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7 Myths About Automated Harvesting Debunked

By Wes Winton | Last updated: August 10, 2021
Presented by GreenBroz Inc.
Key Takeaways

Given the general lack of information available, it can be challenging to separate automation myths and hard facts. So to help you make your own decision when it comes to your operation, here are seven myths about automated harvesting that you should take another look at.

The somewhat siloed nature of the cannabis industry ends up breeding a surplus of rumors and misconceptions about technology and processes.

Reading too much into myths and misconceptions or holding onto dated ideas without doing any research of your own can result in your business missing out on opportunities.

Given the general lack of information available, it can be challenging to separate automation myths and hard facts. So to help you make your own decision when it comes to your operation, here are seven myths about automated harvesting that you should take another look at.

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1. Automation is Time-Consuming to Implement

Whether you are talking automated trimmers, sorters, buckers, sifters, or another machine purpose-built for cannabis, you're not looking at too much time before you start seeing a return on your investment.

Most machines don't require too much assembly, and as soon they are out of the box, they're ready to get to work. Plus, the latest machines are designed to be simple to operate and maintain, so you won't need to devote lots of time to get operators up to speed.

2. Automated Harvesting Machines Trim Jobs

Automated trimmers can cut your trim force but what you choose to do with those newly freed up employees is up to you.

Automating parts of your production is going to take some jobs and change others. But, it's also going to create new jobs and new opportunities.

Automating mundane, repetitive tasks, like trimming, allows you to upskill workers to do more complex, creative tasks. Plus, upskilling your employees lowers their attrition rate, allowing you to retain valuable, highly skilled workers for longer.

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Gloved hand holding harvested cannabis buds.

3. Machines Do Everything Better Than Humans

This myth sits on the other side of the spectrum. The fact is, we are not even close to the point where machines can do everything better than human workers.

There will always be room for human innovation, creativity, and problem-solving in the workplace.

Ideally, humans work with machines to turn out higher yields of better products.

Tasks machines do better in than people include:

  • Repetitive tasks. Think trimming, sorting, and packaging flower.
  • High-speed mechanical tasks
  • Maintaining precision, accuracy, consistency, and reliability. Machines don't get the flu or need to take a vacation. They do not need lunch breaks, and they're great at keeping company secrets.

4. Machines Are Too Expensive

The sticker price on some machines can give you the idea that automated solutions are just too expensive, but in most cases, investments made in automation pay for themselves relatively quickly.

The initial price of a machine might seem hefty, but automating parts of your harvesting process will increase output while reducing your costs in labor and overhead.

You need to be sure to factor in all aspects of your process when calculating the potential ROI of a new piece of equipment. When you start factoring in the price, time, and amount of trimmers you have to bring in after your takedown, automating part of your system starts to make sense.

Labor is often a business's highest recurring cost. According to Marijuana Venture magazine, a pound of cannabis costs growers between $125 and $225 when processed by traditional hand trimmers. Automation is a way to keep labor costs down, with the added benefit of freeing your most valuable asset—your employees—to apply themselves in more efficient and productive ways.

You should consider all the soft costs that might be reduced or eliminated by automating a process. You might find that automation:

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  • Eliminates some of the preceding or subsequent processing steps.
  • Consolidates or eliminates the need to bring on a seasonal workforce.
  • Reduces or eliminates rework and inspection because consistency improves.

Close up of a cannabis bud.

5. Machines Are Too Expensive for Smaller Craft Grows

Automation isn't just reserved for operations with huge volumes and big budgets.

In reality, successful and flexible automated harvesting can improve productivity and throughput for commercial operations of all sizes.

No matter the size of your growth, improved productivity can open up new capacity that can be filled with new work, thereby increasing volume. In addition, automating part of your process frees up more time and human capital to invest in improving other areas of your operation.

With the range in sizes of automated harvesters even smaller, craft cultivators should crunch the numbers to see if they could benefit from automating part of their process instead of assuming that automation isn't for them.

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6. Machines Turn Buds Into Christmas Trees

This myth is at least somewhat based in reality. Early trimmers and some current models are guilty of shaving buds into uniform cones. But, as technology has improved, so has automated trimmers' ability to mimic the look of hand-trimmed flower.

Advances in machine design, like GreenBroz' patented gently rolling blades, allow buds to keep their unique characteristics and preserve their valuable trichomes while still being processed at a much higher speed than traditional hand trimming.


7. It's Too Difficult to Maintain Automated Equipment

Routine maintenance and cleaning is by no means a time suck many believe it to be.

Modern machines are designed to break down quickly for light cleanings, and more often than not, deep cleaning cycles don't take more than a few hours.

The cleaning and maintenance of machines has to be factored into your operation's process. But even when you take downtime into account, specialized trimming and sorting machines still massively increase your processing speed compared to traditional methods.

Conclusion

Companies that rely on hearsay instead of due diligence when making up their mind about automating parts of their process put themselves at a competitive disadvantage to companies that do the math.

Often, the right purpose-built machine can improve quality, productivity, and safety at your facility.

Before you rule automation out at your business, take time to consider all variables and explore your options.


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GreenBroz, Inc. provides industry-leading automated harvesting systems to the legal cannabis industry. Committed to high-caliber engineering, reliability, exceptional quality, and customer service, GreenBroz is dedicated to helping companies thrive.



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Presented By

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Written by Wes Winton | Content Marketing Manager

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Wes made the transition to the cannabis industry from the world of digital advertising and big tech. He's worked on integrated campaigns for clients like the University of Oklahoma, Mozilla, and Columbia College Hollywood. A strong believer in the power of branding and a lover of science experiments, Wes helps manage GreenBroz cross-channel communications.

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