Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry – Cities: Skylines

Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry – Cities: Skylines 22 - steamclue.com
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry – Cities: Skylines 22 - steamclue.com


Welcome to the comprehensive guide to the industry. This guide is written for both players who own the Industries DLC and those who do not. This guide first addresses the basics of the industry. In the chapter `How Industry Works` I will reveal the exact mechanics of supply and demand and how the game decides where your buildings get their products. In the next part `Tips and Tricks` I will show you how to create successful industrial areas. Want all Unique Factories working at 150%, want to create a hub where products are stored and redistributed in the city? You’ll find out how here. Finally, there is the FAQ.
No mods are required for this guide.

  • 1 Basics of Industry
  • 2 How Industry works
  • 3 Tips and Tricks
  • 4 FAQs


1 Basics of Industry

Use of Industry
The industry serves two purposes in Cities:Skylines. First, it creates a lot of jobs which you need to increase residential demand. Second, it can create Goods, which are required for commercial buildings to operate. Offices can be used as an alternative to creating jobs, but there is no alternative for creating goods. Without industry, your city can still import goods but there is a hard cap on importing at about 10.000 (see Connections info screen for your current import value).
Industries DLC offers another reason you want to expand your industries: it offers a LOT of money if managed correctly.
Differences between the original “Zoned Industry” and the “Industries DLC Industry”
Although Industries DLC adds a lot of new buildings, the only truly new functionality the DLC adds is the ability to place warehouses. For the rest, the DLC basically lets you manually place the various industrial buildings that zoning would otherwise get you.
Zoned industry only gives you a small bit of taxes, but if the business gets in financial troubles, the worst thing that can happen to you is the buildings get abandoned. Industries DLC gives you city-owned industry which means all profits and losses effect your budget. For more details on the differences between the two, see chapter The supply chain.


Generic industry: industry buildings you get if you zone yellow industry.
Specialized industry: Buildings you get if you zone yellow industry WITHIN a district which you gave a specialized industry. (Also includes all Industries DLC production buildings except Unique Factories.)
Extractor: Possible specialized industry. Requires placement on resource. Produces Raw products.
Processor: Possible specialized industry. Requires Raw products in storage. Produces Processed products.
Factory: Generic industry. Requires Processed products in storage. Produces goods.
Unique factory: Industries DLC equivalent of Generic Industry.
Commercial: Requires goods in storage.
Warehouse: Industries DLC only. For the sake of this guide, also includes Silos, Barns, Yards, Storages, Tank farms etc.
Resources: The stuff you find on the map and need to build over.
Products: Includes everything that can be produced by industry buildings: raw products, processed products and goods.
Storage: Buildings can hold a certain number of products.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 1 Basics of Industry - 47D0E9250
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 1 Basics of Industry - 4E0AB51CC
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 1 Basics of Industry - 53A3687C3
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 1 Basics of Industry - 9C2546F54
Left of the road are the Extractors, right of the road are the Processors.

2.1 The supply chain

What is the supply chain? Simply put: there are oil pumps which produce raw oil. Those buildings need to deliver the raw oil to another oil building in your city that turn the raw oil into processed oil. That building then needs to deliver the processed oil to an industrial building that turns the processed oil into commercial goods. Finally that building delivers the commercial goods to a commercial building which consumes them at a regular rate (customers don’t actually buy goods, the commercial buildings just eat them).
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.1 The supply chain - CA51C76B0
The ingame supply chain with additional info
There are a few misunderstandings to clear up.
Extractors and Processors
First, although there are clearly two different type of specialized products for each industrial specialization in the base game (Raw Products and Processed Products), the information screens lump all these together. So if a building is shown in blue at the Connections import screen, you need to look at the type of building to see if it is importing Raw Ore or Processed Ore. In fact, it is very common to have buildings that are lighting up as importing ‘ore products’ but also light up as exporting ‘ore products’. In this case that would mean the building is an Ore Processor which uses raw ore and produces processed ore.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.1 The supply chain - 4765F808D
The Zoned Ore Specialty buildings in the middle are processors. Because I have too many of them, I am exporting Zoned Processed Ore. However, because they are not build on the ore resource, none of them can become extractors so they also have to import all the Raw Ore.
Generic Industry uses all specialized products
If you zone an industrial area, but you do not create a district over it with a specialized industry, it will create Generic industry. When the internal storage for specialized products in a Generic Industrial building runs low, it will choose a random specialized resource (Forestry, Farming, Ore or Oil). It will then request the Processed Product of that resource type. Once it receives a delivery, it will toss it on the pile of its internal storage. It doesn’t have a separate storage for each type of product. The Industries DLC equivalent to generic factories: Unique Factories, DO have separate storages for each type of product.

Hint: If you want to prevent Generic industry from importing products, you need all four specializations. 

Storage and delivery
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.1 The supply chain - 11A1F24E4
Buildings store both the products they need and the products they create in different internal storages.

Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.1 The supply chain - 401F7CF11
Industrial buildings all own one or more delivery trucks. Buildings will ONLY deliver the finished product to the next building in the supply chain. Trucks will NEVER be send out to collect products for the owner of truck.

The importance of trucks arriving at their destination
Hint: the trucks driving between the various buildings in the supply chain are transporting the products. If they cannot get to their destination, you have a problem. This is different from most CIMs travelling in your city where it doesn’t matter if they reach their destination or not. This makes industry heavily dependent on effective traffic management. In fact, creating good ma*s transit options is mostly to clear the road for your industrial traffic, city services and emergency services.

