Demonstration Video: https://youtu.be/I_vtQMcdxSECheck out the above demonstration video to get a glimpse of all this in action.
Supply DepotIn my factory I designed a blueprint for a logistics resupply station, with walls around it, Artillery, and defensive Gun Turrets, Laser Turrets, and Flamethrower Turrets.
Check out the Accompanying Demonstration Video:
It has a Train Station for unloading the Supplies, and a separate station for unloading Oil and another station for unloading Artillery Ammo. Bullets are part of what my logistics bots keep me supplied with so those are sent in the main Supply train.
It's basically a small fort that doubles as a resupply base, for when I'm far away from my central factory, and building something way out there. It has a Roboport and some logistics robots that keep my character's inventory topped up.
Supply Depot w/Concrete: Looks nicer, but slower to build
Supply Depot Plain: Faster build without the Concrete Slab.
Loading StationsEvery now and then it needs to be restocked with Light Oil for the flamethrowers, Ammo for the Artillery, or more Supplies.
To keep these things stocked, I have 1 dedicated train for Light Oil, one dedicated train for Ammo, and one for General Supplies. I have 1 dedicated loading/parking station for the Oil Train, one for the Ammo Train, and one for the General Supply train.
The TrainsTo explain how this works, lets look at the example of Light Oil.
The train has a simple schedule with only 2 stops listed:
Light Oil Filling Station
Supply Platform Oil Drop
The train is set to wait at each station for 1 second of inactivity.
Every Logistics Resupply Station I build has the same name for its 3 stations. They all have a "Supply Platform Oil Drop" station, a "Supply Platform Ammo Drop" and a "Supply Platform Supply Drop" station. Each station is programmed to disable itself any time there's enough reserve oil, or ammo, or supplies, or whatever on hand, and to enable when the oil (or whichever thing) starts to get low (like, from being used by the Flamethrower Turrets).
Most of the time, all of my Supply Depots are full, and the train sits at the Filling Station with nowhere else to go. No other train uses that station and the station doubles as a dedicated parking spot for the train. That is its home.
When a bunch of biters attack one of the forts, the oil is used in the flamethrower turrets, depleting the reserves. Once the oil starts to get low, the station is enabled, causing the oil train to immediately make a trip and refill the oil, making the station disable again.
It works the same way for the Ammo and for the Supplies as it does for the oil. If I use the Supply Depot, by walking up to it and letting its logistics bots top up my inventory, as soon as the contents of the supply chests drop below a certain amount, the "Supply Platform Supply Drop" station detects this, and enables itself, prompting the resupply train to come back out and top everything up again.
The StarterThe best thing is, with this methodology, the stations build themselves. All I have to do is drop my "Supply Depot Starter" blueprint and make sure it gets built. Then I choose which style of finished Supply Depot I want, and I place the blueprint for the completed version on top of my just-built Supply Depot Starter, toss in a couple of Logistics and Construction bots to get it started, and then leave.
The newly built station detects that it is low on supplies (it has none), so it enables, summoning the supply train. Once the supplies arrive, they're unloaded and the starter robots that I left there get to work building the rest of the factory. First, they build a bunch more robots, and then they get to work building the rest of the supply depot. They can build most of it directly with the supplies being dropped off, such as Walls and Laser Turrets. Anything they can't make directly, they build a couple of assemblers to make it for them, then they place it.
Eventually when it has finished building, when you're ready, you come back and place an artillery train car on the little stub of track so that Ammo can start unloading and the canons start firing and start the war.
The BenefitsThis gives me a few benefits:
1) The train only runs when needed - When the train isn't needed, its stays parked out of the way helping keep down the amount of traffic on my tracks.
2) It arrives faster - Because the train only comes when needed, and sits in a central location until then, it actually gets the job done quicker. I don't have to wait for the train to pointlessly visit all the other stations because it only goes where its needed.
3) When I build a new Supply Depot I just drop the blueprint and run. I don't even have to name any stations or schedule any trains. As soon as the blueprint is built, the fledgling station detects that its low on supplies, and summons the train.
4) The stations build themselves. When I build a new station I just drop the Supply Depot Starter, toss in a couple Logistics and Construction bots to get it started, then go about my business.
5) The Flamethrower Turrets and Gun Turrets make the base able to withstand an electricity outage during an onslaught. Even if they cut the wires and you loose your Laser Turrets, your base continues to defend itself with Bullets and Fire. (This was interesting to me because, until now, I only used Laser Turrets, and my bases were screwed if the biters managed to cut the power).
Side DiscoveriesThe fastest way to fill or unload a Train carrying Artillery Ammo, is to use a double row of Red Inserters to move the ammo from your train car into another train car that is just parked there. You get the highest storage capacity using an Artillery Car but the drawback if you choose to use an Artillery Car is that it can attack the buggers and start the war before your walls have finished building, before your young self-assembling base is ready to defend itself.
NotesThis method works because no matter how many supply stations you have, you can't visit them all at once. You can only ever visit one, so even though there's only one train, its not really going to get too far behind in keeping all the supplies stocked and parking itself back at home base.
In a multiplayer game, you might need to make a couple dedicated trains for each type of reloading. If so, let me know how you end up setting that up. Would you use different names for them and make them separate independent stations? You all probably know a lot of tricks about routing trains that I haven't figured out yet -- so maybe there's a way to give them the same name and have the trains intelligently go where they're needed.
Try it yourselfI've provided the blueprints above if anyone wants to experiment with this.
To use this in your own game, you'll need to build the dedicated parking spaces and the 3 delivery trains at your central base and connect them to a supply of Ammo, of Light Oil, and of each of the Supplies needed for the Supply Train. The Supply Train loader is loaded via a Logistics Network. Light Oil is loaded by pipe, and Ammo by Belt. So the Supply Train Loader just needs to be placed in a base in a Logistics network that somewhere has each of the needed supplies available.
Then, simply run a rail line with electric poles deep into the frontier. Then place the Supply Depot Starter blueprint on your rail line in the place where you want to make your supply depot. After that make sure you completely build the Starter pack because you'll need almost all that stuff in order for the base to complete itself.
Once the starter pack finishes building, place the completed Supply Depot blueprint on top of it, toss in a couple logistics and construction bots, and leave. (Or, stay if you like). If everything was put together right, the train will start delivering supplies, the robots will make more robots, and then they'll build the rest of the base, stock it with supplies for you, and exterminate all nearby biter nests. You can return at your leisure to collect the goodies, and build whatever you want around it without having to constantly return home for supplies.
ConclusionThe nicest thing about this system, to me, is the minimal effort needed to place these Supply Stations.
I plan to extend the methodology to build all kinds of self-assembling stations. I can use the same Starter Pack and just change the end result of the station, to make it a mine, or a different kind of fort, or a battery of furnaces or a solar power plant or anything.
I really like not even having to name the station and route the train to it -- because all the stations have the same name the train is just already set up, ready to go the minute the station is put down.
And once the needed supplies are delivered, the station disables itself and the train parks at its home base station in its dedicated parking spot, waiting for another need. As a final bonus, this keeps the train off the tracks unless its needed, reducing traffic on my rail system a little bit.