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Vape-Jet 2021 Company Review

New Year, New Goals 

As we ring in the new year with our friends and families, we wanted to look back at our achievements last year and look forward to some hopes for Vape-Jet in 2022. After all, what’s a new year without new resolutions?  

We recognize that 2021 had its share of… difficult moments. But in those difficult moments (often, despite them), we managed to grow together. Last year, our company experienced some unprecedented successes. We want to share some of these achievements, not to gloat or become passive in our mission, but to emphasize the decisions that got us here and the people who make us who we are. Who knows, maybe we’ll even reveal something coming for 2022.  

Letter from Vape-Jet CEO Ryan Hoitt 

I am proud to report that 2021 was another excellent year for the Vape-Jet team. Despite a global pandemic, fire storms, ice storms, a heat dome, and ships blocking the Suez, we have continued to innovate and improve by releasing new products, streamlining our operations, increasing our market share, and demonstrating what world-class product support looks like.   

To start 2021 off strong, we released the Jet-Fueler 2.0 Semi-Automatic Vape Cartridge-Filling Machine. Representing a complete overhaul of electronics, software, and structural components from the previous model, the Jet-Fueler 2.0 forced us to reevaluate and expand our manufacturing methods and materials. These manufacturing improvements complemented incremental upgrades to the Vape-Jet 3.0 Fully-Automatic Vape Cartridge-Filling Machine made throughout the year.  

By mid-year, the team was forging ahead, working with customers who wanted an end-to-end cartridge filling and capping solution that boasted the same quality and industry-leading customer support as our other solutions. Even though global logistics nearly came to a halt in the middle of production, we brought our new Squish-o-Matic 1000 vape cartridge-capping machine to market. 

Of course, Vape-Jet is not just a hardware company. Our dedication to clean code, behavior-driven development, agile methodologies, and microservice architecture shows that we are nothing without the incredible software which drives our powerful vape cartridge-filling machines. One example of our ongoing efforts to improve our software over the last year included reducing the time between customer feature requests and software implementation to mere days. Following this improvement, we applied wizard-based, interactive SOPs (standard operating procedures) to our automated filling systems and overhauled the GUI (graphical user interface) on both the Jet-Fueler and Vape-Jet. You can find these step-by-step SOPs in all our recent updates. 

As we look forward to 2022, we might reflect on the lessons 2021 taught us. Just as ‘no person is an island entire of itself,’ the past year showed us that manufacturing infrastructure and the global supply chain are fragile. While our company was affected like everyone else, the pain would have been worse had we not insisted on strong U.S.-based manufacturing partnerships and found ways to improve (and maintain) safe production standards. I believe our success in 2021 is a testament to our team’s vision, execution, and ability to thrive during uncertain times. 

We are looking forward to a bright and prosperous 2022 with all our friends within the industry and without.

Cheers to you and yours, 

Ryan Hoitt, CEO 

2021 Financial Growth with Vape-Jet CFO Brian Kuo 

When we founded Vape-Jet, we knew we wanted to grow organically and buck the trend of institutional backing. Having identified a lack of innovation in a space that had grown stale with retrofits and dated equipment, our mission has been to grow alongside our customers, assembling a diverse team, making heavy investments in R&D, and emphasizing local manufacturing, assembly, and support. 

Entering 2022, I am pleased to report that we are succeeding in our mission. The quality of our products has instilled new life into vape cartridge production, and our team has grown bigger and stronger.  

Therefore, as we raise our glasses to a new year, I want to take a moment and reflect on some of our accomplishments: 

  • In 2021, our YOY (year-over-year) revenue grew by more than 200%*  
  • We were profitable and cash flow positive in both 2020 and 2021, with an approximate 350% growth in profitability YOY in 2021* 
  • We have simultaneously increased our total assets by more than 240% while decreasing liabilities by ~19%* 
  • We gave our team a profit share bonus, matching retirement plan, and full health benefits  
  • We added a new dedicated product support technician and developed in-depth HelpDesk documentation (with video documentation to follow in 2022) 
In 2021 Vape Jet year-over-year revenue grew by more than 200%
In 2021 Vape-Jet had an approximate 350% growth in profitability

What has this success taught us? For one, we will continue innovating and adding value for our clients in the year ahead by reinvesting our profits into R&D. We will also continue investing in our people, growing our team, and expanding our operation organically. In short, we will use our exceptional results from 2021 as motivation to better serve our customers. 

