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Jet-Fueler Uncategorized Vape-Jet

How the Global CO₂ Shortage Affects Cannabis Oil Extraction

Industry Insight

For cannabis oil producers, the importance of CO2 cannot be understated. As the primary solvent in one of the most popular cannabis oil extraction methods in the industry today, the recent CO2 shortage has profound implications for oil production processes. With so much volatility in the market, let’s take some time to think about this CO2 dilemma and propose some solutions so oil producers can keep meeting customer demand while maintaining the same high-quality products consumers deserve. 

How did this CO2 Shortage Begin? 

As with any global shift in market availability, the reasons for the current CO2 situation are varied. Perhaps most significantly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has created extensive oil and natural gas supply interruptions in Europe, leading to volatile petrochemical and agricultural markets which directly affect fertilizer production, of which food grade CO2 is a byproduct.  

This market uncertainty, tied to lack of supply, has already affected other industries close to cannabis. In the brewing industry, for instance, the impact of the CO2 shortage is already playing out, leading to increased input costs which have numerous upstream and downstream workflow ramifications.  

The Significance of CO2 for Vape Cartridge Producers

The benefits of using CO2 for cannabis oil extraction are well-documented, but it’s worth revisiting just how vital CO2 is for vape cartridge production.  

As the most common solvent for Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE), CO2 earns its place because of multiple factors: 

  1. It is one of the safest non-polar solvents 
  2. It is more dependable during SFE for preserving the compounds found in cannabis 
  3. It can pull various cannabinoids from the plant through fractioning 

When Will the Cannabis Oil Extraction Industry Feel the Shortage?

[CO2 demand] from the cannabis industry, for cannabinoid and terpene extraction, [has] been growing quickly, and not enough new capacity is coming online to compensate.” – Craig Bettenhausen, “US faces COshortage” 

The worlds of cannabis production and retail are accustomed to fluctuating markets. Most post-legalization markets, for example, overinvest in production capacity leading to wholesale cost reductions. Dealing with lower prices isn’t new, and it usually leads to consolidation and restructuring until the supply and demand for cannabis come back into alignment. How is this CO2 shortage different, and how is it similar? 

Well, although it can be difficult to predict when and how certain industries will react to a decreased CO2 supply, there are some reasonable expectations of when we will start seeing the shortage affect the cannabis industry. 

The first people to feel the CO2 supply shortage will be grow and cannabis oil extraction facilities, especially when natural gas and oil consumption spike in winter (Butane Hash Oil extractors will likely feel this pain as well). Accordingly, all cannabis flower, extract, and distillate will probably see cost increases by the end of 2022, which will squeeze profit margins on vape cartridges. 

Of course, this spike in the price of natural gas during wintertime will undoubtedly be exacerbated by increased gas exports to Europe from North America. As energy costs inflate due to decreased supply and increased demand, input costs for cannabis cultivation, extraction, and refinement will rise, ultimately yielding lower margins on cannabis products across the board and increasingly small returns. 

In short, with high electricity costs, high CO2 costs, and high butane costs, every step in the cannabis product chain will be affected.  

So, What’s the Solution?

Wholesale and retail marijuana prices continue to fall in most states, with production often outpacing consumption… The glut of cannabis products and brands have retailers in many states increasingly discounting their merchandise in hopes of shrinking bulging inventories and boosting sales amid growing competition.” – Andrew Long, “Midyear State Cannabis Sales a Mixed Bag Across the United States

With such clear indicators of pesky inflation and increased input costs on the horizon, we ought to think of some solutions. After all, we shouldn’t just read this information and run to the closest bar. It’s what we do with the information going forward and how we use it to stay ahead of the curve and prepare for the uncertainty that matters. 

So, what can you do? 

Solution 01: Invest in Automation

As input costs rise due to CO2 and other raw materials—and oversupply issues continue for the cannabis industry—prices will continue falling, ultimately squeezing out many operators with high costs and low returns. In other words, cost reduction is key, and reducing labor costs with automation may be the only way to compete.  

Luckily, this solution is our specialty. At Vape-Jet, we manufacture the most advanced fully-automated (Vape–Jet) and semi-automated (Jet Fueler) vape cartridge-filling systems on the market. In fact, we’ve discussed how vape cartridge automation is one of the most proactive, crucial investments you can make in your cartridge filling process quite a bit. 

