How to Scale Your Cannabis Extraction Operation With Efficient Biomass Preprocessing

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Cannabis extraction facilities have a lot of potential for growth and profitability, but it’s easy for the whole operation to get bogged down in the preprocessing stage. Small preprocessing mistakes can create frustrating bottlenecks, compliance issues that cause product to be rejected entirely, and plenty of excess costs.

Higher Yields Consulting How to Scale Your Cannabis Extraction Operation With Efficient Biomass Preprocessing

Before cannabis plants go into the extraction process, a lot of work needs to be done to get the highest-quality yields. Streamlining your preprocessing procedures with the right technology and people will help you keep your cannabusiness compliant and efficient as you scale. 

Read on to learn more about cannabis extraction preprocessing, including how to avoid common pitfalls and increase your operations efficiency and quality output. 

Introduction to Cannabis Preprocessing

Preprocessing in the cannabis space, as explained by Yogesh Jhamtani, Co-Founder and CEO of Buffalo Extraction Systems, refers to “a set of operations performed on biomass, or the cannabis plant module, before it’s ready for flower sales, extraction, or processing.” 

In the case of retailers selling flower, the “preprocessing” operations are simply considered “processing.” But if the biomass will be used for cannabis extraction, these are steps that must be taken before the extraction process can begin. Cannabis extraction preprocessing consists of:

  • Harvesting. Gathering the plants when they are at their highest potency to ensure a high-quality product. 
  • Curing. Slowly drying cannabis buds in a controlled environment to prevent mold growth and produce a smoother crop.
  • Drying. Removing moisture from the plant to prevent bacteria growth and terpene degradation for better-quality product.
  • Trimming. Removing excess plant material such as stems, leaves, or anything else that could negatively impact the flavor or overall quality of the final extraction product.
  • Grinding. Breaking down the plant into consistent pieces, so as to increase polymer surface area and allow the solvent to penetrate it more efficiently.
  • Decarboxylation. Applying heat to increase the amount of psychoactive components in the product. 

Failing to complete any of these steps properly can result in an inferior product, and bottlenecks during any stage in the overall process can slow down your entire operation significantly. 

Common Preprocessing Mistakes

Mistakes in cannabis extraction preprocessing are often the result of cutting corners to save time, operating inefficiently, or a lack of compliance. And according to Jhamtani, “The more we rely on human labor [instead of taking advantage of technology] in preprocessing, the more it becomes prone to mistakes.”

For example, manual methods like hang-drying can work for small quantities of product, but to maintain compliance with larger volumes, machine drying is the only way to get consistent, quality results.

Higher Yields Consulting How to Scale Your Cannabis Extraction Operation With Efficient Biomass Preprocessing

Poor record-keeping also works against compliance and quality control. Medicinal products especially require that you be able to trace each plant from the seed up to the final extract or product. A good cannabis extraction preprocessing machine, then, makes it easy to track and label each batch that goes through it. 

Even with proper technology, however, mistakes like rushing the drying process to get product through more quickly, not trimming properly, and failing to clean the equipment between batches — thereby causing cross-contamination — can compromise the product’s quality and even cause it to fail compliance checks.

To avoid these and similar mistakes, Jhamtani recommends relying on quality tools and machinery, and above all, taking every effort to adhere to both local and international standards for production, including the World Health Organization’s good manufacturing processes (GMP).

Increasing Efficiency for Cannabis Extraction Facilities

Buffalo Extraction Systems’s turnkey solution is designed to streamline preprocessing operations, offering a cheaper way for large cannabis extraction facilities to remain compliant. Its machine does everything from sorting to bagging and can handle up to 2,200 pounds per hour. 

While this solution is best suited for large-scale operations — and can be a great choice for those who want to scale their existing cannabusiness — it’s not the only way to make your extraction preprocessing more efficient. 

Cannabis extraction facilities of all sizes can increase efficiency and output by paying attention to compliance regulations, keeping and regularly reviewing standard operating procedures, and investing in the latest technology to eliminate as much human error as possible.

However, Jhamtani cautions that humans play a vital role in the process. “We have to trust systems to a certain level, but have humans judge the data,” he advises. “Every system needs human judgment. That’s the soul of the system.” 

Even the best machines need human service and support to continue operating as they should. So choosing the right people to work with is just as important as choosing the right technology to keep your cannabis extraction compliant and efficient in the long term. 

Compliance Is Key

If you want greater efficiency and profitability from your cannabis extraction, compliance is key, as is choosing the right people and technology solutions for your operation. 

With the latest technology, proper adherence to domestic and international rulebooks, and expert partners, you can reduce preprocessing bottlenecks and optimize your extraction facility for better quality products and increased ROI. 
Contact us today to learn more about how Higher Yields Consulting can help you set up your cannabusiness for maximum success.

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