Advantages of producing locally
Because you can import and export most products, you can ignore certain parts of the supply chain. You have to, in fact, at the start of the game because you haven’t unlocked specialized industry yet. The main advantages of having all products created locally are:

  • Specialized industry has set education levels for the jobs they create
  • Farming and Forestry create pollution free industry jobs
  • Specialized industry pays more taxes than level 1 Generic Industry (and ore and oil pay more taxes than level 2 Generic Industry)
  • Reducing import and export reduces traffic from outside (and gives you complete control over the supply routes).
  • Industries DLC makes tons of money

You can choose to try to optimally balance your industry and get 0 imported products with only a few exports. Or you can build a huge oil industry that exports products in ma*s. It’s up to you. Just keep in mind that everything you don’t produce you need to import and everything you overproduce you need to export which means traffic.
Especially early on when you haven’t unlocked offices yet, you will be producing more goods than your commercial consumes. Most of your industriel will be importing products and then exporting goods. Add a few specializations (even if not placed on the resource) and they’ll still import, but they’ll send their products to another building in your city, saving you 1 export trip and 1 import trip.
Does importing products cost you money?
You DO NOT pay money when your Zoned Industry buildings import products nor do you make money when exporting. They are private owned businesses which operate in your city, but you do not own them. All profits and losses are theirs and it doesn’t affect their tax.
Industries DLC ARE owned by you personally however and therefore you DO pay for importing and gain money from exporting. The term ‘import’ and ‘export’ in the district information screen can be confusing here. Industries DLC districts consider buying from private owned companies in your city (aka. Zoned buildings) importing as well. And delivering to zoned buildings is considered exporting. So if you create a warehouse that holds raw oil, you will have to pay for the oil if it comes from Zoned Extractors as well. But if the warehouse then delivers it to a Zoned Processor, you’ll get your money back. The district information panel calls these exports and imports, but the city connections panel does not!
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.1 The supply chain - 97D306D8B

Hint: there are a few buildings which operate outside the traditional supply chain. Coal Power Plants require Processed Ore to operate and will request this specific product over and over again if they run low. Oil Power Plants do the same with Processed Oil. Interestingly, a 1x1 commercial zone has a chance to spawn a gas station building. Instead of requesting goods like normal commercial, these buildings will request Processed Oil. Green Cities DLC has “Organic and Local produce” commercial buildings which require both goods AND Zoned Processed Farming products. There are a few more such exceptions, so keep your eye out for them.


2.2 How do buildings choose where to buy/sell their products?

We’ve all seen it happen. You have a forest area creating logs and a saw mill next door. But instead of delivering to the saw mill, your forest area exports it’s logs while the saw mill is simultaneously importing those same logs from another city! The truck drivers waving as they pa*s each other on the highway.
How does this happen and how do we stop it?
Each industrial building is producing products at their own rate. At a certain point though, the building will have produced 8 tons of products. This is the exact number of products 1 truck can carry. The building will then send out a signal across the city: “I NEED to sell these 8 tons of product NOW!”
To understand the buyer and seller system, think of the buying and selling process as turn-based.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.2 How do buildings choose where to buy/sell their products? - 5F41ED5A3
Visualization of the exchange market. The saw mill’s request for logs and the plantation’s log offering do not match up.
The plantation produces 8 tons of raw forestry product about every 56 seconds. So it sends a signal in turn 12 that it has products to sell. It will pick a buyer and send out a truck to that buyer. It takes another 12 turns for the next truck to be ready. In other words, this plantation only offers products to the city 1/12 of the time.
Now let’s add the processor to the equation. This saw mill consumes 8 tons of raw forestry product every 30 seconds. It takes 30 seconds before the saw mill has consumed enough raw forestry product to make room for another 8 tons. So it sends a signal in turn 4 that it needs a seller to supply them. And will do so again every 4 turns. The saw mill only requests products ¼ of the time.
The chances of the plantation and the saw mill meeting each other during the same turn, are very small. The ‘turns’ are a visualization, I believe there are about 2 turns each second in the slowest speed. So there are much more turns. A single plantation and a single saw mill WILL miss each other A LOT. I counted only 1 local delivery in 30 saw mill production cycles.
Basically, the games uses its own weird version of just-in-time delivery.

Industrial buildings WILL NOT keep their trucks on ‘stand by’ in the hope that better buyer can be found next turn. Nor will they refuse products and starve themselves in the hope that a better seller will show itself next turn. 

Buyers and sellers are also limited to how many sales they can do each turn, so a building that can store 300 tons of a product will not instantly request 37 trucks.

Solution 1: Scale
The obvious solution to getting your buildings to use local products is increasing the scale. Provided of course that they were all build at different times. If you paused the game while building them, they have the same production cycle. Remember this, we’ll get back to it!
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.2 How do buildings choose where to buy/sell their products? - 727B74FDA
Increasing the number of sellers increased the chance of the saw mill buying locally. In this case 4/8 deliveries were local.
Solution 2: Warehouses (Industries DLC only)
The other solution is using warehouses. Warehouses will always offer to buy and sell products if they can.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.2 How do buildings choose where to buy/sell their products? - 9C44EBAB4
The Fill-warehouse always offers to sell.

