I’m not a huge fan the way imports and exports work at the moment, primarily due to realism concerns. Not just realism, but I think it’s a missed opportunity to create a fun way to manage just how much we can import and export.
Right now, the primary limitation for every map is the number of available importers. This bothers me from both a fun and realism standpoint. Fun, because every production line I design is always hamstrung by the availability of importers. Realism, because despite having worked in several industrial environments I have never experienced a work place that is limited by how quickly it can receive and send goods. Every single one, without exception, is limited by its ability to perform its various jobs within the space available. In addition, again realism, goods are never imported/exported piecemeal, they are instead shipped in batches. I suggest we implement something along these lines.
So, allow players to create their own import and export slots. Not like the earliest versions of the game, where they could be placed without restriction, but with a new limiting factor. It just so happens that all the maps are pretty much perfectly designed to accommodate this idea.
I suggest depots.
Depots would be a special tile that can only be placed outside. Importers/exporters can only be placed on a wall when a depot exists on the other side. The depot would be responsible for holding cars ready for export or storing components before they’re needed inside the factory. Larger depots can store more goods at a time, which means items may be purchased in larger quantities at a time for a discount and cars can be stored for larger exports, reducing the overhead for transport costs.
How does that sound? I think it could add an interesting new element to the game while also making it a little more realistic.