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Automation Uncategorized Vape-Jet

Industry Insight: A Look at Automation in Cannabis

Automation in the Cannabis Industry

The cannabis industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, and as it continues to expand and mature, automation is becoming an increasingly important aspect of production. Automation not only allows for more efficient and precise operations, but it also has the potential to significantly reduce labor costs and improve overall profitability. One area of cannabis production where automation is particularly promising is in the filling of vape cartridges, pods, disposables and other devices. 

The vape cartridge market has exploded in recent years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. Vape cartridges offer consumers a convenient and discreet way to consume cannabis, and as a result, they have become a popular choice for both recreational and medical users. However, filling vape cartridges by hand can be time-consuming and prone to errors, which is where automated vape cartridge filling machines like the Vape-Jet and Jet Fueler come in. 

The Benefits of Automated Vape Cartridge Filling Machines 

Automated vape cartridge filling machines are designed to fill vape cartridges with a precise amount of cannabis oil including distillate, live resin, rosin, and more. These machines are equipped with a range of advanced features to ensure accuracy and consistency. With the Vape-Jet 4.0 specifically, this includes precision dispensing, multi-zone temperature control, and the ability to adapt to a variety of different oil viscosities and formulations. 

One of the primary benefits of automated vape cartridge filling machines is increased efficiency. These machines can fill cartridges much faster than manual methods, allowing producers to fill a higher volume of cartridges in a shorter amount of time. This can be particularly beneficial for companies looking to meet high demand or to quickly ramp up production for new product launches. 

In addition to increased efficiency, automated vape cartridge filling machines can also significantly reduce labor costs. These machines can operate continuously with minimal supervision, allowing producers to significantly reduce their labor force or to reassign employees to other manual tasks. For example, one operator can simultaneously run up to four Vape-Jet units. This can be particularly beneficial for companies operating in states where labor costs are high, as automation can help to offset these costs and improve overall profitability. 

Fernway facility: Vape-Jet fully automated vape cartridge filling machine
Learn more about how brands like Fernway have scaled quickly and efficiently with Vape-Jet.
Fernway facility: Vape-Jet fully automated vape cartridge filling machine

Automated vape cartridge filling machines are also able to improve the accuracy and consistency of the filling process. Vape-Jet filling machines are equipped with precise dispensing mechanisms that ensure that each cartridge is filled with the exact same amount of liquid, with an unmatched repeatability rate of ±0.25%. This can be particularly important for companies producing vape cartridges for the medical market, where precise dosing is critical. 

Another benefit of automated vape cartridge filling machines is the ability to handle a wide range of oil viscosities and formulations. Many cannabis oils and concentrates have different viscosities and require specialized filling equipment to ensure that they are accurately and consistently dispensed. Vape-Jet automated filling machines can handle a wide range of viscosities and formulations, allowing producers to expand their product line without the need for multiple filling systems. In fact, with Vape-Jet‘s configuration profile feature operators can save premade settings for each formulation, batch or hardware and simply load it from the library to begin filling. This saves them even more time and ensures a consistent and reliable fill. 

Potential Challenges of Cartridge Filling Automation 

As with any new technology, there are also potential challenges to the adoption of automated vape cartridge filling machines. One of the main challenges is the initial cost of purchasing and installing the equipment. These machines can be expensive, and producers may need to invest in additional equipment such as packaging machinery to fully automate their production process. (If the initial investment is a financial concern, we offer an upgrade path from our semi-automatic Jet Fueler to our fully-automatic Vape-Jet so you can grow your automation as you scale your operation. Reach out to our crew for more information on this offer.) 

Another potential challenge is the learning curve associated with operating and maintaining automated filling machines. These machines can be complex, and producers may need to invest in training and support to ensure that they are able to effectively operate and maintain the equipment. Vape-Jet CEO Ryan Hoitt calls training one of the “hidden costs” of automation. He says “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. Users always have the most up-to-date reference information available immediately, lessening the need for extensive training.” Our machines also come backed by our industry-leading product support, including a one-year renewable warranty that covers installation, training and support.  

Click to Learn More About Vape-Jet's Six Star Service & Product Support
Read more about our product support on our blog.

Despite these potential challenges, the future of automation in cannabis production looks bright, and automated vape cartridge filling machines are likely to play a significant role. As the cannabis industry continues to grow and mature, automation will become increasingly important for improving efficiency, reducing labor costs, and ensuring the accuracy and consistency of products. Producers who can effectively integrate automation like Vape-Jet into their operations will be well-positioned to succeed in this rapidly evolving industry. 