Hint: When thinking of internal storage space keep in mind that every building will count the storage of every deliver truck that is on its way as if it is already in storage when making decisions. So a warehouse can be ‘full’ with only 80% in its info panel, because the remaining 20% is already on its way in trucks. This is why you see delivery trucks drive past buildings that scream out for those products. They already have a truck on the way and cannot accept another one.
In Industries DLC you can use policies or build Maintenance Buildings to increase the internal storage room. Therefore 16 ton is the magical number to surpa*s as it means the building can support having 2 delivery trucks heading to it simultaneously. If your building has 18 ton storage space, it can survive requesting a delivery from some stupidly far away seller because when it is down to 2 tons it is allowed to request another truck which, hopefully, will come from closer by. In fact, the far away truck can get stuck in traffic for a long time, as long as other nearby sellers keep stepping up. Only if another far away seller is chosen while the previous far away seller’s truck STILL hasn’t made its way to you, will you have issues with the building not having enough materials.[/quote/]


2.3 Reluctant buyers/sellers, how Warehouses work (Industries DLC only)

What are Active and Reluctant buyers/sellers?
Buyers first look for Active sellers. Active sellers are buildings that NEED to sell the product this turn.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.3 Reluctant buyers/sellers, how Warehouses work (Industries DLC only) - D0E3F8680
After matching the Active buyers and Active sellers, there are usually a few buyers or sellers left with no partner. These will now look for Reluctant Buyers or Reluctant Sellers instead.
An example of a Reluctant Seller is a warehouse set to “Fill”. The Fill-warehouse has the products needed but prefers to keep them. If nobody else in the city can sell these product though, and there are still active buyers left, the Fill-warehouse will offer to sell. This prevents the need to import the product. Similarly, an Empty-warehouse will not buy products unless there are not enough Active buyers.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.3 Reluctant buyers/sellers, how Warehouses work (Industries DLC only) - D325910E8
Green light means Active, yellow light means Reluctant. The % shows how full the warehouse is. For example: a 100% full warehouse has a red light for buying because it cannot store anymore products.

The processor only takes resources from the Reluctant seller, aka an orange light warehouse, if no Active seller can be found.

So adding a Fill-warehouse to an industrial zone with several extractors and processors will have the following effect: Processors will prefer to buy directly from the extractors, but if no extractors are found in this turn they will buy from the Fill-warehouse instead. Only if the Fill-warehouse has no products or all its vehicles are already on the road, will the processor import the product instead.
A fill-warehouse that’s at 80% becomes a Reluctant Buyer. This gives your extractors the opportunity to fill it back up again. A Fill-warehouse therefore functions as a buffer to prevent imports/exports.
Adding an Empty-warehouse to an industrial zone will have a completely different effect. It does not want products so it will only accept products from extractors if no other buyers can be found. It is a Reluctant Buyer. Once it receives any products, it will IMMIDIATELY look for other buyers and try to get rid of the products. This means it acts as an Active Seller and processors will prefer to order from the Empty-warehouse over the Fill-warehouse (even if on the other side of the city).
If no new buyer can be found for the Empty-warehouse, they WILL export the product immediately!
Since every producer will deliver to the Empty-warehouse instead of exporting, the Empty-warehouse is suddenly solely responsible for all exports. This will often overwhelm the warehouse and all of its trucks will be busy exporting. The warehouse will fill up with products because it cannot process them quickly enough. Once full, the producers will have to export themselves again, because the warehouse is no longer capable of buying due to it being full. Every once in a while an extractor will get ‘lucky’ because one of the warehouse trucks just made some room in that warehouse and the extractor can do a quick delivery. This is working as intended, the ‘lucky’ trips are what you are saving by building this warehouse and should be just for the processors to not worry about running out of vehicles.
An Empty-warehouse therefore functions as extra delivery trucks for your industrial area. Think of it as a truck-only cargo station. They also serve as a second chance for every product to get sold within the city.
A Balanced-warehouse acts as a Fill-warehouse if it has below 40% capacity and as an Empty-warehouse if it has above 70%.
In between, it is both a Reluctant Buyer AND a Reluctant Seller. This makes them very flexible as they will react to what your industry area likely needs. But it also makes them unreliable because if they get too full, they’ll start exporting with all their trucks. When their trucks are all in use, the Balanced-warehouse loses the ability to buffer imports like a Fill-warehouse does!

Note: Balanced-warehouses lead to a lot of confusion among players. What often happens is that a building is complaining about ‘not enough raw materials’ because the delivery trucks are stuck in traffic. The player reacts by building more extractors to provide for those ‘raw materials. The additional products overwhelm the Balanced-warehouses. The warehouses start sending out ALL their trucks to export this new excess and lose the ability to respond to requests inside the city and act as a buffer. The processors can no longer rely on the Balanced-warehouses so they have to import. The new import trucks also get stuck in traffic. Now even more processors start complaining about ‘not enough raw materials’. Players build even more extractors. Etc. It’s a deadly cycle! Set one warehouse to ‘Fill’ and place it next to your processors instead of building more extractors!

(These examples refer to extractors and processors, but the rules are the same for every part of the supply line.)