So, although I hope for more global stability in 2022, I can’t wait to see how much value we can create in this promising new year! 

Brian Kuo, CFO 

*Financial data for illustration purposes only, not to be relied on for investments and not for assurance purposes. 

Operations Growth in 2021 

As Brian noted, we’ve welcomed many new faces to the Vape-Jet crew this past year. In fact, we’ve increased our number of full-time employees by 250%. By adding manufacturing and support technicians—not to mention a new engineer—we’ve effectively doubled our sales capacity while also doubling our software development team. With all this “doubling” going on, we decided to increase our manufacturing capabilities too, expanding into two new facilities and adding over 3,400 square feet of production floor space. To make better use of these new spaces and faces, we also increased our inventory buffers by triple in key areas. With this operational capacity and inventory surplus, we are well-positioned in 2022 and beyond. 

Vape-Jet increased our number of full-time employees by 250% in 2021.

2022 Vape-Jet Growth Goals 

In the spirit of the new year, here are our “Big 3” resolutions: 

  • Maintain our dedication to post-sales support by increasing accessibility with more written and video resources, troubleshooting guides, in-application assistance programs, and software-based SOPs. 
  • Stick to our innovative roots with continued software and hardware improvements. 
  • Scale with our customers by adding operational capacity and maintaining inventory buffers

But what about product releases or upgrades? At Vape-Jet, we don’t like to talk about new stuff until it’s ready, but it’s an exciting new year (and we like to keep the energy up), so stay tuned for a major announcement in the weeks ahead. Can’t wait that long? Well, get ready for a software upgrade that will greatly increase the speed of all existing machines in the Vape-Jet fleet.

More details to come, but for now, enjoy this sneak peek: 

To the future, 

The Vape-Jet Crew 

Get Ready

You won’t want to be out of the loop for this one, so sign up for our monthly Re:Fill newsletter and get early access to company updates, product releases, and other exciting announcements. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn for real-time updates. 

Categories
Automation

Is Vape Cartridge Filling Automation Worth It? Part Two

Investment Analysis

Investing in Automation: A Technical Perspective 

Businesses understand the importance of sustainable growth, but allocating investment capital can be a difficult process. At Vape-Jet, we believe in approaching these decisions from every angle with the best possible information.  

In our previous article, “Investment Analysis: Is Vape Cartridge Filling Automation Worth It? (Part One)” Director of Sales Josh Maramba and CFO Brian Kuo outlined several key marketing and financial questions to consider during automation investment analysis. Although these questions are vital to new process considerations, they are only one part of your assessment.  

With the help of COO Devon Reid and CEO Ryan Hoitt, this article expands on the technical considerations of your investment, showing how Vape-Jet’s technology reduces bottlenecks and labor costs while allowing you to reallocate resources and establish long-term security.  

Chemistry and Workflow Considerations with Devon Reid

Although the mere mention of chemistry might give some business owners a migraine, resident chemist, engineer, and COO Devon Reid is here to simplify the implications of chemistry and workflow for growing businesses.  

According to Devon, when manufacturing cannabis products, bottlenecks begin at the point of extraction and compound through the process to obtain finished goods.

Unrefined vs Refined Workflow Comparison
Unrefined vs Refined Workflow Comparison

“[The] quality of finished goods flows from upstream processes,” Devon says. While unrefined products are less capital intensive, refined products “yield a more consistent end-product.”  

“If formulation, filling, and packaging bottlenecks are roughly analogous for both workflows,” Devon says, “the major exception lies in the filling of unrefined products.” Filling with a refined product is more consistent because “extraction impurities are removed, and formulation with pure terpenes is precise.” On the other hand, “unrefined products are susceptible to bubbling upon filling, due to impurities and uncontrolled percentages of terpenes.”  

As a result, refined distillate fills faster than unrefined product, while “unrefined workflows generally require more time to produce a product that can be filled.” For example, unrefined products like rosin are labor-intensive to extract, time-intensive to prepare for filling, and slower to fill.   

