I loved Production Line so much when I reviewed it that I wrote this tips guide just so I can keep playing (when you run a gaming website you have to justify your playing with an article). Hope these tips help you squeeze out a few more cars/hour.
Things that weren’t obvious
1. Price not features determine category
On my first playthrough I kept adding features until car prices naturally moved to mid and then expensive. I didn’t realize you can just raise the price until it hits the category you want
2. Jack up the initial prices
Until competition builds, you can increase the prices of your first bunch of cars dramatically. Just keep in mind that you can’t start researching until you sell 10 cars. Somewhere around 100% markup will still sell them as fast as they’re made for the first dozen.
3. Minimum Research for profit
To actually install an upgrade in your car (and therefore increase prices and profits) requires a minimum of three research projects. Plan out your first upgrade component so you can add it as quickly as possible (and therefore justify multiple lines of sedan).
4. Match research to production
If following the tip above, the Accessories research tree looks promising with a great number of upgrades. The problem is that the accessories installation station is quite fast and will not be a bottleneck for some time.
A Sun Roof requires the minimum number of research projects (Body Specialization, Environmental Features & Sun Roof) and let’s you make your slow “Body” stations more efficient.
5. Build near the side with more resource importer slots
Your factory is not symmetrical. One side will have more import slots than the rest and import slots are your first real barrier to growth. Try to align your heaviest import usage stations so they’re near a cluster of import slots.
6. How to get different models
Drove me nuts the first playthrough. You have to research Design Studio first, then build actual design studios (in the office areas, like Research but taking up a 3×3 space) and “research” the new design (using a pool separate from your regular research). This takes a really long time and competes for space you might want for regular research. Two design studios is a good compromise.
Feel free to demolish them once you’ve researched all the body styles. You won’t lose access.
7. Color code models
If you don’t set a color, the AI will pick randomly for each vehicle. Instead set one color per model/trim package so you can tell at a glance where they are in production.
9. Create a queue on intakes
Station performance will be heavily reduced without at least one car always waiting it’s turn. The space savings are rarely worth not having at least a one-square queue.
10. Maximize dead space
Having a few cars waiting for each station maximizes efficiency and buffers changes. Use empty space to lengthen your queues as much as possible.
11. Leave space for manufacturing
You will eventually start manufacturing components (see #17 below). Leave a channel between stations, especially busier ones, so you can manufacture right next to where components will be needed most.
12. Keep one station going
Sometimes you can’t pause the game and just retool in one shot. Instead of destroying all the stations you’re about to upgrade (which will stop production), leave one station alive so the previous stations continue working and building a queue which your shiny new, retooled section should clear through quickly.
13. Plan for retooling
Some stations require a little bit more space when you retool, some require a lot. Paint, which stays slow throughout the game, requires massive space to produce a high number of cars while accessories remain small until the late game (and then become quite big themselves). Engine also sprawls into huge sections.
14. Plan for expansion
Try to lay out your factory so the floor expansions are near the stations that will need expanding. You’ll want a bunch of empty space near the paint area, not near QA.
15. If you see the import box you have a problem
When your import slots are meeting demand they show nothing. The box of components on order only displays when they are trying to fill backorders. It’s your warning that production will be slowed somewhere if you don’t find a way to ease the pressure off that slot.
16. Use stockpiles to share the load
Stockpiles help in general and act as a buffer. But they can also let you make use of a less busy slot. Place the stockpile close enough to the target slot to trigger fulfillment from there but also close enough to its destination so that production will pull from the stockpile and not the slot you want to ease. You can’t string multiple stockpiles unfortunately (it won’t ship from one stockpile to the next in a daisy chain).
17. Use manufacturing to ease import slots
When you get to around 30 cars/ hour it starts to get impossible to fill all the import requests even with all your slots going. Start researching and investing in manufacturing so you can product parts near where they will be needed. Attach a stockpile to the manufacturing slots to maximize their efficiency.
18. “Waiting for car” is a significant portion of the overall time for quicker stations.
It can throw off your math when you’re trying to optimize. A 30-second station like “Dashboard” will always take twice as long in reality, as it takes 20 seconds for the next car to convey in even when there’s a waiting queue.
19. Some upgrades slow down production
Your dashboard installer, which starts as a 30-second job, balloons to 3.5 minutes once you start adding a bunch of components. Similarly with Electronics. You’ll need more stations and therefore space to actually match your desired output rate.
20. Watch out for hidden category shifts
If your sales are suddenly slowing down, it’s often because a competitor has researched an upgrade. The AI adjusts your prices automatically to remain competitive. This could nudge models down a pricing level so instead of selling an economy and a mid-range sedan you’re now selling two flavors of economy, competing with yourself. Just nudge the price back to correct.
21. Common upgrades kill your sales
Your SUV might have a dozen upgrades but sales will still plummet if everyone else is offering power steering and you’re not. When upgrades become expectations try to catch up quickly.
22. Factory extensions are expensive
Make sure you’ll use the space (and increase profits) before expanding. Don’t just do it for a small adjustment.
23. Take out loan before running out
If you run out of money you’ll be offered a single loan. It might be far larger than you need to just buy a little time. Instead manually choose a loan just before you run out of money.
24. Spend your money to help with rubberbanding
The computer AI rubberbands and knocks out an increased number of research projects when you’re doing well. I’m not sure what the trigger is, if it’s just money in the bank or also revenue, but it seems to help to keep your cash on hand low. Tip#25 below is a great place to dump excess cash.
From Steam Users:
25. From NightLexic – Power Plants
Get power plants – the faster you stop paying for power the more you have to spend upgrading.