2.4 Preferred buyers and sellers

Ok, so now we get why buyers prefer a seller on the other side of the city over the warehouse next door. Few warhouses count as Active Sellers. But how does the game decide which Active buyer gets to buy from which Active seller? And why do they still often prefer a seller on the other side of town?
Buyers get to choose first. When buyers look for partners they appear to look at two aspects: size and proximity.
Active buyers prefer to buy from the SMALLEST active seller and if multiple are equally small, they prefer the closest one (as the crow flies).
Active buyers prefer to buy from the CLOSEST Reluctant seller and if multiple are equally close, they prefer the smallest one.
After buying is done, leftover sellers get to look for Reluctant buyers.
Active sellers prefer to sell to the CLOSEST Reluctant buyer and if multiple are equally close, they prefer the largest one.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.4 Preferred buyers and sellers - E08B1A440
Who are the preferred sellers?
1. Partially filled delivery trucks
Zoned buildings often do not need the full 8 tons of products a truck can hold. You’ll notice the delivery trucks the generic industry sends out to your commercial district service multiple stores before returning empty to the factory. After each delivery, it will simply look for another buyer of the product it holds. This is why they are the preferred seller in the game. Otherwise they would have to go back to the factory with leftover products. Industries DLC buildings usually do not deal in less than 8 ton deliveries, but the zoned specialized industry/commercial certainly does!
(An Industries DLC building can still get matched with a partial delivery truck though. For example a generic industry might request Processed Oil products, a truck then delivers 3/8 tons of Fuel to that factory. If your Unique Factory then requests 8 tons of Fuel, it might get matched with the 5/8 filled Fuel truck.)
2. Zoned producers
Those 1×1 Zoned Producers may take a long time to build up a full 8 ton truck, but when they do, buyers will prefer it over most other sellers. After all, the poor things only have a single delivery truck and if their storage gets full, it will be a lot harder for them to get rid of their products. Since all zoned buildings are smaller than Industries DLC buildings, DLC processors will actually prefer both the partially filled trucks AND the extractors from all your Zoned Specialized Industry over DLC extractors next door!
3. Small producers (Industries DLC)
Those first producers you unlock first are also the preferred sellers over the other DLC buildings for the same reasons small zoned producers are preferred over these producers.
4. Empty-warehouses (Industries DLC)
These warehouses are also active sellers. The smaller the warehouses are preferred over the larger ones. (Remember that Balanced-warehouses count as Empty-warehouses if over 70% full).
5. Large producers (Industries DLC)
Those large producers you unlock later on are the least preferred seller in the game. You’ll definitely need warehouses to make sure they don’t drown in their own products.
6. Reluctant sellers
If there are no more active sellers, the buyers will look for reluctant sellers and will simply choose the closest one available. Having a Fill-warehouse next to buildings that require that product is very useful. The larger your industry gets, the less they will be used due to the increase in Active sellers.
All of the above is true for all producers of products, whether they are extractors, processors or factories.
In your average game though, you’ll rarely have many Active Buyers and Sellers available in the same turn. You’ll never quite know who will match up with who. The best you can do is decrease chances.

2.5 The experiment

As a test I created a large farming industry with the Industries DLC. Placing 50 small fields (extractors), 30 Fill-warehouses and 30 Empty-warehouses. After filling up the Fill-warehouses all small fields deliver to the Empty-warehouses and all Empty-warehouses start exporting. No small field exports ever.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.5 The experiment - A441D1E90
After placing a few animal pastures (processors) to the south, all deliveries made to the pastures are done by the small fields. Neither type of warehouse does any of the deliveries.
After replacing all small fields with large fields, nearly all deliveries made to the pastures are done by the Empty-warehouses. Only rarely is a large field used. Fill-warehouses are still never used.
After resetting the experiment I also created a large zoned area of farming extractors. The pastures now prefer this zoned area (even though it was much further away) over the small fields.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.5 The experiment - DE6D5E161
Finally, I added a lot of zoned processors to the system as well. Now, the pastures take all deliveries from this area instead, as the partially filled trucks created here are preferred over the other options.
Doing this experiment at this scale in a controlled environment always gives us the same results. The pasture prefers partially filled tractors > zoned extractors > small fields > Empty-warehouses > large fields. At smaller scales though, we can no longer ensure there are always sellers available.

Hint: A Zoned Specialized Industrial area on the other side of the map can really mess up your Industries DLC area, as the game will prefer the smaller sellers and multiple partially filled trucks they create over the nearby buildings.
Hint: This also explains why creating two separate specialized industrial zones on different sides of the map will not help reduce travel time that much. You think you added a local source of products next to your generic industry, but instead created two potential sellers for both zones. One of which is very far away.

Note: Reluctant buyers and sellers are more predictable, as the game will always choose the closest one available. But a Reluctant Seller might spawn a delivery truck, deliver part of its products and turn into an Active Seller. So indirectly your Fill-warehouse can still deliver to the other side of the city.

2.6 Synchronization trick (Industries DLC only)

Remember how we noted that building multiple extractors while the game is paused will not increase the odds of a processor buying from them because their production cycles are synchronized?
Well, time to use this to our advantage! What you can do is delete all producers of a certain type and pause the game, rebuild them and resume the game. This will synchronize their production cycles and therefore DECREASE the odds of them making deliveries within your city to anything other than warehouses.
You want your Unique Factory to take products from the Fill-warehouse next door instead of the various processors scattered across the map? Synchronize your processors and the chances of the Unique Factory and the processors linking in the same buyer-turn are now much smaller. The Unique Factory is forced to look for a Reluctant seller and will choose the closest one. When it is your processors turn to sell, they’ll resupply your warehouse and everything works great. No more worrying about trucks getting stuck in traffic. As long as your trucks can reach the warehouse and make it back before all other trucks from the processor are gone, you’ll be fine.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.6 Synchronization trick (Industries DLC only) - B6B08A039
Normal production cycles. 4/9 deliveries come directly from processors.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 2.6 Synchronization trick (Industries DLC only) - 0E3455CC3
Synchronized production cycles. 0/9 deliveries come from processors, all deliveries are done by next-door Fill-warehouse.
Remember that synchronizing only works if the buildings have the same production speed, so if you have different sized processors of the same type, synchronizing is much less effective.
Also keep in mind that Empty-warehouses and Balanced-warehouses (over 70%) can never be synchronized. They will offer whenever they can. If you synchronize your industry, these warehouses will become the most likely sellers in your city because they are active sellers compared to your reluctant Fill-warehouses.
While synchronization makes it less likely a buyer chooses a faraway seller, it is not impossible. If you also increase the storage space of your buyers to 18+, this needs to happen twice in a row before you run into lack of products problems. Synchronization + Fill-warehouse next door + increased storage space = no more ‘not enough materials’ for your processors.
Unfortunately Unique Factories don’t have an opportunity to increase their storage space so they’ll always be your weakest link. Synchronization increases their effectiveness by a lot though.
Keep in mind that the synchronization can be broken by fires, lack of workers, lack of raw materials or other events that cause the building to stop working temporary. You may need to reapply the Synchronization every so often.
Synchronization doesn’t work on Goods. Because Unique Factories are, well unique, they have different production speeds. Theoretically it is possible since you can adjust the production speed individually, but good luck!