To learn more about how embracing Vape-Jet automation can bring success to your operation, check out these customer features: 

Think Automation is a Thing of the Future? 

This article was written by an AI copywriter. The future is now, so join the revolution or risk getting stuck in the past. If you’re ready to integrate automation into your workflow reach out to our crew with your questions to see what Vape-Jet automation solutions can do for you. 

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, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube

Categories
Jet Fueler Jet-Fueler Uncategorized Vape-Jet

Customer Feature: Ration, Blue Box Brands & BeGreen Supply

At Vape-Jet, we are always inspired by the innovative ways our customers use our products to drive success in their businesses. That’s why we’re excited to share our interview with a man who truly does it all, Chris Michaud. As the CEO and Founder of Blue Box Brands, Ration Cannabis, and BeGreen Supply, Chris shared valuable insights on how using our products has helped grow his businesses.  

As our newest hardware partner, Chris’s company BeGreen Supply builds custom-branded cannabis hardware and packaging. Moreover, Chris’s team uses our semi-automatic Jet Fueler to fill vape cartridges and disposables for his consumer brand Ration Cannabis, a cause-based cannabis brand dedicated to supporting military veterans. 

Brands like Ration demonstrate that Chris strives to build businesses that give back to the community. So, along with some valuable operational insights and inspiration for other businesses looking to enhance their own workflows, we hope this customer feature serves as a reminder of how the cannabis industry—and associated industries—can give back. 

Without further ado, let’s dive into our interview with Vape-Jet CEO, Developer, and Founder Ryan Hoitt and Chris Michaud. 

Watch the full interview above or check out the written article below.

Who is Blue Box Brands?

With product lines ranging from vaporizers and smokables to mouth sprays and edibles, Blue Box Brands is a collection of high-quality cannabis businesses curated to support community causes and serve niche consumer audiences. 

Chris describes Blue Box Brands as ‘a curator and creator of brands.’ On the macro level, Chris explains, “we work with a couple of organizations in D.C., making sure that we’re paying attention to where policy sits and where veterans have access or don’t have access, or maybe there’s an education hole.”  

On the micro level, Blue Box Brands gives back to more localized organizations. One example is Swim With a Mission. “It’s a great group,” Chris says. “They work with the Navy SEAL Foundation out of Florida. We co-host events every year—this was our second year this past July—where you have a paintball tournament, every team gets a Navy SEAL, and you go through the whole tournament with them.”  

Chris describes these experiences as immersive and rejuvenating, allowing Blue Box to give back to the community and veterans who have laid it all on the line. “We’re able to give back dollars to things like improving household accessibility, giving money towards billing codes, or direct help and counseling.” 

“That’s awesome,” Ryan says. “As a former Navy guy, go Navy.” 

“Whether Ration’s helping on the philanthropy side or Blue Box is helping a brand that’s adjacent to its own portfolio, we’re really about commercializing brands and preparing them for scale,” Chris explains. “We have a good relationship with our sister company BeGreen Supply which helps provide packaging and hardware, and that’s what brings us together with Vape-Jet.”  

Outreach and Advocacy

With philanthropic outreach and advocacy playing a major part in what Chris and his team do, we wanted to highlight the various initiatives his team is involved in and the ways they work to create lasting positive change. 

“Ration does a lot of outreach and advocacy and a lot of philanthropy,” Ryan begins. “Can you tell me more about that, how you got started down that route, and why did you select veterans’ organizations?”  

“Veterans service organizations (VSOs) do a lot, and I’m never going to suggest that we can do their job better. It was important to me to find and vet good VSOs so we could accomplish what we’d like to from a for-profit business perspective,” Chris says.  

The ways Ration works with different VSOs depends on the scale of each organization, Chris explains. “Our favorite component is really getting to find out what these people need. Before starting Ration, we spent the first year down in D.C. talking to different groups and finding out who was going to make sense to partner with, who was not going to be afraid of cannabis, who was going to speak up about cannabis in their lobby sessions, in their peer groups. And we found some fantastic people through that process, whether they be individuals or organizations.” 

From that first year, Chris and his team identified that what veterans need is true support. “Our business is providing support to individuals, whether that’s getting them involved with therapy plus medication plus alternative medication.” 

Providing support to veterans in this way really hits home for Chris, whose father served in the Air Force. “My father, back in the day, caught a piece of ammunition off of a plane that was very, very large and messed his back up. He’s been very successful since then, but just a couple of years ago, his injuries started to flare up again, and very recently, in the last year, he was prescribed a number of opiates and a nerve suppressant,” Chris says. 

