How to Evaluate & Increase Efficiency in Your Cultivation Facility Design & Operations

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The cannabis industry is currently experiencing a lot of market compression. Growers are just breaking even or growing at a loss, which means the margins for error are basically nonexistent. If you want your cultivation to thrive, you can’t afford inefficiencies in your cultivation facility design or operations.

HYC Cultivation Facility Design

Many industry-wide problems stem from a general lack of controls and standardization. Without trained processes and standardized systems, employee turnover rises, efficiency tanks, and crops suffer.

Fortunately, you can improve your cultivation’s efficiency — and thereby the quantity and quality of your yields — with the right tools and processes.

Read on to learn more about increasing efficiency in your cultivation facility design and daily operations. 

Evaluating for Efficiency

Because of the general lack of standardization in the industry, growers deal with a lot of human error. Inefficient practices like hand watering, high staff turnover rates, and insufficient training processes lead to inconsistent production, often putting cultivators at a loss.

To overcome these issues, operators need to look closely at their data, processes and procedures, and performance to understand what their inefficiency is costing them and how to fix it.

When we at HYC perform a data suite assessment, we look at several different things to determine how the cultivation can improve their yields:

  • Historical inventory and environmental data: Overlapping these two types of data gives us an idea of the facility’s overall performance and tells us what happened in the grow rooms that may have impacted efficiency and productivity. 
  • Process assessment and analysis: Next, we evaluate the facility’s operations from start to finish, including receiving, processing, packing, labeling, and shipping. 
  • Canopy scans: In some cases, we bring in a robot that scans the canopies and gives us real-time information about problematic areas, genetics, and other issues. 

Gathering and analyzing all this data helps us identify potential improvements for the cultivation facility design and daily operations. 

Common Sources of Inefficiency in Cultivations

The two most common and costly areas of a cultivation facility design that lack efficiency are usually controls and environment.

HYC Cultivation Facility Design

Controls are the processes and procedures that exist to keep everyone on the same page. Inefficient controls stem from inconsistent SOPs, lack of automation, and insufficient communication about expectations. 

Improving the efficiency of your controls mitigates a ton of risk by eliminating room for human error through automated systems and clear communication, and frees your workers to focus on more important things. 

Inefficiency in the environment may look like:

  • Having a poor lighting grid
  • Pumping too much light into the rooms
  • Heat issues
  • Humidity issues
  • Inconsistent airflow

To fix environmental inefficiencies, start by identifying the high and low humidity and heat points. Those are generally the areas where problems begin, and from there they cascade through the facility. Eliminate the source of your greatest inefficiencies, and the rest will be much easier to address.

Efficiency-Maximizing Technology

To increase your cultivation’s overall efficiency, it’s important to leverage new and better technology instead of relying on the way things have always been done. 

While some cultivations may be able to improve efficiency with just a few upgrades to their systems, others may need to overhaul their cultivation facility design entirely to facilitate greater efficiency. 

A few examples of efficiency-maximizing technology include:

  • Fertigation systems: Replace hand watering and mixing with fertigation systems to eliminate risk of human error, reduce employee turnover on a boring job, and save valuable time.
  • Adaptive lighting: Switch to adaptive lighting controls so you aren’t stuck changing out lights yourself or moving plants from one room to another throughout their lifecycle. 
  • Integrated HVAC systems: Install a quality integrated HVAC system so you can monitor airflow and air quality and maintain an ideal vapor pressure deficit (VPD) for maximum plant growth.

Even with the right cultivation facility design and systems, however, you can still run into efficiency issues at the employee level. That’s where scheduling software like PlanaCan comes in. 

“Most growers don’t really know what’s going on day to day,” says Nelson Brassell, PlanaCan’s Head of Business Development and co-founder. “One or two people may know what needs to happen, and they become the bottleneck in explaining that to the rest of the technicians, waterers, and other people on the ground.”

With centralized digital communication, templates for standardized processes, automated scheduling functions, and streamlined tasks, software like PlanaCan’s makes communication easy and clear. SOPs are easy to access and follow, helping prevent errors, missed or forgotten instructions, and misunderstandings. 

Results of Increased Efficiency

The impacts of increasing efficiency in your cultivation facility design and operations are enormous. Not only does it save time — Brassell has seen cultivation directors save as much as 6-8 hours per week, and lower-level workers likely save even more — but it also increases consistency across your entire operation.

HYC Cultivation Facility Design

Greater consistency results in:

  • Easier diagnosis and fixing of problems
  • Higher yields (and higher quality of yields)
  • More reliable products
  • Improved brand reputation and retailer relationships
  • Increased employee morale, leading to increased retention

The more efficient and consistent your cultivation is, the better results you’ll see across the board, from satisfied staff to quality products to happy customers. 

Assessments for Efficient Cultivation Facility Design

Too often, inefficient cultivation facility design and operation prevents grows from running consistently and effectively. This not only causes bottlenecks in productivity and places extra stress on directors and workers alike, but also stunts growth and minimizes yield. 

With the right technology, however, you can achieve greater consistency throughout your operation, saving valuable time, energy, and other resources. 
Contact us today to learn more about how an efficiency assessment can set your cultivation up for higher yields.

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