How will you grow with a Vape-Jet?
In the cannabis industry, starting your business with a solid, growth-oriented foundation is critical to your success. With increasing competition and demand, you might only get one shot to impress consumers—that’s why we say every cartridge counts.
In our last customer feature, we saw how Vape-Jet automation is crucial to scalability, even ramping up to produce 5,000-6,000 vape cartridges in a single eight-hour shift. But there’s no point in going fast if you can’t ensure product quality and safety; that’s why our industry-leading fill repeatability (±0.25%) is vital, ensuring every cartridge is uniform while meeting the highest possible standards.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Luckily, our friends C3 Industries are here to back us up. We love C3 because they respect cannabis consumers—no shortcuts, no filler, just premium quality products. Before they became a multi-state business (with locations in Michigan, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Missouri), C3 Industries launched in 2018 in the St. Johns neighborhood of Portland, Oregon. Within six months their flower, concentrates and vape cartridge brand, Cloud Cover, became one of the top five indoor flower brands in Oregon. As fellow Oregonians, we were stoked!
Clearly, C3 was something special, so it wasn’t long before they opened a cultivation and manufacturing center in Webberville, Michigan (followed by several High Profile retail stores). With four Vape-Jets in service and a new production facility in Massachusetts on the way, we decided to check in on how things were going.
Enter: the heroes behind C3’s vape cartridge production, Senior Operations Manager Kevin Duplissis, and Inventory & Packaging Technician Jeremy Torrez.
Before & After
Although they’ve used Vape-Jet equipment for a long time (since the Vape-Jet 1.0 days), there was a period when hand-filling was the name of the game.
‘How was that experience?’ we asked. “Painful,” Jeremy responds. As a premier, vertically-integrated cannabis cultivator, processor, and retailer, C3 wanted to reduce variability in their workflow from start to finish. This obviously included hand-filling cartridges, so switching to a state-of-the-art vape cartridge-filling machine was the only way forward. Now, “we’re heavily invested in the Vape-Jet ecosystem,” Kevin says. “We have one here [in Michigan], one on its way to Missouri, one in Massachusetts, and one in Oregon.”
As you’d expect, C3 Industries was (and continues to be) a huge influence on our equipment. In fact, C3’s experiences with older Vape-Jet models informed several of the upgrades and changes in the 3.0 they’re running now. As both a witness to—and an integral part of—our evolution as a company, C3’s loyalty to our products is the best endorsement we could receive, showing how a focus on quality cannabis is always a worthwhile endeavor.
Let’s Talk Details
Previously filling 1,000 to 1,500 cartridges across two production days, Kevin says, C3 now targets 4,000 cartridges a week. Usually filling over three days, they mostly focus on 1 gram sauce cartridges with the occasional terpene and dab cartridge run.
As demand grew, production increased; luckily, C3’s Vape-Jets were up to the task. With C3’s highest single shift output reaching 1,976 cartridges, Kevin and Jeremy know they can ramp up production at a moment’s notice. However, simply ripping through vape cartridges is not C3’s goal. Instead, they take a craft approach to producing cannabis products by fitting production to demand. Often producing small batches rather than ramping up, C3 seeks to perfect their craft, process, and calibration, so consumers only get the very best.
The Pain of Hand-Filling
The agony of hand filling is well-documented, but it’s worth emphasizing how much of a relief it is to introduce automated filling equipment. Believe us, the physical and mental demands of filling by hand prevent technicians from achieving the same quality control and throughput possible with vape cartridge automation.
But don’t take our word for it.
“Hand filling is a painful process,” Kevin says. “I have been around the team and seen them hand-filling. It is arduous, it is not fun on your fingers, it’s not hyper repeatable, and it’s not temperature controlled, so you’re going to have variability from cart to cart. [There are] too many variables out of your control, which we want to avoid at all costs. We want to make sure our product has a consistent flavor and fill level. Definitely not something you can do with hand filling.”
Moving from a process of hand-filing and manual weight checking with a scale, the workflow with Vape-Jet automation leaves the C3 team much happier. “We save three profiles: a sauce cartridge profile, a terpene profile, and a dab profile,” Kevin says. “If the formulation is a little bit thicker or thinner, we can always adjust minor settings, but for the most part, we don’t have to do too much dialing.”