Eventually, Chris got a call from a family member in the clinical community: “She said, ‘what can we do to get your dad off of these things?’” It was an odd call, Chris explains, because this family member is the expert. “So, you know, [I shared] any bit of exposure that we’ve had in this space to help them get through that. Within two weeks, he was off of the entire opiate program. He kept the nerve suppressant, but he was off the opiates, and now he’s, you know, it’s his choice he doesn’t continue to use cannabis, but it got him through that moment, and now he’s clear of everything. Small success stories like that yield great results, and I want to see that continued in that community.”  

Building Brands with Vape-Jet

“I know we were introduced through Vape-Jet,” Ryan says. “I believe it is BeGreen Supply that operated and purchased the machine. Can you tell me more about how you found out about Vape-Jet and how that’s been going for you?” 

“Sure,” Chris says. “I found out about Vape-Jet by walking the floor at MJBizCon a few years ago, but it was totally by chance, and we were super happy to find a great team and you leading that team. I have a background in medical devices and FDA compliance and pushing things forward to the next level, which is why I wanted to build a device company before getting into brands. But I was like, ‘this guy gets it.’” 

“That was a great meeting,” Ryan recalls. “I remember because we didn’t have a booth that year. I believe you and [Vape-Jet COO] Devon started chatting heavily about medical devices and all the insanity of bringing devices through marketing and FDA approval and everything else.”  

“That was fun because the origins of why we started in the cannabis space really followed that track. We were, you know, a couple of friends who wanted to get away from how long it took to bring products to market in the medical device industry. Now, we’re on to onto kind of a faster-paced industry. It’s volatile, but it’s a lot of fun, and there’s a ton of opportunity to help people and brands.”  

“Can you tell me more about what Vape-Jet devices you use and how you’re using them?”  

“My interaction with Vape-Jet is from two different lenses,” Chris says, “whether that’s direct through Ration and some of the other brands that we have in-house or some of the customers that we support from BeGreen Supply. I was truly attracted to Vape-Jet from our origin story, but also the fact that I found real success in my customers’ stories back on the BeGreen front, whether that’s supporting MSOs or direct brands like Ration. [Vape-Jet] has really versatile system[s], whether we’re talking about an individual filler, such as the Jet Fueler or the Vape-Jet, that’s a little bit more comprehensive.” 

“From my perspective, I love being able to recommend a myriad of systems, and Vape-Jet is always number one at the top. And it also has a great capping solution, which is pretty rare to find systems that are designed to work together,” Chris explains. “Internally, I love setting up my partners for our own brands. We go in from a manufacturing assessment standpoint, and we ask, ‘okay, what’s the real capacity of this place and what do we want to get them to?’”  

From there, Chris helps teams understand their labor, infrastructure, and facility needs. “We typically like to start groups with a Jet Fueler and then graduate them to a Vape-Jet, and our multistate approach is really aimed at facilitating that conversation through Vape-Jet. So we’re taking Blue Box Brands as a portfolio and going to all these different states, and we’re requiring Vape Jet to be part of that protocol.”  

Currently Filling

With Chris focused on implementing Vape-Jet filling machines into production across brands, we wanted to get an idea of the devices they’ve filled and are filling currently. 

“From the BeGreen front, most of our customers are filling cartridges. 510 remains a pretty strong player in the world of vaporizers, but we have seen an increase in disposables at a national level. Beyond that, though, we have got some things that are being built internally—that [may] be a proprietary pod system that’s coming out here very soon,” Chris hints.  

“Service is King”

“One of my favorite things about Vape-Jet is that, from an executive level, I can pick up the phone and call Vape-Jet, and [you] can log into our machine,” Chris explains. As a benefit he’s enjoyed over the years, Chris knows that he can troubleshoot any Vape-Jet or Jet Fueler issues with our support team and receive quick assistance so his team can get filling again. 

“On that note,” Ryan says, “not a lot of people know this, but our organizational structure is all built around support from the very beginning. Every single one of our departments, it doesn’t matter who they are, reports to support. Sales reports to our support department, manufacturing reports to our support department… Everything is focused around support because I’ve found that with any device you build, any piece of equipment that has moving parts and some that don’t, something is going to break, and the business processes you build around that fact are incredibly important.”  

“Definitely,” Chris agrees. “Service is king; learned that through manufacturing a long time ago, whether it was setting up a big factory or working with mom and pop, it’s all based on service.”  

Thank You

We’d like to thank Chris for taking the time to speak with us and share his insights. It was a pleasure to learn more about the amazing things Blue Box Brands, Ration Cannabis, and BeGreen Supply are doing in the world besides providing high-quality solutions for other businesses and end-users. We wish Chris and his team continued success and fulfillment in the coming years. Keep up the great work supporting veterans, and thank you for making a positive impact. 

