In the game, there are two types of modelling that is performed, Manufacturing and Network.
Manufacturing is a simulated result that takes the organization of buildings and connection between complexes and calculates how long it will take per hour to deliver components to that planet's space station. The manufacturing network works with an unlimited supply of materials, so whatever the simulated result is, that's the amount of materials that can be delivered.
Network Modelling is a bit different in which it simulates in real time the movement of collections of materials in ships that are constructed in orbit and move between planets either in the same solar system or between solar systems. The analogy is a train system with tracks running between two points.
It was pointed out that a player is not limited to exploiting absolutely every resource on every planet to produce a massive amount of material for their space exploration/networking endeavours. This is correct, however, in doing so, they are sacrificing time to pull this off.
The Lost Tribes is ultimately a racing game; in that you are trying to achieve mission success in the least amount of game time. Figuring out that balance between the amount of materials that can be produced vs. the amount of time needed to achieve the missions end goals.
Due to raw material distributions, what might be possible with one planet might not be as easily achievable on another, so there is a bit of a balancing act between resource availability and mission goals.