It’s great that consumers want your CBD products — but can your operation keep up with fulfillment?
You may have noticed that online CBD sales increased during the pandemic because a product that relieves stress certainly should sell well during a high-stress time. Those who sold CBD products in stores may have seen something a little different. Some CBD sales slowed because in-person retail shopping was decimated in 2020. However, regardless of demand and shopping patterns, there have always been market shifts and sales highs and lows in every industry. What matters is getting the best product to customers as quickly and reliably as possible to stay ahead of the competition — especially now as pandemic shopping restrictions are being lifted.
If your CBD sales are picking up or increasing faster than predicted, but your production rate is flat like Wile E Coyote after falling off a cliff, it might be time to analyze your manufacturing system. Production plateauing can be a sign that you need new or upgraded equipment to keep pace. Despite what your bank account thinks, this isn’t necessarily a gloomy proposition.
How can you speed up your line to meet demand? How can your CBD products get out the door faster and without sacrificing quality? Let’s take a look at some signs that it may be time to upgrade your machinery and which ones might be the primary culprits. Oh, yes, and if you’re concerned about cost, let’s put new machinery in perspective. The global cannabis industry will be valued at $90.4 Billion by 2026. Do you want a slice of that cannabis pie? Yes, of course, you do. So, let’s analyze your equipment line so that you not only stay in the game, but you win it.
Assessing Your Setup
To start, see where you can move from manual work to automated. In other words, do as little by hand as possible. Your employees are wonderful, yes, but they can’t fill bottles, screw caps, and apply labels anywhere as quickly or accurately as a machine.
If your line is already automated, here are some metrics by which you can judge your current machinery.
- Precision. How precise is your equipment? Can your fillers dispense the same volume perfectly for every oil bottle? Can your cappers apply tincture caps consistently at the same torque?
- Cleaning. How easy is it to clean your machines? Avoiding cross-contamination between batches is essential, and if you have to spend more than a reasonable amount of time to get your machines spotless, you’re wasting valuable hours.
- Parts/Service. Are your machines serviceable? Can you get parts quickly, or can you buy spare parts kits for the parts that most commonly wear out or break? You should also be able to get a hold of the manufacturer for service without leaving a dozen voicemails or dealing with surly customer service.
- Expandability. Can you increase your machines’ capabilities with add ons? If you want to add a feature, it would be nice not to purchase an entirely new machine.
What To Look For In New Equipment
Once you’ve assessed your current setup and note changes that need to be made, it’s time to look at new machinery. There are a lot of possibilities, and sifting through them all is not necessarily a simple task. To help, we’ll break down some of the key things you need to look for in a good machine.
First, let’s talk about filling equipment.
- Piston vs. Peristaltic Pump. Either one is excellent, and it’s not like one is antiquated and inefficient, with the other being a perfect solution. It simply depends on your needs. Piston pump fillers are highly accurate within half a percent range and can handle viscous fluids far better than a peristaltic pump. They are a little more difficult to clean, so changing batches isn’t as simple. Peristaltic pump fillers only need to have the tubing cleaned but are generally less accurate than piston pumps, with an accuracy range of around 1 to 2 percent. To see just how viscous your product is, you can use a viscometer. Then you can decide which kind of pump you need based on the results.
- Liquid Level vs. Volumetric. Not every bottle is identical, so a filler that operates by measuring liquid level may not be filling every bottle exactly the same. The liquid levels may look the same, but each bottle may vary in the actual amount. Volumetric filling is far more consistent and will ensure that the same amount of oil is in each bottle.
As for cappers, these are the most important metrics.
- Chuck vs. Spindle. If you’re putting on standard screw caps and want to do so at a high volume, a chuck capper will serve you just fine. If, however, you have some oddly shaped caps and containers, a spindle capper is what you want.
- Torque. The machine should have enough torque to get the caps on without letting air in or product out. And it should be able to cap at a consistent pressure.
Here are some more points to consider for any piece of equipment you buy.
- Ease of Use. Your employees shouldn’t have to get a postgraduate degree to figure out your filling equipment. Touch screens with built-in guides make training and operation simpler.
- Durability. Your machines need to last. For instance, long-lasting machines are often made from S304 stainless steel and aluminum to fight wear and rust.
- Portability. Being able to move equipment in and out of the line, whether to move to a different part of your operation or slot in a spare machine, will make your employees happy. Why? They won’t have to disassemble and move a piece of equipment that was never meant to be moved.
Choosing Filling and Capping Equipment
Now that you know what to look for in dependable CBD filling and capping equipment, what should you look for in a good manufacturer? Think of it as looking for a partner. The manufacturer should stand behind their product and offer service, training, expertise, and advice in addition to their quality product.
Pack Leader USA wants to help your CBD business succeed. As you decide how you want to tackle upgrading your filling and capping processes, read our CBD Manufacturers Guide To Filling & Capping CBD Bottles. It offers insights that will help you choose the right equipment for your line so that you can take your operation to the next level.