Mobile Factory?

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KitK
05/26/11 08:53 AM
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A near as I can tell, the rules just won't allow this, but...

If you wanted a top secret orbital factory, nothing too big, how feasible would it be to mount KF drives on it?

Could you "tow" a facility by docking jump capable ships to it an lighting up the KF drive?

KK
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
05/26/11 10:43 AM
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I don't see why you cant have a mobile factory.

The biggest warship is 2.4 million tons. Instead of installing weapons armor and other stuff you could make it to be a factory. My question would be why would you want to spend all of that C-Bills on it where you could build like 10 stationary ones for the same cost.

If your factory can be small enough you could use a Behemoth or several of them.

A Monolith jumpship with nine Behemoth dropships would give you a lot of room to build a lot of things.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

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KitK
05/26/11 12:34 PM
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Quote:

My question would be why




Everything is possible in the imagination...

I was thinking it would be entertaining for a disgruntled Spheroid Bondsman of the Smoke Jaguars to "steel" one of their endosteel facilities and port it back to the Inner Sphere. Of course once it is there everyone and their dog (Factions and Industrialists) are gonna want this thing, so being able to move it 30-60 light years at a moment's notice would be useful.

Naturally, there is a very long list of logistical, social, and political problems associated with this fanciful maneuver, even if it were permitted in the rules.

KK
CrayModerator
05/26/11 03:41 PM
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Quote:

A near as I can tell, the rules just won't allow this, but...

If you wanted a top secret orbital factory, nothing too big, how feasible would it be to mount KF drives on it?




It's perfectly feasible if the orbital factory is built into a JumpShip or WarShip. No other vehicle in BT can have a KF drive. You can always call the jump-capable vehicle an "orbital factory" or "industrial space station" so long as you use the JumpShip or WarShip construction rules.

Incidentally, the Newgrange and Falsane yardships could be considered limited industrial facilities.

Quote:

Could you "tow" a facility by docking jump capable ships to it an lighting up the KF drive?




There are a number of canon space stations (the Wolf Dragoon's Hephestus, Fed-Boeing's Capitol, and the Taurian Snowden mining station) that can be carried on JumpShips like DropShips. The complete construction rules for "jump capable space stations" have not been published, but the Capital and Snowden have been published in recent TROs.

I will not inform you that the unpublished rules discussion behind the Snowden were that the final cost multiplier would be much closer to a DropShip (x28 or x36) than a space station (x5) but there'd be no special equipment requiring tonnage, since I'm under a non-disclosure agreement and thus can't say anything about it.

Quote:

by docking jump capable shipS to it




Also note that you cannot dock more than one KF drive vessel to a large space station and use them to jump together. The "objects in hyperspace field rules" dating to Explorer Corps (and repeated in AT2, AT2R, and Strategic Operations) will inflict horrific damage on another KF drive vessel within 27km (same hex or a neighboring hex) of a jumping vessel.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.


Edited by Cray (06/02/11 05:17 AM)
Prince_of_Darkness
06/27/11 01:10 PM
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Quote:

KitK Said:

If you wanted a top secret orbital factory, nothing too big, how feasible would it be to mount KF drives on it?





Stupid feasible! I have several custom jumpships/war ships that were salvaged and turned into moving repair yards in fluff, reasons going from being able to escape from pirates to being able to hide behind enemy lines as a merchant vessel while cranking out excess war material for a future fight. Heck, you could also easily fluff it as being an endo steel yard (which needs zero-g) that can move to provide a constant supply of parts, or a manufacturing yard to make simple tools and to smelt bigger parts- the 250,000 tons of manufacturing equipment on the Newgarange was fluffed as being able to smelt and cast a warship KF drive, for instance.
KitK
06/28/11 12:40 PM
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Quote:

easily fluff it as being an endo steel yard




That is exactly what I had in mind. I was thining I wanted to rescue/liberate/really steal an endosteel factory. But to keep in the rules it looks like said factory will have to be a converted ship. That is a bit more mobile than I was thinking, but not at all bad. I hadn't considered a factory ship before, just factory space stations. I've looked at cannon warships to see which one needs to lose a battle, but no decision yet. I was also trying to find out how much space and weight a factory takes and its output. But I haven't located it yet. I figured it would be in TacOps or the TM but didn't find what I was looking for on the first try and haven't had time to get back to it.

