the rest probably going into steel plate production. The copper plates are remaining capped on 4800-5000 due to belt limitations, they are not experiencing any suffering due to the additional steel plate load. Seems pretty solid numbers... especially nearly matching what I estimated.

I guess the preemptive multitasking works the better the more "tasks" the furnace can choose from and the longer it takes for the bots to pick up all the items from the output chests. The longer it takes... the more time there is to smelt something else until it can return to the previous ore.


... my final thoughts on that thing is that it would be a vast improvement if we could connect a furnace/assembler to the red/green wire to look how much ingredients are already loaded into it. It would simplify everything.
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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by n9103 »

mmmm... Automation-porn. :p

Just a small note, but it sounds more like you mean the stacksize bonus of 4, for a total of 5 items grabbed.
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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by MeduSalem »

n9103 wrote:mmmm... Automation-porn. :p

Just a small note, but it sounds more like you mean the stacksize bonus of 4, for a total of 5 items grabbed.
You are right... I mean stacksize Bonus 4 for a total of 5 items grabbed. ^^

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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by rk84 »

I got so exited about this, shall I call it multitask furnaces, that I had to try it too. I made belt vesion and I tried to add some circuit logic in it.

Logic block
Logistic storage limits are set in logic block on right. Signal value rises as storega gets emptier.
-Request chest below provide signal items and provider chest above is used to give them back to bots.
-Fast inserter place item to ground to make stacksize 1
-Below smart inserter adds one item to increase signal value if itemcount in storage is below sertain value and signal value is below also.
-Above smart inserter removes items as storage gets fuller.


Furnaces
I divided furnaces into 4 columns (or phases). Column 1 favors iron and works when iron ore signal >= 1 or copper = 4. Column 4 is opposite and favors copper.
yea this foundry is too small to support the factory so both signals are 4 => all inserters try to use furnaces and ironside have to wait for copperside to recover. (FIFO)
As side note: I offset beacon 1 tile so it covers 6 furnaces.
furnaces.JPG
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I will try beltless version next and try to add steel and stone. I wonder how it would work if I make "matrix" so that every corner of foundry favors one ore type? 8-)
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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by MeduSalem »

rk84 wrote:I got so exited about this, shall I call it multitask furnaces, that I had to try it too. I made belt vesion and I tried to add some circuit logic in it.

[...]
Looks quite nice!

I thought about using external circuit logic as well to provide conditional signals but then I got a bit too lazy to hook it all up and because I hate wiremess :roll: ... Therefore I favor simplistic selfcontained solutions (easier to blueprinting as well) where each furnace is able to work on it's own not caring about what the others next to it do... because if I accidently tear down an electric pole it won't shut down the entire production line which renders maintenance much easier. I learned that the hard way since I'm somebody who's changing layouts quite often because of new ideas and not to forget also because I lack driving skills eventually driving into something that's crucial for my factory. xD
rk84 wrote:I will try beltless version next and try to add steel and stone. I wonder how it would work if I make "matrix" so that every corner of foundry favors one ore type? 8-)
Since I've run my multitasking furnaces quite some time now I can only say that it should favor Iron plates the most (because of some of them being redistributed for the Steel Bars), followed by Copper Plates, followed by Steel Bars and the Stone is the least important.

My furnaces nearly never smelt Stone to Bricks because there's near to no consumer for Bricks. Since I've walled myself already in the only situation where I need more Bricks is when I create a new mining outpost and only when I decide that tearing down another mining outpost isn't worth the trouble. It's the only way to consume them. Most of the stone I will never consume... probably shouldn't have set stone to rich during map creation but it was one of my first maps back when I started out and the first one where I made it to rocket defense so I did not know what to expect back then. xD

Steel Plates on the other hand I need a little bit more often, but since I've overproduced nearly every finished product already over the course of the game I'm actually using less Steel plates then earlier in the game. So most of the stuff eventually goes into destroyer capsules.

Whatever you do... the fact that Stone Bricks and Steel Bars use more than 1 ingredient makes it quite a challenge to find adequate numbers for the logic & logistic system... otherwise the furnace might end up with 1-2 ore left in the slot but not being able to finish up because the inserter inputing more ore doesn't work because the output is still blocked, thereby locking the entire furnace for quite a long time in idle mode until the output becomes freed once again.

I'm currently thinking about a version that allows 6 beacons to effect 6 furnaces... making the thing a little bit more power efficient than my previous 4x4 iterations but haven't begun constructing it yet. I'm mostly using this approach in my considerations:

https://forums.factorio.com/forum/vie ... f=5&t=5711

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Re: single or double belt lines between furnaces?

Post by DerivePi »

OK. Here is a belt fed system with red/green wire system that will work with steel furnaces. It will balance between iron, copper, steel and brick production and has a storage limit to halt overproduced items. You can also add beacons if desired.
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