6 Considerations for Automating Cannabis Filling | Healthcare Packaging

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From maintenance and certification to new data technology, there are many things to consider when buying filling and capping equipment.

For the nascent cannabis industry, many people still find that automation can be used to improve processing efficiency. "Now we can actually improve a lot of efficiency fundamentally," he explained.

Dumas de Rauly, Dumas de Rauly, co-founder and CEO

, To the virtual crowd


Dumas de Rauly pointed out that some processors are still adding materials manually. "This process will not only introduce human error, but also potential pollutants. Whether it is a semi-automatic or automatic filling machine, the process can be fully automated, and you can reduce the risk of this part of the operation. I can tell you It is guaranteed that you can use a machine that will require two people to use it, and this will automatically increase operational efficiency, instead of manually filling in by 25 people and introducing these 25 potential failure modes into the entire supply chain to save costs because of these The machine can fill up at a faster rate."

As a company that creates, distributes and supports cannabis e-cigarette hardware and free ancillary products, Blinc cooperates with ISO and cGMP certified manufacturers to provide services including process optimization and packaging.

When it comes to filling and capping machines, it is important to look at the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) certificate, and it is usually lost during the purchase process. "Can you use it in a clean room? Is the machine UL certified to avoid any form of electrical damage?" Dumas de Rauly asked. "You should have a UL number that can be obtained from the manufacturer, and then check it on the UL website."

He said that it’s important to take the time to understand what you are buying and not just because someone tells you to buy. Get an in-depth understanding of how the machine adapts to your process and how to increase efficiency. He said: “It’s not like buying a TV at your local Best Buy.” Certification is a major part, “Because you don’t want anything to happen along the way. If the machine is not UL certified and the explosion will harm your employees, the What to do? If you don’t verify the compliance documents provided to you by the supplier, there is nothing you can do.”

In the United States, the compliance of machines is the same. "There is currently no state that requires you to use this machine. Some states will tell you how to set up these machines, such as for testing, so you must ensure that the machine can use the parameters required by the regulatory agency," he said.

Because of the materials used, leaching is not a problem for the filling machine, but it is important to ensure that the packaging remains safe throughout the product's shelf life. When testing the product in the box after 60 days, does it contain more lead or other compounds than when it was packaged? Unfortunately, the testing standards have not yet been fully unified. He said that if you cut an ink cartridge in half and send it to two different laboratories, you will get two different results for the exact same product, "This is really a big problem. "

For a small startup company that wants to automate,

. "According to the grand plan, when you use it on a large scale, the equipment is not very expensive. However, when you start to engage in the extraction business, this may become a large capital expenditure," he said.

Dumas de Rauly pointed out that there are three different filling options:

Although some LED lighting companies allow growers to try out lights before buying, this is usually not the case with cannabis processing and packaging machines. He said: "If you don't move forward, there may be manufacturers who provide fines for free, but I think this is manufacturer by manufacturer."

Maintenance (where does the part or service come from) is an aspect that is often overlooked in the buying process. He pointed out that for some machines manufactured abroad, “if you encounter problems, you will have to wait at least four to five days to get replacement parts.” In some cases, the parts are manufactured in China, but they can be locally Use replacement parts.

"For example, if there is a power outage, how long can a technician help you? I think it is also very important to improve the efficiency of any kind of automation to understand the support you will get from the supplier. ... They all have their own characteristics," Dumas de Rauly said.

Since the price of laboratory, processing and packaging equipment can be very expensive, a listener asked questions about buying second-hand equipment and whether it is reliable. Dumas de Rauly (Dumas de Rauly) explained that this is a question worth studying: “Especially in these times, we all know that the cannabis market is in crisis, and many companies have either closed down or were affected by industry consolidation. Big companies swallow. There are a lot of high-quality equipment that you can buy second-hand."

But he warned that it is important to study how to obtain the support of these machines. Many manufacturers offer repurchase options or lease options. These are also good choices when you are trying to automate the entire processing equipment. "In any regulated environment, including marijuana, you should be able to access all the maintenance records of the machine. There may be events that you can’t see, so please make sure that if it’s not working, you can choose to Return it to you, "Unless you are dealing with someone who has gone bankrupt and [they] sell it at the bottom of the rock. But this is actually to understand how the product is used and the appropriate SOP to ensure that the previous owner used the product correctly. "

One participant asked how automation affects the cost of goods due to the purchase, maintenance and upkeep of machines, and whether this will cut profit margins. "This will affect wholesale costs, but it may not develop in the direction you suggested. An example I gave is a process or manual filling by 20 people. I am very pragmatic here and apologize to the anti-capitalist... When you own a machine and only hire two people to do the same thing, what is the cost of hiring these 20 people? You save money here, not to mention amortization when buying machinery. Therefore, in the balance sheet , It’s not going in the same area. It’s part of the assets your company owns."

In some cases, the price of a fully automatic production line with bells and whistles will be higher, "It depends on whether you decide to eat the cost and keep the price unchanged, because over time, you will Amortize this. Yes, it has an impact, but not necessarily a negative impact. On a small scale, taking the example I gave earlier as an example, the cost of 20 employees is compared with the cost of a $14,000 machine. This is effortless for me as an entrepreneur. It really depends on the situation."

Dumas de Rauly explained that people underestimate the importance of data in cannabis cultivation and processing. "When you collect this data, whether you are growing or processing, or even in the laboratory, you are actually looking at the trend of the data and the output trend of the current processing facility." For example, the company may study the effect of a few degrees of room temperature change. The impact of the product.

He pointed out the vaping crisis and what measures the manufacturer plans to take if the batch is not good. "In a few years, if we find that [a certain compound] is dangerous and cannot be absorbed by the lungs, we need to prepare for it. For this, the only way to prepare is to implement all risk mitigation measures in the quality management system. " 

It is very important to match the oil to the hardware, especially for high-viscosity rosins. Turning oil into an aerosol is a scientific process involving many variables. "It's not just looking at the size of the air inlet. It is related to the absorption rate, so you can look at the capillary action of the coil and understand that if you have a highly viscous substance, you need to use trimodal ceramics instead of bimodal ceramics. It also It involves airflow."

When using active rosin, heat and temperature monitoring around the needle can be very important. "We recommend using a temperature of about 60°C-any temperature above this temperature may damage the terpenes and degrade the oil when refueling. Therefore, it is very important to understand this. There is indeed an impact, and the hardware and handling There is a connection."

 Cannabis editorial reports and PMMI's white paper "Cannabis Market Update" are combined into a special report, which will be updated in 2020. Available for free download at

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