Experiment: Remember our experiment with 50 small fields? If you create 50 small fields 30, Empty warehouses and 30 Fill-warehouses and 1 pasture, the pasture will only be supplied by the small fields (regardless of proximity). If we synchronize the 50 small fields, the pasture will mostly be supplied by the Empty-warehouses. If we deactivate the Empty-warehouses, the pasture will mostly be supplied by the Fill-warehouses. Try placing pastures all over the map with 1 Fill-warehouse next to each one. Synchronize your small fields and watch how well the setup works compared to a non-synchronized one.


Experiment: I tried using all the tricks from this guide to get a Unique Factory to take only deliveries from a nearby processor over 3 other processors further away. Due to Synchronization, I figured that IF the Unique Factory would need products AND he matched up with the processors, it would always choose the closer one. However, it chose the close one about as often as the far away one. This is better than without Synchronization (1:1 ratio instead of 1:3) but I was unable to guarantee 100% of the outcome. True Synchronization is really hard to pull off.


2.7 Conclusion

So industry buildings don’t look for the closest but the smallest seller instead. And they need to order new products immediately and will not wait for better options later on.
If this behavior feels unrealistic to you, remember that in real life, price is often the deciding factor and many industries buy their products from the other side of the world. Besides, we need something to make industry management a challenge no?
In Cities:Skylines you need to change your mental model of how the supply chain works. Instead of thinking that the supply chain looks for the closest seller, keep in mind that every part of the chain looks at ALL potential sellers. Your goal should be to identify all potential supply routes and ensure that they can be quickly traversed. If one of your zones if giving you problems by not having enough ‘raw materials available’, make sure they have easy highway/rail connection to ALL suppliers of that raw material in your city. And make sure you build your city according to just-in-time delivery.
If you are using Industries DLC, the Synchronization trick is extremely useful for controlling your supply routes. That and understanding which type of warehouse to use will make a big difference.

3.1 Controlling Vanilla zoned specialized industry

If specialized industry can be either extractor buildings or processor buildings, how do we know which is which and can we control it?
Well, there is no way to check if a building is a processor other than look at the in game graphics. A patch of trees is a forestry extractor, if there is a shed somewhere on it, it’s probably a processor. Farming has fields and barns, Ore has mines and smelters and Oil has pumps and refineries.
How does the game decide which building gets created? Extractors can ONLY be created on top of the corresponding resource (see resource tab in game). If zoned anywhere else, you will always get processors. If you zone on top of the correct resource though, the buildings can become either a extractor or processor. If the game gets to choose like this, it will attempt to balance extractors and processors in your city.

TIP: If you first zone a large amount of specialized industry NOT on top of its resource you will create an overabundance of processors. If you then zone on top of the resource, the game will spawn mostly extractors in order to balance your industry. Ideally, you’ll want only extractors on top of your resource and processors next to them so you can potentially create a bigger industrial area.
Note that when balancing extractors and processors, the game ignores Industries DLC buildings you already build.


3.2 Where to place your industry?

Generally speaking, the closer your various industry buildings are, the better. Obviously you need your extractors on top of the correct resource and those are spread out over the map.
Unique Factories are best placed close to the processed products they need.
If you place your processors directly next to the extractors, the delivery from extractor to processor is done far quicker than they need to be, while the delivery from processor to factory might take too long. Placing them in the middle could make both delivery times ‘just right’. Each Industries DLC building has a range of about 3-5 city tiles (straight line on highway). They can continuously deliver that far away and return in time for the next batch. Zoned industry has a larger range of 5+ tiles.
If you are creating multiple identical industrial areas which produce the same product, be very mindful of ALL the possible supply routes you are creating! If you are building the same type of Specialized Industry at multiple places you need to be very careful.
Most industry is very polluting and obviously needs to be placed away from your drinking water and residential areas. Creating ma*s transit between your industry and residential helps reduce the traffic which helps your zones out a lot.

3.3 Upgrading Industry

Specialized industry can never be leveled up.
Industries DLC districts can level up, which unlocks various buildings AND improves the existing buildings in the district. Basically you just need to make it bigger to upgrade it (more workers + more products created).
Generic industry can be leveled up. Their main requirement is having some kind of cargo transportation building nearby. Cargo station or bigger. Without such a building in the area, don’t expect anything past level 1. They also need their workers to be overeducated. Other than that, they like fire protection, police protection, medical coverage etc. Upgraded industry requires higher educated workers which allows you to have all the education buildings without risking your industry running out of workers.

3.4 Keeping Unique Factories running (Industries DLC Only)

Here is the ultimate challenge for your industries. Unique Factories have notoriously low internal storages and require products from multiple specializations (which tend to be spaced out over the map). If your Unique Factory lacks even a single one of the different products it requires, it will stop operating. How do we keep them running, preferably at 150% efficiency?
Some of the Unique Factories are relatively easy because they only require products from 1 type of specialization. The Furniture factory can be placed next to your forestry area because it only needs forestry products. The Bakery, Industrial Steel Plant and Household Plastic Factory can all be done this way, just place them near their specialized area. Add a Fill-warehouse for every type of product they need next to them and they’ll run at 150% no problem. If you have multiple industrial areas of the same type, this solution won’t work for you though.
If your Unique Factory gets its product from multiple industrial areas, the best place to put them is in the middle of all of them (I prefer to put all mixed industries Unique Factories together, but you don’t have to). Again, add a Fill-warehouse next door for each product it needs. This time though, Synchronize your processors in order to reduce the chance of deliveries coming from the processors themselves. There will still be direct deliveries, so create a fast delivery system between that area and your Unique Factory. Now check how often your Unique Factory gets matched with a processor and how long the Unique Factory is left without resources. Adjust your % slider to what you consider the optimal amount.