KK
Prince_of_Darkness
07/04/11 06:28 PM
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Some of the Refineries I've seen weight about 3,000 tons apiece, giving me the idea that one could/would easily fit in a converted jumpship. However, not only would I have to do more digging, but the question of weather or not it's just producing the raw zero-g'd metal or an actual 'mech skeleton is anyone's guess.

Keep me updated; I find this interesting!
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/05/11 03:54 AM
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Modern auto manufacturing plants take up miles of land. I would say something that is 3,000 tons only makes parts and is VERY limited.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
Prince_of_Darkness
07/05/11 09:17 AM
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Modern auto manufacturing plants take up miles of land. I would say something that is 3,000 tons only makes parts and is VERY limited.




Mm, TRO: 3057 (with all the ships and such) lists an orbital "Medium/Large Factory" at 17,000 tons with the actual "Factory Unit" at 1,700 ton with over 8,000 tons of cargo. It also says that factories weigh "From 2,000 to 20,000 tons in size" and that the factory unit "Must weigh 10 percent of the total weight and have it's own bay."
CrayModerator
07/05/11 06:52 PM
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Quote:

Modern auto manufacturing plants take up miles of land. I would say something that is 3,000 tons only makes parts and is VERY limited.




Mm, TRO: 3057 (with all the ships and such) lists an orbital "Medium/Large Factory" at 17,000 tons with the actual "Factory Unit" at 1,700 ton with over 8,000 tons of cargo. It also says that factories weigh "From 2,000 to 20,000 tons in size" and that the factory unit "Must weigh 10 percent of the total weight and have it's own bay."




Those factories only produce very limited items, like Endosteel powders. They're not churning out BattleMechs and fighters.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.
Prince_of_Darkness
07/05/11 11:21 PM
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Those factories only produce very limited items, like Endosteel powders. They're not churning out BattleMechs and fighters.




Do you know of any tech readouts that show those much larger factories and assembly lines?
CrayModerator
07/06/11 06:27 AM
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Quote:

Do you know of any tech readouts that show those much larger factories and assembly lines?




I know that BT strenuously avoids detailing factory operations, and thus absolutely does not give stats on factories weight, output, manpower, etc. Thus, there are no TROs that address such things.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/06/11 02:26 PM
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Quote:

Quote:

Those factories only produce very limited items, like Endosteel powders. They're not churning out BattleMechs and fighters.




Do you know of any tech readouts that show those much larger factories and assembly lines?




I would say it would take up miles of land and would be way to big to ever be in space with the exception of factories that are open to the vacuum of space like space docks for dropships, jumpships, and warships.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/06/11 02:28 PM
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Quote:

Quote:

Do you know of any tech readouts that show those much larger factories and assembly lines?




I know that BT strenuously avoids detailing factory operations, and thus absolutely does not give stats on factories weight, output, manpower, etc. Thus, there are no TROs that address such things.




So basically make up your own stats and it will be non cannon.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
CrayModerator
07/06/11 04:01 PM
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So basically make up your own stats and it will be non cannon.




Yes. And keep in mind canon: complete military factories (vs. garage-type operations that assemble spare parts from real factories) are very rare, so they're presumably hard to build.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/06/11 05:31 PM
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Quote:

So basically make up your own stats and it will be non cannon.




Yes. And keep in mind canon: complete military factories (vs. garage-type operations that assemble spare parts from real factories) are very rare, so they're presumably hard to build.




That all depends what you are building.

ICE vehicles are out right easy.
Then fusion vehicles would be next.
After that would be aerospace fighters.
Followed by battlemechs.

There are hundreds if not a thousand battlemech factories covering known space between the Enter Sphere and Clan space. There has to be even more than that of factories that build aerospace fighters considering how fast there destroyed and unrecoverable for spare parts.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
CrayModerator
07/07/11 07:39 AM
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There are hundreds if not a thousand battlemech factories covering known space between the Enter Sphere and Clan space.




