Trade Route Design
So, I believe I have determined an efficient way to distribute goods using the trade route features (this after expanding to all towns and an equal number of production buildings in all towns).

Step 1: Counting House Setup

  1. Counting houses in all cities
  2. Determine desired sale price of each good (for me, the price at which point the city will go from zero to 1 dot for supply)
  3. Determine desired buy price for each good (for me, the lowest possible buy price but you can use your discretion here)
  4. Set administrator to sell down to zero for all goods not required for production; set to sell down to a 3 or 4 month supply for goods needed for production
  5. Set administrator to buy all goods at the buy price to a max of 3 or 4 month supply (or any other desired amount to stock) and block from trade route use.
Step 2: Trade Route Setup

  1. Choose at least one hub city and the cities it will service - the production in the hub city plus all the cities it services should hit all goods.
  2. Set the unload phase at the hub to unload max of all goods to the counting house.
  3. Calculate from the 10-day city demand how much of each good that city needs for the time the trade route takes, ie if the ten day demand is 100, and the trip takes 6 days, you would only bring 60 per trip. Do this for all goods, this is how much of each good will be loaded from the hub.
  4. At the spoke, order the captain to both unload the max of everything and load the max of everything.
  5. Optional: since the spoke city is presumably producing some number of goods, you probably don't need to load those  goods at your hub, though sometimes they do run out.
Assuming you have production to keep up with demand, or at least potential production (insufficient labor) this allows you to:

  1. Supply all cities with the good they demand
  2. Anytime unloading your goods at the spokes causes the total number of stocked goods to exceed the amount you want stocked, the excess goods are brought back to your hub
  3. As your cities grow, they will tap into that supply you stocked up, so you should only need to adjust the amount distributed once or twice per year.
This system can work perfectly for one hub to service all cities, but I'm trying to figure out if I can do it with two hubs and somehow reliably equalize the goods between the two hubs.
There was a lot of good work carried out by Bagaluth (No longer Active) - but have a scan at the attached file. Roughly translated into English.

Attached Files
.zip   P4G-BD(english) (Size: 699.92 KB / Downloads: 73)
Thank you, I have been using a spreadsheet I got from here as a baseline to figure out what I needed to produce where. I now have 57 factories in every city and equal numbers of every factory.

It occurred to me that I was making things a lot harder on myself than I really needed to. Here is how I have revised my strategy:

All administrators are set up the following way:

  1. Buying all goods to stock a 3 month supply, blocking this amount from trade route usage.
  2. Selling all goods to the city at the desired price, with the minimum stock reserve only set for goods needed for production (3 months)
All traders are set up the following way:

  1. Hub: load a large amount of everything, just not so much of anyone thing that you cant get some of everything (varies by convoy capacity)
  2. Spoke: Unload Max of everything to trade office
  3. Spoke: Load max of everything from trade office (subject of course to the two rules above)
  4. Hub: Unload all.

The result here is that:

  1. You start by deliberately shipping a fair bit more than you really have to
  2. Your city will grow, but you don't have to baby-sit and constantly update how much of each good you send because
  3. You started off by shipping more than it really needed, allowing that stockpile to grow until
  4. At a certain point the stockpile starts to dwindle, indicating the city is consuming a bit more than you are sending
  5. But if it escapes your notice (or interest) for several months, its still not a problem! The city continues to grow, eating away at the buffer you set up until
  6. You get around to rebuilding the buffer or adding to convoy capacity.

At a certain point your cities hit max size and you don't need to adjust anything anymore. You win! ... I think. I'll be trying this out over the weekend.

In any case, the strategy I describe here seems a lot less tedious than calculating and adjusting the convoy manifest to reflect the actual demand of a city for the length of time it take the convoy to make its round... then recalculating because the city grew... times so many cities.

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