Hint: You can also put the Unique Factory next to one of the areas and connect all areas with cargo stations for relative quick deliveries.

You can increase the effectiveness of your Unique Factory district by building an Industry Hub. Place multiple small Empty-warehouses nearby. If the warehouse and the processor offer products at the same time, the warehouse is preferred (if you use the largest processors available). The more products you start producing, the bigger the chance an Empty-warehouse will be picked over the processors.
Alternatively, you can choose to make a district where all your Unique Factories and all your processors are together. Remember that you only need extractors to be placed on top of the resources, but processors can be placed anywhere. Draw your industry districts so they all meet at a central location. Place the processors in the correct districts and the Unique Factories next to them. Add 1 Fill-warehouse for each product type and everything will be close together. You can run every Unique Factory at 150%. You only worry is supplying the processors. However by combining Fill-warehouses + Synchronization + increased cargo capacity, you can make these processors much more resilient to slow deliveries than Unique Factories. If you want to expand your Specialized Industry, I suggest adding more Industries DLC Extractors and combining it with Zoned Processors. That way, you can build processors at a different location without interfering with your Unique Factories. The Zoned Processors generate products that the Unique Factories can’t use, but Generic Industry can use them.

Hint: You can have multiple disconnected districts count as 1 by drawing a line and erasing the district in the middle, leaving 2 seperated islands of the same district.

Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 3.4 Keeping Unique Factories running (Industries DLC Only) - AF2A09BEF
All Unique Factories with all processors in 1 area. All buildings are supplied and working at 150%.
Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry - Cities: Skylines - 3.4 Keeping Unique Factories running (Industries DLC Only) - CB70F5B0C
Note how I drew the districts to cover this area.
Some of these solutions work better than others. Adjust your Unique Factory % to how effective you placed them.
The other show-stopper for your Unique Factories is if your output storage is full and all trucks are in use. If your trucks need to travel all over the city to different commercial districts, that is a very real possibility. Adding Empty-warehouses for Luxury goods nearby should do the trick.

3.5 How to use warehouses

The behavior you set for your warehouse determines what it can do for you.
Fill-warehouse: If no sellers for a particular product can be found, your industry will turn to the closest Fill-warehouse available before choosing to import. Having a Fill-warehouse near buildings that require that product helps a lot with smaller industrial areas. As your industry grows, the fill-warehouse will slowly become less useful because your buildings prefer buying from other sources instead. Synchronizing (and not building Empty-warehouses or Balanced-warehouses) can be used to make Fill-warehouses super useful in supplying locally, even with large industries.
Alternatively, Fill-warehouses are ideal for creating a drop-off point for import. If you know you are going to import certain products, having a Fill-warehouse in a central location means your buildings can get supplied by this warehouse instead of from the edge of the map. Importing trucks can then take their time refilling the warehouse. This can save you a lot of delivery time.
Balance-warehouse: Will provide storage and adjust to your cities need. It’s like a cheaper version of placing a Fill-warehouse and an Empty-warehouse together, but less reliable. I prefer not to use them. You can use a single one and use it to check if your balance is ok. If it get’s too full or empty, you know your industry balance needs work.
Empty-warehouse: Producers will deliver their products to empty warehouses instead of exporting products themselves. Basically you use them to add extra trucks to your industrial area for exporting/deliveries. You can also use them for Industry Hubs if you want. Industrial buildings prefer delivering directly to buyers though, so don’t rely on all your products to be send to these warehouses first. You have to use Synchronization. Also keep in mind that due to their Reluctant Buyer status, buildings will deliver to the CLOSEST empty warehouse.
My general advice is to mostly use Fill-warehouses. You can never go wrong with a Fill-warehouse. The other warehouses create hotspots from which deliveries might come, so only use them if you are ok with that. Using Balanced-warehouses to supply buildings within your city is risky, as overproduction can turn them into export-only.

3.6 How to manage small industrial areas

If you are zoning vanilla specialized industry, I prefer to zone for processors outside the resource area first, then zone for extractors on top of the resource. This gives you the most room to grow. You always need surprisingly small Specialized Industry areas compared to your city.
If you have the Industries DLC, add a Fill-warehouse for each type of product. Place this warehouse next to the buildings requiring that specific product. This will prevent all the import-export mess and make sure your imports/exports are based on your production, instead of chance.

3.7 How to manage large industrial areas

Add direct delivery routes to and from your industrial area to every relevant area on the map. Making highways that don’t connect to other roads make for good traffic flow. Rail is even quicker (and again, try not to mix your rail usage).
Industries DLC only: If your buildings are complaining about not enough sellers, add Empty-warehouses for extra delivery trucks. At this point, I prefer to have 1 Fill-warehouse and 1 Empty-warehouse for each product type.
If you don’t want to balance your industry, start adding cargo stations and other options for import/export.