Hmm. I'd suggest picking up the old "Objective Raids" publication, or at least download the old House Sourcebooks from CBT.com. Each House actually only had less than a dozen 'Mech factories, each factory carefully named and assigned to a specific planet. Production rates were 400 to 550 'Mechs per year per House in 3025, supporting carefully named and numbered House frontline units ranging from 50 to 100 'Mech regiments (i.e., 5,000 to 10,000 'Mechs per House).

Do you want page number references to go with those production rates, factories, and 'Mech numbers, or do you have those books?

What's really impressively pathetic about those production rates is the size of the Houses. Each House averages about 400 planets with populations of about 3 billion people per planet, with technology averaging 21st-23rd Century (in 3025). But their frontline BattleMech forces are smaller than the Cold War-era armies of NATO or the Warsaw Pact. A House's militia forces are somewhat larger than 20th Century Earth's armies, but only modestly.

Quote:

Quote:

Yes. And keep in mind canon: complete military factories (vs. garage-type operations that assemble spare parts from real factories) are very rare, so they're presumably hard to build.




That all depends what you are building.

ICE vehicles are out right easy.
Then fusion vehicles would be next.
After that would be aerospace fighters.
Followed by battlemechs.




Several points:

1) BattleMech production in the Inner Sphere was about 2000-2500 per year in 3025 (see: House Sourcebooks, which state annual production for several Houses) and the unofficial rules-of-thumb used for fact checking new BT publications estimated that had about doubled or tripled by 3067. House 3025 military strengths of 50 to 100 'Mech regiments (i.e., 5,000 to 10,000 'Mechs per House). 'Mech factories were rare, with less than 1 in 20 planets hosting a 'Mech factory in 3075 (including RetroTech and WorkMech factories). That gets you about 100 total 'Mech factories after a half century of technological recovery.

More up to date references include the new "Objective Raids" series, which is methodically naming all military production sites on a House-by-House basis for c3075. (Not to be confused with the 1990s "Objective Raids" sourcebook.)

2) BattleMechs outnumber aerospace fighters about 6 to 1 in frontline House units, and at a higher ratio in militia units (about 1:8 to 1:18). Further, per "A Time of War," pg366-373, BattleMechs and aerospace fighters are at least equally technologically challenging, requiring production planets to have at least a Tech Sophistication of B and Industrial Development of B. So, I disagree that aerospace fighters are easier than 'Mechs. Equally challenging, maybe.

3) Tank factories are not common in BT. The average House has about 200-300 frontline armored regiments (about 3 per 'Mech regiment), plus about 0-3 armored (militia) regiments per planet for a total of about 1500 armored regiments per House. That's about 150,000 tanks for about 1 trillion (1,000,000,000,000) people per House. The USA and USSR together (pop. 300 million in 1945) produced about 200,000 tanks between 1941 and 1945. So, comparatively, BT tank factories are very rare. At first blush, there's about 0.0225% of the tank production capacity in the 31st Century Inner Sphere as the US and USSR had in the 1940s.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.


Edited by Cray (07/07/11 07:45 AM)
KitK
07/07/11 09:27 AM
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Mm, TRO: 3057 (with all the ships and such) lists an orbital "Medium/Large Factory" at 17,000 tons with the actual "Factory Unit" at 1,700 ton with over 8,000 tons of cargo. It also says that factories weigh "From 2,000 to 20,000 tons in size" and that the factory unit "Must weigh 10 percent of the total weight and have it's own bay."

Quote:

Those factories only produce very limited items, like Endosteel powders. They're not churning out BattleMechs and fighters.

Quote:

So basically make up your own stats and it will be non cannon.

Quote:

Yes. And keep in mind canon: complete military factories (vs. garage-type operations that assemble spare parts from real factories) are very rare, so they're presumably hard to build.















