Artificial intelligence (AI) automation has already washed over the cultivation side of cannabis production, streamlining areas including crop management, data collection, cultivar-specific indoor environmental control, as well as packaging and delivery.
But considering how tech- and machine-heavy most cannabis extraction is by default, AI’s advent in this particular niche seems meant to be. In fact, it already is.
It makes sense that the first type of extraction products that AI innovates would be the most popular—arguably, cannabidiol (CBD). Despite the meteoric surge in popularity, CBD extracts are still reportedly produced predominantly in small batches, the kind you’d associate with a microbrewery. The demand for CBD and other cannabis concentrates have long surpassed this level. Companies have responded.
Precision Extraction Solutions, a cannabis extraction equipment supplier, teamed up with AMG, Inc., an engineering consulting company, resulting in Precision’s KPD 1500 and KPD Vulcan, industrial-scale automated extraction equipment using ethanol. AMG describes the KPD 1500 as “fully automated and largely autonomous,” requiring only two technicians per shift rather than 4-6. The KPD Vulcan requires four operators in lieu of the 30 that would normally be needed to process 10,000 pounds of cannabis per day. This system can be set up outdoors and operated remotely.
Operators are mostly needed to set the looping process in motion. The rest is handled by a Beckhoff CX2040 Embedded PC (the control center) that employs TwinCAT 3 automation software, an uninterrupted power supply, and a router for stable Internet connection.
Apeks Supercritical integrates automation into its supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) systems capable of processing up to 600 pounds per day. “Once parameters are set, and the start button is engaged, [customers] can attend to other matters,” the company notes. Thar Process manufactures supercritical CO2 equipment that automates the collection of terpenes in 20 minutes.
The IO extractor from Luna Technologies handles 37 pounds an hour with propane or 27 pounds an hour with butane. The system is fully automated with a remote touchscreen to “increase safety by removing your operators from the extraction room.” The company boasts five times the volume with one-third the labor.
As is usually the case, once technology has leveled up in a certain niche, the floodgates for more innovations are wide-open.