Read more of our customer features: 

If you are interested in partnering with us, reach out to our crew to learn how Vape-Jet can provide next-level products for your customers.  

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.   

Categories
Uncategorized Vape-Jet

Ask a Vape-Jet Filling Machine Operator

In this article:

‘What’s Going On’ at MJBizCon

It’s that time of year again, and the Vape-Jet team is happy to join the cannabis industry folks at MJBizCon in Las Vegas, Nevada, from November 16-18! This year, we’re bringing along brand representative, Vape-Jet operator, and owner of Natural Roots Extracts, Demetre (James) Janness to answer questions and provide insight into what it’s like working with a Vape-Jet fully-automatic filling machine and Jet Fueler semi-automatic cartridge-filling machine every day.   

If you’re at the expo, make sure to stop by booth #6851 and say “hi!” We’ll provide you with all the information you need about our products and some cat memes for the road!  

A look back at MJBizCon 2021 from our friends at AVD.

Ask a Vape-Jet Operator: Demetre Janness from Natural Roots Extracts 

With the news that our good friend Demetre would be joining us for MJBizCon, it was only fitting that we sat down and discussed his experience with Vape-Jet. Along with some insights he’s gained from the field, we also talked about our new partnership with his vape hardware company, TerpLogic, and how we work together to share benefits with our customers.  

Demetre’s Vape-Jet Experience 

“I’ve been using Vape-Jet filling machines for quite some time,” Demetre says. “I would say at least three and a half years now. I am absolutely pleased with the results.” During those years, Demetre has used several of our products, including the Vape-Jet 2.0, 3.0, 4.0, Jet Fueler 2.0, and Squish-o-Matic 1000.   

Why has Demetre partnered with Vape-Jet through the years? “We’ve been able to increase our volume of work with less people over a very short amount of time.” Vape-Jet cartridge-filling machines are perfect for guaranteeing his company will meet deadlines. Demetre says that their Vape-Jet ‘pretty much guarantees’ that the filling process will always be smooth. “In fact,” Demetre mentions, “[the filling process] is where we usually make up most of the time.”  

When you’re working with automated technology, it always helps to partner with a company that has your back long-term. Demetre explains that one of the great things about Vape-Jet is being able to get in touch with product support and technical assistance in a reasonable timeframe—“Next thing you know, they’re like ‘here, let me fix this for you,’ and, BAM, it’s done!” “Then, with the small exception where I’ve broken my own parts from carelessness,” Demetre continues, “I’ve ordered a new [part] and was able to get it very fast and at a fair, reasonable price.”   

Asked how Vape-Jet cartridge-filling machines compare with other filling systems he’s used, Demetre explains, “like many people in the industry, I started filling by hand. Compared to that you might as well be launching me into space and setting me on Mars because it’s out-of-this-world different.”   

Some of the negatives Demetre points out about hand-filling include stress, physical strain, and employee turnover. Not only does hand-filling have labor consequences, Demetre continues, but it also results in substantial product loss. “When you can reduce the amount of touchpoints to your packaging, you can make the job fun because it’s really great watching the machine do its job… I mean, you can’t compare. You really can’t.” 

Watch Demetre fill and cap simultaneously with the Vape-Jet 3.0 and Squish-o-Matic 1000 side by side.
Vape-Jet Insights 

We asked Demetre if he had any tips for new (and experienced) operators of our vape cartridge-filling machines: “the biggest tip I can give to an operator to [get] the most out of your systems is making sure that you take time to prep,” he says. “Take your time, do your prep work, heat your oil properly, and develop a great SOP for that whole system, so if you have other people working when you’re not around, they’re not going to break the machine.”  

When asked how difficult it was to operate a Vape-Jet fully-automatic cartridge-filling machine as a rookie, Demetre says: “By the end of the [first] day, I was able to jump in comfortably, knowing that the next day, when I’m completely on my own, I don’t have to rely on calling anybody or anything like that.” In fact, Demetre quickly trained most of his staff to operate the machine after just learning it himself. Asked what he considered the hardest part of operating a Vape-Jet, he says, “honestly, whatever I’ve run into thus far has been nothing compared to what we were doing before.”  

