One of my favourite specialities in this game is the trade industry, like raw resource and manufacturing industries. These are pretty costly to begin with, and they take up a hell of a lot of space, but in the end they are well worth the investment not just for the resources themselves since they will eventually dry up, but for the production lines with the trade industry.
Not all cities have raw resources like oil, ore and coal. Having these resources will help you greatly to kick-starting your trade industry, but if you don't then you'll have to begin slowly educating your city into recycling. Even with raw resources it's helpful to have a recycling plant to save money on needing to buy stuff like metals, plastics and alloys globally or setting up your own smelting/refining factories to make them. In fact I find smelting and refining goods is far more hassle than it's worth. I mean sure, you're maybe saving money making your own plastics per hour in a refining factory vs purchasing them globally, but you'll need lots of land space and a large population to support it or you'll have too few workers to manage your other factories and jobs, and eventually you will end up having to buy them globally when the resources dry out. Save having to smelt/refine your own stuff for great works projects, otherwise you're wasting far too much land space and much needed workers for digging up and smelting/refining the raw resources, plus it'll require unlocking the metals headquarters and all its divisions in order to plant a smelting factory. The only other reason I can possibly see needing a smelting factory and oil refinery is if you got well over 300k population and multiple factories that can't keep up with the demand for alloys and plastics even when imported and recycled.
Metals and alloys sell for quite a lot on the market, so start stockpiling those. These are the current rates of the raw and recycled goods:
- Alloy - 4,200 per 1
- Metal - 3,150 per 1
- Plastics - 21 per 1
- Coal - 600 per 1
- Ore - 750 per 1
- Oil - 9 per 1
So as you can see plastics and oil sell for extremely little, but you're still gonna need to dispose of them to avoid your plant, drills and factories from closing down from being full of plastic and oil. A trade depot can hold the following amounts:
- Alloy - 20 tonnes per container
- Metal - 20 tonnes per container
- Plastics - 2,000 crates per container
- Coal - 20 tonnes per container
- Ore - 20 tonnes per container
- Oil - 2,000 tonnes per container
Trade depots can only hold 4 containers max, whilst a trade port can hold 6 max and can hold 5x more cargo per container. To be able to unlock the trade port you must either unlock the trade headquarters or a commerce division with one of the other headquarters. Commerce divisions are very important for being able to trade certain goods via the trade port as many are locked down, but the trade depot has no limitations.
To begin unlocking headquarters and their divisions you'll need to start stockpiling goods like alloy and metal to sell or collect a certain number of materials via mining or drilling within a day. If you have no oil fields then you won't be able to unlock the petroleum headquarters, otherwise this is what you will need for unlocking it and the divisions:
- 9,000 oil drilled
- 160,000 simoleans profit in oil/plastics/fuel sales
- 800,000 simoleans profit in oil/plastics/fuel sales
At only 9 simoleans per oil you'll need to sell approximately 17,800 oil to unlock the first division, or 7620 plastics. That is the equivalent of 9 containers of oil or 4 containers of plastics in a trade depot. Once the containers are full export them dead on 12:00 midnight game with all trucks being dispatched. Having your depots close to the highway is a good idea so your trucks get in and out of the city quickly, then you're not nail-biting worrying if you'll get it all exported before it hits midnight game time again. To make the 800,000 simoleans you'll need to store and sell approximately 88,900 oil or 38,096 plastics, which is the equivalent of either 29 containers of oil in a trade depot or 9 containers in a trade port, or 20 containers of plastics in a trade depot or 4 containers in a trade port.
Now while personally it's not worth bothering smelting your own ores and alloys, if you decide to go ahead to unlock the headquarters and divisions anyways for a global works then this is what you'll need for the metals headquarters, but be warned you will need a large population to handle it on top of everything else otherwise you could face worker shortage issues, and your coal/ore industry will produce a huge amount of sewage and consume a huge amount of water:
- 96 tons of coal or ore mined a day
- 160,000 simoleans profit in coal/ore/metal
- 700,000 simoleans profit in coal/ore/metal
- 2,000,000 simoleans profit in coal/ore/metal
Unlocking the headquarters is pretty easy with a fully decked mine. Your first division will need one of the following sales:
- 39 alloy (2 trade depot containers or 1 trade port container)
- 51 metal (3 trade depot containers or 1 trade port container)
- 267 coal (14 trade depot containers or 3 trade port containers)
- 214 ore (11 trade depot containers or 3 trade port containers)
You should find this easier to do if you're also exporting metals from the recycling plant.
Unless you really want an advanced coal mine you shouldn't need to worry about the other divisions, the ability to sell coal, ore, alloy and metals should already be covered by one of the other headquarters. If you really want an advanced coal mine then this is what you're gonna need:
- 167 alloy (9 trade depot containers or 2 trade port containers)
- 223 metal (12 trade depot containers or 3 trade port containers)
- 1667 coal (83 trade depot containers or 17 trade port containers)
- 1077 ore (54 trade depot containers or 11 trade port containers)
Since you've likely unlocked the smelting factory from the previous upgrade then you'll be making plenty of alloys to go on the global market plus sales of the metals from the recycling plant.
