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Hauling is the process of carrying an object to a new location. Objects being carried by a creature will show up in the creature's inventory as "Hauled". There are several specific hauling labors, based on the type(s) of items to be moved; these labors may be enabled or disabled on dwarves as needed. Note that the appropriate labor is not always clear (animal haulers carry caged animals, while any dwarf can lead an uncaged animal), and hauling tasks can be modified by burrows, standing orders, and item state (in use or forbidden).
In popular usage, the term hauler refers to a dwarf in fortress mode who has no labors enabled other than hauling. In large fortresses where there may be great distances for haulers to travel, individual hauling tasks may take a long time to complete. Using dedicated haulers allows specialist dwarves to spend more time in their workshops, instead of dragging raw materials or finished products around. Haulers are good candidates for cross-training to help improve their strength and agility attributes, which are important when moving heavy objects across a fortress quickly. (Ironically, hauling does not train attributes itself.)
To improve the efficiency of hauling items to stockpiles, containers, minecarts, and wheelbarrows can be employed. Note, however, that due to a number of outstanding bugs, these tools may actually decrease efficiency; see Bugs for more information.
Some hauling tasks do not require any hauling labor:
- A dwarf working at a workshop will gather the raw materials needed to produce wanted goods. However, produced goods require the appropriate hauling labor to be moved out of the workshop in order to avoid clutter. Dwarves producing goods at a workshop tend to keep producing them and will not necessarily clear their own workshops of clutter even when they have the appropriate hauling labor enabled.
- All adult civilian dwarves, including nobles, will bring goods to the depot.
- A moody dwarf will gather the raw materials needed for a mysterious construction.
- A dwarf building something will move the needed materials to the construction site.
- Before a dwarf will build something, he will need to have the appropriate labor as specified by the task. If the dwarf is building a chair or similar, the dwarf needs Furniture Hauling; if the dwarf is building a wooden wall, it's Carpentry, and so forth. Workshops are usually constructed by any dwarf that can work in that workshop.
- A dwarf will clear the tiles where he/she builds from all scattered objects (stone !!!) before starting the build
- A herbalist will haul any successfully-gathered plant to a stockpile immediately, if there is space available in one.
- Dwarves in the midst of eating will carry their meal to a table. Military dwarves, however, will eat directly off of the floor.[Verify]
- Dwarves who have just finished drinking booze will return their barrel to the nearest food stockpile.
- Removing constructed objects will be done by all dwarves.
- Filling pits and ponds will be done by all dwarves.
- If you have the "All dwarves harvest" option turned on, all dwarves will help bring in the harvest, even if they don't have Food Hauling enabled.
Dwarves with the stone hauling labor enabled will haul stones, ores, and stone blocks to the appropriate stockpiles.
Note: Dwarves, being the kind fellows they are, practically insist on hauling one of the farthest stones into your stockpiles. They tend to ignore eligible, nearby stones 'for the greater good of the fortress'. This selfless act often results in terribly long journeys, carrying just one stone. See the section on Stone management for tips on combating this problem.
Dwarves with the wood hauling labor enabled will haul wood logs to the corresponding stockpiles.
Deforestation Wood production can be sped up a lot by turning off wood hauling on your most skilled woodcutter who will focus exclusively on cutting down trees. This will however expose more of your dwarves as many wood haulers will go outside to retrieve the logs.
Dwarves with the item hauling labor will haul miscellaneous items like blocks and collect sand for a glass furnace or clay for a kiln. Finished goods (such as crafted goods) and gems (both rough and cut) are also considered Items.
Dwarves with the food hauling labor will haul food and drinks to the appropriate stockpiles.
Dwarves with the refuse hauling labor will haul rotting food, and non-dwarf bodyparts to refuse stockpiles. They will also dump marked items to the appropriate garbage activity zone. Refuse hauling is subject to refuse orders (o: Set Orders and Options -> r: Refuse Orders).
Dwarves with the burial labor will haul dwarf and pet corpses and bodyparts to corpse stockpiles or coffins. This may not work without item hauling also turned on, however. Having the burial labor enabled may have catastrophic consequenses. Hordes of unemployed dwarves often stoicly decide to gather every single toenail and tooth from their recently mutilated comrade, even if it means certain death in the hands of goblin invaders or an enraged herd of elephants.
Dwarves with the furniture hauling labor will haul furniture to the appropriate stockpiles. They will also build simple furniture items (beds, chairs, tables, etc.).
Dwarves with the animal hauling labor will haul animal traps and occupied cages to the appropriate stockpiles. Uncaged animals, however, may be moved by any dwarf.
Tips and issues
In order to minimize hauling trips, stockpiles should be placed with care.
- Input and output stockpiles should be placed near corresponding workshops. Consider proximity of input stockpiles to be about an order of magnitude more important; a working dwarf wastes time to get his own material, but having some haulers is enough to take care of moving the product.
- Construction preparation: when constructing something big away from your fort (e.g. a road), the dwarf assigned to the construction (or architecture) will have to carry each item from your fort to the construction location, which can take a long time. By putting stockpiles near your construction project, many dwarves may participate in the hauling, thus dramatically increasing construction speed. Note that materials are allocated at the time of building, so be sure the stockpile is filled before placing the construction order, otherwise the materials will still have to come from afar.
- Consider specializing your haulers if possible - food haulers that orbit around the kitchen/dining room/farm area, stone haulers that orbit around the mines and furnaces, and (if possible/needed) wood haulers that do likewise with the carpenter shop. Turn off refuse hauling if that dwarf isn't going to be near areas likely to have refuse. This keeps the mine hauler from deciding to walk aaaallll the way over to the kitchens for one load, and then out to the forest for one, and then back to the smelters, and so on.
- Furthermore, you can handpick your specialized hauler, selecting them by their attributes. A wood hauler might be chosen because of his agility, since he might have to walk a lot of tiles to reach the forest, depending on the fortress and map layout. A stone hauler, on the other hand, might be chosen because of her strength so that she can pick up and carry heavy stones (such as gold and platinum) more quickly.
- The Grower profession can have a huge impact on hauling - see farming for a discussion.
- If you create a loop of stockpiles giving to each other (i.e. creating a circle A->B->C->A), your dwarves will spend their entire time hauling.
To ensure that high-priority hauling tasks (like food), to clean up after get done quickly, you should employ a large number of haulers, and specialize them by having only one or two hauling labors enabled. This is most important for food hauling, where prepared meals in the kitchen often rot while your dwarves are hauling individual seeds left behind after someone eats a plump helmet, or if your hunters bring a herd of animals in for your butchers all at once.
The backlog problem is exacerbated by the fact that the hauling job queue is tied to how many haulers of each type you have; if 100 dwarves have food hauling enabled, up to 100 food hauling tasks can be in the queue, even if those dwarves are busy hauling stone, doing workshop tasks, sleeping, or doing anything else.[Verify] This is why hauling specialization is so important.
- Hauling containers ties up all the items in the containers until the hauling is complete. This often results in cancellation spam and work delays.Bug:5992 With heavy containers, hauling them around is also inefficient.Bug:5964 One workaround is creating a "feeder stockpile" with containers disabled.
- Wheelbarrows are only used to haul items to a stockpile, and the assignment of wheelbarrows reduces stockpile space, limits the number of active hauling jobs, and works poorly with containers; see Wheelbarrow for details.
- If a dwarf is hauling an item when the destination becomes unreachable the dwarf will spam job cancellation messages repeatedly.Bug:597 Forbidding the item in inventory will clear up the problem.