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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

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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
Events Uncategorized

MJBizCon 2022: Vape-Jet Has Leveled Up 

Three days of cannabis industry pandemonium in Las Vegas? Must be MJBizCon 2022!  

With over 30,000 attendees, industry insiders, and celebrity cameos, this year’s MJBizCon was one to remember. The Vape-Jet booth was packed, our fully-automatic Vape-Jet vape cartridge-filling machine and semi-automatic Jet Fueler took center stage, and our industry friends are thriving—what more could you ask for? 

See how it all went down and why this MJBizCon was the best yet: 

The Evolution of VJ at MJ

Among the returnees to MJBizCon this year, Vape-Jet founder and CEO Ryan Hoitt had a great time reconnecting with friends and introducing newcomers to the world of vape cartridge-filling automation. 

To Ryan, the differences from 2019 to 2022 couldn’t be starker: “In 2019, we walked around, smuggling in brochures and doing guerrilla marketing trying not to get caught.” In those days, Vape-Jet was a fairly new concept, and the potential of an automatic cartridge-filler was not as obvious as it is today. “Our handouts got trashed faster than we could place them, but it brought in just enough interest to bootstrap the first couple of sales,” Ryan recalls. 

In 2021, we set up our first Vape-Jet booth, allowing us to build some brand awareness and connect with folks interested in innovation. “People were starting to take notice, and sales were climbing,” Ryan says. 

If 2019 and 2021 were focused on establishing our brand and generating interest, 2022 was the payoff. “We had to take off our branded shirts just to get a moment of silence during after-hours events and date nights,” Ryan says. “People came purposefully to see us in person. All around town, we ran into existing clients, formed relationships with new ones, and got to experience our 10 seconds of fame.”  

This development, though not entirely surprising given the rapid growth of automated vape-filling processes, was very special to behold. “When we started building a B2B vape cartridge-filling equipment brand, I never for a moment thought we would experience so much recognition, admiration, and command such respect in the industry.” 

“I am incredibly proud of the entire Vape-Jet team for making this a possibility, and I can’t wait to see what 2023 brings.” 

Partners and Friends at MJ

It was great seeing so many familiar faces this year, including: 

Hardware Partners 

Customers 

Equipment Manufacturers 

Terpene Suppliers 

The Evolution of the Vape Market 

Of course, Ryan wasn’t our only representative at MJBizCon. Resident chemist, COO, and co-founder Devon Reid also made his return to the tradeshow floor this year.  

Aside from being chased around MJBizCon (until he took off his branded gear), Devon notes a decisive industry focus on improving QA. “The market is shifting from a fixation on throughput to a focus on quality,” Devon says. “The renewed focus on quality encompasses not only the machine that puts the oil into the cartridges, but the cartridges themselves, the oil itself, the upstream processes for obtaining the oil, and the downstream consequences of implementing all the upstream quality improvements.” 

Why? Because a surplus of supply means customers are faced with more options than ever before. Now, Devon says, many businesses are taking a holistic approach to product planning. “From high-quality equipment to high-quality products, businesses see the positive consequences for end-users (increased sales) and employees (increased retention).” 

Utilizing automatic cartridge-fillers like our Vape-Jet fully-automatic filling machine is a surefire way to improve customer and employee satisfaction. “Fire in, fire out—it’s that simple,” Devon says. 

The Evolution of Vape Producers 

Vape-Jet sales rep Sawyer Sheppard has seen his share of cannabis industry tradeshows and has developed a keen eye for industry trends and matching customers with solutions that fit their long-term goals.  

At MJBizCon 2022, Sawyer highlights a key theme: versatility. “With the rise in different form factorsincluding disposables, pod-type systems, and higher quality oils like live resin and rosin—heating up in the market, versatility is the name of the game.” 

To improve their versatility, Sawyer noticed that brands are increasingly looking for partnerships. “Many customers are now looking for long-term equipment suppliers that they can grow with,” Sawyer says, emphasizing the word “growth.” “After being burned by tone-deaf ‘product support teams,’ businesses want a partner who is not just selling them equipment, but is dedicated to their long-term growth.” 

MJBizCon Session: Vape Market Breakdown

What’s happening in the vape market as we enter 2023? Industry trends took center stage as insiders discussed consumer and quality developments heading into the new year.  