Unrefined Workflow Labor and Equipment Cost Comparison
Unrefined Workflow Labor and Equipment Cost Comparison
Refined Workflow Labor and Equipment Cost Comparison
Refined Workflow Labor and Equipment Cost Comparison

The solution demands a machine that can react to these highly variable products and workflows. Lucky for us, Devon has spent 10 years developing high-tech automated equipment to eliminate such bottlenecks. He affirms that “automation at any step of either workflow will alleviate bottlenecks and result in a more consistent product.”

Even though unrefined and refined workflows vary from place to place, Vape-Jet’s vape cartridge filling automation technology increases efficiency while decreasing variability, representing a reduction in bottlenecks across the board. With Vape-Jet equipment that you can “set-and-forget,” you can even reallocate labor to other tasks, boosting productivity without increasing labor costs.  

Technical Considerations with Ryan Hoitt

When it comes to investments in new technology, CEO and developer Ryan Hoitt identifies three critical factors to consider: the hidden costs of automation, data collection and compliance, and the rigidity of new machines. 

Reducing the Hidden Costs of Automation

The first hidden cost of automation lies in the training process. The cost of training personnel on complex mechanical automation machines can be high. However, Vape-Jet overcomes this hidden cost “by building the operating procedure into the user interface,” Ryan explains, “users always have the most up-to-date reference information available immediately, lessening the need for extensive training.”  

Secondly, machine adjustments and worker changes lead to slowdowns in the production process. With most machines, Ryan notes, moving between SKUs can be costly and require operator institutional—or legacy—knowledge. If that employee leaves, the company is at risk of losing that knowledge. “With Vape-Jet’s saved profiles, changing between active configurations only takes a few clicks and requires no physical machine interventions.”  

Finally, a prevalent but often ignored cost of automation is equipment maintenance. What happens when something goes wrong with your machine? Can you rely on vendor support? Will getting replacement parts add downtime and negatively affect your production output? “At Vape-Jet, we offer dedicated industry-leading product support with same-day response times and overnight shipping as standard in our support contracts.”

Data Compliance and Collection

With industry compliance needs constantly changing, it is essential to manufacture your products with compliant hardware. Powered by data reporting software, safe fluid paths, and clean-in-place procedures, Vape-Jet exceeds industry standards giving you peace of mind in the face of compliance changes.  

Because manual data collection is “costly and unreliable,” Ryan highlights the importance of computerized data systems. The software in our Vape-Jet collects data from “automated points of inspection, then feeds that data to external systems, with labor cost reductions and increased accuracy.” With this cutting-edge software, you can integrate our automation equipment with your ERP system.  

Machine Rigidity 

Ryan encourages companies to distinguish between flexible and rigid automation. “Heavy investment into single-purpose machines which require extensive adjustments or retrofits to work with evolving product lines can trap you into a cycle of non-innovation.” Instead, flexible machines with remotely updatable software “will always win against rigid designs especially as SKUs and consumer needs evolve.”  

In short, Ryan summarizes, “in a world of rapid technological change, highly specialized automation just doesn’t make sense.” Rather than curtailing innovation and making your business less agile with rigid automation technology, isn’t it better to invest in a machine that can update itself?   

Invest in the Future of Vape Cartridge Filling Automation

With any automation technology comes new opportunities for reducing operating and labor costs, but Vape-Jet machines aren’t just any automation technology. We believe that filling a vape cartridge ought to be as dependable and intuitive as possible.   

With state-of-the-art hardware, unparalleled customer service, and innovative software, our equipment stands alone. Our flexible fully-automatic and semi-automatic machines are designed to complement any workflow and bolster your business for the future.  

Fill smarter than your competitors by investing in high-quality automated equipment from the start. Reach out to our team for a consultation to see if our automation solutions are the right fit for your new production facility or process. 

Categories
Automation

Is Vape Cartridge Filling Automation Worth It? Part One

Investment Analysis

Let’s face it: automation can be intimidating. Representing a movement away from established procedures to something new, the shift to automated machines can be empowering and frightening at the same time. The reality is, whether you are ramping up production or building a brand-new facility, automation technology accelerates the growth of your vape cartridge filling production by standardizing processes, reducing variability, and scaling to meet market demand.  

Although investing in a new piece of equipment can seem daunting, it is important to ask the same questions you would about any other investment: What is my potential return on this investment? How does this equipment increase my workflow efficiency? Does this technology prepare my company for the future?  