3.8 Building an Industry Hub

Is collecting your products at a central place and distributing them from there worth it? Is it even possible? The answer is: meh. You can make it work, but its more cool than a true solution to problems. Building an Industry Hub for processed products around your Unique Factories is often a good idea though.
So let’s say we want to build an industry hub where we collect Raw farming from all over the city and then send them from there to processors at other places in your city. Oh, and export any excess of the product of course. In order to do this, we need to solve four problems:
Getting the Raw farming products from all over the city to the hub.
Getting the Raw farming products from the hub to the processors all over the city.
Exporting excess farming products.
Preventing the extractors from supplying the processors directly.
For the first two problems, we can refer to any traffic guide. The fastest solution is using two cargo stations and connecting them directly (and not to the rest of the rail). Trucks will use these to quickly move the products. Keep in mind that you only need to be fast enough to prevent the ‘not enough buyers’ problem, which you get if your trucks can’t get back in time to keep the produced products flowing.
Next, we build the start of the hub. Place 1 Fill-warehouse for Raw farming products (Grain Silo) and multiple Empty-warehouses. The Empty-warehouses are the basis of the hub, as they will continuously offer to sell products while being continuously supplied. The 1 Fill-warehouse is only here as a backup. Keep building Empty-warehouses as long as all the trucks of the warehouses are in use. If you can, see if you can place your warehouses in such a configuration that different warehouses are considered the ‘closest’ for different extractors.
For the third problem, add a cargo station connected to the outside or any of the other cargo options like boats of airplanes.
Finally, we get to the tough part: preventing extractors from supplying the processors directly. But we already know how to do this. Synchronize all farming extractors on the map as well as all processors. The chance of them matching up is now very small.
Your farms will now produce crops at a regular interval. They will try to supply the Fill-warehouse first, but otherwise will head for the closest Empty-warehouse. If that warehouse already has too many sellers going, it will look at the next closest. Once they arrive at the Empty-warehouse they’ll dump the crops and head back. The warehouse will check if the processors need the crops and if the Fill-warehouse needs to be resupplied. If neither is true, the Empty-warehouse will send the crops to the cargo station instead.
Occasionally, your extractors and processors will match up. So there will be the odd truck taking a direct route from any of your extractors to any of your processors. The larger your hub gets, the less likely this is to happen. (In the experiment 30 large fields and 6 pastures created a situation where the Industrial Hub was used 95% of the time).
You can add more different products to your hub, no problem.

3.9 Zoned industry or Industries DLC?

You can use nothing but zoned specialized industry, nothing but Industries DLC or mix them all together. You can make this decision for each of the resources.
Advantages Zoned Industry:

  • Cheap to place
  • Smaller size
  • Low risk (delivery problems/disasters will not bankrupt you)
  • Smaller scale
  • More resistant to delivery problems (they take longer to burn through their entire storage than the DLC buildings do).
  • Lower educated workers
  • Unlocked earlier

Advantages Industries DLC

  • Makes lots of money
  • Larger size
  • More direct control
  • Higher educated works
  • Did I mention it makes lots of money?

I always prefer mixing them slightly in order to make sure I produce ALL the different products and require no imports. The Industries DLC makes so much money though, that I’m always tempted to build at least 1 district.
Zoned Industry with warehouses only
Using warehouses with your Zoned Industry allows you to perfectly match your Specialized Industry to your Generic Industry.
Go to your specialized industry area and place the Main building from the Industry in order to unlock the warehouse for Raw Products. Place a warehouse for Raw Products near your processors and set it to Fill. Place a warehouse (near your generic industry) for the processed products, for example “Zoned – Specialized Forestry”, and set it to full. Then turn off or delete the Main building and remove the Industries district the Industries DLC created. (Warehouses work outside your Industrial districts.)
The warehouses will prevent your processors and generic industry from importing, as they can get the products from the warehouse.
After your warehouses have settled in, check your Import/Export info screen. If your Raw Products warehouse is still importing, you have too much processors and too few extractors. Zone some more specialized industry on top of the resource and let the game restore the balance or delete some of the processors. Next, check your Zoned – Specialized Processed Product warehouse. If it is importing, your Specialized Industry is too small for your Generic Industry. Zone some more Specialized Industry to restore the balance. Finally, check your exports. If your Specialized Industry buildings are heavily exporting, you have too much Specialized Industry compared to your Generic Industry. De-zone some of your Specialized Industry or zone some more Generic Industry to restore the balance. (Alternatively, you can keep this excess export as a buffer to grow your generic industry at a later time.)
Using the above strategy you can keep your industry perfectly balanced and minimize import/export traffic.
This Forestry area has too many extractors AND is too large for this city
Zoning only processors
One of the big drawbacks to Zoned Industry is that you cannot decide if you want to zone for extractors or processors. If you only build Industries DLC extractors but no processors, you can directly control the amount. Then, zone your Specialized Industry NOT on top of the resource so they only spawn processors and you’ll be 100% in control of what type of building spawns where.
This setup is far less of a financial risk as DLC-only would be while still allowing you full control over what type of building is created. As mentioned earlier, this setup works well if you want to separate the processors for Unique Factories from the rest of your supply chain.
Fully mixed
Mixing up zoned specialized industry and Industries DLC buildings has a lot of pitfalls, but if you can avoid them, it is perfectly possible. As far as mixing Generic Industry and Unique Factories goes, you will not run into many problems.
Remember that processors prefer to buy from small sellers. Zoned industry generates FAR MORE small sellers than Industries DLC buildings (small buildings AND partially filled trucks). As a result, a lot of delivery requests will be from Industries DLC processors to your Zoned Specialized Industry. So expect a LOT of traffic between your zones!
The easiest way to deal with this is to zone near your Industries DLC district.
Alternatively you could make a direct cargo train connection between the two zones for quick deliveries.
Finally, building a your own Industry Hub around your zoned processors with easy access to Industries DLC processors will help, as the partially filled trucks will be at a central location.
Hint: Keep in mind that the game will try to balance your zoned industry between extractors and processors without taking into account the Industries DLC balance.
This type of mixing too, works well with Unique Factories by minimizing the amount of Industries DLC processors.

