One key factor stands out as a driving force behind progress and success in today’s cannabis landscape: collaboration among the cannabis and tech sectors.
As a former NASA-JPL engineer who worked on the MOXIE project, an instrument currently on the surface of Mars producing oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, I’ve witnessed firsthand the transformative impact that tech integration can have on businesses, workforce upskilling, efficiency, and profit margins.
While many cannabis companies are starting to unlock the tremendous potential that lies in embracing technology throughout various aspects of a cannabis business, there are plenty of companies who have yet to experience these transformative results. Let’s explore some of the most impactful ways cannabis-tech collaborations drive the cannabis industry forward.
Streamlining Packaging Processes at Scale
Efficient packaging processes are critical for cannabis businesses looking to scale up and reach broader markets. Integrating technology into these processes can significantly streamline operations, reduce manual labor, and enhance the overall efficiency of packaging.
Automated packaging solutions powered by AI-driven machines increase speed and accuracy while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements. Additionally, having an automated, flexible facility is pivotal in preventing costly errors. For example, a mistyped label can be costly to the production process, often more than one might imagine. Having the capabilities to pivot, adjust, and adapt accordingly when necessary throughout an automated process is crucial.
Embracing this level of technology in packaging enables cannabis companies to allocate their resources more strategically, allowing them to focus on product development, marketing, and expanding their brand presence. Moreover, implementing advanced packaging technology fosters a safer and more consistent product experience for consumers, ultimately building trust and loyalty in the industry.
The Power of Advanced Manufacturing Processes
In the quest for improving manufacturing processes, technology serves as an ally. Traditional methods may no longer suffice in meeting increasing demand and quality expectations of consumers. Automation, artificial intelligence, computer vision, machine learning, and robotics could revolutionize manufacturing by enhancing precision, reducing waste, and accelerating production timelines.
One product category in particular that has benefited from minimizing spillage waste is infused pre-rolls. With the right technology, equipment, and process, companies can see upwards of a 20% reduction in spillage waste. When we think of this in terms of the entire market, at an annual scale, it can easily add up to hundreds of millions of dollars in savings.
Incorporating cutting-edge manufacturing processes allows cannabis companies to optimize operations and unlock new levels of efficiency. By leveraging technology, businesses can also minimize human error, mitigate risks, and create a safer environment for workers.
Upskilling the Workforce
One concern that often arises when discussing the integration of technology in the cannabis industry is the potential displacement of the existing workforce. However, the reality is quite the opposite. Embracing technology doesn’t necessarily lead to job losses; rather, it provides an opportunity for upskilling and redeployment of workers to more strategic and fulfilling roles.
Incorporating AI-driven machines and automation in various processes requires skilled operators and technicians to manage and maintain these systems. Therefore, collaboration between the cannabis and tech sectors encourages a workforce that is adaptable, tech-savvy, and continuously learning. This synergy empowers employees to become proficient in utilizing advanced technologies and positions them for long-term career growth within the industry.
Efficient Scaling for Long-Term Success
For cannabis businesses to remain competitive and profitable in the long run, efficient scaling is imperative. The varying markets across the cannabis industry have, on average, about an 18-month boom/bust cycle. The earlier an operator in the market thoughtfully adopts technology, the more resilient their operations are to these cycles.
Technology plays a pivotal role in enabling businesses to scale effectively without compromising on quality or incurring exorbitant costs. By integrating technology-driven solutions, cannabis companies can ramp up production, expand distribution networks, and cater to a broader customer base. Efficient scaling drives financial growth and strengthens the industry’s capacity to meet evolving consumer demands and regulatory requirements.
Leaning Into Technology for a Bright Future
As the cannabis industry continues its rapid growth, embracing technology is more than a choice — it’s a necessity. By recognizing the potential of cannabis-tech collaboration, businesses can overcome challenges, optimize operations, and create a competitive edge in the market.
The integration of AI-driven machines, automation, and advanced manufacturing processes can elevate the industry’s efficiency, profitability, and overall potential for innovation. Rather than fearing technology and its perceived impact on the workforce, it is crucial to see it as an enabler of growth and progress.
By empowering our existing workforce with technological skills and knowledge, we can drive the cannabis industry forward, revolutionize operations, and pave the way for a thriving and sustainable future. Looking ahead, don’t shy away from the opportunities presented by technology. Instead, embrace it and forge a path of progress and prosperity for the cannabis industry and its workforce.
This article first appeared in Volume 5 Issue 2 of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here.