The trade headquarters is a bit more forgiving. To unlock it and its divisions you'll need the following:
- 72,000 simoleans profit in any goods (does not include freight from industrial)
- 250,000 simoleans profit in any goods (does not include freight from industrial)
- 2,000,000 simoleans profit in any goods (does not include freight from industrial)
- 4,000,000 simoleans profit in any goods (does not include freight from industrial)
This is where stockpiling metal and alloy comes in handy. If you've been working on unlocking petroleum divisions then this will cover unlocking the trade headquarters for you once you dispatch the oil, otherwise you'll need to sell either of the following :
- 18 alloy (1 trade depot container)
- 24 metal (2 trade depot containers)
- 3,429 plastics (2 trade depot containers)
- 120 coal (6 trade depot containers)
- 96 ore (5 trade depot containers)
As you can see alloy, metal and plastics are your best bet here as they require less containers. Good thing you built that recycling center, right? You did build one, right? And enough schools to educate your sims into recycling? Even if you don't want to make your city a green city you still need education in order to manufacture goods more efficiently, so if they're not already get your population studying their brains out.
If you're doing other things on top of exporting oil then you may possibly make the 250,000 simoleans deadline before midnight. If you don't then unfortunately you'll have to start again stocking up and exporting. Luckily you'll now have the ability to plant a trade port, which will save you on needing to use too much land space for trade depots as you can now store more goods, and if you have a rail or boat connection then you can push your goods out more faster with a freight rail terminal or cargo dock. This is what you'll need:
Trade HQ Upgrade 1
- 60 alloy (3 trade depot containers or 1 trade port container)
- 80 metal (4 trade depot containers or 1 trade port container)
- 11,905 plastics (6 trade depot containers or 2 trade port containers)
- 417 coal (21 trade depot containers or 5 trade port containers)
- 334 ore (17 trade depot containers or 4 trade port containers)
- 27,778 oil (14 trade depot containers or 3 trade port containers)
2,000,000 simoleans sounds like a lot. It is actually if you're depending on raw materials for sales. My advice here is to plant a division that allows you to sell alloy, metals and processors at a depot, otherwise you'll be up to your armpits in trade depots trying to match the requirements for the next upgrade. This is what you would need to meet the requirement:
Trade HQ Upgrade 2
- 19,900 processors (2 trade port containers or 10 trade depot containers)
- 477 alloy (5 trade port containers or 24 trade depot containers)
- 635 metal (7 trade port containers or 32 trade depot containers)
- 95,240 plastics (10 trade port containers or 48 trade depot containers)
- 3,334 coal (34 trade port containers or 167 trade depot containers)
- 2,667 ore (27 trade port containers or 134 trade depot containers)
- 222,223 oil (23 trade port containers or 112 trade depot containers)
As you can see here processors are now your best bet, and plastics are now an important part of your business so you'll need to use them locally instead of exporting them. Your recycling center will not be up to keeping up with the demand on alloy and plastics so you'll need to import them. Import alloy and plastics and store the processors, and like before set them to export at midnight game time. It'll take a few days game time to fill up all the containers, especially if your city isn't very educated, so just hang tight in there, continue exporting metals since you have no use for them yet and this'll help pay for the plastics and alloys.
Hopefully you're using your head and taking advantage of making processors to meet the 2mil demand for the 3rd upgrade with your trade headquarters, importing plastics and alloy, exporting metals, have all 4 processor assembly lines activated, and have an educated population. You need to do this because in order to unlock the electronics headquarters you'll have to manufacture 7,200 processors in a day. Uneducated sims produce slower than educated sims, so they will not meet this deadline with 1 processor factory alone, and you must import materials otherwise you'll run out fast and your factory will close down until restocked.
Once your electronics headquarters is planted down you need to meet the following demands for upgrades:
- 7,200 processors produced
- 1,500,000 simoleans profit in electronics sales (14,926 processors, 2 trade port containers or 8 trade depot containers)
- 4,597,152 simoleans profit in electronics sales (45,743 processors, 5 trade port containers or 23 trade depot containers)
Oh hey, what do you know, you need 1.5 mil in processor sales for the 2nd upgrade, just as you need 2 mil in regular sales for your trade headquarters to upgrade. Do these 2 together.
Now you can drop a consumer electronics division and start making TVs and computers. This is entirely up to you if you want to, or if you need them for a global works. TVs and computers will net a very nice amount, almost double what you're making from processors, but since you're now converting your processors into TVs and computers you'll be waiting longer for payment but it's a good investment anyways as you'll be netting around *2mil per day in sales. If you're struggling for money then just keep selling processors until you've netted enough and are less panicky that your city might go bust. Chances are your hourly rate will now be in the negative whilst your industrial income will be supporting your city. Don't worry about this unless you have warnings about needing to zone RCI or increase taxes. You will also need plenty of residents to work the factories, otherwise they'll shut down due to lack of workers unless you got lots of regional workers needing jobs, but I would highly advise on having your own city workers since you can guarantee they'll be educated enough to push out as many products as possible. You won't need the 3rd upgrade from the headquarters, however if you feel like it you can go ahead if you want to import/export stuff like plastics, oil and fuel, but you likely got those covered already. You'll need 3 crates of TVs at a trade port to meet this figure and it'll also cover for the final upgrade with the trade headquarters.
*before expenses, data based on a city of 130k residents at level 4 education with 1 of each processing factory. Data results may vary due to layout of town, education level, population levels, etc.