Not only do our vape cartridge-filling machines fill your cartridges faster, more accurately, and help you overcome cartridge hardware challenges, our team also provides unmatched after-sales support to keep your operation running. That means higher productivity, decreased labor input, and satisfied customers. 

Solution 02: Plan for a New Pricing Strategy

As Krista Raymer writes in her article, “to combat price compression, cannabis retailers can use psychology and consumer behavior tendencies to guide them toward certain products or shopping patterns. One important tactic to do this is through the lens of price perception.”  

Krista lists three strategies cannabis companies can use to stay ahead: ‘visualization of pricing,’ ‘in-store signage,’ and ‘insignificant numbers.’ Read detailed descriptions of these strategies in “Dispensary Pricing Strategy: How to Combat Price Compression.” 

Solution 03: Solventless Cannabis Oil Extraction

As we discussed earlier, CO2 is a dependable solvent for Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE). But what if you moved your workflow away from solvents? Well, it is safe to assume that solventless processes will see a significant boost if solvents inflate high enough. If you want to learn more about this cannabis oil extraction method and how it affects production, product quality, and operation costs, start with this article—“Extracting the Bottom Line.” 

And That’s Where We Come In

As we watch the CO2 shortage impact other industries around us, cannabis businesses should start preparing for the necessary strategies (cultivation, production, sales, etc.) to combat the inevitable results of price increases in our industry. Automation is one of the most straightforward ways to set your business up for success now and especially when uncertainty starts affecting the markets on which we depend. 

Reach out to the Vape-Jet team today, and let’s optimize your operation now and secure your workflow for the long haul. 

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.  

Interested in our new partner program? Learn more here. 

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Jet Fueler Jet-Fueler Uncategorized Vape-Jet

True North Collective MI: Customer Feature

A Shared Dedication to Quality

When it comes to offering transformative solutions for your customers, you have to embrace a growth mindset that challenges the status quo. Every day, our team at Vape-Jet has lived by this ethos, and we love when others do too. That’s why it should be no surprise that today, we’re focusing on True North Collective—an unapologetically authentic purveyor of craft cannabis products.  

As one of Michigan’s premier cannabis brands, you can bet that the True North Collective (TNC) team doesn’t take any shortcuts. Since 2019, they’ve emphasized the healing potential of cannabis and have cultivated multi-award-winning products for medical and recreational users alike. 

True North Collective - From Michigan, For Michigan | Click to Learn More

With three brands in the TNC family, it didn’t take long before their vape cartridge-filling production needed a boost. Most importantly, this wasn’t a time to take shortcuts with their operation. Recognizing the innovation and quality behind Vape-Jet products reflected their own high standards, Vape-Jet automation and True North Collective were a perfect match. TNC decided to invest in our Vape-Jet 3.0 fully automatic and a Jet Fueler 2.0 semi-automatic filler, and that’s where our story begins.  

This week, we sat down with TNC-Michigan’s Distillation Director, Joey Stutz to see how their operation had changed since acquiring our cartridge-filling machines: 

Vape-Jet in action at True North Collective’s Michigan facility.

Before and After 

Before investing in their first Vape-Jet, TNC was filling cartridges by hand with a generic cartridge-filling gun. Since there were no heating elements in the filling gun, fill techs had to heat the oil separately. With this heating variable added to an already physically intensive filling process, TNC had to dedicate up to six employees at a time for filling and capping, which limited them to filling 50-100 cartridges at a time and up to 1,000-2,000 a day. 

And after they bought a Vape-Jet? 

With the Vape-Jet they can fill about 4,000 distillate cartridges per day—and that’s with one person for filling and capping. Needless to say, that was a huge improvement over hand-filling! 

With the speed and precision of a Vape-Jet in their facility, TNC saw an opportunity to use our semi-automatic Jet Fueler to generate new products, like a line of premium sauce cartridges coming to market soon. For businesses looking to accelerate their growth by adding product lines—or rapidly boosting their throughput to meet demand and enter new markets—the flexibility of a Vape-Jet and Jet Fueler tandem is highly effective

With their move to Vape-Jet automation, TNC also switched to AVD EazyPress cartridges (one of Vape-Jet’s most filled hardware suppliers) for a seamless production workflow. “We did R&D on a bunch of different disposables, pods, and other carts that aren’t EasyPress, but ultimately the best flavor came from the EasyPress AVD [cartridges],” Joey says. 