With a valuable perspective (having operated several Vape-Jet iterations over the years), Demetre states that the Vape-Jet 4.0 is much quieter than previous generations. Noting the superior speed, build quality, ease-of-use, and built-in touchscreen as key benefits of Vape-Jet automation, Demetre says the upgraded 4.0 software is “outstanding” in its ability to locate and fill vape cartridges and pods quickly. “I was able to test TerpLogic Ally pods with the original 3.0, and it worked great, but the 4.0 is just faster. I think we’re hitting around 4 minutes per tray of 50 pods with a dual fill, full gram with .5g on each side. So, 50g in 4 minutes with caps and everything. And we are able to utilize the Squish-o-Matic in that process, so it’s great.”   

Vape-Jet 4.0 | The Most Advanced Fully-Automatic Vape Cartridge Filling Machine - Click to Learn More

When considering whether to invest in a Vape-Jet cartridge-filling machine, Demetre advises companies to consider how it impacts labor. “You’re allowing your employees to have a job that avoids work-related injuries from repetitive motion and things like that. I think that relates heavily to turnover with staff. It also translates big when it comes to losses. If you’re constantly training someone, then you’re losing money. You need someone there to make sure this machine runs, and that’s it. And it’s going to keep running until your power runs out. And that’s on you.”   

By streamlining their production with Vape-Jet hardware—from the Vape-Jet 4.0 to the Squish-o-Matic 1000—Demetre shows how quickly investing in a Vape-Jet automatic cartridge filler can pay off. Whether it’s labor, product loss, quality control, or scaling considerations, Vape-Jet has the solutions to help you increase revenue and innovate for the future.  

If you want to hear more from folks operating Vape-Jet products in the field, check out our other customer features (Terrapin Care Station, C3 Industries, and True North Collective) and stay tuned for upcoming customer features on our blog page

Our New Hardware Partner: TerpLogic Solutions

Since the launch of our new partner program, we’ve teamed up with a solid group of like-minded companies to bring our customers the most streamlined vape cartridge-filling workflow possible. With the addition of Demetre’s company TerpLogic Solutions, our mission to provide high-quality, comprehensive, and scalable filling processes to the cannabis industry continues.

Who is TerpLogic?  

TerpLogic manufactures The “Ally” All-In-One Rechargeable Vape, one of the most efficient vapes available that ensures proper voltage output for maximum performance, all in a sleek, discrete design with no cotton wicking required.   

Due to his experience with our company, Demetre wanted to ensure The Ally would work seamlessly with our Vape-Jet fully-automatic cartridge-filling machine. “[The Vape-Jet] is able to identify [the Ally’s] center post and two filling holes that exist within our design very quickly. In fact, we’re able to push the limits if we really want to, but, personally, I’m a firm believer in efficiency, and I try to find numbers where everyone can keep up.”   

Demetre also points out that the Vape-Jet saved profile configuration feature allows TerpLogic to quickly switch from 510 cartridges to Ally pods, allowing them to run two cartridge platforms without downtime or wasted product.  

Vape-Jet 4.0 filling the TerpLogic Ally all-in-one pod.

“One of the things that’s great about the TerpLogic Ally pod is it’s an all-in-one with a rechargeable low-capacity battery,” Demetre says. This reduces the amount of lithium needed to operate the device, allowing TerpLogic to reduce their carbon footprint. “We’re able to reduce [emissions] due to The Ally’s lower shipping weight.”  

The Ally also uses a non-cotton-based atomizer with a quartz heating element and ceramic insulator system that protects the oil from rapid changes, so the end-user gets excellent flavor all the way through. “We’ve had great success with our full-gram pods, various thicker oils, and rosins,” Demetre notes.  

How can interested parties test TerpLogic hardware? The best way is to get samples through their website. “Pick up one of our sample kits for a very nominal fee, and, if that’s a great price for you already, you’ll be excited to know that our wholesale pricing jumps down drastically from that price point,” Demetre says. “We are working with Vape-Jet to help provide potential customers with samples so you can test our product partnership.” With other exciting announcements on the horizon, be sure to follow TerpLogic’s Instagram and website for updates.  

Provide Optimal Cartridge-Filling Solutions for Your Customers with Vape-Jet x TerpLogic 

With Demetre’s deep knowledge of Vape-Jet vape cartridge automation, our partnership with TerpLogic is a great route for companies looking for a streamlined workflow that decreases overhead, increases throughput, and provides premium user experiences with high-quality oil vaporizing hardware.  

Have your own questions for Demetre? Find him at the Vape-Jet booth (#6851) at MJBizCon November 16-18 in Las Vegas, Nevada!

If you are interested in providing the highest-quality product for your customers, reach out to our crew to learn how Vape-Jet can provide next-level products for your customers. 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.     

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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. 

Categories
Automation Uncategorized

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. 

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Automation Uncategorized

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.