Current objective:
Salvage a warship and refit it as a mobile factory.
Factory output: medium clan endosteel omni-chassis
Average output: 5 per year
Maximum output: 10 per year

I could see up to 50% the the weight/space after structure and engines going to the factory.
Its going to need grav-decks and delux quarters for the crew and workers
Its going to need a few docking collars
Its going to need small craft bays
I don't plan on arming it, but would include a few fighter bays and perhaps point defense systems

My planned customers are the warden clans in the innershere (Wolves in Exile, Ghost Bears, Nova Cats). They would have to provide the ferro-fibrous, electronincs and equipment that didn't go in omni pods, but it all would be assembled on the ship. So I guess I might need two factory sections. Endosteel for the frame and an assembly section to complete the mech. The logistics never end...
CrayModerator
07/07/11 10:22 AM
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Quote:


Current objective:
Salvage a warship and refit it as a mobile factory.
Factory output: medium clan endosteel omni-chassis
Average output: 5 per year
Maximum output: 10 per year




Comment: A BattleMech chassis is a lot more than just endo-steel. Without touching engines, gyros, and other named items of equipment, the chassis consists of very sophisticated joints (of many different materials), myomers (nanostructured polymers crapped out by bacteria and loaded into plastic tubes), fiber optics and a very smart structure (almost every point in a 'Mech's frame is laden with redundant low-level computers), and so forth. Even the main endo-steel "bones" are not just endo-steel: while they dispense with the ceramic fiber reinforcement of standard frames, they retain the foamed aluminum core. See Tech Manual pg30-40, or the CBT:Companion, for the systems in 'Mech chasses.

Questions:

1) Would it be acceptable to only produce endosteel ingots, powders, and "blanks" (basic tubes, angles, bars, etc.) for other factories to turn into products ranging from omni-mech chasses to the frames of Bugatti Veyron-3000s and ultra-expensive golf clubs? It simplifies your factory and greatly expands the customer base.

2) Alternately, would it be acceptable to limit production to 'Mech "bones" without completing the (many, many) other chasses components?

Comment: If the answer to either question is, "Yes," then you don't need a WarShip. You need a lab-scale facility that can produce about 20-50 tons of endo-steel (and maybe foamed aluminum) per year, which is what you find in an average steel mill's metallurgy lab. Typical lab-scale furnaces (handling merely 5 to 25 tons of steel a year) and other test equipment (for variously re-melting, purifying, casting, forging, machining, etc.) don't require more than 10-20 tons of equipment, maybe 100 tons if you err toward the side of caution. Been there, seen those labs, asked for quotes for products. ("You need an order of 10 pounds of that alloy? Well, no, we don't have any in stock, but our lab could run up a small batch in its smallest furnace, a 5-ton unit. You're going to have to pay for all 5 tons, of course, and there's an 8-week lead time to fit into the lab's test schedule...")

So, if you keep things simple, then you can fit all that into a small DropShip (maybe even a K-1 DropShuttle, though that doesn't leave you room to store piles of 'Mech bones) or the cargo bay of a JumpShip. Manpower requirements would be light if you're not doing any design work: maybe a couple of dozen techs, machinists, and some management types. It doesn't take much manpower to feed approved raw alloying materials into a furnace, cast the ingots, and work into some standard, simple shapes over and over.

Next question:

3) If you still want to assemble full chasses in the factory-ship, would you mind importing most of the non-endosteel components (chips, fiber optics, myomers, actuator lubricants, etc.) from other factories? (Be those other factories similarly ship-mounted or planet-side contractors.)

Comment: if the answer is, "Yes," then your life is still pretty simple because then you only need to bolt (weld, glue, staple, tape) together parts that are meant to bolt together in the field when technicians repair and maintain 'Mechs. That can be accomplished in a BattleMech Bay, much as described for the Marauder II factory in Objective Raids. You could probably assemble 1 to 4 chasses per year per 'Mech bay (and that's conservative: 'Mechs can be repaired from a stump of a center torso pretty quickly, in a matter of days.)

So, even if you add this "complication," the chasses assembly line is pretty light: you need 4 to 12 'Mech bays and 20-200 tons of lab-scale metal works. Use a converted Confederate, Union, or Mule-class DropShip, or stick them in a JumpShip's cargo bay. The assembly teams would be about one standard StratOps tech team (6 or so techs) per 'Mech bay, plus the metallurgy workers.

By putting the factories into modular units like DropShips, you gain flexibility not present in a monolithic WarShip factory. You can always add subsequent factories for more complicated items (e.g., microchips, myomers, fiber optic lines) or really complicated parts (fusion engines) if your chasses component suppliers fail.