Labor Cost 

By switching to Vape-Jet, True North Collective reduced its labor needs by 83% while doubling its production output.  

“The Vape-Jet is automated, so you need someone in the room watching it, but they can also be doing something else while the machine is running itself. It’s not like that person is just dedicated to filling the entire time or just dedicated to one other process. The machine makes it so that one person can get carts ready, they can get the oil ready for the carts and mix the terpenes into it, they can watch the machine and cap at the same time. [The Vape-Jet] makes it very easy for us to reduce the amount of labor overall,” Joey says. “We don’t even have to use the VJ every day right now because it can fill so many, and it’s so efficient.”  

What about fill accuracy? Any improvement there?  

Although their hand-filling operator was very skilled and experienced, it would have been difficult if they had to train someone new. “Whereas the Vape-Jet comes in, and you just work a computer a little bit, and you’re good to go,” Joey says. “There’s not a lot of skill required to operate this machine, just knowledge.”  

How easy is it to operate a Vape-Jet? Contact our crew to request a live demo and see for yourself.

Vape-Jet Product Support 

Creating an extensive, easily accessed online product support library has been, and remains, a main focus for the Vape-Jet team. With an abundance of resources for new Vape-Jet users and veterans alike, folks can easily find: 

Joey emphasizes this comprehensive approach to product support as a key component of the success TNC has had with their machines. “Anytime we have an issue, I go online or send a support message, and they’re on it within a day. If it’s super time-sensitive,” Joey continues, “[Vape-Jet support] is right on it. Just the other day, we had an issue with the needle, and they got on within 30-45 minutes. Customer service is great.”   

Operator Tips from Joey 

  • For faster changeover between batches, make sure to purchase an extra reservoir for oil so you can have it ready as soon as your cleaning cycle ends. You can also get a DropTank Oil Preheater to perform hot swaps and save more time. 
  • Try to run the same cannabis strain back-to-back so you don’t have to wait for the cleaning process. 
  • Always be aware if the nitrogen is connected or disconnected to the oil reservoir (depending on the task at hand) because it can make a huge mess.  
Vape-Jet 4.0 | The Most Advanced Fully-Automatic Vape Cartridge Filling Machine - Click to Learn More

Why Vape-Jet? 

Ease of use 

I really like the efficiency of your machine. You literally just put the brick in there, it fills the brick, and then you take the brick out. It’s that easy,” Joey explains. “Every other machine that we saw was a little bit more manual or had some other things that you had to do to them.”  

Operation Consistency 

“I also liked that the Vape-Jet was a single fill vs. filling 100 cartridges at one time because I’ve never seen that work correctly.”   

Pricing 

“The price is excellent. It’s probably 50-66% the cost of the machines that claim they can do a similar amount.” And that’s without getting into fill repeatability, where the Vape–Jet outpaces all competitors with a fill variability of ±0.25%. That’s more precise than a single drop of oil! 

Look 

And,” Joey emphasizes, “it looks cool! It’s something that when someone is touring the facility, they look at it and they’re like ‘That looks pretty cool!’ instead of a big clunky machine just sitting there that we have to explain what it does.” 

10/10 Would Recommend” 

Before we said goodbye, we asked Joey how likely he was to recommend our vape cartridge-filling machines to others: “10/10—would recommend,” Joey said. We can’t ask for a better score than that! 

As they look to ramp up production soon (and possibly bring another Vape-Jet on board), we wish True North Collective the very best moving forward. We couldn’t be happier to watch their customer-centered focus on quality pay off. We also want to thank Joey Stutz for taking the time to speak with us and share his unique insights. It’s always a pleasure speaking with other folks who are passionate about cannabis and process development. 

If you want to experience freedom from workflow, labor, and product quality constraints that Joey describes, contact our sales team and join the Vape-Jet Revolution! 

Interested in learning more? Browse one of our other informational blogs:  

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