If you weren’t able to attend, don’t worry, here are some key highlights: 

Consumer Trends 
  • Women now account for 57% of vape cartridge users 
  • Consumers increasingly focus on cannabis growers due to live and solventless processes, whole plant efficacy, and the cannabis marketing ecosystem 
  • Speakers emphasized good manufacturing practices that keep formulations simple and test at every stage of the process 
Quality Trends 
  • It has never been more important to hire people who really love cannabis 
  • Shelf stability is essential, but old cannabis shouldn’t be written off 
  • The days of scarcity are over, so diversification of products is paramount 
What’s Next? 
  • Freeze-dried flowers, cannabis experiences (lounges, serving, sampling, pallet development) 
  • States requiring vapor testing during production 
  • New vape sizes and cannabinoid focus coming to market 

‘Till MJBizCon 2023!

We want to extend a sincere “thank you” to everyone who made it to our booth this year! MJBizCon 2022 could not have been the success it was for our team without your support, and we look forward to building off the positive energy we received. The cannabis industry is driven by innovators who prioritize product quality, responsible scaling, and versatile technology, and we are proud to continue leading the charge in vape cartridge automation. 

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
Jet-Fueler Vape-Jet

Fernway: Customer Feature

What better way to enjoy New England’s Fall foliage than paying a visit to our good friends at Fernway in Northampton, Massachusetts? As creators of Massachusetts’ 1st recyclable cannabis vapeThe Traveler—and long-time Vape-Jet customers, it was only fitting that we caught up during the changing of the seasons to discuss—well, change.   

Vape-Jet CEO, Developer, and Founder, Ryan Hoitt sat down with Fernway’s COO and co-founder, Kevin Wu, to see how things are going. Read on to learn about Vape-Jet and Fernway’s ongoing collaboration, the move to sustainable industry practices, Vape-Jet tips and tricks, and more:  

The Vape-Jet Experience  

Since their founding in February 2021, Fernway has used Vape-Jet cartridge-filling machines to ensure they maintain high QA standards and have scalable technology to grow with their business. Starting with our Jet Fueler semi-automatic vape cart filler in 2021, Fernway is now up to five Vape-Jet fully-automatic cartridge-filling machines, four of which operate side-by-side in their Northampton facility.  

“How did you learn about Vape-Jet?”  

“It must have been on the internet somewhere… We were just four guys in a house at that time, and we didn’t have the money to spend on a fully automated, big fancy machine,” Kevin says. After testing and evaluating almost every machine on the market, Kevin came across the Jet Fueler — “It was a perfect fit for what we needed and a great machine to learn about oil paths and how distillate and cannabis oil can move through PTFE lines and reservoirs.”   

During those early days, Vape-Jet and Fernway went through the growing pains of high-throughput manufacturing together, allowing both businesses to grow and learn from one another. “You gave us a lot of feedback on things that needed improvement,” Ryan says.   

“Yeah, I think you make it sound a little worse than it was,” Kevin jokes. “I will say that the [Jet Fueler] was repeatable and that was key for us because we wanted to bring a high-quality, consistent vape product to market.”   

When Fernway did run into an issue, Kevin opened a support ticket, and the Vape-Jet support team would stay on the phone until they resolved the issue. “That gave us a lot of peace of mind,” Kevin adds. “If there was an issue with the machine, we wouldn’t be left stranded.”  

“In my opinion, we’ve had a really collaborative relationship,” Ryan says. “A lot of our recent software upgrades—in terms of data reporting, batch records, and whatnot—were direct suggestions from you.”  

“I see us as fellow travelers and kindred spirits in that our products and companies are becoming larger and more sophisticated, and we have to grow together,” Kevin says. “That can only happen if we’re sharing information back and forth.”  

After eventually scaling to three Jet Fuelers, Fernway upgraded to the fully-automatic Vape-Jet. “Now, we have five of them,” Kevin says.  

Growing Together: Switching to a Fully-Automated Workflow  

After realizing their business was scaling too quickly to fill every vape cartridge manually under a needle, the Fernway team realized it was time for some automated assistance.  

“The transition was actually fairly easy because of how familiar we were with the Jet Fuelers,” Kevin says. “The Vape-Jet team helped create profiles that are unique to each piece of our hardware.” So, whether Fernway is filling their 510 half-gram vape cartridges or one of their Traveler sizes, a customized hardware profile is ready to quickly and accurately fill to spec.  