At Vape-Jet, we’ve built our products in response to these questions.  

By working through investment considerations with two senior members of our team, we’d like to share how Vape-Jet machines can not only strengthen your business today, but inspire an ambitious and promising future for your company. 

Sales and Marketing Considerations with Josh Maramba

When it comes to quality assurance, what is the cost of short-term thinking? Director of Sales, Josh Maramba, says that some companies, especially early on, overlook the importance of consistency and scaling.  

“During the early stages of their business, some customers are confident that their operators could fill cartridges fast enough by hand and question whether an automated system would make sense.” 

“Even if they matched the filling speed of an automated system,” Josh says, “they would still need to contend with a significantly higher error rate.”  

Ultimately, there is much at stake when implementing a manual filling process. Underfilling leads to bad customer experiences and overfilling means wasted product. By upgrading to an automated system and standardizing processes early, businesses can foster better customer experiences and reduce product loss.  

Purchasing a lower-end automatic filling system is another common short-term oversight Josh stresses. “Sadly, many of our customers come to us only after purchasing a lower quality system and having a terrible experience with inconsistent filling and extremely poor technical support.” 

Josh has heard countless stories from customers detailing how the inconsistency of their old filling systems required them to refill cartridges by hand. “Even though purchasing a lower quality system may save some short-term money,” Josh says, “it often leads to costly problems.”  

With the Vape-Jet, we’ve reduced fill variability to ±0.25%, far outpacing our closest competitor’s ±2.5%, not to mention the inconsistency of hand-filling. Investing in a high-quality automatic system enables you to accommodate for both the short-term and the long-term. Vape-Jet semi- and fully-automatic filling systems have the lowest operating cost of any system, allowing for more flexible and leaner manufacturing operations; you’ll be spared from costly headaches, and able to scale your business while maintaining a dedicated customer base. 

Repeatability Cost comparison of Vape-Jet (0.25%) vs competitors (2.5%)
Repeatability Cost Comparison of Vape-Jet (0.25%) and Closest Competitor (2.5%)
Operating Cost comparison per cartridge of hand fill, jig-load and Vape-Jet
Operating Cost Comparison Per Cartridge of Hand Fill, Jig-Load and Vape-Jet

Financial Considerations with Brian Kuo

With over 15 years of experience in finance, CFO Brian Kuo understands that financial decisions regarding automation can be overwhelming. “Any large capital expenditure can be intimidating, and when a company is investing in filling automation, the financial decision-makers need to spend adequate time analyzing their options.”  

Stressing the significance of this investment analysis period, Brian suggests asking several questions: 

  • What is the return on investment of using human labor vs. automation?  
  • Is full automation necessary, or are we still in a phase where semi-automatic solutions are sufficient? Are there pathways to scale up with semi- and fully-automatic solutions?  
  • What are the risks of a stop in production? Does an automated vape cartridge filling machine attenuate that risk?  
  • How valuable is obtaining data on our operation? Can we reasonably collect data using human labor?  
  • Are there health risks with using only human labor that can be quantified (such as injury/insurance)? What are the safety risks and potential costs with an automated machine?  
  • How valuable is having outside resources and customer service to assist with our automation? How much would it cost us if we tried to contract with engineers to do it on our own?  

As Brian notes, there are numerous considerations when it comes to automation. Yet, with each question comes the opportunity to streamline processes, improve reliability, and increase the scale of your production.  

For an in-depth look at the unit economics and differences between manual and automatic vape cartridge filling, check out our blog post “Why are There so Many People“.

Vape Cartridge Filling Automation: An Investment Worth Making

So, to automate or not to automate? The decision comes down to where you see your business in the future. Delaying investment in vape cartridge filling automation may seem like a prudent financial decision in the short term, but the long-term costs of waiting can negatively impact several aspects of your business. 

But this is only half the story. In part two of our investment analysis series COO Devon Reid and CEO Ryan Hoitt explain how workflow bottlenecks, data collection, and machine rigidity are critical considerations for your investment analysis. 

Fill smarter than your competitors by investing in high-quality automated equipment from the start. Reach out to our team for a consultation to see if our automation solutions are the right fit for your new production facility or process.