Saturday, March 22, 2014

Business Saturday: Thoughts on Hauling

My primary source of income has become running PI factory planets, which nets about 1.5B isk/month in income by using two PI alts.  In order to keep my planets running continuously, each character must be supplied with an 800,000 m3 load of PI commodities every 11 days.  That's 4 freighter runs every 11 days between Jita & my high-sec staging system.  Each trip would cost me 13.9M isk if I were to pay Red Frog to do this, which comes out to about 151M isk/month in hauling costs.

That was expensive enough to get my attention, and this is why I bought a Freighter so that I could do the hauling myself.  A freighter is required not only for the input materials (which have a huge volume), but also for the output commodities that are shipped to a trade hub for sale.  A T1 industrial is capable of doing this, but the value of the goods is high enough that it makes the likelihood of a suicide gank very high.  A freighter on the other hand has enough EHP to haul 1B isk worth of cargo without attracting attention from suicide gankers.

This ship is beautiful
I also always autopilot my freighter while I'm AFK.  Every time.  Because of the ridiculously slow align times and warp speed, manually jumping a freighter through 18 jumps is for masochists.  Anyone who says a freighter shouldn't ever be auto-piloted has never actually owned one.  You can also logically infer that auto-piloting a freighter that's carrying less than 1B isk in cargo is relatively low risk.  In terms of isk/hr, actively piloting a freighter while doing courier contracts is much worse than mining (using Red Frog's prices as a basis).  It also requires a more expensive ship than a mining barge, AND it requires that you put up at least hundreds of millions in collateral.  Why would anyone EVER take up hauling as a career under these conditions?

To get the answer, consider it in a different way.  Imagine that you could invest 1.2B isk in an asset that allows you to a few buttons and make 10-20M isk in 1-2 hours, completely passively.  This is actually pretty decent income for the effort & time required, and this is why hauling exists as a career.  Red Frog would NOT be charging such low prices if freighters couldn't be auto-piloted while AFK!  I guarantee you that the vast majority of their pilots are auto-piloting right now.

Red Frog also insures their own pilots from loss, and since it is impossible to enforce a rule against auto-piloting, they must have determined that the risk of a suicide gank is very low.  They make the risk so small by allowing a maximum collateral of 1B isk on all courier contracts, effectively preventing their ships from becoming loot pinatas.  Conclusion: if you value your time at all, you will haul your goods AFK, and you will not carry more than 1B in cargo.

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