“Beyond setting up those initial profiles, the process of loading the reservoir into the machine, pressurizing the machine with the nitrogen assist, [and] setting the temperature zones was all very familiar to us,” Kevin continues. “It was big relief when we saw that platform and the needle moving around, and we knew we didn’t have to fill those cartridges one by one anymore.”  

Vape-Jet 4.0 | The Most Advanced Fully-Automatic Vape Cartridge Filling Machine - Click to Learn More
Scaling and Sustainability—Friends at Last  

Now selling half and full-gram 510 vape cartridges and Massachussettes’ first recyclable vape cartridge, the Traveler (available in 0.3 and 0.7-gram sizes), Fernway is moving the industry toward more sustainable practices that consumers demand.   

“We’ve been seeing a lot of movement in the market away from 510s toward more disposable packaging,” Ryan Hoitt says. “Could you tell me the challenges involved with setting [the Traveler] up?”  

“We saw the same [trends] you did,” Kevin Wu agrees. “Customers really enjoy the all-in-one form factor with the oil and the battery connected, but we didn’t like the environmental impact of that product form.”   

The solution? Fernway found a recycling partner. “After one of our recyclable [vape cartridges] are spent, [and] the oil is consumed, the customer can bring [the Traveler] back to where they purchased it and deposit it in a recycling box.”  

A few times a year, after the Fernway team collects all the recycled Traveler vapes in their facility, their recycling partner collects the spent devices, dips them into liquid nitrogen, then pulverizes them. “Then they heat it to recover different materials found in the devices,” Kevin says.  

An Innovative Trio: Vape-Jet, Fernway, and Cilicon

“So, I know with the Traveler you’ve been working with Cilicon as the hardware manufacturer,” Ryan says. “Can you describe the experience of developing and launching that product with such a tight feedback loop between their team, the Vape-Jet team, and yourself?” 

“We selected Cilicon as our all-in-one hardware vendor almost a year ago,” Kevin explains. “We went through several rounds of testing and decided that the performance and the profile of [their] product was exactly what we wanted. The missing piece was ‘how are we going to fill these at scale?’ That’s when we reached out to you.”  

When Fernway decided to launch the Traveler, they sent photos of the device and asked if our team could get a Vape-Jet to fill them. “To my surprise—and to our good luck—you were already in contact with [Cilicon] and we were able to design a custom jig which was rapidly prototyped by the Vape-Jet team,” Kevin says. Within a week of that discussion, Fernway validated their new product’s workflow with Vape-Jet automation, ensuring they would not have to invest in additional equipment.   

A few months later when the devices arrived, they came with additional jigs based on Vape-Jet’s initial prototype. “Now, we’re selling tens of thousands a month,” Kevin says. “I would categorize [the Traveler] launch as smooth as [a product launch] could possibly go. So I think that’s a credit to you and a credit to the Cilicon team.”  

Kevin’s Vape-Jet Tips and Tricks

  1. ‘Keep the machines clean!’: “Make sure you’re fully cleaning out the reservoirs after every batch.” Kevin highlights the importance of running isopropyl alcohol through the PTFE lines to ensure operators won’t encounter residual oil from the previous batch.  
     
  2. ‘Take it slow!’: “Once the [Vape-Jet] is up and running, it’s filling a tray of 100 vape cartridges in five or six minutes. There’s no reason to rush the manual parts of the process along.”  

The Power of Partnership 

“I really do appreciate our partnership here. I feel like, even though you’re across the country, we’ve got a partner that’s not going to leave us stranded. If we have a problem, I know someone on your team will help us, and you’ll take the time and clear out the schedule. That’s so rare to find out in the market.”  

“It’s been amazing to watch your business grow,” Ryan says. “It’s been one of the highlights of my career to be able to be that partner in this and just work with you guys. And yeah, we’re a solutions provider, but that feedback loop and the connections we’ve made over the past couple of years… it’s been a highlight of my career, so I really appreciate it.  

What’s next for Fernway?

Kevin mentions a new seasonal pumpkin spice flavor for their Traveler (released in October) and launching a line of live resin vape cartridges for the ultimate cannabis experience. 

Want to share your Vape-Jet story?

Reach out to our crew and let them know you’re ready for your customer feature. Check out our other customer success stories: C3 Industries, True North Collective, Terrapin Care Station.

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.  

Categories
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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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