Don’t worry, we didn’t make Jeremy or Kevin dwell in the negativity of hand-filling too long. “Don’t get me wrong, our team crushed it and flew through hand-filling,” Kevin says. “But again, not something I would want to subject anyone to on a week-to-week basis. I don’t think anyone would want to do that on a week-to-week basis.”
Product Support: Internal & External
Everyone has had a bad experience investing in technology.
For some of us, it was entrusting a big box store with our first major desktop purchase. For others, a revolutionary new coffee maker dispensing something akin to mud. We’ve learned from these experiences and seek trusting relationships with businesses that take pride in their equipment and prioritize technical support.
At Vape-Jet, we take pride in our industry-leading product support. Whether we are reviewing customer data to optimize machine performance or developing our active HelpDesk Support Ticketing System (averaging a 15-minute response time during business hours), we are your partners for the long haul.
Even though they haven’t had any issues with their Vape-Jet 3.0 since installation, having an accessible support service has boosted the C3 team’s confidence. “The support is great,” Jeremy says. “The one time we had a problem [at installation], we got right on a call within fifteen minutes and got it sorted out.”
Imagine waiting days (or even longer) for the necessary support to get things going! The Vape-Jet team realizes that any production disruption has broad implications for your workflow, so we take an all-hands-on-deck approach to addressing technical problems. We even set up product support calls for hardware calibration so you can save optimized filling profiles for increased efficiency. We win when you win.
Uniformity Across Locations
Having the same Vape-Jet model across all locations allowed C3 Industries to build institutional knowledge of our machine. With easier internal training and SOP familiarity, communication and workflow efficiency are much better than in the old hand-filling days. “It’s much easier training our employees across the entire network,” Kevin assures us. “We send out all our profile information. We give everyone the settings that we run on our Vape-Jet 3.0, so they can run the same cartridge profiles.”
With this uniformity in process, training, and filling, Vape-Jet ensures that C3’s quality product isn’t ruined by inferior filling equipment. The C3 cartridge you purchase in Michigan is filled with the same ideal settings as a cartridge in Oregon. In other words, together, we make every vape cartridge count.
As we mentioned earlier, C3 has been a huge part of our growth as a company. The same goes for the other side. During our chat, Kevin and Jeremy mentioned several upgrades that played a vital role in their production (like the stand-alone Drop-Tank reservoir heater that optimizes batch changeovers). C3 knows they can depend on us to innovate for the future while meeting the demands of today. Just knowing they can scale their production at any time is a major reason they continue to invest in Vape-Jet.
“In this facility alone we’ve gone from 1,500-1,600 cartridges a week up to 4,000 a week,” Kevin reflects. “Obviously, we could blow that number out of the water if we went five days and wanted to run it full bore. Not really part of our business model right now, but you know, we have a 70,000 square foot greenhouse coming online this summer, and you can pretty much guarantee that we’re going to scale our operations to account for the increased biomass. We are definitely going to really pump our cartridge numbers towards the tail end of 2022, I can tell you that.” Understanding that their Vape-Jet could fill about 40,000 cartridges per week with a single operator, C3 Industries can look to the future confidently, knowing their filling machine will scale with business needs moving forward.
Don’t you love happy (blog) endings? Anyway, after a sincere apology for bringing up hand-filling, we had to let Kevin and Jeremy get back to production. Currently, they are filling five days a week to prepare for the 2022 Michigan High Times Cannabis Cup. More evidence that there are always cartridges to fill.
Learn More About Vape-Jet
A huge thanks to Jeremy, Kevin, and C3 Industries for their time and for building such a quality business model. Growing with teams like this makes all the hard work worth it, and we look forward to celebrating more wins together in the future.
If you want to experience the greatness of your own Vape-Jet, all you need to do is drop us a line. While you’re at it, don’t forget to sign up for our monthly Re:Fill newsletter to get early access to company updates, product releases, and other exciting announcements. Follow us on the essentials, too: Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.