The JumpShip you use to transport the DropShip factories can carry the modest worker quarters and gravdecks for such "simplified" chasses assembly lines.

Quote:

Its going to need grav-decks and delux quarters for the crew and workers




It won't need a lot of gravdecks unless you want thousands of workers. A 200-meter diameter WarShip gravdeck is over 600 meters long (circumference). If it's about 7-8 meters wide and has two rows of 3x3m rooms, you can fit 400 rooms into one such gravdeck. At double occupancy, that's 800 workers in one gravdeck.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/07/11 10:59 AM
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Once again Battletech makes no sense.

You have almost no weapons compared to the population. Any popular uprising should crush the military with no effort.

Any major campaign should eliminate both sides main weapons with little production to replace the losses.

The ease of throwing up a factory to build war equipment. A ICE tank factory should be able to be built and at full production in a matter of years. And even faster if one of the Enter Sphere states put there full attention into it. It would not be that hard for one of the Enter Sphere states to go in reverse engineer all of the technology in one mech factory and build more of them other places. One thing humans have been very good at is reverse engineering someone elses technology and making it them self's and even making it better.

At the rate aerospace fighters can be destroyed from losses and that there less technically complicated than battlemechs they should be built at a faster rate then battlemechs not at a slower rate.

A aerospace fighter should be simpler because you don't have all of the moving parts in a aerospace fighter that a mech has. You have basically a main rocket engine and thrusters pushing the aerospace fighter where on a battlemech has all of the problems just to make it walk.

Its a good thing that you can say, "Hay, its just a game!" and chuck logic out the window.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
CrayModerator
07/07/11 11:25 AM
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Once again Battletech makes no sense.




The population/military problem has been a pain in the butt for writers for about 15 years when the problem became obvious (i.e., when a new generation of writers started giving their input and rec.games.mecha allowed them to hear from hundreds of fans).

Unfortunately, the original FASA writers created the problem in the 1986-1988 period with the House Sourcebooks. The House Sourcebooks gave 2000+ planets with an average population in the billions and - in the very same books - set the small military sizes and low military production rates. And the House Sourcebooks set average incomes comparable to those of people in the 1980s, about 10,000 House-bills per person per year. It means, with some effort, that the average Inner Sphere planet can afford a militia comparable to an entire House military. But they don't, because BT planets only need a few companies or battalions to conquer them.

The FASA writers went on to lock in the problem with publications like the Inner Sphere Sourcebook and any other product that included planetary statistics (not to mention countless novel and sourcebook fluff references). The Inner Sphere and nearby Periphery planets had billions of people, most of the time. The references were too extensive to expunge from the game, and used too often in too many novels to ignore. So, this continuity headache remained.

The detailed Warriors of Kerensky Sourcebook rubbed the problem in faces when it said the Clans had a total homeworld population of 1.15 billion (which was sensible, given the size of the SLDF exile fleet and time for population growth) and gave a 3055 warrior population of 115,000 (which was sensible, given the Clans' awful economic system and general material impoverishment) and confirmed these were the invaders who conquered scores of Inner Sphere planets. The average Invading Clan can spare about 50 warriors (which includes the Clan police sub-caste) per occupied planet. Uprising problem? You should see the flamewars on ye olde rec.games.mecha about the Invasion.

Today, fact checkers have to methodically tell writers to delete references to massive interstellar exports, mass uprisings, mass conscription, and any other large-scale activity that clashes with the small militaries and small JumpShip fleets of BT.

The fix, IMO, would be to cut the Inner Sphere population by about 50. You could have a handful of critical, wealthy planets with populations in the billions (New Avalon, Terra, Atreus) and the rest with populations in the millions to tens of millions. Other approaches, like lowering average income, simply don't work for long because there are too many historical examples of human nations going from "iron age subsistence farming" to "thundering industrialized nations" in about half a century. However, the magnitude of the retcon to change populations is beyond feasibility.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/07/11 01:08 PM
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I am happy that I don't need to deal with that. I can bring the amount of arms available up to a reasonable level. Another thing i can do is claim that there are vast fleets of jumpships that are considered critical to the economic survival of each house so the military cant commandeer them for their use.

