One of the most common questions that we’re asked at Precision® is, “How much material will my lab be able to process per shift?” While the question may seem simple on the surface, the answer is much more complicated and a variety of factors coming into play.
First, the production analysis begins with the size of the extractor, the solvent being used, and the power of the recovery pump – all of which are pretty straightforward. Thereafter, the two most determinative factors of production capacity are 1) the biomass material density and 2) the cannabis extraction technician’s experience.
#1: Your Plant Material
Cannabis biomass can vary greatly in its inherent traits and characteristics. Biomass densities can range from as fluffy as a cotton ball to as dense as a rock. The majority of biomass material will fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
Add to this matrix of characteristics the varying moisture levels of biomass (which can add up to four times the dry weight if using fresh frozen) in addition to the different methods of harvesting and material preparation, and you can see how answering the question of yield and throughput becomes an analytical matrix.
The moisture content of fresh frozen biomass material will be as close to 100% as you can get. This high moisture content will not only make the weight of the material 4 times as heavy as dried material, but the yield-to-weight ratio will also be effected. Very specific processes for making live resin need to be followed in order to have efficient production, and since most extraction labs are manufacturing multiple types of products from multiple biomass sources, calculating the total production of a facility becomes more complicated.
Most cannabis extraction production facilities also take in a variety of other source material, such as dried flowers (with greatly varying densities) and dry trim. General moisture levels from these biomass sources can range from 5%-30% and have greatly varying densities. However, with the proper material preparation, such as grinding and drying, a more universal stability is reached with dried material. It is crucial to have a cannabis extraction technician who is experienced and fully understands these variables.
Looking at the above data from an objective standpoint, one must intimately understand the biomass material to accurately calculate throughput. Because plant material changes from harvest to harvest and batch to batch, it is always prudent to play on the safe side and invest in more production capacity than is needed. The initial upfront cost will pay for itself ten-fold in the first year of a professionally run cannabis extraction facility.
#2: Your Cannabis Extraction Technician
Trying to define the experience level of a cannabis extraction technician operating your lab is far from simple and clear-cut. The skill sets of a highly competent operator need to be refined over time, and as technology and methodology develops, so must their skillset evolve – or risk being left behind. So what does it take to be considered an “experienced extraction technician?”
The first thing to look for is hands-on operational experience. It is best to find an extraction technician with at least 2,000+ hours (a year of full-time extraction) on a professional closed-loop extraction system.
This experience doesn’t mean just turning valves. You should look for a technician with a variety of competencies including column packing, material preparation, and post processing procedures. Unfortunately, such technicians are increasingly hard to find in such a demanding market, and highly experienced operators will command a commensurate salary to match their skillset.
Expert Extraction Training
Short of finding a rare and highly qualified operator. The absolute best alternative is professional extraction training for your staff. Providing the very best cannabis extraction production training is of paramount importance in order to achieve your company’s goals. Having skilled extraction technicians are crucial in the success of your extraction facility.
Calculating Cannabis Extraction Production Capacity
To put the above pieces together in a simplified format, the entire technical team at Precision® sat down with the nation’s top lab operators to come up with a yield matrix chart to make sense of production capacity.
Please use the following as a general guideline for starting or planning an extraction lab with Precision® PX equipment.
As can be seen by the chart, start-up operations need not only understand their material density, but also have highly trained personnel to gain a full understanding of production capacity and operational goals. Consequently, as much effort should be put into building a highly competent cannabis extraction production team as choosing the highest quality professional extraction equipment for your project.