Monday, October 27, 2008

Building the Supply Chain

The ammo market continues to prosper, so it is time to ramp it up. One can either increase volume, expand the market, cut costs or increase prices. I'm planning on doing all of the above.

First, the volume and the cutting of costs. While browsing the markets can satisfy short-term needs, it's very easy to exhaust the reasonably-priced sell orders, so I need my own source. And preferably one that'll allow me to prevent costs from increasing. So I started browsing contracts for suitable blueprints. I know that the Empire laboratories have month-long queues, so I need a well-researched one. After some searching, I find a suitable Havoc Heavy Missile blueprint at material efficiency of 150 for sale at 5.5 million, with one bid already made. I finish checking the rest of the contracts and head out with the Silent Whisper, my blockade runner. I wasn't expecting trouble, but the contract is in the Forge region, deep within Caldari space. A fast ship such as the Whisper is ideal for this task.

Eventually I arrive on one of the border systems of the Forge and made the bid. A few moments afterwards, NeoCom alerts me that one of my Gallente associates was back in Empire space and needs a Hulk. Perfect. Jita is only a few jumps away, so I got one with fittings and started heading back to Republic space. Having an in-house miner will help with the costs.

About halfway back, NeoCom notified me that I had been outbid. I deliver the Hulk and after making sure that my associate was satisfied and was at work, I head back to the Forge. The bidding war was on, and would probably continue for the remainder of the auction's duration. I make my last bid shortly after NeoCom reminded me of my preset sleep schedule. Trading requires an alert mind, and only a fool lets his weapon lose it's edge.

On the next day, NeoCom reports that the auction had expired, and as expected, I was outbid. The final price was around 13.5 million. I'm sure that the seller will appreciate that. I dismiss the notice and head out to the docking bay. That bidding war successfully held my competitors' attention, and thus they failed to notice a similar auction which offered various missile blueprints with material efficiency of 50 and a pricetag of merely twenty million. That's more than enough to attain optimal manufacturing efficiency. I pick up the set of blueprints from Jita and head back to Republic space. This set of blueprints will allow me to both do business in Republic space and in the independent territories. Residents of the independent territories have lots of money, but not many opportunities to spend it. Being the good samaritan that I am, I intend to help them with that problem.

Back in Republic space, I hand over half of the blueprints to my Gallente associate, who examines them and submits them to be replicated at a nearby Ammatar station. There's a five-day queue, but I need to be able to run several manufacturing jobs in parallel to ramp up the volume to levels that my remote customers expect. Meanwhile, I board the Middleman, my Mastodon-class deep space transport, load it with minerals and take the other half of the blueprints to a nearby Imperial Armaments station for manufacturing. It seems that I'll be able to undercut my competition and still attain a 40% return on investment even in Republic space, but I need to gauge market demand first. The recent surge in Minmatar production has left this station relatively quiet, so I'm able to start manufacturing immediately. I don't leave my pod, though. There's no need to rub their noses in the fact that they're doing business with me. The test runs are scheduled to be finished in three days, which frees up the blueprints for replication right on time. But while the proverbial wheels of industry are grinding, all that is left is to wait..

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