Companies are very good at getting politicians and bureaucrats into their back pockets. Generals have always wanted to bring their weapons to bare on there own civilian bureaucrats as much as the enemies of the state. A good case in point was General McArther during the Korean war.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
KitK
07/07/11 10:31 PM
71.17.192.22

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Quote:

1) Would it be acceptable to only produce endosteel ingots, powders, and "blanks" (basic tubes, angles, bars, etc.) for other factories to turn into products ranging from omni-mech chasses to the frames of Bugatti Veyron-3000s and ultra-expensive golf clubs? It simplifies your factory and greatly expands the customer base.





Well, not really. A clan endo factory in IS space and privately controlled would, in my mind, be kind of a hot item. And the big money will be in the military equipment. Problem is I figure I HAVE to sell to clans, or I end up having to mix tech to deliver to the IS, and I don't want to go there. So the tech kind of needs to stay on the ship to keep its secrets safe and mobile. The other part to why not is that I assumed this would be hard to do and raw materials out of reach enough that every ounce would be needed for the mechs.

Quote:

2) Alternately, would it be acceptable to limit production to 'Mech "bones" without completing the (many, many) other chasses components?





Oh, yes, I had almost forgotten I have to get my hands on Clan XL engines. Gonna have to keep things above board with the Wardens to get those!

Anyway, I assumed (the more I use that word the more trouble I am doomed to get in) endosteel limbs took endosteel elbo joints, widgits, nuts, bolts, and angle irons. Thus, the factory has to make the endosteel and cast it to produce everything endosteel on the mech. Everything else has got to come from somewhere else.

Quote:

3) If you still want to assemble full chasses in the factory-ship, would you mind importing most of the non-endosteel components (chips, fiber optics, myomers, actuator lubricants, etc.) from other factories? (Be those other factories similarly ship-mounted or planet-side contractors.)





Absolutely. Anything common between the IS and Clan tech gets locally imported. I was thinking I would need two jumpships with 4 dropships for the express purpose of moving raw materials, parts, personnel, supplies and making deliveries.

Using the delivery dropship for assembly is a pretty darn good idea.
I found your estimate of the people needed interesting. I was thinking "gee a factory will probably need a couple of hundred people, even if just laborers.
Now I am off to read those pages.

thanks

KK
CrayModerator
07/08/11 09:04 AM
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Quote:

Well, not really. A clan endo factory in IS space and privately controlled would, in my mind, be kind of a hot item. And the big money will be in the military equipment. Problem is I figure I HAVE to sell to clans, or I end up having to mix tech to deliver to the IS, and I don't want to go there.




You do need trade with the Clans, but it needn't be your own military products. Find something that, say, Clan Diamond Shark wants (e.g., some raw material cheaply obtained in the Inner Sphere, Spheroid holovid shows, Spheroid luxuries - coffee, furs, booze, "automated mannequins of dubious moral value," etc.) and trade it to Diamond Shark in exchange for Clan 'Mech parts. In turn, use your connections with the Inner Sphere to get those items.

I mean, if you're selling Clan military gear to the Inner Sphere you can name your price and add in those luxuries to trade with the Clans. "Hmm. Instead of the usual 5x the factory rate for these OmniMech Chasses, I'll sell at four times, saving you a hundred million CB on this order of 5 'Mechs. But I also want holovid copies of 'Canopian Oil Wrestling Crime Solving Vixens,' Seasons 1 to 10, with distribution rights. And five thousand cases of Timbiqui Dark. Make that happen and you get your 5 OmniMech chasses."

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So the tech kind of needs to stay on the ship to keep its secrets safe and mobile. The other part to why not is that I assumed this would be hard to do and raw materials out of reach enough that every ounce would be needed for the mechs.




Endo steel is an iron-based alloy (or it ain't a steel). That means at least half of it is one of the most common elements in the universe. While some other ingredients might be rarer, few metal alloys (especially steels) run into major bottlenecks in raw materials. Once past the raw material hurdle, the next question is processing capacity, but that, too, is rarely a bottleneck for metals. There's not a lot of difference in operating and construction costs between furnaces with 100kg capacity and 10,000kg capacity, and they'll be able to produce that much every few days.

