The cannabis industry is changing rapidly. The industry was built on the black and gray markets, and as more states legalize recreational and medical cannabis, the requirement for higher throughput and more automated extraction technologies is in more demand than ever before. The technology used to strip the cannabinoids and active compounds from plant material are driving the industry toward automated solutions for extraction.
Automation in the cannabis space contributes greatly to new levels of competitiveness within the marketplace, and will continue to do so moving forward as the industry grows and matures. The goal of automation is to automate processes to maximize the process efficiency, ensure consistency & safety, and maximize throughput of the process, allowing staff and process experts to spend more time on other value-adding parts of the business.
Automation in the extraction process for cannabis lends several key advantages to the historical technologies used in the space. Extraction companies are interested in key factors which include:
- Profitability and competitiveness
- Product quality and consistency
- Process efficiency
- Total process labor
- Process speed & throughput
- Labor and process bottlenecks
- Equipment downtime and maintenance requirements
Automated extraction equipment and process technologies provide advancements and improvements in nearly every key factor listed above over historical manual and operator driven processes.
Buyer beware, not all automated extraction processes are created equal. There are several key things buyers need to know and look out for when sourcing extraction equipment, as the selection of this equipment is the foundation for the long-term success of a company.
Here are three benefits of using automated extraction equipment:
- Automated extraction equipment will not only reduce the amount of time and labor required to run the equipment, but it also reduces the skill level required to run the equipment. This brings immense value to processors by allowing them to use their best talent for other higher, value adding activities. Companies experience an increase in their bottom line from reducing labor costs, increasing efficiencies in their processes, and a better output product consistency.
- Automation in the process ensures the process parameters are consistent from batch to batch. This is a growing issue as GMP/cGMP play a stronger role in the markets. The push from end consumers to have confidence that the oil or finished goods that they are buying from processors is consistent, is greater than ever before. Consumers’ desire to know if the processes behind the products they’re consuming are conducted in a regulated and controlled environment will indirectly drive the need for automated equipment. Sooner rather than later, the manual process of turning valves, and twisting knobs will be a thing of the past.
- Automated equipment has built-in features to help with preventative maintenance and identifying parts on the machine that require attention before the machine breaks down. This is a huge benefit for processors, as down time of the equipment means material is not being processed, and revenue generation has stopped. Automation also supports efficient data logging and tracking. When particular parameters are tracked, they can be used to predict maintenance issues and when elements like pumps, bearings, and valves will need to be changed. Preventative maintenance is always more cost-effective than reactive maintenance.
The future of the extraction sector in the cannabis industry will be interested in reducing labor time, increasing consistency in end products, establishing safer conditions for operators, and building better process efficiencies. With all the added benefits that automation brings to the table, automated extraction equipment is here to stay.