4 FAQs

How to solve “Not enough buyers for products”
This message means that this building has produced so much products that its internal storage is full but it send out all of its delivery trucks and they haven’t returned yet. The building cannot produce new products. So your problem is likely traffic related, not a lack of buyers. Solving your traffic problems will almost always fix this. YOU DON’T NEED TO ZONE EXTRA BUYERS!
If you cannot fix your traffic, you need to check the information panel to see if this building is exporting its products or using them within your city. If they are exporting this type of product a lot, add better export options. Easier access to your highway system, cargo stations etc. You can also place an Empty-warehouse near your buildings to provide more trucks.
If you are using all the products within your city, you definitely need to improve traffic. Maybe add some roads for truck use only. A highway from your industrial area to your commercial areas which doesn’t intersect with any other road is often enough.
You will also get this message if your building is somehow unable to deliver its products to any possible buyer. Perhaps a disaster destroyed a piece of road, or you made a mistake with one-way streets somewhere.
How to solve “Not enough resources”/ “Not enough goods to sell”
The internal storage of the product this building is empty. Use the road tool from the information panel and click on the building to see which trucks are on their way to make a delivery and find out why they are late. You probably have traffic problems. Create better routes from wherever the delivery came from to your buildings.
If you are using Industries DLC, you can also add Maintenance Buildings or use policies to increase the storage of your buildings. For every 8 tons you can have another truck in transit. It doesn’t matter how long to trip takes if you are receiving a constant stream of trucks!
How to make industry use local products
Many cities both import and export the same products. How do we get them to use only local products? Without the Industries DLC, the only thing you can do is increase the size of all your industrial areas. This increases the chance of buying local.
With the Industries DLC, place a Fill-warehouse of that type of product near the buildings that require that type of product. Once full, it will balance import-export for you.
Why do my industry buildings buy resources on the other side of the map?
When buildings require products, they’ll look for a seller that happens to have a truck ready at that EXACT time. So often, buyers and seller miss each other’s deadline. Buyers also prefer smaller sellers, even if they are on the other side of the map. The rest of this guide show tips on how to deal with this.
Why am I still importing processed industry products if I am overproducing them?
Got your Industries DLC running and producing a ton of Oil? Well, there are a few buildings in the game that only accept Zoned processed Oil. Such as the Oil power plant and the commercial gas stations. Zoning a few processors (which in turn can use your DLC raw oil) will let you reduce your imports to 0.
How to solve “Not enough workers”
Industry requires workers to operate obviously. This message tells you that you do not have enough workers available in your city. It DOES NOT tell you that your workers cannot reach their work in time due to traffic! There is no penalty for workers being unable to reach their workplace.
Industry requires less educated workers than other employers. CIMS prefer jobs that fit their employment level. They will only take lower educated jobs if no other jobs are available.
If you get the message that your industry doesn’t have enough workers, but your residential demand is low, it means there are better job opportunities for your CIMS. Your CIMS are just too well educated to take the factory jobs.
This problem can be enhanced if you have a large percentage of seniors living in your city, as they are not part of the workforce.
So what can we do? Well, Generic industry can be leveled up, which increases the average education level requirement of the workers. This makes the jobs more appealing to your CIMS so they will share the workforce with offices. Building a single cargo station inside a generic industry area often levels them up in this instance.
Changing some of the Generic industry into specialized Ore industry or Oil industry also increases the required education. This will mess up your goods production though!
The Schools Out policy only decreases the chance a young adult with a high school degree will go to university. So it only decreases the amount of Highly Educated CIMS and turns them into Well Educated CIMS instead. This does not help you at all! (Ok, it helps a little bit as the young adults will take a job instead of studying so you have a slightly larger workforce.)
Having relatively more High density residential means relatively more workers. High density doesn’t support families for some reason so no children. This makes a larger part of you residential population in the age range of being workers. Since high density doesn’t support families, your city will likely need to attract more immigrants to fill up your residential. Immigrants will adapt to the required education level of your work, so they’ll supply you with lower educated workers if there are a lot of job opportunities.
Not building enough schools is by far the most useful trick. Especially for forestry and farming industries. Only build schools in areas that you need the increase in desirability and purposely keep your capacity in the red.
Why is my Fill-warehouse marked as Exporting in the Outside Connections info tab?
Sometimes a Fill-warehouse sends out a truck to deliver products to zoned industry. But zoned industry often doesn’t need all 8 tons and only takes a bit. In the meantime another truck can decide to fill the Fill-warehouse back up to 100%. The partially filled truck cannot go back but also cannot find new buyers so it has to export the rest of its products. This marks the Fill-warehouse as exporting.
Why is my income fluctuating while paying Industries DLC?
Because your income is determined by the products you are buying and the products you are selling. Unfortunately, the game updates the budget faster than your industrial cycles. A single plantation for example only produces once every few budget updates. In that one update, you’ll make a lot of money, but in the rest it only costs you money. With more buildings you can still have these production-waves.
Why are my generic industries not using the specialized products from my warehouses?
For some reason, warehouses are really stingy when delivering specialized dlc products to generic warehouses. This kinda makes sense as you don’t want to spend all your precious petroleum and plastics for generic industry when imported Zoned specialized oil products work just as well. Anyway, they DO deliver, just not enough. Add a warehouse with Zoned specialized oil products. specialized DLC products are mainly for Unique Factories.
Can I manipulate resources on the map
The only resources you can create on the map without mods is forestry. Placing trees close together will create the forestry resource. It will also cover up the resource beneath it, so be careful decorating your farms with trees!
Without mods, oil and ore runs out eventually. Extractors stop working and if they are of the zoned variety, will be abandoned. They are then replaced with processors and all the raw oil needs to be imported.

Final words


If you are frustrated with the way warehouses work, you can use this mod: More Effective Transfer Manager. I have not played with it and cannot say if it works reliably.
https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=1680840913 – [steamcommunity.com] 
The information in this guide is the result of various experiments. If you’ve found different results, or worked with the game code let me know in the comments.

Written by CardboardArm

Here we come to an end for the Explained: Vanilla and DLC Industry – Cities: Skylines guide. I hope this guide has helped you with your gameplay. If you have something to add to this guide or believe we forgot some information to add, please let us know via comment! We check each comment manually by approving them!

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