The next issue is markets. As discussed with His Royal Highness elsewhere in this thread, the military markets of BT are tiny. 3060-3070 military production is around 4000 to 6000 'Mechs per year; if they were all 100-ton endo steel 'Mechs then - ignoring the other materials in internal structures - you'd need a maximum of 30,000 tons of endo steel a year. This is not a lot of metal - Earth has been producing 1 - 1.5 billion tons of steel per year for some decades now (next most common metal: aluminum, at tens of millions of tons per year), and integrated steel mills (which refine iron ore and perform finishing and crude shaping operations on their ingots) are only economical when they make 2 million tons or more per year. Mini-mills, which usually run on scrap iron (i.e., already refined metal), may produce merely tens of thousands of tons of specialty steel goods.

(Those numbers are a bit misleading: the US was producing 75 million tons of steel in 1939, but could only produce 19,000 tons of rolled armor plate of the thickness required by its battleships. Specialty products can be rarer and harder to make.)

Still, once you've gone through the trouble of building a mobile, zero-G metal-making factory and there's not much difference in factory cost between building a factory that can make, say, 100 tons of endo steel a year for the military versus a factory that can make 1000 tons a year...Well, you'd probably be inclined to build the factory to the larger capacity and sell to civilian markets. Advanced materials in luxury goods command ludicrous mark-ups - $50 of carbon fiber-epoxy can allow you to sell the club for $500 - and there are lot more rich idiots in the Inner Sphere than there are military units.

The problem of a tiny market plagues all BT military suppliers. Consider the scenario where a laser manufacturer has to spend 10 billion CB working with NAIS to recover ER laser technology from the Helm Memory Core, then 6 billion more CB to open a factory with sufficiently advanced tools to build the ER lasers, and then finds out the AFFS only wants 100 ER large lasers a year at 300,000CB each. At 3% interest, the mortgage payments on the factory are 6 times what the factory earns - without touching utilities, salaries, suppliers, materials, or any loans taken to cover R&D costs. You better believe the factory will be built with an eye toward supplying new-and-improved lasers to the civilian market, too. There are millions of civilian machine shops and mining operations and factories that would love to have improved laser welders/cutters/cladders/peeners/miners, but not many military customers.

The experience of the Virginia-class submarine design phase might be instructive: all US nuclear submarines had back-up diesel generators based on giant, slow-starting train diesel engines because, well, train diesels had been used on submarines since submarines used diesels. The last US supplier of such engines was shutting down when the Virginia-class design phase was ending and the Navy was faced with giving corporate welfare to this company to a) produce about 30 engines for 30 submarines, and b) support the company for decades to maintain the engines throughout the Virginias' service life. The Navy approached Caterpillar and asked if it had any diesels that might meet the Virginia's needs. Caterpillar, in fact, had an existing large diesel engine that it built by the hundreds annually - and was much smaller, lighter, more efficient, faster-starting, and lower maintenance than the locomotive engines the Navy had used. (This is far from the only time I've seen US military engineers amazed that civilian technology has overtaken their decades-old, mil-spec'd gear.)

The point? Caterpillar didn't pin its annual profits on a tiny sale to the military. In fact, the Virginia contract was a modest loss (30 engines and some parts and service wasn't a moneymaker contract) that Caterpillar took out of its marketing budget ("Caterpillar: supporting the most advanced nuclear submarines and US Navy. Buy Caterpillar, blah blah") Caterpillar makes its money selling tens of thousands of diesel engines and construction equipment to civilians each year, not selling 30 engines once in 30 or 40 years to the Navy.

I figure most component suppliers in BT are similar. An ER laser manufacturing probably sells all manner of non-weapon lasers and looks at military sales as a loss leader/marketing ploy. Zero-G endosteel factories probably look to sporting goods, luxury cars, and civilian aircraft manufacturers as their cashcows. Same for fusion engines: for every combat-grade BattleMech and tank engine, there are probably hundreds of potential civilian customers from aerospace to municiple power companies. When you've got bajillion-CB factories to pay off...

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Anyway, I assumed (the more I use that word the more trouble I am doomed to get in) endosteel limbs took endosteel elbo joints, widgits, nuts, bolts, and angle irons. Thus, the factory has to make the endosteel and cast it to produce everything endosteel on the mech. Everything else has got to come from somewhere else.




