The hemp industry is getting ready for massive national growth—the 2018 Farm Bill has removed hemp, cannabis containing no more than .3 percent of THC, from the Controlled Substances Act and empowered states to regulate hemp production, commerce and research. This is a win for the American agricultural economy and the growing cannabidiol market, but business owners need to plan for the CBD extraction facilities of the future so you don’t get left in the past.
Hybrid Tech envisions future facilities positioning themselves at the vanguard of the industry through efficiency, extraction technology and compliance with international Good Manufacturing Practices. We’ll examine efficiency in this first of three articles on the future of CBD extraction facilities because understanding the details of each design element could make or break your business.
The United States hasn’t seen a federally recognized commercial hemp operation since 1957, causing advancements in hemp manufacturing to languish until 2013 when Colorado, Kentucky and Vermont went rogue and reestablished hemp as an agricultural commodity. This reintroduction of hemp left American farmers to figure out how to process a crop that hadn’t been in rotation for 56 years, so farmers have had to rely on inefficient manual intake systems and maladapted machines and parts to extract CBD from hemp.
According to Dan Gustafik, founder of Hybrid Tech, “For the longest time, hemp extraction involved people climbing up ladders to dump totes of hemp into the top of a hopper. Those processes should be automated, and with the new systems we see available in the market, automation at an industrial scale is finally possible.”
This type of methodology sets up a workforce to survive the sprint, not the marathon, and operational success in this business is going to be a long-distance race, so resources can’t be mismanaged.
“It’s not enough to simply be the largest producer of CBD—you have to be the most efficient with the lowest costs of goods to survive the commodification of the marketplace,” explained Darwin Millard, co-founder of PhytoLogix, an extraction solutions provider for phytocannabinoid processing systems. “Anyone not thinking about process efficiency will quickly be priced out of the market as the wholesale value of CBD continues to plummet,” Millard added.
Beyond large-scale elements of process efficiency, consider the makeup of your machinery—CBD extraction facilities of the future will replace maladapted machines and parts with mechanics engineered to process hemp plants.
Right now, for example, CBD processors using grain manufacturing equipment for hemp intake are finding that their automated screw conveyor systems are capable of transporting hemp flowers down silos and into hammer mills for crushing, but hemp’s flowers are coating the screws in resin, forcing production to come to a halt so someone can clean the screws.
A Hybrid Tech client in Colorado solved this problem by using new plastic, high-density polyurethane screws with a coating that prevents the build up of resin so intake can continue without interruption for maintenance.
Instead of relying on band-aids for failing machine parts, figure out how to solve the problem permanently. If your ingenuity can improve the process train, you may have what it takes to scale up efficiently to meet the demands of a market that’s ready to generate billions.
In our next installment on the future of CBD extraction facilities, we’ll tackle advancements in extraction technology that’ll bring your production efficiency to the next level.