That's fine. If you're just assembling completed parts from other suppliers, then you can have a quite lightweight factory and minimal personnel.

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Using the delivery dropship for assembly is a pretty darn good idea.




I wasn't suggesting using any factory ship for delivery; fancy machine tools and assembly lines don't like a lot of jostling and movement. Rather, I was suggesting DropShips as factory ships because they're much more available than WarShips (and attract much less attention.)

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I found your estimate of the people needed interesting. I was thinking "gee a factory will probably need a couple of hundred people, even if just laborers.




It depends on what you're doing. If you are moving beyond simply producing plain endosteel into a few basic shapes to actually producing complete endosteel frame components, you'll need (at a guess) several dozen more machinists and much more elaborate machinery. (Several hundred tons.) The assembly crew putting together the chasses won't grow if you continue to buy most components from off-board, but the elaborate "bones" and joints of internal structures take a lot more labor than basic endosteel production.
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

Disclaimer: Anything stated in this post is unofficial and non-canon unless directly quoted from a published book. Random internet musings of a BattleTech writer are not canon.
LAMdriver
07/18/11 02:37 AM
64.147.209.78

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Another problem you have to look into is security for your set up.

I would suggest a Squadron of Aerospace fighters for CAP around your ship, a company of 'Mechs for dropship protection, and a couple of infantry/ marines/ battlearmor companies. If you could swing it in the negotations , a House warship to ride shot gun would be nice too.
" The object of war is not to die for your country. It's to make some other bastard die for his!"--Patton

""War is Hell. Combat is a motherfucker."---General Tommy Franks
His_Most_Royal_Highass_Donkey
07/18/11 04:30 AM
107.29.217.130

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It might be better not to have all of that hanging around. That will just draw unwanted attention. Having a merchant drop ship arrive in system would not draw any extra attention. On its inbound flight have it go dark and change its trajectory once its out of sight of any other ship that is hanging around the jumppoint. A solar system is a very big place to hide anything.
Why argue if the glass is half full or half empty, when you know someone is going to knock it over and spill it anyways.

I was a Major *pain* before
But I got a promotion.
I am now a General *pain*
Yay for promotions!!!
KitK
11/30/11 08:29 AM
70.64.129.30

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Getting back to this thread is way overdue; but thanks for the comments. I tried writing an elaborate response earlier and it didn’t work, so I will keep it to the point.

RE: Cray - trade and the Virginia class sub:
I was tempted to pass this off as getting too involved, but it is key to the idea's viability. So, you are right, I have to sell to the Inner Sphere more aggressively. The sales are not to make a Clan-tech power out of a House, but they could be used to make the station self-sufficient and even profitable. If the sale of a single lance of mechs could cover base costs for a year or two without getting subsidized by the head office, it would be a good and reasonable expectation.

As far as making consumer goods goes, your point is well taken. However, it might be better left as a background assumption. I say this because the in-universe focus is supposed to be military equipment. Supplying the lightest tip for endosteel toed boots in the IS or making the lightest, most popular, bike frames for the racers in the prestigious Tour de Sian is cool, but it is not what the company is about.

RE: LAMdriver and HMRHD – base security:
A star of expatriated, solahma, Smoke Jaguar elementals but only two mechwarriors to start with. Aerospace was on my list, but I haven't decided how many. With all the backstabbing that goes on in the Sphere I wouldn’t want a warship riding shotgun, no thanks. An in-system hiding place near a backwoods, hillbilly planet sounds good.

The update
I’ve chosen a Fredasa class Clan, corvette warship and named it Precipice Station.
Pulling the NAC-40 alone might free enough space and weight to insert the factory. It could really use an extra docking collar too.

Timeline: Leave clan space after the fall of the Jaguars on Strana Mechty, when its base Jaguar planet comes under attack. Arrive at Davisville (FS) est. 3061 or 3062. Discovered/attacked by WoB approx. 3070 forcing relocation to Hobson (FS) near New Syrtis for a short time. Then on to Thessalonika (home of the Tyrsis McNeil Museum) in the Rasalhague Dominion in 3081 after the fall of Wob.
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